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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. Truth

    "Haven't you read," [Jesus] replied, "that at the beginning [God] 'made them male and female', and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matt 19:4-6).

    They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another (Rom 1:25-27).

    But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. (2 Tim 3:1-5)

    In the last days, many false prophets will rise and CNN is full of them, able to communicate lies to millions. People will claim to be lovers of God and Christians, but are they really?

    May 19, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Huebert

      You've been waiting for judgement day for 2000 years. It isn't going to happen.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      "People will claim to be lovers of God and Christians, but are they really?"
      No they're not! And really the only way to find out what someone is made out fo is to expose them to the Word of God. Then they show their true colours!

      May 19, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  2. blue

    Mr Wise

    Last I checked this is what is written: What! Do YOU not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom. And yet that is what some of YOU were. (Showing they no longer are, changed there ways) Next chapter tells you about Marriage, Husbands and wives. So say what you want. The creator has condemned those who do not change not men. It's not a man's judgement...

    who wrote these words mr dumber than a bag of rock salt...... some idiot male person sitting in a cave, wearing robes and inserting his own view of what is right and wrong into a book that is nothing but a freaking fairy tale.... written LONG after "jesus" was here... who ever that person might have been... the bible is a list of stories that happened over a very long period to many and different people and were told by the "storytellers" of the day.. if you think that god or jesus wrote even one word in that book then nothing more is to be said.... cause yo ears r closed ..

    May 19, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  3. Fake chrsitans

    I believe in god, but I don't believe any American christians such as the GAY Pastor Long and his die-hard gullible followers.
    They HATE the others, They are the lowest of the lowest bottom feeders. The world would be better off without these heinous Christians.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Catholic

      Love you, too.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Gunny

      God has children of honor and of dishonor, but they are all his kids. Lose the hate. It does not represent God well.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Catholic

      You are certainly allowed to have your opinion, but for the love of God, will you please change your Fake Name so "Christians" is at least spelled correctly? Kinda tough to take you seriously when you can't spell the most important word correctly.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  4. Radical

    LIBERAL "CHRISTIANS" .......Oh hears a secret they're not saved, WILL KILL BABIES YET LET TWO PEOPLE MARRY AND GO TO HELL! CRAZY WHAT GOSPEL ARE TH3Y READING, NWO101.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  5. Truth

    you can be saved and still sin. we all do.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Huebert

      What happens when you realize that their is nothing to be saved from?

      May 19, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Gunny

      Great point.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • JWT

      The only thing I need to be saved from is bigots that think they have the right to control society and force their misguided views on others.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  6. tony

    We need an interesting and authoritive article here on the theology behind counting angels on the head of a pin.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  7. Truth

    the man shall leave his mother and cleve with the woman.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Huebert

      If you're crazy and you know it quote the bible
      *clap *cllap

      May 19, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Gunny

      the man shall leave his mother and cleave with the woman. The word says that man shall. It is God's preference but no where does he tell us to condemn or hate those that don't do it the way he prefers us to cleave. He knows they are gay and they still receive the blessing of waking up each morning. Let God do what God does and lets focus on doing what God wants us to about ourselves.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  8. ken

    HERE'S LIES THE PROBLEM CNN. IF YOU WANT TO PROMOTE THAT BEING GAY IS NORMAL, THAT IS FINE. BUT ONCE YOU BEGIN TO BRING RELIGION INTO THE MIX TO JUSTIFY SOMETHING AS CONTROVERSIAL AS THIS THEN THAT IS WHERE YOU BEGIN TO LIE AND TRY TO DECEIVE OTHER PEOPLE. STICK TO YOUR PROGRESSIVE IDEAS AND LEAVE THE BIBLE OUT OF IT.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • momoya

      So you want to stifle a person's honest opinion on the matter?. This christian guy feels that the bible instructs him to be in favor of gay marriage.. Why shouldn't he explain his views?

      May 19, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Lisa

      Totally agree!

      May 19, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Gunny

      Once we as Christians stop condemning gays and let God do what he do, God will bless us in many more matters.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • JWT

      I will happily leave the bible out of it – as soon as the bible and its readers stay out of things that are not their concern/.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  9. Truth

    Is this article about being gay or getting baptized?
    the tow have nothign in common.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Paul Ray

      UNBELIEVABLE ...This Literally made me nauseded....one day...

