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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. momoya

    The average american christian:

    The bible condemns divorce all over the place, but we don't care!! We'll get divorced at a higher rate than other believers of other religions and far more than atheists..

    .... oh, and there's 3 verses that might be about fa gg ots.. They're not humans, but just animals.. Yay!!

    May 19, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Michael Worley

      I condemn no-fault divorce as wrong most of the time. not all of us are hypocrites,

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

      Sounds like your problem with your own religion is almost as big as mine.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  2. Michael Worley

    Dear CNN,

    You post two "my take"s pro such relations being accepted inside Christianity, and no lengthy response, other than a token compilation of opposing views bookkened by the "my take". I want to know if other views are being foreclosed

    May 19, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Jamest297

      That's on FoxNews. Try going over there -

      May 19, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Michael Worley

      Fox news is biased in the other way. Can't we have a forum where both points of view are stated on equal grounds?

      May 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  3. vidal808

    Hehehehe – the Christians and Republicans are in agreement with this – hate is in their vocabulary like milk in cereal – no one without the other so go on, hate and spread the word of the Lord and keep on thinking your way or the highway, Mormons, Catholics and the likes – the black church???? is there a "black" church?

    May 19, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  4. TC

    Decent articel for an episcopalian who is educated in law. Main flaw is that MARRIAGE is the holy union of man and woman. LGBs are free human beings and can have unions – who are we to stop it? From a Christian perspective, it is not defining LBG relationships as mariage – that is the issue.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • JT1962

      God never said marriage was between a man and a woman, man did. Jesus never called the union marriage. He never said that it was solely between a man and a woman, which is the point this author was writing about. The problem is, we have gotten so wrapped up in the word that we've forgotten what it is, a union of two souls. The soul knows no gender. The sacraments know not who receives them, only that they are received. Who are we to tell God what God really meant?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • TC

      Adam and Eve indicates the union of man and woman as a unit and what God has joined together – clearly indicated in the Bible – it's whether or not you choose to twist or revise things for your own personal beliefs. Remember – God started humanity with terms of success and the family unit was at the core of it all and as he handed down His plan through salvation history, He emphasized a man and a woman. Why does the Bible not directly address LBGl marriage? Because it only had one form of marriage to address – man and woman and Jesus is very specific about marriage particularly divorce. And nowadays divorce is the norm and now accepting LBG relationships as marriage. As usual, many Christians do not take the Bible is totality and try to cite specific sentences (or the absence of them) as proof of their belief or disbelief. Most important thing is that people who claim to be Christian, quit hating on people who do not live according to the Bible and the people who don't live according to the Bible need to quit hating on believers for expressing their beliefs. Many Christians seem to forget we are supposed to love everyone.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  5. My Time

    I will get married to my three wonderful wifes and will invite Pres Omaba. I hopw he comes to our wedding.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Huebert

      If you are dumb enough to try to pull that off more power to you sir. Though, I doubt that you will survive the first synchronized cycle .

      May 19, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • momoya

      Fine.. Congrats.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  6. Fake chrsitans

    It's so sad that America is still a Nation of Hateful Christians and Rednecks.
    The other christians are more peaceful and lovable.

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

      So because the Christians here oppose things like Gay marriage and abortions they are evil? You would rather have the Euro Christians I presume?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  7. Doug

    The end of this editorial provides a metaphor which well illustrates his twisted logic. Those who biblically oppose gay marriage are indeed swimming upstream against the sweeping downstream current of secularism. But again, most often that which is merely under the power of a downstream current is that which is dead. I choose to live and to swim against the flow by the power of Christ Jesus my Lord.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  8. DanSSwing

    I'm surprised a professor would make such an illogical argument. Nowhere are gays denied the sacrament of marriage (which is a covenant between a man and a woman). What's next? Will the professor defend someone who insists a priest serve him a glass of urine and call it the Holy Eucharist? There is absolutely nothing Christian about redefining sacraments.

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

      If marriage is a "sacrament", why aren't you trying to ban atheists from marrying?

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

      If marriage is not a sacrament why don't you allow polygamy?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • momoya

      Who cares about that? If 5 people want to all marry each other and have solid contracts defining the relationship, then let them.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  9. Jamest297

    I heard it is possible to cure christianity and the christianity lifestyle because christianity is not genetic. Does anyone on this forum know whether that is true or not? I am desperate and depressed and have asked everyone I know and everyone they know if anyone knows how to cure my christianity. Are there any therapists you know of? Is anyone working on a vaccine where I might be able to get into a clinical trial? Please get back to me if you have any information that might help.

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

      Absolutely!! It may be easy or it may be hard, but you can rid yourself of the virus.. However, because each christian worships his own ego as god, the way to rid yourself of the destructive meme is different from another believer.. If you use a standard method, it may take a while, but if you were to work with a former christian with insight, that person may be able to help you find a shortcut out of the disease.

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

      It's true but it is a difficult infection to fight the first step is actually a large dose of humor. I recommend 150 pages of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    May 19, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  11. Gregory Whitlow

    Gay marriage is an oxymoron, a contradiction. Regardless of how many fig leaves, masks, or religious rationales you use to hide it. Don't quote Jesus to do this, it doesn't wash. Read Him, Matt 19:5-6 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? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. KJV Subject closed.

