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.
I am just wondering if you have even read the Bible. How did you end up becoming a professor of law? I mean what school did you graduate from? And how did this university hire you as a professor? Have you read these verses? Rom. 1:26, Rom. 1:27, 1 Cor 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10? Also read Lev. 18:22, 29 & 2 Peter 2:4-6....
It is idiotic people like you going around calling yourselves as "Christians" and writing stupid baseless articles without fully reading and comprehending the Word of God and in the process misleading others as well...
Yo seem like the typical zealot incapable of engaging any difference of opinion. You would fit in quite well in Kabul, well if you were a Taliban.
So glad you have the truth. Actually, I've never met a religionist yet, who didn't have the truth. Have you ever, ever heard someone say "I have the wrong religion"? I never have.
"For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper." Rom 1:26-28
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!
In rely to edwardo: "Sound the alarm" merely presented the Word of God! If a person who reads or hears the Word feels condemned or agitated by what is written or spoken, it is not him/her that condemns you, but it is the Word itself. This means you have a condition of the heart that you need to discuss with the Lord instead of taking your anger and resentment out on one who follows His wise counsel. Furthermore, in reply to casting of the stone, read the whole story. Even the Lord made it clear to her that she was a sinner and to sin no more! He showed her grace and mercy...like He offers to all of us if only we respond and accept the gift of salvation.
@I am John – How wonderful that he made "a plan of salvation". He created hell, then invented a way for us to avoid it. If I set your house on fire, then ran in and rescued you... would you consider me your savior?
I am John: Sound The Alarm merely presented the edited, translated hearsay of Iron Age sheep lovers. Do not confuse that with God
You had many lovely seatuts to photograph. I am always fascinated by the headless seatuts and wonder what their heads had looked like. I have ancestors that were in the Mormon Battalion, and my father and mother were in the commemorating group in official positions while my father was living. The statue you photographed brought back memories.
Another attack on Christianity. You notice they don't say a word about Islam. They kill gays in Muslim countries. But of course, Christianity is evil and nasty because us christians think being gay is a choice.
How can it be a "choice" if only gay people have gay urges? It is clearly genetic.
Bigoted Christians should be attacked. Why should they be spared. Because you say you are Christian, you should be given carte blanche to believe and impose anything on us?
To be fair - christianity is the most murderous organization in human history and is singular in this respect. NO ONE has killed more people than the christians in the past 2000 years. And you guys are STILL committing murder every single day! It's an ongoing 2000 year killing spree yet you guys claim you are 'peaceful". how messed up is THAT?!
@ Colin way can now alter DNA bye bye gay gene problem fixed
So Randy, if it's a choice... is there a chance you might wake up gay tomorrow? I mean, if it's happened to millions and millions of people, what makes you so darned special?
Your religion will eventually end up in the trash heap reserved for myths and their religions. . .it's inevitable. No evolution=no more life.
Do Christians also think it is a choice to be blackque? Or asian? This is not like deciding to be a democrat or republican – or even a pentecostal vs. free will baptist. It's about nature, Randy. It's about nature.
BamaDanial suffers from a common misaprehension of many Christians who oppose gay marriage – that there is some kind of "gay gene" that should have disappeared on the basis that gays don't breed. This simplistic view, whilst perhaps comforting, in that it allows Christians to dispute the genetic origins of h.omo$e.exuality, is just flat wrong.
In reply to yalesouth: The belief of Christians are not our own, but it is the wise counsel that our Creator left for ALL mankind to follow and heed. Neither your nor my "opinion" counts...only what He says! His Word does not change with the times or the opinions of mankind. Creation does not control the Creator. He is eternal along with His Word.
Oooh, Randy.....you THINK it is a choice. Very impressive. Now, do you have any support for that other than your own bigotry?
Does the Bible ever label gentiles as an abomination? I guess now lawyers qualify as CNN religious "experts". This Osler is a professional liar, not a Christian. There'll be no Bell Curve or excuses or wordsmithing when you're standing at the judgement seat. Don't let clowns like Osler feed you a perverse interpretation of the Bible, read it for yourselves because you're eternity depends on it.
