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My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage
The author backs same-sex marriage because of his faith, not in spite of it.
May 19th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage

Editor's Note: Mark Osler is a Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

By Mark Osler, Special to CNN

I am a Christian, and I am in favor of gay marriage. The reason I am for gay marriage is because of my faith.

What I see in the Bible’s accounts of Jesus and his followers is an insistence that we don’t have the moral authority to deny others the blessing of holy institutions like baptism, communion, and marriage. God, through the Holy Spirit, infuses those moments with life, and it is not ours to either give or deny to others.

A clear instruction on this comes from Simon Peter, the “rock” on whom the church is built. Peter is a captivating figure in the Christian story. Jesus plucks him out of a fishing boat to become a disciple, and time and again he represents us all in learning at the feet of Christ.

During their time together, Peter is often naïve and clueless – he is a follower, constantly learning.

After Jesus is crucified, though, a different Peter emerges, one who is forceful and bold. This is the Peter we see in the Acts of the Apostles, during a fevered debate over whether or not Gentiles should be baptized. Peter was harshly criticized for even eating a meal with those who were uncircumcised; that is, those who did not follow the commands of the Old Testament.

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Peter, though, is strong in confronting those who would deny the sacrament of baptism to the Gentiles, and argues for an acceptance of believers who do not follow the circumcision rules of Leviticus (which is also where we find a condemnation of homosexuality).

His challenge is stark and stunning: Before ordering that the Gentiles be baptized Peter asks “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

None of us, Peter says, has the moral authority to deny baptism to those who seek it, even if they do not follow the ancient laws. It is the flooding love of the Holy Spirit, which fell over that entire crowd, sinners and saints alike, that directs otherwise.

My Take: Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality

It is not our place, it seems, to sort out who should be denied a bond with God and the Holy Spirit of the kind that we find through baptism, communion, and marriage. The water will flow where it will.

Intriguingly, this rule will apply whether we see homosexuality as a sin or not. The water is for all of us. We see the same thing at the Last Supper, as Jesus gives the bread and wine to all who are there—even to Peter, who Jesus said would deny him, and to Judas, who would betray him.

The question before us now is not whether homosexuality is a sin, but whether being gay should be a bar to baptism or communion or marriage.

Your Take: Rethinking the Bible on homosexuality

The answer is in the Bible. Peter and Jesus offer a strikingly inclusive form of love and engagement. They hold out the symbols of Gods’ love to all. How arrogant that we think it is ours to parse out stingily!

I worship at St. Stephens, an Episcopal church in Edina, Minnesota. There is a river that flows around the back and side of that church with a delightful name: Minnehaha Creek. That is where we do baptisms.

The Rector stands in the creek in his robes, the cool water coursing by his feet, and takes an infant into his arms and baptizes her with that same cool water. The congregation sits on the grassy bank and watches, a gentle army.

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At the bottom of the creek, in exactly that spot, is a floor of smooth pebbles. The water rushing by has rubbed off the rough edges, bit by bit, day by day. The pebbles have been transformed by that water into something new.

I suppose that, as Peter put it, someone could try to withhold the waters of baptism there. They could try to stop the river, to keep the water from some of the stones, like a child in the gutter building a barrier against the stream.

It won’t last, though. I would say this to those who would withhold the water of baptism, the joy of worship, or the bonds of marriage: You are less strong than the water, which will flow around you, find its path, and gently erode each wall you try to erect.

The redeeming power of that creek, and of the Holy Spirit, is relentless, making us all into something better and new.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Osler.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Episcopal • Gay marriage • My Take • Opinion

soundoff (15,115 Responses)
  1. Bob

    tom tom your loosing your grip nobody's paying attention Oh my oh dear maybe nobody even cares oh my insults dont work threats dont work what can I do now no one even want to answer me. oh My MOMMY help me please

    June 10, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Perchance if you chose to post something that was actually relevant and factual ? I won't hold my breath.

      June 10, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Poor little troll. Grow up. Get a high school diploma. Learn the difference between "loose" and "lose", idiot. Then alert the media that you're actually relevant. Until then, fvck off, dweeb.

      June 10, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Kill

      Yourself

      June 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Not on a dime.

      June 10, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  2. Bob

    tom tom self perpetuating drama queen Its not working tom, what are you going to do?