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

      Okay, George has closed the subject; no more posts, please.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • momoya

      The buy-bull is complete and utter bullsh!t.. Subject closed.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Wish I could help your unbelief but. . . .gay marriage is now a reality, has been so for over a decade in some countries and is the law even here in the US in some States. Looks like your bible is wrong. . .as usual.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • sam stone

      It is equal protection under the law, Gregory.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  12. Lisa

    Obama speaks and CNN keeps repeating!

    May 19, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Lisa posts and humanity's IQ keeps going down.

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

      Exactly!

      May 19, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  13. Dick

    It has always amazed me at the ability of some people, if not all, to know which word, sentence, passage should be taken literally and which should not be. I find it humorous that an individual can accept part literally and then others as parable- part time fundamentalists I suppose. I do not doubt that there are portions that are literal and others that are not but it is hard for me to believe there is anyone who can decipher at the appropriate time what the author intended since we cannot even interpret Robert Frost as he intended. Then we have the Clintonian isism in which we can misunderstand a two letter word in the here and now. And really...a lawyer...not exactly one to give the written or verbal word any solid standing.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • momoya

      That's just what fundamentalists do with a myth.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  14. tony

    Happiness is NOT the exclusive right of belief nuts to give to others.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  15. Bob

    Do you think Will Smith has changed his position on gay marraige?

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

      Will Smith understands bigotry and thus isn't going to change his opinion of an entire group of people based on the actions of one sicko.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  16. Lisa

    I was agreeing with Ken in an earlier post not MOMOYA!

    May 19, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  17. Fake chrsitans

    Let's pray for the hateful and gullible christians away! Amen.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Amen to THAT! I hope their religion goes the way of the dinosaurs soon!

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

      Ahhh, yes. All Christians are the same so let's get rid of them so we have aa world filled with everybody that will be like you. You eloquently demonstrate that removing chirstianty will not rid the world of unkind, intolerant, peaceful people. Ironic you act as you accuse others of acting and do not recognize the hypocrisy you demonstrate. It is not a religious thing that you expose as a personal thing be one a Christian or...whatever you sell yourself to be. What truly is the difference between what you are and what you are against? Just thanking you and wondering.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Dick. You seem to have completely missed the point. It isn't up to me to whether your religion survives or not. . .you, whether you deny it or not live in a Universe where all things that have life eventually die. Religions are no exception. What does not evolve is eventually killed off. Simple as that. I didn't make up the rules so you can't blame ME.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  18. P Tallman

    Mr. Osler, you may want to re-read your Bible...I suggest you start with Romans 1:26-32; then 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. There are passages in both the Old and the New Testaments that tell you how God feels about this sin. It is no better or no worse than any other sin – but clearly it IS sin.
    You don't get to decide what is and isn't sin....The Holy Bible is THE WORD and the ONLY ABSOLUTE TRUTH. May God have mercy on you.

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

      You know full well that the bible provides no sure-fire method to "test" which interpretations of scripture are closer to being correct than any other.. It's not math or chemistry where you can be sure you got the right formula.. Taht's why there's so many denominations; nobody can show that their view is absolutely right and others are wrong.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • tony

      The Bible has no gender, so being married to the Bible is a sin.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Thou shalt not eat shellfish. . .for it is an abomination unto the Lord". Yep, it's clear that "God" hates it when you eat lobster. Damn you Red Lobster! You'll be the downfall of this entire country! LOL

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

      I wouldn't use a 2000 year old collection of oral fables to decide what is and what is not a sin.

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

      I try not to let the Christian bible define "sin" for me since it condones slavery(Lev. 25:44), beating slaves(Exodus 21:20), incest(Genesis 19:33-36), r@pe victims being required to marry the r@pist(Deuteronomy 22:28-29), treating women and children as property(Genesis 19:8, 1 Timothy 2:11-14, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35), requires battered women to remain married to abusive husbands(Matthew 19:9, 1 Corinthians 7:10-12), condones jihad type warfare where all children are ki11ed save the virgins who are a 'reward'(Numbers 31:15), and makes no mention at all of child molestation, the worst possible crime.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Matt Inman

      do you really want God to have mercy on him?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Hadenuffyet

      I think his point is it isn't our place to judge , you can hate the sin , but love the sinner. That's basically the message of the NT.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Dick

      Soon as you mention 'sin' you lose people. Most people have no idea what a sin is.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Being a religious fanatic is a "sin".

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

      "Sin" is simply a metaphorical manipulative; it's not an actual "thing.".

      May 19, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  19. God Is Clearly Gay

    God made man first, - did "stuff" with him - and THEN made a woman. A straight guy would have made a woman first and fater having his way with her he would have said "Forget men!, so god's gayness is the entire reason we're here. Deal with it.

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

      funny stuff... but the idea that a god exists AND has a gender is even more hilarious!

      May 19, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Jamest297

      RAOTFLMFAO

      May 19, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  20. MichelleOHHH

    I hate the idea of gay marriage.

    May 19, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • God Is Clearly Gay

      Hate - the most important feeling in a religion of "peace".

      May 19, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      That's what religions are best at; creating division and hate between human beings. . . .even though we are all one big family, descended from our ancestors in South East Africa. . . the dna within your body proves it. So sad what these evil religions have done to the human family.

      May 19, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • sam stone

      then don't marry a gay person, michelle

      May 19, 2012 at 12:06 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.