I'm not spending eternity with you, or your god. Being here on earth with you, is too too long, the way it is.
Why wouldn't a lawyer qualify as a CNN religious expert? Every other form of human low life has been declared as some form of religious scholar or expert – and not just by CNN, but by Liberty University, Bob Jones University, FoxNews, voters in Arkansas (and North Carolina) and street corner speakers from London to Lincoln Park.
You should read that passage in the original Greek. The word doesn't carry the same force as 'abomination'.
Even the oldest major religions are only about 5,000 years old. This is less than 1% of human's time on Earth, what happened to all their souls?
The Catholics, at one point, created a magic land where they "went" but I think they have moved off it. Even they have a limit for the ridiculous.
Most Xtians satisfy your inquiry with "they'll be judged by what they know". Not exactly sure if that's a "they're in heaven", or "the temperature was turned down for them in hell" answer.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." What do you hear? I hear a wolf!
Times and opinions may change but His Word does not for it is eternal. Neither add nor take away what is written in the book.
OMG! The words of the First Unicorn are eternal too! I wonder I Jesus knows the First Unicorn.
So, how exactly do we know a "false" prophet from a "true" prophet. Oh, I know, I know! The true ones agree with you. Got it! Answered my own question.
.How can one deny the scripture posted above???? If Osler thinks the "flowing creek water" is the same as being "led by the Holy Spirit", he is paddling up the wrong stream! God says "if you love me, then you will obey me". His word says It is an ABOMINATION (Funk & Wagnals Desk top Dictionary defines abomination: to regard with loathing; to abhor~as an ill omen) for a man to lay with another man!!! What part of that don't you understand? The wages of sin produce death....why do you think AIDS has become so prevalent in the world? It is Gods response to the sins of man in this situation~~~spiritual & physical death! God WILL NOT BE MOCKED. IF YOU DON'T KNOW GOD, IF YOU HAVE NO RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM, YOU CANT POSSIBLY SPEAK FOR HIM!!! THE NATURAL MIND CANNOT COMPREHEND THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT. Picture this...having people telling Christians what is & isnt with the Bible or Christianity is like SOMEONE TRYING TO TELL SOMEONE ELSE WHOS LEARNING TO LIVE & READ ACCORDING TO THE CHINESE, WITHOUT KNOWING HOW TO READ ONE WORD OF CHINESE THEMSELVES...(or maybe they learned a word or 2 from fortune cookies or decorative art, etc.) & TELLING THE OTHER PERSON THAT WHAT THEY'RE LEARNING IS ALL WRONG, DEGRADING CHINESE AS A LIE & DEFAMING THE ENTIRE CHINESE CULTURE & MOCKING THEIR EFFORTS! HELLOOOOOOO!?!?!??!?
Ever seen an atheist post such garbage?
You are so out of touch with reality it's not even funny! Welcome to the 21st century! Evolution is the word. Things do change number 1, and number 2, YOU CAN NOT make me believe what you believe! And definitely the world can not be ruled by an old book (YES THE BIBLE). JUST BECAUSE THAT IS YOUR BELIEVE IT DOESN'T MEAN IT'S MINE. In your own little world, in your own family, of course, apply your believes, however, the whole country does not believe what you believe.
So please, if you really are a believer, then live but let others live the way they want too.
By your own analogy, if you have only read the Bible in English and haven't research the history of its translations, you have no idea what theBible really says. Particularly if you are reading the KJV. You are just parroting a really bad translation.
Wow...that's some strong kool-aid you're drinking there bud!
Spend a lot of time on your knees, do you Safe?
Also, Safe, you have no authority to speak for God. Now, get off your knees.....sheesh....slave
This article does speak to God's love (which is real and powerful), but not to his law. Christ issued a higher law, not a lesser law. The denial of oneself is a central theme of Christ's ministry. Without an actual statement by Christ repealing what Moses and Paul taught, this is speculation to claim his love is so generous it overrides what his prophets and apostles taught.
Matthew 22:36-40 – New International Version (NIV)
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Jesus Himself violated a number of the Old Testimate laws. Like healing on the sabbath. It has been widely held for centuries that the New Testement replaces the Old. The only reason the Old Testement was included in the Bible was to give a historical support to Jesus as the Messiah.