    June 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What's "not working"? You responded, dumbfvck. Therefore, it IS working. Figure it out, fvckwit.

      June 10, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  3. Bob

    tom tom you are really funny are you like 14 and gay and think your more important than you are? You mean nothing except to serve as catalyst to keep posts coming. Thanks I love the threats of name calling now that's funny

    June 10, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hey, there, Boobalicious the Dumb! When are you going to answer my questions?

      Come on, you cowardly little retard. Get to it.

      June 10, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Booby, why don't you answer the questions I posed? Or are you too busy trying to learn the difference between "you're" and "your"? Are you a high school dropout? Or are you just plain stupid?

      Come on, dude, get to it.

      June 10, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • lost and desperate for attention

      telling danger signs of fear.

      June 10, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  4. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Gee, Salt, I would think you'd be chomping at the bit to prove your "point", even if such is only located at the top of your microcephalic skull. Where are you? Sleeping off a hangover? Screwing the pooch? Choking the chicken?

    June 10, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Come on, Salt. Your pal Boob is under attack. You gonna step up, grow a pair, and defend his ignorant azz or remain a coward?

      June 10, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  5. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Hey SALT!!! Are you in a coma? Come on, coward, post your evidence, or be condemned as a liar and a fraud.

    June 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  6. David

    Its amazing how many puritanical bloggers are out their spreading their word of faith by using judgemental hate and bigotry. These people should be sure to ask for forgiveness after breaking his law and his proclamations. Love thy neighbor nd tun the other cheek!

    June 10, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  7. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Funny how "Salt" just turned tail when asked for evidence and reason. Funny how "Yellow Belly" has simply 'disappeared' when confronted with a challenge.

    What a bunch of frauds.

    June 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  8. LauraTencelski

    The reasons I believe same as Mr Olser are things I remember from the Bible. "And while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us " also "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not Perish, but have Everlasting Life" and "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". And what about this one " For by Grace are ye saved through Faith. It is a gift of God, and NOT of works, lest any man should boast". I was baptized in the Ocean at 8 and attended a non -denominational Christian school as a child. Don't forget the Golden Rule "Do unto others as u would have them do unto u".

    June 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • JWT

      Personally a loose interpretation fo the golden rule is all that I have ever seen of in a bible.

      June 10, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  9. David Rand

    Marriage is a public unity and not necessarily a religious unity in this world. You forget that Buddhist, moslems, hindua and Jews marry every day....and you don't agree with much of their religous views.
    Not sure why at Christian needs to "Justify" marriage of gays in the name of Christianity.
    A church can argue against sancitfying a marriage within the church but you can't deny the individual freedoms that we as Americans have. Just agree to disagree...and allow them to have their peace. Teach your kids as you wish, but allow others to live in their own ways also.

    June 10, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • David

      A true Christian doesn't use the bible as an excuse to hate and condemn other people. Those who disagree with this view do not walk in Christs footsteps. let he who has not sinned cast the first stone!

      June 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • David

      A true Christian doesn't use the bible as an excuse to hate and condemn other people. Those who disagree with this view do not walk in Christs footsteps. Le he who has not sinned cast the first stone!

      June 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  10. AnnieCee

    Mark Osler's ideas seem like a lot of rationalization, rather than good theology.

    June 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Rick

      This guy says he's a Christian, I can tell you he speaks with a forked tounge.. look how evil works..right through the mouths of those professing godliness through speech....Liars..

      June 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Well, he may be a bad christian, but he's a good human and a good American. He's a much better person than those who use their personal beliefs to discriminate against a minority.

      June 10, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  11. Bob

    Being Loving is taking the time to turn your brother to Jesus and from sin and condemnation to a life eternal not allowing him to wallow in sin

    June 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • tallulah13

      What a crock. You have no proof of your god, only your belief. Your "love" is simply your own desire to dictate the lives of others. It is self-serving and unless you are specifically asked, unwelcome.

      June 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • xponential

      T13...shut your moley pimple face. None is 'dictating' anything to your fugly a ss

      June 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • JWT

      T13 even if he did have proof of his god it would not be our god. Remembert that.

      June 10, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • tallulah13

      JWT, you're right. Even if the christian god did exist, I wouldn't worship such a hateful, lazy being.

