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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 • Opinion

soundoff (15,115 Responses)
  1. Jeannine

    "That is why we speak out against it, using Scripture to support the message. Yet, because of human nature, persons are able and willing to twist the Word and make it conform to their liking. "

    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 18, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  2. James

    "We grasp the human senses –seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, tasting. And then there is that other realm, the one most don't want to talk about or even recognize. The Spiritual."

    The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.

    June 18, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  3. John

    "It's Spiritual. The more and more you open the devils door, the greater the deceptions become. The playground is safe with man + woman."

    Some argue that since homosexual behavior is "unnatural" it is contrary to the order of creation. Behind this pronouncement are stereotypical definitions of masculinity and femininity that reflect rigid gender categories of patriarchal society. There is nothing unnatural about any shared love, even between two of the same gender, if that experience calls both partners to a fuller state of being. Contemporary research is uncovering new facts that are producing a rising conviction that homosexuality, far from being a sickness, sin, perversion or unnatural act, is a healthy, natural and affirming form of human sexuality for some people. Findings indicate that homosexuality is a given fact in the nature of a significant portion of people, and that it is unchangeable.

    Our prejudice rejects people or things outside our understanding. But the God of creation speaks and declares, "I have looked out on everything I have made and `behold it (is) very good'." . The word (Genesis 1:31) of God in Christ says that we are loved, valued, redeemed, and counted as precious no matter how we might be valued by a prejudiced world.

    There are few biblical references to homosexuality. The first, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, is often quoted to prove that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But the real sin of Sodom was the unwillingness of the city's men to observe the laws of hospitality. The intention was to insult the stranger by forcing him to take the female role in the sex act. The biblical narrative approves Lot's offer of his virgin daughters to satisfy the sexual demands of the mob. How many would say, "This is the word of the Lord"? When the Bible is quoted literally, it might be well for the one quoting to read the text in its entirety.

    Leviticus, in the Hebrew Scriptures, condemns homosexual behaviour, at least for males. Yet, "abomination", the word Leviticus uses to describe homosexuality, is the same word used to describe a menstruating woman. Paul is the most quoted source in the battle to condemn homosexuality ( 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 and Romans 1: 26-27). But homosexual activity was regarded by Paul as a punishment visited upon idolaters by God because of their unfaithfulness. Homosexuality was not the sin but the punishment.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul gave a list of those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God. That list included the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers. Sexual perverts is a translation of two words; it is possible that the juxtaposition of malakos, the soft, effeminate word, with arsenokoitus, or male prostitute, was meant to refer to the passive and active males in a homosexual liaison.

    Thus, it appears that Paul would not approve of homosexual behavior. But was Paul's opinion about homosexuality accurate, or was it limited by the lack of scientific knowledge in his day and infected by prejudice born of ignorance? An examination of some of Paul's other assumptions and conclusions will help answer this question. Who today would share Paul's anti-Semitic attitude, his belief that the authority of the state was not to be challenged, or that all women ought to be veiled? In these attitudes Paul's thinking has been challenged and transcended even by the church! Is Paul's commentary on homosexuality more absolute than some of his other antiquated, culturally conditioned ideas?

    Three other references in the New Testament (in Timothy, Jude and 2 Peter) appear to be limited to condemnation of male sex slaves in the first instance, and to showing examples (Sodom and Gomorrah) of God's destruction of unbelievers and heretics (in Jude and 2 Peter respectively).

    That is all that Scripture has to say about homosexuality. Even if one is a biblical literalist, these references do not build an ironclad case for condemnation. If one is not a biblical literalist there is no case at all, nothing but prejudice born of ignorance, that attacks people whose only crime is to be born with an unchangeable sexual predisposition toward those of their own sex.