Yes, Loving God is the most important thing and "If ye love me, keep my commandments"
Of course Christ changed laws, but that doesn't mean we ignore a law he didn't replace.
Are you married? Does your wife participate in church? I only ask because Paul taught that it's shameful for a woman to speak in church and that if she has any questions she should wait until they get home and her answers can be explained to her by the man of the household.
So if Paul's teachings are inviolate then the membership of the vast majority of today's churches have a real problem. If they are not inviolate then the Church is capable of evolving away from those teachings as the Holy Spirit leads it. Which does mean that there his historical Christian precedent for a change as radical as accepting gay marriage.
Ssssh! The Mormon has a plan. They want Romney who is a Mormon to win the presidency so they can pass a law to legalize polygamy and for you to marry your first cousins and take an underage girl as a wife. Isn’t that exciting?
actually, no. The Mormons condemn polygamy, except when God commands it. http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/jacob/2?lang=eng.
@Michael – so, maybe god is commanding it for all of us? I do hear voices!
The Pharisees are back, it appears...
The Pharisees condoned man-made laws to prevent sinning. As evident in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, we as a body of Christ have a mission to uphold the teachings and laws of the Lord, not man-made laws to protect against these infallible laws.
The sad truth is that people who are gay are trying to use religion to justify their actions....they must know in the end they will held accountable.
sometimes I really hope there is a higher power, because I know that they will judge you based upon what you did to others. right now I'm thinking it wont be favorable...
Yes, and that is up to God to decide, not you.
In the end we will all be held accountable. I find it helpful to remember that when I feel the urge to condemn those I disagree with.
The the: Judgement is bad joke played on manking, and only applicable to those who buy into that nonsense.
"A clear instruction on this comes from Simon Peter, the “rock” on whom the church is built." – First mistake, the church is not built on its followers, it is built on Jesus Christ.
jesus didnt found the church did he? points to you for not understanding your own religious roots
Meg, read your bible and you will see it clearly states that Peter is the rock. Don't deny Jesus' own words. For 1500 years, all Christians believed that Peter was the rock, that infants should be baptized, that the holy mother of God should be respected, and that Jesus can be found in the real presence of the Eucharist. This is not religious opinion but historical fact. Would you believe those who knew Jesus as he walked the earth, or somebody who came later with a private revelation?
I thought the author was rather thin on citing the scripture sources to justify his claims. Whether Christian or not, one has no credibility without citing a source for a claim.
Perhaps you should actually read your Bible, then. It was Christ himself that called Peter "the rock, upon whom I will build My church.". Yes, God and Christ reside at its heart but they acted through Peter to form the foundation upon which Christian practices were ultimately based.
Religion is false.
Why is it always the Christian case for Gay Marriage? What about the Muslim case or the Jewish case? Shouldn't CNN be 'fair and equal' in examining 'all' religions' views on this issue.
Because it's mostly Christian religious fanatics who are trying to suppress a minority's civil rights. . .as usual.
Christian tolerance for ho-mo-se-xuality far exceeds that of other religions (particularly Islam). At least they have a fighting chance arguing with Christians.
Feel free to go to the middle east and celebrate gay marriage. Yep, that will work out well for you.
Christianity will eventually die off; all religions do like everything else. You and your religion are a little too ignorant to evolve. No evolution= no more life.
Bride + Groom .(period)
And God made Adam and Eve not Madam and Eve
Intended.. . .how do you feel now that you know all the dna in your body proves your ancestors originated in South East Africa?
It's also Cain and Eve otherwise where will Cain get a woman for a wife
Yes marriage has been so holy that 50% of them fail!
His sister,pharaohs did it
Oops, you're wrong again. . .as usual. There are now entire countries and even States within the US that prove you wrong. You're a liar.
name*cheddar: Actually, Cain lived for centuries. During that time, Adam and Eve would have had more children than just the first two sons. It's even a given that Able and possibly both brothers had wives of their own before the murder. We don't know how old they were at that point.