      May 19, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    May 19, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • tony

      Well you haven't caught fire yet. And there must be a million or so praying for that.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  11. Ramy

    if you want a Bible answer here it is from the book of Mathew (19:4-6)

    And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    if you want a poltical answer here it is

    So you found that gay Marriage is ok therefore the law should honor it, ok! Let’s say few years from now, adults want a law that allows them to marry minors, so a 40 year old man can marry a 5 year old girl. Let us make that legal too. Why not? Following your concept, who are we to judge? In my opinion, if a man wants to be with a man or a woman want to be with a woman, let them take it upon themselves and do whatever they want! Just don’t mess with the current laws and make it to their own liking. If I buy a racing car that can move at 300 miles per hour, I am not going to court to make them change the speed limits on the highway so I can drive it.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Huebert

      What the bible says has no bearing on our nation's laws. As to the second part of your asinine post. What part of consenting ADULTS don't you understand?

      May 19, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • tony

      No religious instruction should be allowed to be given to minors.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • o'Really?

      Don't you think you're going a little over board? Adults will never be allowed to marry minors, minors are not conisidered to not have the experiance to make an informed decision about things, not to mention having their body chemestry changing so much, that it also affects their decsicion, and nothing will ever change that, its a matter of biology. Be allowed to drive 300 mph? One; no comercially available cars can go that fast. Two: cars, going that fast can't stay at those speeds for long before tearing themselves apart. Three: human reaction times can't react fastr enough for that, let people drive that fast, they'll kill themselves the first time. Four: roads arn't straight enough in urban and city envionrments to accomidate those speeds.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Ramy

      O'really?
      If you found no sense in what I wrote, and since you are very knowledgeable with physics and human biology. Explain to me how natural is gay marriage?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  12. Bob

    Hey CNN: Just stick to reporting the news and don't push your values on me!

    May 19, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Slim

      Thank you.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • sigh

      Says the person who didn't have to click on the article and read it and then even comment on it in the BELIEF section.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • sam stone

      this is a belief blog. this is not hard news. something about equal rights bother you? don't feel lonely. look at the other posts, there are lots of bigots out there

      May 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  13. Radical

    NOPE WRONG

    May 19, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  14. PRISM 1234

    You can clothe them in white, you can decorate them with flowers, you can put cherub wings on them and a halo on their heads, but still – they are what they are, and it is what it is: they are willful deniers of God's Word, rebels against His commandments, and what they are doing it is perversion of God's intent, His natural order, and abominable offence in His eyes. There is nothing you can do to justify it and make a human rights issue! It is a SIN and PERVERSION issue.
    Those who do it and justify it ND those who don't do it but justify it will be accountable to God, and judged by HIS Standard of righteousness, NOT man's!
    Saying all this, it is the Deed that we're judging, not the doer. But e will not condone the false claims of those who are justifying it. Therefore the warning is still the same: those who pervert the Word of God may have their say now, and have crowds approval, but the day of reckoning is coming. And you'll have to stand there alone, no comfort of cheering crowds, only those of weeping and mourning, as you hear them nearer and nd nearer going into your new home..... You know the meaning of that!

    May 19, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Bob

      well said.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      correction: "no comforting VOICES of cheering crowds"

      May 19, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Kerrybiantulip

      It's not your right to judge them. Let """""GOd""""" do it, you aren't doing anyone any favors by telling them how wrong they are. All you're doing is offending people who needn't be offended. Saying hurtful things. Judging where you should not judge. I PROMISE you, and your KIND....that you aren't perfect and that you've sinned. ALL sin is equal in God's eyes. I GUARANTEE you that you aren't sin-free. Stop acting 'holier than thou'. You aren't. You are no different than them.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Sharon T.

      AMEN!!!!!! Just another way to try to justify being wrong.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Religionsucks

      Do you actually believe this crap your spewing? If GOD hated gays then maybe he shouldnt have "designed" it as such that at minimium 10% of the world population is. What a load of garbage and loathing your beliefs hold.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      @ Kerry
      Jesus said He came to convict the world of SIN, RIGHTEOUSSNES AND JUDGMENT. You want ot silence His Word and His people which He commissioned to proclaim it.
      You are advocating wrong "Jesus"!