      June 10, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Bob

      JWT actually your right satan has a little g and you are also right there are many gods out there to worship just pick one

      June 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • JWT

      The only god I worship bob is actually a goddess – my wife. None of the other gods throughout hustory are worth worshipping.

      June 10, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You know, Bob, I feel sorry for you. You're obviously not very bright and you apparently never got much of an education. That said, you have no authority to dictate what is right and wrong for anyone else. You can barely navigate a simple sentence, much less the complexity of ethics, law, morality, or anything else more perplexing than shoelaces.

      Get a clue, dear. You're not equipped to tell anyone else what is what. You're barely equipped to navigate stairs.

      June 10, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      JWT, your wife is a most fortunate woman.

      June 10, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Being Loving is taking the time to turn your brother to Jesus and from sin and condemnation to a life eternal not allowing him to wallow in sin"

      There is a whole list of abominations in your bible but you are not trying to block their civil rights. What a hypocrite. So let's see you block the rights of all the people that do these abominationsUnclean things (Lev. 7:21) ; Cheating (Mic. 6:10) ; A proud look (Pro. 6:16-17) ; A lying tongue (Pro. 6:17; 12:22) ; Hands that shed innocent blood ((Pro. 6:17) ; A wicked scheming heart (Pro. 6:18) ; A false witness that speaks lies (Pro. 6:19) ; A sower of discord (Pro. 6:19) ; A false balance or scale (Pro. 11:1) ; The proud of heart (Pro. 16:5) ; Justifying the wicked (Pro. 17:15) ; Condemning the just (Pro. 17:15) ; Refusing to hear the law (Pro. 28:9) ; Wearing clothes of the opposite sex (Dt. 22:5) Re-marriage of former companions (Dt. 24:1-4) ; Cheating others (Dt. 25:13-16) ; Making images/idols (Dt. 27:15) ; Eating unclean things (Isa. 66:17) ; Robbery (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Murder (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Adultery (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Oppression of others, particularly the poor or vulnerable (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Violence (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Breaking vows (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Lending with interest to a brother (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Lying with a menstruous woman (Ezek. 18: 6-13).

      Oh...that's right your unfounded prejudice is against gay only. Duh!

      June 11, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  12. glades2

    I'm not feeling well today and perhaps have more courage to say this – "The Chrisitian case for gay marriage" – there is none – and the picture in this article is offensive, too...

    Perhaps some might make more sense of it all if they look at it in an electrical way – two male plugs do not allow allow electrical current to be used, and the same is true for two female plugs – only a male and female plug can make an electrical appliance work...

    June 10, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Another doofus brays. You must be unaware that straights engage in anal intercourse. Poor little you.

      June 10, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I wonder, do you think people who are unable to have s3x at all due to illness, age, or injury should be forbidden to marry, too? You think marriage is ALL ABOUT S#X? You must be very stupid or have never been married.

      June 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • JWT

      And of we wer talking about making the stove work that might actually mean something.

      June 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Know What

      glades2,

      I'm sorry that you are not feeling well. I hope that you feel better soon.

      I hope that when your mind clears you will see that your electrical plug example is nonsense. These are humans that we are talking about. Your obsession with the s/exual aspect of love and marriage is base.

      June 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • xponential

      tom tom the pipers son-did you and your stepdaddy play count the moles round the anus?

      June 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, herbie, get a life. I never had a "step daddy". My parents were married for 49 years when my father passed away.

      Get a clue, you bonehead: you're a little boy. You are unlikely to ever grow up to be an adult.

      June 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • xponential

      I was just diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. That's why I'm such a bitter little azzwipe.

      June 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  13. JF Girard

    ...but the greatest of these is love. I am not a man of faith but like to think that I have hope and love for humanity. Why don't religious people spend more time teaching about love than worrying about defining sin and who gets to marry? By love, I don't mean a kumbaya, "let's all get along." There is so much hate in this world as is evidenced by death threats from some "faithful" to those who don't have mainstream religious views. By love, I mean support, caring, listening and understanding one another - realizing people who love want the best for one another - and at the end of the day want the same - someone to love them. Love is not about the what happens in the bedroom but what happens between two souls regardless of the color of their skin, their age, their religion, etc. Imagine what our country would be to the world if we were defined by our ability to talk about and demonstrate love; then, we [religious and spiritual people] could talk about what is truly sinful with credibility and integrity.