    June 18, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  4. ImLook'nUp

    @ TTtPS

    You ask the question, "Why are you afraid of gay marriage?" My answer would be this: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. As persons who seek out the Spirit of God and His will, one lives in the body but is also aware of the Spiritual. We grasp the human senses –seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, tasting. And then there is that other realm, the one most don't want to talk about or even recognize. The Spiritual. The knowing that there is something beyond what can be seen with our eyes. God speaks and we listen. We watch and we learn. Same s 3x marriage is an area that goes contrary to The Word of God and we know it. That is why we speak out against it, using Scripture to support the message. Yet, because of human nature, persons are able and willing to twist the Word and make it conform to their liking.

    It's Spiritual. The more and more you open the devils door, the greater the deceptions become. The playground is safe with man + woman.

    June 18, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • JWT

      Civil rights trump your personal god's word – and always will. Your perverted view of god is solely your problem in life.

      June 18, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That is the biggest bunch of bs I've seen here yet. I asked you a specific question and yet again you and your pals can't answer: how does gay marriage affect you personally? I'm not asking for your religious mumbo-jumbo. I want to know how, in practical terms,your individual life and well-being has been or will be affected by gay marriage.

      And the idiocy of your 'playground' statement is simply incredible. It's not your playground. It belongs to everyone. How does someone on the playground, not bothering you or anyone else who doesn't have any interest in him, affect YOU? Now, if you can't figure out how to honestly answer this question, then you don't HAVE an answer, because it DOESN'T affect you in any personal way.

      June 18, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • ImLook'nUp

      @ TTtPS

      Jesus answered the devil with Scriptural mumbo-jumbo. It's my favorite.

      Good and evil play on the playground.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You don't own the playground. Your beliefs don't rule it. God doesn't rule it. The laws of this nation do, and they're based on the preservation and protection of civil rights.

      Too bad you still can't manage to answer the question. Apparently, your beliefs don't include the morality of honesty.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • TC

      "It's Spiritual. The more and more you open the devils door, the greater the deceptions become. The playground is safe with man + woman."

      So, you believe that gay people should deceive straight partners and pass as straight, and that this "keeps the playgroud safe"?

      I hope that it will be YOU or your kids that run into just such a deciever. It doesn't look so safe close up.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      TC, these idiots don't ever think past the obvious. Do they think gays should simply be forbidden from having families? Remain celibate forever? Deny their own natures and marrying some poor person of the opposite gender and make them both miserable? Have children with an opposite-gender spouse and end up divorcing later when pretending to be something he/she is not becomes unbearable?

      June 18, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • ImLook'nUp

      @ TTtPS

      That's where we differ....I believe God does rule the playground. He lets us do as we please –for the most part. On occasion, He has to step in and ref. He's the good guy, so that's OK.

      I did answer your question. Maybe? it is not what you wanted to hear.

      The Church of God is salt. What good is salt if it loses it's saltiness? How can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  5. CaptainHiggins

    Support the federal marriage amendment!

    June 18, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • TC

      I don't support anything created with the sole purpose of harming families.

      June 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  6. Bob

    John calls Paul prejudice and not scientific but lets look into this real man of God born in Tarsus, Paul was raised in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel a leading authority in the Sanhedrin in the mid 1st century AD Gamaliel once gave some advice to the Sanhedrin in Acts to refrain from slaying the disciples of Jesus. Paul or Saul same person was a Roman citizen a Pharisee of pharisees and he prosecuted Christians until he had a encounter with Jesus. He was educated in the finest religious traditions and the Sanhedrin was the assembly of twenty-three judges appointed in every city in the Biblical Land of Israel. He also had a miraculous encounter with Jesus that changed his life. This is the man that John is calling prejudice and unscientific. Fourteen epistles in the New Testament are traditionally attributed to Paul. His authorship of seven of the fourteen is questioned by modern scholars. Augustine of Hippo developed Paul's idea that salvation is based on faith and not "works of the law".Martin Luther's interpretation of Paul's writings heavily influenced Luther's doctrine of sola fide.So John who is into credentials is not respecting the credentials of Saint John.With Paul's upbringing and teachings he would not even think it was ok to be gay and might be the one to kill you if you were. he did kill many Christians.Saying that paul would not approve of gay behavior is a drastic understatement. He also was spiritually apprised and had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and was anointed a Apostle by Jesus. Paul understood from God and Jesus the meaning of relations it went far beyond the physical side and when you have relations with someone you are joining yourself with that person. This scripture explains it.
    Do you not know that the one who joins himself to a woman for hire is one body with her? For He says, "THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH." But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. Do you remember that God said I made them man and woman this is the spiritual side of marriage God looks at us in marriage as one person. So if God condemned gays and He created man and woman to be fruitful and multiply and He considers us one person and we are made in His image how many tenants of God does gay marriage violate?

