Former president Jimmy Carter said Tuesday that he feels same-sex marriage does not conflict with Christian doctrine.
“I believe Jesus would approve of gay marriage, but that’s just my own personal belief,” he said in an interview with Huff Post Live. “I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else.”
Carter, 90, continued that his support of same-sex marriage stopped short only at churches being forced to perform marriages to which they objected.
“I wouldn’t be in favor of the government being able to force a local church congregation to perform gay marriages if they didn’t want to,” he said. “But those partners should be able to go to the local courthouse or to their church and get married.”
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The subject came up during a discussion of Carter’s own Christian faith and how it has figured into his political career, as discussed in his new memoir, A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety.
A born-again Christian and a Baptist who teaches Sunday school in Georgia, Carter explained that he didn’t feel his religious beliefs ever caused any serious conflict with his political obligations.
“I have had a problem with abortion,” the former president said. “I have a hard time believing that Jesus would approve of abortions, unless it was because of rape or incest or because the mother’s life was in danger.” However, Carter also noted that his job as president was to uphold the nation’s laws in spite of his personal beliefs.