    June 10, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Blane

      Bunch of liberal gibberish.

      June 10, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • JWT

      Well put JF. The world can be a much better place if people listened to that.

      June 10, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Blane, what is 'gibberish' about that post?

      June 10, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • glades2

      People have used and abused the words of Jesus even before His crucifixtion, and the same is true today...

      I once knew a guy in our church single's group who would take the opportunity to shake hands with the female members ("Peace be with you") - in order to ask them for a date - apparently he used Jesus's words "Love one another" to suit his own desires...

      It's a problem as old as the Bible itself - the words of God being twisted and used and abused to fit a person or group or nation's agenda, but God knew this would happen and in the end it will all be judged...

      But - one things for sure, God did not destroy Sodom because He wanted to - it was destroyed by Him because it's people refused to listen and in fact did not turn from their sins but embraced them - sounds all too familiar, and we better pray the same thing doesn't happen now, because, as the Bible also states, He is love but is also justice, and His ways never change...

      June 10, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So you object to a man trying to meet someone to marry by attending a CHURCH?

      Yeah, much better to go out and troll dive bars for dates....

      June 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • OTOH

      glades2,
      "the words of God being twisted and used and abused..."

      Guess what? Huge, huge numbers of people think the YOU are twisting and abusing those "words". Your imaginary "God" did a very poor job of being clear in its communication.

      June 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • xponential

      OTOH, only a moley stupid pimple face like yourself would argue about something imaginary.

      June 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • LauraTencelski

      But the greatest of these is Love... Thank you, some folks don't know or maybe need the reminder "But of Faith, Hope and Love The greatest of these is Love.

      June 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • drand10@yahoo.com

      Marriage, in itself is not a religous base communion. It can be if you so choose to do so, within the church. I am concerned that the Christians can't seem to allow others to define marriage outside of the Christian point of view. Heck..Christians can't even come up with a consensus! Imagine this...look at how religion has evolved over time. Religion is all about change. A christian doesn't agree with the Hindu virtues of a hindu wedding ceremony, yet they don't deny a hindu couple from marring. Even worse...how do you deny a wedding when the couple are not marrying in a religous ceremony at all? Quite perplexing to me.

      June 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  14. Jack Ruggles

    God speaks about woe to the Priests who take His word out of context and misrepresent it for their own purposes. That is what you are doing sir. Read Malachi Chapter 2. My gay friends who believe with their heart in the gospel message are no less of a Christian than I am. However, they are called to strive to live a life pleasing to God. They will be blessed by Him for running the race to the finish, not perfectly, but with a heart for God. Our nation will be blessed by God for doing the same. Our nation should not redefine marriage. God defined marriage, and it is clear. That is it, end of discussion. God's Word does not make life easy on us. Perhaps, it would have been easier for Peter to deny Christ again and again in every dangerous situation so that he could live a comfortable life rather than be put to death. But, he followed Christ's Word. And that is the knd of obedience God is looking for. If we think we know better than God, then we are placing ourselves higher than Him. Read Isaiah 55:8-9. God's ways and purposes are higher than our own. We have to trust that and stay true to His Word. Love your neighbor does not mean redefining God's Word to make someone feel accepted or have more human rights.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Bob

      very well put Jack thank you

      June 10, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • JWT

      There are many interpretations of god's words. As people we must seek out our own interpretations based on what we know.

      June 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Bob

      Interpretation of the Word is by the Holy Spirit not by mans interpretation thats why we are having this blog now because of the error of mans thinking about the word

      June 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, baloney, Boob. You have no idea whether what you think the Bible says is accurate. Ever hear the tale of the seven blind men and the elephant?

      Probably not; you don't appear to have read anything much.

      June 10, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • tallulah13

      It is up to us as members of a secular society to decide what is fair and what is unfair when dealing with our fellow citizens. You chose discrimination based on a book that has only the authority that your church gives it. Those of us who support gay marriage do so because it is fair and it is just.

      There is more evidence that ho.mos.exuality is innate than there is proof of the existence of any god. Why should a certain segment of society be mistreated because of the personal beliefs of another?