    June 17, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • JWT

      It could in fact violate every tenet of your personal belief and that still would not matter, there is more to society that your beliefs. Remember they are your beliefs and not those of all people, nor even of all christians. The gays are not sinning unless they belong to your personal belief set.

      June 18, 2012 at 6:24 am |
    • Bob

      JWT Well actually that's not true either it may be my personal belief but this is also the belief this country was founded on. My belief doesn't ever require you to believe but we all will go and stand in judgement in front of God. The other side of this is that the reason the children of Israel were afraid to violate the law God had laid down was that there was blessings that God has poured out on His people. To sum it up you want me to be happy about biased gays presenting info pushed through by them from scientists that haven't a moral clue then given to corrupt politicians to mandate laws and get votes that force the very things we don't want on us in a society the majority still pays for but doesn't have the power to say no to because of corrupt politicians a court system that is out of control and has now become congress and worry that God the only one who still has morals says its bad and maybe be the only one that can avert the direction and foulness that this country is sinking into ? All because each group left the moral teachings of the Bible and let self interest trump collective good and forces these results on all leading to the ultimate demise of this country as we know it and possibly to world.
      I pledge Allegiance to the flag
      of the United States of America
      and to the Republic for which it stands,
      one nation under God, indivisible,
      with Liberty and Justice for all.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • JWT

      Well Bob the original pedge does not include under god, that was anti-communist age hysteria. You would alos deny others freedom of religion. But at least the founders of the USA knew better than you and separated the state from the shackles of oppressive religions.

      Civil rights trump your god any day.

      And no I will never stand in judgement in front of your god.

      June 18, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Janet

      "John calls Paul prejudice and not scientific but lets look into this real man of God born in Tarsus,"

      The Biblical condemnation of homosexuality is based on human ignorance, suspicion of those who are different, and an overwhelming concern for ensuring the survival of the people. Since the Bible regards homosexuality as a capital crime, it clearly assumes that homosexuality is a matter of free choice, a deliberate rebellion against God. We have learned from modern science that people do not choose to be gay or straight; hence it is neither logical nor moral to condemn those whose nature it is to be gay or lesbian.

      June 18, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  7. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Why are you so afraid to post the truth, Boob? Why are you scared to tell everyone how gay marriage will affect you?

    Is it because you ARE gay?

    June 17, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Henry

      Thank-you Bob for clarifying that mess that Bishop John wrote. Quite the twenty car pile up!! Tom do you think that a man should be able to marry eight or nine young women, say fifteen years old and up?

      June 17, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Henry, do you know the difference between informed consent and statutory ra8e? A fifteen-year-old is not able to 'consent'. As for marrying many others, if they're all in agreement and all of age, what do I care? And what does that have to do with gay marriage?

      June 18, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Whahhhahhahah! SB says I'm the worst bully on the playground! Whahhahhha! However WILL I recover from such a terrible blow! Boohoohoooo. My red candy heart is broken! Boob's pal SB doesn't wike me! BOOOOOHOOOOO!

