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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. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Boob's condescending posts about women and administrative assistants are all too familiar. I recall another tiny-dick poster who pulled the same crap here not so long ago.

    Good job, Boob. You've outed yourself.

    You're dismissed. Thanks for playing.

    June 10, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  2. Bob

    Thank you for confirming you are a woman I kinda suspected that, women are usually the only ones that will be so perverse in their language and manners. Men will usually argue the points and not plain harass for no reason. Women that are not happy with their spot in life will act the way you do that have repressed anger issues. By the way it was Eve that caused the destruction of the Garden of Eden.She was the one that convinced Adam to eat conspiring with the Devil. Adam didn't say no. To bad you are waling in the same shoes as Eve.

    June 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Thanks for confirming you're an idiot, Boob. I knew you were, but now you've shown it in such dramatic fashion that anyone with a brain can see it.

      Good job, Boob.

      June 10, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • James

      "Men will usually argue the points and not plain harass for no reason. Women that are not happy with their spot in life will act the way you do that have repressed anger issues. By the way it was Eve that caused the destruction of the Garden of Eden.She was the one that convinced Adam to eat conspiring with the Devil. Adam didn't say no. To bad you are waling in the same shoes as Eve."

      Yet you can't seem to comprehend that the Scriptures were written approximately 2000 or more years ago when there was no knowledge of constitutional homosexuality. The Scripture writers believed that all people were naturally heterosexual so that they viewed homosexuality activity as unnatural. Women today are pointing out that the inferiority of women expressed in the scriptures was a product of culture and the times in which the Bible was written; it should not be followed today, now that we are beginning to appreciate the natural and God-given equality of men and women.

      Similarly, as we know that homosexuality is just as natural and God-given as heterosexuality, we realize that the Biblical injunctions against homosexuality were conditioned by the attitudes and beliefs about this form of sexual expression which were held by people without benefit of centuries of scientific knowledge and understanding.

      It is unfair of us to expect or impose a twentieth century mentality and understanding about equality of genders, races and sexual orientations on the Biblical writers. We must be able to distinguish the eternal truths the Bible is meant to convey from the cultural forms and attitudes expressed there.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • LinCA

      @James

      Very true.

      You said, "We must be able to distinguish the eternal truths the Bible is meant to convey from the cultural forms and attitudes expressed there."
      And, for completeness, I've included the complete and unabridged list of "eternal truths the Bible is meant to convey", below:
      <eternal truths in the bible>
      </eternal truths in the bible>

      June 11, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  3. Bob

    Sorry about the quality of my sentences annoying you I usually have someone on my staff or secretary to type for me and edit I only have to dictate. Nice to have not to worry about it usually.

    June 10, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Jen

      Hahaha, yeah right. You have a secretary (umm....they aren't even called secretaries anymore..they are administrative assistants)....yeah...thanks for the laugh!!!!!!

      June 10, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Bob

      Sorry Jen you obviously are stuck a few years in the past it used to be administrative assistant but secretary is back and I personally like it always did always will. Keep reading Forbes you may catch up.

      June 10, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, that's a hoot. I've heard such claims before from ass holes who try to excuse their inadequacies by claiming they needn't worry about such trifles as grammar and syntax.

      You're a fraud, Boob.

      June 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  4. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Trolls like Bob, whom I suspect are just here to prove the point by opposing it with idiotic, illiterate posts, simply reinforce the foolishness of railing against gay marriage as if gays will disappear if no one validates their unions. Gays have always been here and they will always be here; they're not abnormal or sick. They simply are, just like those who are left-handed or red-headed. Denying them the right to form legal partnerships will not make them go away. It won't render them unable to produce children. It will achieve nothing at all. It is simply wrong to do so.

    That some people can't get over it is irrelevant. There will always be those who wish to deny others the rights they enjoy under some misguided sense of righteousness. Too bad for them; society will, as it always has, move forward, with or without their approval.

    Get over it. You'll be dead and gone and life will proceed without your approval as it always has. Tough toenails.

    June 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  5. Bob

    in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

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

      **yawn*

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

    Tom if the laws change in this Christian nation to accommodate gay marriage and if gays get their way and change the view of society and the fabric that they are trying to do. So that they become the persecutors and not the persecuted you/they still wont know true happiness. There is no real happiness apart from God,

    June 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And you know this how, exactly, Booby?

      When are you going to grow some balls and reveal your level of education, Boobtastic? Or do you want everyone to draw his own conclusions based on your incredible idiotic posts?