Regardless, it is worth noting that if all of humanity is descended from Adam and Eve as the Bible teaches, then there was a whole lot of incest going on. The same holds true after the flood when it was just Noah and his three sons responsible for repopulating the world.
These items are conveniently glossed over by today's Christians but they serve to prove that the morals of the New Testament's authors and later the Bible's translators were considerably more parochial than earlier on in history. I am not advocating incest or polygamy by bringing this up. I'm merely pointing out that the views of God's people have changed dramatically over time – in some cases, shockingly. They are capable of changing yet again. In fact, Christ himself represented a massive shift in religious thinking.
Going to church alone does not make anyone a Christian. Study your Bible well and allow the Holly Ghost to teach you what you do not know instead of using human philosophy to draw conclusions on a subject like this.
I hope the "Holy Ghost" brings a chalkboard with him for his lesson.
Yes using logic seems to be lacking in your types. Its why all the hatred in the bible has persisted for thousands of years, you dont think on your own
Please re-read Romans 1.
Joe B, do you think he hasn't read Romans 1? Wait, have you read the first verse of Romans 2? Have you read Mark 2:17? If He said He came for the sinners, then who are you to reject His plan? Why do you quote one who never met Christ? Why do you not quote Christ? A Christian should defer to Christ's words, not one who denied Him.
@ Catholic, first off, it does not matter how many times you read the Bible it only matters what you get out of it thanks to the Holy Spirit. Joe B's message is suggesting that the author get a different message out of the Bible chapter because the author is clearly incorrect. God came for sinners, but He only knows those who repent of their sin and confess that what they have done is wrong in the eyes of the Lord. (Only those who accept the Gift of life.) Second, Paul may have never met Christ, but God the father did and did so for the specific purpose of advancing His kingdom. Though Moses and almost all of the other books of the Bible are not written by Christ, does that mean that we cannot quote them? Surely not! We can quote any of them for they are all equal and inspired by God. Lastly, though Paul may have denied Christ, he would embrace Him in the end as Paul was willing to die for Christ. This story shows that though we are sinful, God came for sinners and those who accept this message will not perish, but have eternal life.
RP, I suggested that Joe B was wrong in that he ignored the words of HIS SAVIOR. He went to a man who never heard the word. Paul was not an apostle, not one of the twelve chosen by Jesus to spread the word. God meeting Christ does not validate the hateful Old Testament view of Paul. Paul did not embrace the teachings of Christ, of helping sinners. Paul suggests that we hate the gays and fornicators and whatnot. You can quote verses all you want, but the other books were not of Christ. They were of men, almost all of them men who never heard the words from Christ, like Paul. Christ is the leader, not Paul. Christ is the one to quote, not Paul. Christ preached love, Paul preached hatred in the one book cited by Joe B. Paul could not have embraced Christ if he preached hatred. Paul's end is not the issue, it's his words that came before the end: words of hatred. Ignore the hate, embrace the love. Embrace Christ.
A lovely contrast between someone who understands his relationship to God and those who think God is no more than the words written in a book. Some people worship God, through Jesus. Some people worship mere words
I worship Unicorns and the Fairy God-Mother.
I like the new Buddy Christ that these folks are promoting these days. All warm and fuzzy.
Yes, you prefer the mass murdering "God" who enjoys killing all the inhabitants of the earth with floods and whatnot. He seems to get his rocks off on creating things then killing them off. . .kinda like what a juvenile psychotic mass murder would do to little animals in the backyard.
@ch: A theory is a hypothesis that has been tested and proved correct through evidence. You, like too many people, seem to think that the word "theory" simply means "idea" or "guess." The "Theory of Intelligent Design/Theory of Creationism" isn't even a theory. No one calls it "The Theory of....." because it isn't a theory. It's a hypothesis that no one has been able to prove with evidence through experimentation. – a lifelong, practicing Catholic.
I'm just glad that I don't belong to a religion that thought up "The Creationist Museum". Don't you just love all the dinosaurs peacefully munching on grass in the background while "Adam and Eve" enjoy a slow walk through the "Garden of Eden". LMAO. I can't believe what Christianity has resorted to in efforts to make their "bible" not appear to be false or exclusively for idiots in the 21st century.
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.