    June 17, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  9. Bob

    John also says that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was no hospitality this is totally bogus, in fact their sin was the very same thing we see today that's why he cant see clearly that they were sinners before the Lord exceedingly, guilty of the most notorious crimes, and addicted to the most scandalous and unnatural lusts that can be thought of; and these they committed openly and publicly in the sight of God, in the most daring and impudent manner, and in defiance of him, without any fear or shame. The Targum of Jonathan reckons up many of their sins, as defrauding of one another in their substance, sinning in their bodies, unclean copulation, shedding of innocent blood, worshipping of idols, and rebelling against the name of the Lord. Isaiah 3 verse 9. it will reveal the truth to you.

    June 17, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      How will the legalization of gay marriage affect you in any way, Boob?

      June 17, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Soapy

      Wow such good information.....I notice that you get attacked for having the truth – hang in there Bob!!

      June 17, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • JWT

      Secular society bob – your beliefs are irrelevant, especially your wrong beliefs on this topic.

      June 18, 2012 at 6:25 am |
    • YeahRight

      "John also says that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was no hospitality this is totally bogus, in fact their sin was the very same thing we see today that's why he cant see clearly that they were sinners before the Lord exceedingly,"

      Wow are you clueless dude. It does say in Ezekiel the sins of Sodom was poor hospitality, part of that includes RAPE which has NOTHING to do with what we now know and understand about gays today. DUUUUHHHHH!

      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 18, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  10. Bob

    Interesting in Johns post he makes mention of Leviticus that the word abomination and says its the same Greek word for menstruation. Abomination in Hebrew is actually three distinct words, and are rendered in the English Bible by "abomination," or "abominable thing. It would be good if these words could be distinguished in translation, as they denote different degrees of abhorrence or loathsomeness. Everything akin to magic or divination is likewise an abomination tō‛ēbhāh; as are relational transgressions , especially relations between family and other unnatural offenses. This is the most severe form of abhorrence and it is used to describe gay relations, the abomination of desolation and diviners and mediums. This is the meaning in the Bible where it talks about a man laying with a man. John does not mention this in his research and actually glosses over it. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thy house and thus become a thing set apart like unto it, thou shalt utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is a thing set apart Tō‛ēbhāh is even used as synonymous with “idol” or heathen deity,

    June 17, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why are you afraid of gay marriage, Boob?

      June 17, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "This is the most severe form of abhorrence and it is used to describe gay relations, the abomination of desolation and diviners and mediums."

      If you read where Bob got his post from it doesn't state this at all! LOL!

      http://topicalbible.org/a/abomination.htm

      LMAO! But of course Bob is also leaving out that hundreds of thousands of experts have proven his prejudice and bigotry is unfounded and not based on REAL Facts.

      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 18, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  11. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I see that SALT, Green Pee and Boob have still refused to answer the question I asked days ago. What a shock.

    June 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • SB

      You are like one of the worst bullies at the playground, who would smack someone around and then ask whats wrong. No one will dialogue with you anymore.

      June 17, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So you can't answer the question, either, you little wad of poo? Good to know that Boob's sock puppets abound and they're all morons.

      June 17, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  12. Bob

    I am the LORD.You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination So when it says you shall not lie with a female as with a male and before this they talk about relationships that couldn't mean that we are talking about any physical contact it could it? Like not only paid relations but also no relationship that is physically intimate? Or are you saying God doesn't know how to communicate correctly.What I have found to those new here they post the same stuff over and over in a effort to persuade you that its true so I guess we will have to do the same thing.

    June 17, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • JWT

      Keep at it Bob. Fortunately not all christians are as wrong as you.

      June 17, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why is it you find time to cite the Bible but can't cite the studies you claimed proved your viewpoint, Boob? Why is it you can't answer the question: how will gay marriage affect you?

      June 17, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination "

      Yo moron that is part of Leviticus. Christians don't follow Leviticus anymore, it's part of the Holiness Code, a ritual manual for Israel's priests.. So are you going to tell women now they have to marry their rapists and all the other sins listed in that particular scriptures? Duh!