      June 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, gee, almost forgot, Boobaliscious Dimbus Bulbus: Where did you get the idea this was a "Christian nation", you moron? It wasn't ever founded as such. It's a secular nation of laws, not religious belief, as you'd know if you actually ever got an education that didn't come from some fundy church school.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Jen

      I'm truly happy and I'm agnostic. I also love my children more than any other parent in the world loves their children. How can you judge how happy I am? Only people that want to control the actions of others are unhappy.

      This country is secular, not CHRISTIAN. I am not Christian and I'm married. The only difference between my marriage and those of most Christians is that my marriage to my husband will last a lifetime. So if I'm married and my marriage has NOTHING to do with god, then there's no reason why a gay person can't get married. It does not affect your marriage anymore than my non-Christian marriage affects anyone's marriage.

      By the way, you do not know how to form a proper sentence. The education system failed you.

      June 10, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bob

      You said, "Tom if the laws change in this Christian nation to accommodate gay marriage and if gays get their way and change the view of society and the fabric that they are trying to do."
      First, this isn't a christian nation. Never was, never will be.

      All they are trying to do is to get this nation to uphold it's constitution. The constitution provides for equal treatment. Until there is legal recognition for same sex marriage, there will not be equality under the law.

      You said, "So that they become the persecutors and not the persecuted you/they still wont know true happiness."
      Nobody is asking anybody to engage in homosexual acts against their wishes. Nobody is asked to enter into a same sex marriage, if they don't want to. No church will be required to sanction or partake in same sex marriages. If you don't want them to, same sex marriage will not affect you.

      I realize that it is hard for believers to be rational, you wouldn't be one if you were, but try to anyway. It may take a while longer, but reason will prevail. Just as it did for slavery, women's rights and civil rights. Eventually, even you will have to accept same sex marriage. The struggle for equal rights has been peaceful, so far. I can't guarantee that it will stay that way.

      You said, "There is no real happiness apart from God,"
      You should let go of your infantile beliefs and give it realism a try. Once you shed the delusion, you will feel a lot better and, as a bonus, you will have a much better sex life.

      June 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Tom if the laws change in this Christian nation to accommodate gay marriage and if gays get their way and change the view of society and the fabric that they are trying to do."

      It's already legal in several states and it hasn't undone the fabric of society. You are just making up lies to try to justify your unfounded prejudice view point. Duh! Recognized federal civil rights law in the United States is grounded in the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. By this standard, marriage has long been established as a civil right.

      The operative constitutional text is section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868. The relevant passages read as follows:

      No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

      The U.S. Supreme Court first applied this standard to marriage in Loving v. Virginia (1967), where it struck down a Virginia law banning interracial marriage

      Marriage is a civil right and gays deserve equal civil rights.

      Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience.

      June 11, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  7. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I wonder, Boob, did you actually graduate from a high school that wasn't run by a fundie church? Why don't you tell us all just what level of education you possess? Or are you too much of a coward to give even ONE honest answer? Based on your record thus far, I'm betting you are. You have yet to be honest about a single thing you've been asked.

    How will gay marriage affect you?

    June 10, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  8. Bob

    What makes you qualified to judge any Christian not even knowing what the Bible says? You wouldn't even know if what I am doing is scriptural or not. You said God killed people unmercifully, You can only guess!! Maybe your being setup, The Bible says your own words will condemn you.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You moron. What the Bible says is irrelevant. What the law says isn't. You are such an illiterate dolt that you can't figure out what either says without moving your lips when you read.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Jen

      Bob,

      'YOU'RE being set up', 'YOU'RE not worth it', 'YOU'RE not a real person'.

      I personally don't listen to people that didn't make it through first grade spelling successfully.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      THANK YOU, Jen. This asshat is beyond imbecilic. I'm finished with the dipsh!t. He can't defend his moronic position and he's dumb as dirt, as well as less attractive and useful. I might as well argue with a bag of drowned kittens.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  9. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Do you have a clue, Boob? Do you even have an answer to a single question I posed to you?

    You dolt. Some people are gay. There isn't a thing you can say or do that will change that and no threat you can make that will matter. You can continue to rail about your ridiculous notions of sin and God, and it will matter not a whit. You'll be dead and gone and gays will still exist and continue to be born just as they have since time began. None of your threats of eternal damnation will make any difference; gays will still be here. And eventually, gay marriage will be legal because our laws are NOT based on your silly beliefs but on the rights of individuals.

    You can continue to be a complete moron; I doubt you have any choice in the matter, poor thing. The rest of us will move on without you.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  10. Bob

    If you are trying to win people over to the gay point of view why would you think insults will do it? If you know you lost the battle then you have the right game plan. So you have lost and there's no hope you are just trying to stop people from knowing the truth and thanking God for their salvation. That we dont have to endure the hell you must be going through.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You fvckin' idiot. I don't care to "win people over" to the "gay" point of view. God, but you're an imbecile. I am straight, female and have been married for more than 30 years, you fvckin' asshat.

