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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. 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.

    July 26, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Spoc

      this was posted several times already....who is pasting? this person knows nothing about ancient culture......total joke

      July 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Lorraine

      Jeannine, you may say that the book of remembrance, the so called OT, is written over 2000 years ago, and that is true, but did you know that this book is juxtaposed, that means that it is a comparison to what has already happened, to what is going on today, and is now repeating itself, as is history repeats itself.

      To be honest people today are not any less wicked, or sinful, than the people were in the days of old, it is not that much difference today. Let me remind you that we have hate, war, in difference, adultery, stealing, greed, imposed poverty, prejudice, and perversion, among other wrongs today just as much as in those days, and as a matter of fact it is even worst today.

      It is covered up a bit more that is all, but there is no change in how people are selfish, full of pride, and they have no natural affection for others. Now, of course there are good people in the world, and there were good ones in the days of old as well, but as a civilization we have not shown the peace for which this word 'civil' is suppose to stand for, maybe for some, but not to all as what YHWH wants for us as a human race.

      YHWH represents righteousness, and for us not to have any in difference, hate, and greed, nor poverty, etc.,we are all important to Him, and is why He made His law of life for us to live righteously by to prolong our days, but what we wanted in this world is to be for the have, and the have not which is the main operation of 'force' and 'control' in this so called civilization to allow greed, and selfishness.

      July 27, 2012 at 1:33 am |
  2. Michael

    This one goes out to all you fundamentalist Christians out there. Selah! I may be too narrow addressing this to just the fundamentalists. Many traditional Christians also fit the bill. Really, it’s anyone who believes that homosexuality is a sin, and that somehow God, infinite and eternal creator and sustainer of the very Universe, is ‘against’ a tiny human behavior that harms no one. So, in other words, uneducated and ridiculous people everywhere.

    Officially, the majority of Christian churches say that homosexual behavior is a sin, thus proving that the theologians behind those churches don’t understand their own Bible. There are a whole bunch of goofball laws written down in the Old Testament that everyone ignores. Why is being bigoted toward homosexuals the one people latch onto?

    The various Christian brands go through the Old Testament, picking and choosing the parts they consider cool. No one accepts the whole thing. No one. I mean, when was the last time a cheating spouse was actually put to death in keeping with the commandments of the Bible?

    Using the Old Testament to determine if something is a sin is simply a matter of human and not godly opinion. It’s meaningless and certainly not ‘the word of God’. His teachings aren’t some basket of fruit for you to pick over. You either have to accept the old law in its entirety and start killing lots and lots of people or reject it in its entirety. Hand-picking the stuff you like is bogus, especially when you only pick the stuff that seems to legitimize your meanness to other people.

    So the Old Testament is out.

    Before we all start playing REM’s “Losing My Religion,” consider this denying someone the right to marry is not Christian, and certainly not American.

    The people who are opposed to gay marriage; and by extension, gayness itself have no excuse. They are bigots and bigots alone. They can’t use their special book to justify their hate, even according to the special book itself. They have no one to thank but themselves. They take the Lord’s name in vain and feel righteous about it

    Yes; they take the Lord’s name in vain. Most people believe incorrectly that this commandment is about cussing, but it’s not. It’s about using God for yourself, for your own vain (personal) ends. They hold the Bible in the air and use it like a bitch to bolster their own prejudices and bigotry and hate and that is vanity, all is vanity.

    The teachings of Christ are plain enough: love and forgiveness, tolerance and healing, acceptance and rebellion. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing more needed. Add what you will to it, it still won’t be from the Christ. It will come from your own (black?) heart.

    Jesus Christ is the origin of the word ‘Christian’. Perhaps we should pray about that a bit more.

    Today’s Christians tend to be followers, accepting of the notion that religion is just a box built by someone else into which they must stuff their spirit. They are naive and willingly line up like lemmings wherever told. They have a casual ignorance that tells them the Beast will come in the obvious guise of science or secularism or liberality. They cannot conceive of the Father of Lies actually lying to them.

    Sinclair Lewis said that when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying the cross. When the Beast comes to the world, you can bet your sweet ass he will be thumping the Bible and preaching a hate disguised as love.

    July 26, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  3. JP

    Is homosexuality a sin?

    Self-indulgence is a sin. But the relationship of two people of the same sex may or may not be self-indulgent.

    Abusing the neighbor is a sin. But the exploration of relationships among homosexuals as they search for partners, evaluate their existing formative relationships, and relate to each other may or may not be abusive.