      June 18, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  13. Bob

    i wonder if we are going to be reading about him some day like the things going on with the Catholic church. I have a few questions for John if it really is song like when did you find out you were gay and did you do confessionals or personal counseling of men. Did the church know of your feelings.

    June 17, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bob, how come you're so stupid?

      June 17, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changeth things

    June 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!,!

      June 18, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  15. Janet

    The Biblical condemnation of homosexuality is based on human ignorance, suspicion of those who are different, and an overwhelming concern for ensuring the survival of the people. Since the Bible regards homosexuality as a capital crime, it clearly assumes that homosexuality is a matter of free choice, a deliberate rebellion against God, which it is not. We have learned from modern science that people do not choose to be gay or straight; hence it is neither logical nor moral to condemn those whose nature it is to be gay or lesbian.

    June 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Robert

      Sorry Janet, nice try though. There is not one drop of scientific proof that anyone is born gay. If that proof ever came to the table, it would revolutionize the world and we would not be on this blog. A couple of years ago – Oprah (who is for gay rights and does her homework)...had on many leaders from the gay and lesbian community. They declared to the world that they were NOT born this way – that is was their choice and they were not a genetic mistake!!

      June 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • JWT

      Oprah exists for sensationalism to promote her show. She picks and chooses the people very carefully to say what she wants them to say. Nothing on her show has the least educational value.

      June 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Erik

      "Sorry Janet, nice try though. There is not one drop of scientific proof that anyone is born gay."

      All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.

      The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.

      On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"

      The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.

      Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).

      There are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.

      June 18, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  16. Jeannine

    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. God Bless.

    June 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  17. Matt

    Homosexuality is not a sin according to the Bible. Any educated Christian would know that. Scholars who have studied the Bible in context of the times and in relation to other passages have shown those passages (Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans, etc) have nothing to do with homosexuality.. These passages often cherry-picked while ignoring the rest of the Bible. The sins theses passages are referring to are idolatry, prostitution, and rape, not homosexuality. That’s why Jesus never mentions it as well. There is nothing immoral, wrong, or sinful about being gay. Jesus, however, clearly states he HATES hypocrites. If you preach goodness, then promote hate and twist the words of the Bible, you are a hypocrite, and will be judged and sent to hell. Homosexuals will not go to hell, hypocrites will. This is very similar to the religious bigots of the past, where they took Bible passages to condone slavery, keep women down, and used Bible passages to claim blacks as curses who should be enslaved by the white man. People used God to claim that blacks marrying whites was unnatural, and not of God's will..

    June 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Red

      "any educated christian".....you mean like educated by Bishop John Spong – (the gay bishop..?). Matt any normal christian that is educated by normal bible believing christians – is not a racist nor do they believe that the gay lifestyle is ok with God, just as many actions are not ok with God. You clearly do not know scripture......if none of you guys care what christians think and don't agree with our opinion about gays.....why keep arguing and lying and twisiting and spinning...?

      June 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Bob

      Matt you are deceived read and learn if you dare

      June 17, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Matt any normal christian that is educated by normal bible believing christians – is not a racist nor do they believe that the gay lifestyle is ok with God, just as many actions are not ok with God. You clearly do not know scripture......if none of you guys care what christians think and don't agree with our opinion about gays.....why keep arguing and lying and twisiting and spinning...?"

      Actually it's the prejudice Christians that are doing all the spinning. There are thousands of gay churches, gay clergy and other non gay religious leaders that have gone on record stating that being gay as we know and understand it today is NOT a sin. Nowhere in your bible does your god condemn the saved loving long term relationship of a gay couple as we know and understand it today. Your bible does condemn, idolatry, worshiping a pagan god using sex, rape and male prostitution. Part of reading comprehension 101 is you put the scriptures into historical context to get the REAL meaning of what was written. DUUUHHHH!