      June 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • JWT

      Since, in theory, your holy spirt (not mine) chose to leave words in a non-clear book written by man we as people are left to interpret them. No one interpretation is perfect. There is nothing anywhere except yourself to sasy your interpretation is better than anyone else's.

      June 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Bob

      I read the book that was important and am saved that's really all that counts I chose wisely! For now and eternity.

      June 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, bully for you, Boob. You have yet to explain how gay marriage affects you or anyone else. When are you going to suck it up, grow a pair of balls, and do just that? Or are you going to remain a complete eunuch?

      June 10, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • 'Merica

      Tom Tom, you're trolling. Do you have nothing better to do than watch the comment section on this article and respond to every post you don't agree with?

      June 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Apparently, you're following my every post, moron. Why is that?

      June 11, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • .

      "Tom Tom, you're trolling. Do you have nothing better to do than watch the comment section on this article and respond to every post you don't agree with?"

      pot meet kettle, kettle meet pot.

      June 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  15. Gregory Adkins

    Question for Salt: Where are these clearly defined notions of Jesus about marriage you speak about? I have a second question. How do you address the clearly elicuidated scriptural teachings Mr. Olser speaks about in the hotly contested cultural conversation that Peter took on in the Acts of the Apostles that, to my way of reading, is not addressed by you other than you stating your own views? You do not wrestle with the text he presented. Thank you for your assistance on this.

    June 10, 2012 at 6:40 am |
  16. Sphincterellla Belmont

    I also wonder how the issue is given the priority that it is in a modern world by those who profess to be CHRISTIAN (Christ-like). I think we should call these PAULIAN. These ones appear to have missed the real message, opting instead for the hype...rather like those who miss the meal and scramble around in the dirt on the floor looking for scraps...

    June 10, 2012 at 5:35 am |
    • Evangelical

      In your iniquity you choose to deny the Holy Scriptures written by Paul and want to dismiss Christians by calling the "Paulians." Well, Paul preached the truth, and if you can't handle it, don't blame Christians. Turn the mirror on yourself.

      June 10, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • xponential

      Why doesn't your moley face go F** K with Mohammed. Moley, pimply, running sore goons

      June 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  17. Sphincterellla Belmont

    I wonder If any of the water turned wine was consumed by minors?

    June 10, 2012 at 5:32 am |
  18. Sphincterellla Belmont

    I wonder if he wiped his feet before walking on water?

    June 10, 2012 at 5:31 am |
  19. E Vivas

    Mr. Osler, thank you for being Christ-like and not just Christian.

    June 10, 2012 at 2:55 am |
    • Salt

      There is nothing Christ-like about Mr Osler;s views......don't flatter yourself. There is not some "new kind of Christianity'......he has tapped into either. Got to keep this in the center line of the highway somehow. Christians that behave like mean racists do not represent our faith either.....the bible clearly states that this lifestyle is sin, just as many other behaviors are sin.....Jesus clearly defined marriage as between a man and a woman – when He addressed marriage issues. I have a great idea – instead of twisting and spinning our faith into a gay romance novel.....why not invent a new religion or find one that actually agrees....

      June 10, 2012 at 3:08 am |
    • JWT

      Salt that is just your opinion and nothing more. Many christians have very different opinions about what the bible says. They have a much cleaner view of life than you do.

      June 10, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Salt, you have yet to explain why your beliefs should have anything to do with legal matters in a secular nation. You have yet to explain exactly what effect gay marriage will have on you or anyone else who isn't gay. You have yet to explain what the "BIG picture" is. Why can't you manage to do that, considering you are banging away on your keyboard with so much other crap?
      Get to it, or admit you are simply attempting to instill fear in others based on nothing but your own ignorance.

      June 10, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Come on, Salt. Too busy on your knees?

      June 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • xponential

      Shut up your ugly moley faces

      June 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • LauraTencelski

      I also agree with u and say Thanks for being Christ-like ..... and not just Christian :)

      June 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  20. Randy Johnson

    You don't need a 'case' – this is 2012 for G sakes. Give it up right wing idiots – your grandchildren are going to be making fun of you – (if they haven't already).

    June 10, 2012 at 1:22 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.