    Disobeying what God commands in the Bible is a sin. But, we have biblically-derived criteria for assessing and applying specific commands by reading them against larger themes.
    Turning your back on God is a sin. Homosexuals are often among those who have turned their back on the church, and may be sinning because they also rejected the God they found in church. The church needs to be in mission to homosexuals with the message of Jesus and who God really is.

    Yielding to your passions, even celebrating them is a sin. Homosexuals do include those who have done this. But it is not an inherent aspect of being gay.

    Since we see people who have dedicated themselves to God, and for whom their gay sexual life is integrated into that decision and we see that their sexuality does not draw them away from church we must conclude that being and living gay is not a behavior in and of itself that produces pain to the neighbor and leads one away from God.

    By the criteria the scripture sets for us for what is godly life, and by the reasoning scripture asks us to employ, homosexuality cannot be described as against God’s law.

    If this seems like a rather quiet sort of justification for homosexuality, then perhaps it is because the grand clichés of this debate have been shouted at us for too long. But look at the Bible: it's demands and vision cut across all categories, not staying on the surface but penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, rejecting all forms of self-justification, all forms of attack on the 'other' and all forms of escape from God's assessment of our behavior. How on earth could we have ever thought that a series of flat rules was all God wanted to tell us on morality?

    July 26, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  4. Bob

    2Pe 2:2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;
    2Pe 2:3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
    2Pe 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;
    2Pe 2:5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;
    2Pe 2:6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;
    2Pe 2:7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men
    2Pe 3:3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,
    2Pe 3:4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."
    2Pe 3:5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,
    2Pe 3:6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.
    2Pe 3:7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
    2Pe 3:8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.
    2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

    July 26, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • YeahRight

      Well Duh Bob, that has absolutely nothing to do with gay people as we know and understand it today. DUH!!!! 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."

      July 26, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Out of curiosity, what is it that you hope to accomplish by posting large chunks of your scripture without comment or commentary?

      Most of us have read the words before, in context, and for some of us, that includes researching the language, the time period and location, the literary styles of the era, etc. And we still have come to different conclusions from you.

      How does repeating those words without any additional information/commentary/discussion benefit your cause?

      July 26, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Gayla

      Using this argument betrays you
      You have to love all as Jesus did
      Not condemn anyone for being
      Or you are not following Jesus

      July 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Spoc

      Gay- la which hippie cult did you spring out of..? You clearly do not know scripture at all.....Jesus loves every soul on this earth....He does not love all that we do on this earth....and there are plenty of scriptures to back that up. Should a man be able to marry 10 wives because Jesus is love? gag

      July 26, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  5. Bob

    2Pe 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
    2Pe 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
    2Pe 1:6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
    2Pe 1:7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
    2Pe 1:8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    2Pe 1:9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
    2Pe 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
    2Pe 1:11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
    2Pe 1:12 Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.

    July 26, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Who invited me?

      give it up Bob
      yours is thankfully a fading breed.

      July 26, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bob, what you think the Bible means is irrelevant to law. You don't like gay marriage? Don't ever be gay.

      July 26, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  6. Lorraine

    jwt, why are you taking this so personal anyway, I thought you were someone who does not care about the Creator YHWH, who by the way is the creator of the first generation of Adam, mankind, the human race, so therefore unless you are a clone, this would make you part of this thing called life. Although, even a clone uses the DNA of a human being, which makes it human as well. Why are you so defensive here if you have your own opinion?

    And again, I have no religion, this is just the law of life, to prolong ones days, and to learn the law of living a humble, wholesome, and righteous life, that is all it is. It is the blessing of knowing that all life is precious, and matters greatly, for we are all connected to this life by the respect we give to it from one to another.

    Religions are idolatry, and pagan, controlling, and used for profit, and gain by man, prophesied in the book of Daniel 1-11 of the governments, and of religions that will, and are ruling over many then, and now today. There is no torture, and death, this is the misconception of the priest then that went astray, and are today still going away from YHWH, changing the law of life, and is why we are under the wrath of the Creator YHWH from the popes, pastors, and elders misleading the flocks, the people until this day. Unless we all return, this will be the results, a hard way to go for us, and it is our own fault being stiff necked, full of pride. The law was left here to keep a balance on the best life for all of us, not just some.

    July 26, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • JWT

      You keep posting your trash I keep refuting it. Lest someone in authority of the laws think that there is only your way. It's why people get riled over over the anti gay bigots like bobby. Keep it in mind that the religious – of any variety are not the only ones that matter.

      Remember that not all comes from your fantasies. Nor do all believe in them.

      July 26, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Lorraine

      YHWHs hand is always stretched out to us to know Him in Isaiah 10:4. He will save us in Ezekiel 34.