      May 19, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • JWT

      Your belief – not applicable to all christians and certainly not to others. WHile you are of course welcome to believe what you may, your beliefs do not apply the nation and do not apply to gays. No laws should exaist just because the bible has words to say on the matter.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      @JWT
      You foolish person! Who gave you life? Whose air you breathe, and who made the food grow out of the earth that you feed your body to sustain you? Do you think then that His Word does not apply to you? How can you delude yourself into believing that His laws and His standards o righteousness don't apply to you?
      Just keep on believing the enemy of your soul the lies he's feeding you, and see whether it will lead you!
      I've got to go now, but I'll tell you this thing friend, you're in web of satan and he's tightening his grip on you... Only Christ Jesus can set you free ..... When your day of appointment comes you'll face the harsh reality unless you humble yourself NOW and acknowledge Him as Lord !

      May 19, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • sam stone

      PRISM: You are a pompous fool purporting to speak for god.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  15. Lisa

    Wow this is the 2nd attempt this week by CNN to convince us that Christians should believe in gay marriage. Very subtle CNN!

    May 19, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Actually, my civil marriage has nothing to do with your mythical gods. Shouldn't you be out lighting candles or cleansing yourself in a river?

      May 19, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Nor really subtle, Lisa... We know what and who they are! They can't put enough disguise to camouflage themselves!

      May 19, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  16. mike

    Were is the balance at CNN. All you do is push a progressive agenda with your posts.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Darell

      Good point.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • terry

      CNN is an entertainment medium, not a news medium.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Civil rights is now a "progressive agenda"? I'm just glad I'm not trying to sell some idiotic mythical god dreamed up thousands of years ago. . . .

      May 19, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  17. harryzoyster

    This is the kind of tripe you get when you let a liberal professor write an article for a radically liberal "news" organization.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • terry

      He's a LAW professor. He knows that the day is coming when gay "everything" will be the law of the land. On that day he will have to reconcile his christian religion and his profession. He's just getting the jump on the situation by twisting his religion to match the coming political (and legal) reality.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  18. Abort Gays???

    Nope you cannot because you cannot identify a gay in the womb.

    Gays are not born that way they choose a sinful lifestyle!

    May 19, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Huebert

      You can't identify schizophrenia in the womb either, does that make schizophrenia a choice?

      May 19, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Bob

      using your analogy you can't leave schizophrenia untreated can you? just as you can't live a sinful lifestyle choice

      May 19, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Religionsucks

      Did you wake up one day and say he i Choose to be Straight because it is less sinful? what crap..

      May 19, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • JWT

      Your can and often should leave schizophrenia untreated. Not everyone needs the treatment.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  19. LIndy

    A lifetime committment is beautiful and scared. Marriage as we know it, as is sought by much of the gay movement, represents the government's involvement in personal relationships, which is antiquated and intrusive and not scared to any reilgioius tradition. All weddings should be private religious or secular ceremonies. All that's needed is a change in the tax code.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  20. Bill C

    For 2000 years we called a four legged animal that barks a dog. I can call my dog a cat, and I can say he now has all the rights in my household that my cats now have. But he is not. He is a dog. I can call any combination of partners a marriage, but it is not. Simply changing words does not make something it is not.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      Agreed, no tinkering in a mans poo poo shute

      May 19, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Huebert

      Call it what ever the hell you like; just make sure that it has the same legal standing as marriage and everything is fine.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Name*Chedar

      Don't forget. At the rate of rebirth you took. You are once a dog, a cat or gay. So don't attach to what is not you. Cause nothing is permanent in this world. The moment of birth, each day you are nearing to your coffin. So take the reality and contemplate with it.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      LOL. Actually civil marriage has nothing to do with your myths. or your mythical "gods". Don't you have some worshiping to do?

      May 19, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      No .marriage was a contract between two families that their blood would be joined together to produce the next generation of life together.two men can not do that .the end

      May 19, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • JNMD5

      2000 years ago marriage was used as a way to establish women as property so that a man could trade a goat with her father to have absolute ownership of her and she had no say in the matter. Love was actually an irrelevant factor in marriage until around the 1600's. So do any of you want to sell your daughter to a stranger for a goat? Because that's the traditional marriage you believe so strongly in.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:59 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.