      June 18, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  18. James

    The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are long term, loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.

    June 17, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Bob

      You are either uneducated deceived or a liar I don't know enough about you to tell.

      June 17, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "You are either uneducated deceived or a liar"

      Actually your describing yourself quite nicely, how's that log in your eye? LMAO!

      June 18, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  19. Bob

    I am not the one that wants to change the path of society but I am not going to sit idly by and let things happen either. I say live and let live till the let live side wants to control. People need to know the truth and what ever they choose that is their choice but silence is not a option.

    June 17, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • JWT

      How excellent to know you are in support of gay marriage.

      June 17, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • YeahRight

      "I say live and let live till the let live side wants to control."

      Gays don't want control all the want is EQUAL Civil rights, especially since hundreds of thousands of experts have proven that being gay is NOT a choice, it's NOT a mental illness, and it CAN'T be voluntarily changed. By the way did you see the celebration of gays in the military. Yes, even the military is recognizing they gave their lives for this country even though they are being denied their civil rights!

      June 17, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • YeahRight

      "the Pentagon will salute gays and lesbians, marking June as gay pride month just as it has marked other celebrations honoring racial or ethnic groups"

      So for all those that support gay rights get out and participate in your gay pride parades to show prejudice bigots like Bob the REAL Truth!

      June 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Bob

      Yup Pentagon must be gritting their teeth too our leaders have disgraced the American soldier gays already have all the civil rights of married folk but that's not good enough.

      June 17, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "gays already have all the civil rights of married folk but that's not good enough."

      You are such a LIAR and it proves you don't actually follow the teachings in the bible. LMAO! They do not have legal rights in over 40 of the states. These rights include:

      Tax Benefits
      -–Filing joint income tax returns with the IRS and state taxing authorities.
      -–Creating a "family partnership" under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members.

      Estate Planning Benefits
      -–Inheriting a share of your spouse's estate.
      -–Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.
      -–Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples, including QTIP trusts, QDOT trusts, and marital deduction trusts.
      -–Obtaining priority if a conservator needs to be appointed for your spouse – that is, someone to make financial and/or medical decisions on your spouse's behalf.

      Government Benefits
      -–Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.
      -–Receiving veterans' and military benefits for spouses, such as those for education, medical care, or special loans.
      -–Receiving public as-sistance benefits.
      -–Employment Benefits
      -–Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer.
      -–Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.
      -–Receiving wages, workers' compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.
      -–Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse's close relatives dies.

      Medical Benefits
      -–Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.
      -–Making medical decisions for your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.

      Death Benefits
      -–Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.
      -–Making burial or other final arrangements.

      Family Benefits
      -–Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.
      -–Applying for joint foster care rights.
      -–Receiving equitable division of property if you divorce.
      -–Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.

      Housing Benefits
      -–Living in neighborhoods zoned for "families only."
      -–Automatically renewing leases signed by your spouse.

      Consumer Benefits
      -–Receiving family rates for health, homeowners', auto, and other types of insurance.
      -–Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.
      -–Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.
      -–Other Legal Benefits and Protections
      -–Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).
      -–Suing a third person for offenses that interfere with the success of your marriage, such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation (these laws are available in only a few states).
      -–Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can't force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.
      -–Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.
      -–Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.
      -–Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family.