      Will dimwits like you EVER grow brains? You are beyond stupid, Boob.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • David

      Tom, if you are married, please convey my condolensces to your husband or wife.

      June 10, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I like Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son... tells it like it is...

      June 10, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      David, fvck you and the ass who married you.

      June 10, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's sad for your spouse, David the Dumb, that you're incapable of reading and can't spell, either.

      What a fvckwit.

      June 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "So you have lost and there's no hope you are just trying to stop people from knowing the truth and thanking God for their salvation. That we dont have to endure the hell you must be going through."

      Oh the truth like, Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      June 11, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  11. Bob

    There is demotivational poster that says It could be the only purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others I think Tom I should buy this for you. Many have given answers to you only to be shot down with insults not with good responses,you have never defended your position with any intelligent answer and your not worth it, I only worry about the ones that don't realize that your not a real person and may be listening to the garbage that this author and you shell out.

    June 10, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Many have given answers to you." What a liar you are. None of you idiots have given a single answer to any question I've posed, you sniveling coward!

      I hope your god sees what you say here, Boob. You're a disgrace to any Christian who truly loves Christ. You should be ashamed of yourself and your lying little life. I am. I'm ashamed of you for those who are real Christians; those who love others more than themselves, who devote their entire lives to giving and caring. You're a disgrace and completely disgusting in every way.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  12. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Note that Boob can't or won't answer the questions posed to him. Not that he can even read them or figure out what they mean, but still. If a retard falls in the forest, does he matter?

    June 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Boob isn't a Christian that Christ would EVER defend. He's a charlatan and a complete hypocrite. The "love" of Christ has NEVER entered Boob's heart and never will, because he's more concerned with consigning others to hell than with doing what Christ Jesus commanded. I have no fear of hell if heaven contains the sorry souls of asshats like Boob.

      June 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  13. Bob

    Tom did you ever think about being a comedian?

    June 10, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Did you ever think about being a man with balls? Really? When? It doesn't show.

      June 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  14. Bob

    Thanks tom I fell on the floor laughing I needed that.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You fell? I doubt it. One can't fall if one is a worm.

      June 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  15. Bob

    Yup I have something useful the same as the first statement the Word of God does not in any way endorse gay marriage, and being gay is a sin. Anything other than that is lies Hows that mr or ms tom.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      zzzzz. As if anyone gives a ripe sh8t.

      June 10, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • JWT

      That would all depend on your particular interpretation of the bible. It is not the same throughout christianity.

      June 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  16. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    If there's anyone more dim than Boob, I can't imagine it. How could someone that deficient in intellect manage to breathe without a ventilator? Really, Boob, just give up. You are more of a detriment than a benefit to your "cause", you numb nut. You can't even manage to spell single syllable words without fvckin them up!

    You're an embarrassment to your own cause. Just slink away into the night and let the worms take over-they'd do far better and could do no worse.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  17. Bob

    yeah tom miid Looked at past posts and other boards I guess you guys don't have a real life since your always here. What is it don't have money to buy video games so you harass people as a form of pleasure. Maybe your mother will give you some money so you can enjoy life

    June 10, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's "YOU'RE" you fvckin' idiot. My mother was a supporter of gay rights, you moron.

      Let me know when you actually grow something that resembles a brain, Boob. You're so friggin' stupid it ought to be a crime. Please don't ever have any children; no one deserves to be saddled with your defective DNA, you idiot.

      June 10, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Delusional nonsense. When you post outright false information, you should expect to get called on it. When you DO get called on it, guess what ? You are not being harassed, so drop the " I'm a victim " act, it's just as desperate as posting falsehoods.

      June 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  18. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Come on, Boob, post some more drivel, dearie. Do your really think anyone believes your vomitous nonsense anymore? This is 2012, not 212.

    People know better than to swallow moronic spew. Do you have ANYTHING to offer that's compelling, truthful, and worthy? If not, and I suspect "NOT", go stick it up your sorry azz.

    June 10, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ...

    June 10, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  20. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Is Boob having a melt-down? Wow. What a sight! I'm most entertained by the spectacle of a self-aggrandizing self-proclaimed "Christian" being dumbstruck!

    It's a laugh. Poor little Boob. It must be so hard to be so completely idiotic that one doesn't even recognize one's been had.

    I hope someone will swoop in and gather up the poor little sod. Take him to his mommy and give him a cookie. Tell him it'll be okay and that even if there's no fairy godfather, he'll survive just fine.

    June 10, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
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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.