      June 18, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  20. Bob

    Just to clear up any misconceptions and I don't know if it really matters either but I am a business owner head of the church counsel for a AG church have 2 kids and 2 kids I have raised non of which are gay. I am a grandfather and have been saved since 93 when the Lord did a work in me that to this day I am amazed. My relationship with the Lord has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. He has stood by me through everything I have gone through helped me and has always supplied every need abundantly. I am against most in the religious community because they don't flow in the gifts of the spirit don't teach the power of the Lord and seek their own. There are some really good people in alot of churches dont get me wrong, I am talking about the ministry side as well as the congregates side. My family did not go to church at all when I was young but for some reason I did go for a short while to a Episcopal church where I learned that Jesus loved me but sin was shockingly bad. I remember sitting in my room one day at about 10 and saying Lord I will serve you but not now. I wanted to do my own thing and knew I could never live to the standards the Lord wanted. I wasn't taught about grace and forgiveness and how the Lord loves us unconditionally. so it took quite a few years and some hardships before I accepted the Lord later in life. I regret the missed years with the Lord, He does love all of us gay straight it really doesn't matter, Being gay is a sin and we all sin though but we try to walk in the path of righteousness not continue in sin. We as Christians don't multiply sin we abolish it in the Lord with the help of the Spirit. What I post is to encourage and stop misleading teachings that's what gets me the most. I was mislead and I missed those years with the Lord I dont want that to happen to anyone else. I didnt hear come as you are or come sit dine with me I was only taught sin was bad. Deception comes in quite a few forms half truths spoken by those in authority being mislead by their own convictions is the worst. Truth is truth Gods truth never changes He knew what would happen in history and said that there would be a one world order and people laughed they are not laughing now. I know what the Lord can do and am excited to press in further to move in more in the gifts to help more out in the Lord. What a great time we live in to see Gods moving. We are the light but if that light has become dim then what good is that? The difference between those who trully know the Lord and the ones that dont are being more and more defined and easy to spot. Ask and you will find and continue to seek and push in the rewards are great. There is nothing in life that can separate us from the Love of Christ except the lies of the enemy that you agree with. Let all things go and stop listen and spend time with the Lord He will make all things new.

    June 17, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • JWT

      God is your thing,well your particular version of gods, accept that and let others be happy in their own way.

      June 17, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • YeahRight

      So Bob are you an adulterer, since there is NO mention of a wife in your life. If you are then you are a hypocrite while trying to use your unfounded prejudice and bigotry towards the gay community. 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 17, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • John

      No one is misleading anyone everyone is welcomed in the church. Some argue that since homosexual behavior is "unnatural" it is contrary to the order of creation. Behind this pronouncement are stereotypical definitions of masculinity and femininity that reflect rigid gender categories of patriarchal society. There is nothing unnatural about any shared love, even between two of the same gender, if that experience calls both partners to a fuller state of being. Contemporary research is uncovering new facts that are producing a rising conviction that homosexuality, far from being a sickness, sin, perversion or unnatural act, is a healthy, natural and affirming form of human sexuality for some people. Findings indicate that homosexuality is a given fact in the nature of a significant portion of people, and that it is unchangeable.

      Our prejudice rejects people or things outside our understanding. But the God of creation speaks and declares, "I have looked out on everything I have made and `behold it (is) very good'." . The word (Genesis 1:31) of God in Christ says that we are loved, valued, redeemed, and counted as precious no matter how we might be valued by a prejudiced world.

      There are few biblical references to homosexuality. The first, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, is often quoted to prove that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But the real sin of Sodom was the unwillingness of the city's men to observe the laws of hospitality. The intention was to insult the stranger by forcing him to take the female role in the sex act. The biblical narrative approves Lot's offer of his virgin daughters to satisfy the sexual demands of the mob. How many would say, "This is the word of the Lord"? When the Bible is quoted literally, it might be well for the one quoting to read the text in its entirety.

      Leviticus, in the Hebrew Scriptures, condemns homosexual behaviour, at least for males. Yet, "abomination", the word Leviticus uses to describe homosexuality, is the same word used to describe a menstruating woman. Paul is the most quoted source in the battle to condemn homosexuality ( 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 and Romans 1: 26-27). But homosexual activity was regarded by Paul as a punishment visited upon idolaters by God because of their unfaithfulness. Homosexuality was not the sin but the punishment.

      1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul gave a list of those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God. That list included the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers. Sexual perverts is a translation of two words; it is possible that the juxtaposition of malakos, the soft, effeminate word, with arsenokoitus, or male prostitute, was meant to refer to the passive and active males in a homosexual liaison.

      Thus, it appears that Paul would not approve of homosexual behavior. But was Paul's opinion about homosexuality accurate, or was it limited by the lack of scientific knowledge in his day and infected by prejudice born of ignorance? An examination of some of Paul's other assumptions and conclusions will help answer this question. Who today would share Paul's anti-Semitic attitude, his belief that the authority of the state was not to be challenged, or that all women ought to be veiled? In these attitudes Paul's thinking has been challenged and transcended even by the church! Is Paul's commentary on homosexuality more absolute than some of his other antiquated, culturally conditioned ideas?

      Three other references in the New Testament (in Timothy, Jude and 2 Peter) appear to be limited to condemnation of male sex slaves in the first instance, and to showing examples (Sodom and Gomorrah) of God's destruction of unbelievers and heretics (in Jude and 2 Peter respectively).

      That is all that Scripture has to say about homosexuality. Even if one is a biblical literalist, these references do not build an ironclad case for condemnation. If one is not a biblical literalist there is no case at all, nothing but prejudice born of ignorance, that attacks people whose only crime is to be born with an unchangeable sexual predisposition toward those of their own sex

      June 17, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Bob

      Ok parrot we have all heard that before did you see the latest studies in the news some good some bad for gays Adding to the confusion about what causes lesy is the slipperiness of female s itself. Unlike men, who are usually oriented solely toward men or women, and whose s is essentially fixed from puberty on, a decade of research by the University of Utah psychologist Lisa Diamond and others demonstrates that women have greater " plasticity." Their orientation can be shaped by cultural influences, altered by positive or negative experiences and intensified by feelings of love or attachment. Women are far more likely than men to "report remarkably late and abrupt onset of gay, often after normal marriage," Diamond wrote in January in the Archives of Sal Behavior.

      June 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Bob

      John again what garbage you would do alot better in new age religion

      June 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Lisa Diamond and others demonstrates that women have greater " plasticity." Their orientation can be shaped by cultural influences, altered by positive or negative experiences and intensified by feelings of love or attachment. Women are far more likely than men to "report remarkably late and abrupt onset of gay, often after normal marriage," Diamond wrote in January in the Archives of Sal Behavior.'

      This is a GREAT example of Bob's cherry picking of the facts to try to justify their unfounded prejudice and bigotry. The studies also showed that a female's sexual orientation also appears to be partly influenced by her level of exposure to the male sex hormone androgen when she is in the womb. Greater hormone exposure correlates with more gender nonconformity early in her life (as a child, she may be called a "tomboy"), as well as a same-sex orientation later on. Lesbianism is indeed at least 25 percent genetic, as determined by a 2011 study of twins conducted in the United Kingdom.

      June 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Matt

      Well well, Bishop John Shelby Spong showing yourself on this blog again. Your twisted gay rantings are total garbage......you are more in the range of a being a cult than one that could fit in with New Age.....people in cults take a basic faith and twist it and twist it....until they have made it their own....I do not recognize even a drop of Christianity in your writings.....don't what to call you actually. Very, very sad.....

      June 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Bob

      Parrrot so you found and posted the rest of the article good work but its far from the iron clad no change born that way idea that you want us all to accept.

      June 17, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Well well, Bishop John Shelby Spong showing yourself on this blog again. Your twisted gay rantings are total garbage......you are more in the range of a being a cult than one that could fit in with New Age.....people in cults take a basic faith and twist it and twist it....until they have made it their own."

      No that is what prejudice bigots like you do since it's been shown nowhere in your bible does your god condemn the saved loving gay couple as we know and understand it today. What your bible condemns is idolatry, worshiping a pagan god using sex, rape and male prostitution. Duh!

      June 19, 2012 at 1:33 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.