      July 26, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  7. Lorraine

    hawaii, For over 2000 years to be exact, it has been said, and also as prophesied in Hosea 6:1-3, that it would be.

    July 25, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • JWT

      It's your god lorraine not mine – nothing it has to say means anything at all.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:28 am |
  8. Douglas

    A Snapshot
    MSM account for nearly half of the approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States (49%, or an
    estimated 580,000 total persons).
    MSM account for more than half of all new HIV infections in the United States each year (61%, or an estimated 29,300
    infections).
    While CDC estimates that only 4 percent of men in the United States are MSM, the rate of new HIV diagnoses among
    MSM in the United States is more than 44 times that of other men (range: 522 – 989 per 100,000 MSM vs. 12 per
    100,000 other men).

    C-E-L-I-B-A-C-Y is the means to stop this plague. Those trapped in a reprobate mind state need help and support to undo the damage done by years of living a lie.

    Together, we can work to fulfill the commands of the Bible that eliminate this horror from our society.

    Best,
    Douglas

    July 25, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • JWT

      Make that your opinion of your bible. The command of your version of the bible are meant for you and not for other pepole.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • YeahRight

      "(49%, or an estimated 580,000 total persons)."

      So based on your pathetic prejudice logic the other 51% are straight so they to should remain celebate. Duh! What a prejudice bigot you are. 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."

      July 26, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • YeahRight

      "C-E-L-I-B-A-C-Y is the means to stop this plague. Those trapped in a reprobate mind state need help and support to undo the damage done by years of living a lie."
      There is no single definition for the term ‘homophobia’, as it covers a wide range of different viewpoints and attitudes. Homophobia is generally defined as hostility towards or fear of gay people, but can also refer to social ideologies which stigmatize homosexuality. Negative feelings or attitudes towards non-heterosexual behavior, identity, relationships and community, can lead to homophobic behavior. This is the root of the discrimination experienced by many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Homophobia manifests itself in different forms, for example homophobic jokes, physical attacks, discrimination in the workplace and negative media representation.

      “Homophobia continues to be a major barrier to ending the global AIDS epidemic”

      July 26, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  9. Lorraine

    The Prophecy has been fulfilled in Malachi 3:13-15, of so much of 'whatever goes' in our generation is what this has become. What we do to our environment, our water, our food, our accepting anything behaviors, are the results here, and is what is happening today since the days of old, it has not changed a bit. But, YHWHs righteousness is near, as said in Isaiah 51:5, and this is not a day too late, it is right on time for His magnification to come..

    July 25, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      zzzzZZZZzzzz
      zzzzZZZZzzzz

      Oh are you done with your constant babbling idiocy yet? People have been saying the same crap you are for thousands of years. Useless is what you are Lorraine. Useless, paranoid, and way too into torture and death.

      July 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  10. Lorraine

    jwt, this view is not of mine, it is in the book of remembrance in scripture from YHWH, what do you want from me? If He says its is not to be done, so be it. Through His mercy, and grace we can all do as we want for now. But, He has given us the way to live right, and wholesome to prolong our days in Deut. 32:45-47. In this book, Malachi 3:16-18, it is an individual choice at the end of the day. And, as I always say we are all responsible for our own righteousness regardless.

    July 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • JWT

      I want you to stop using your view of god to discriminate against other people who are not of your particular brand of religion.

      July 26, 2012 at 6:31 am |
  11. Michael

    This one goes out to all you fundamentalist Christians out there. Selah! I may be too narrow addressing this to just the fundamentalists. Many traditional Christians also fit the bill. Really, it’s anyone who believes that homosexuality is a sin, and that somehow God, infinite and eternal creator and sustainer of the very Universe, is ‘against’ a tiny human behavior that harms no one. So, in other words, uneducated and ridiculous people everywhere.

    Officially, the majority of Christian churches say that homosexual behavior is a sin, thus proving that the theologians behind those churches don’t understand their own Bible. There are a whole bunch of goofball laws written down in the Old Testament that everyone ignores. Why is being bigoted toward homosexuals the one people latch onto?

    The various Christian brands go through the Old Testament, picking and choosing the parts they consider cool. No one accepts the whole thing. No one. I mean, when was the last time a cheating spouse was actually put to death in keeping with the commandments of the Bible?

    Using the Old Testament to determine if something is a sin is simply a matter of human and not godly opinion. It’s meaningless and certainly not ‘the word of God’. His teachings aren’t some basket of fruit for you to pick over. You either have to accept the old law in its entirety and start killing lots and lots of people or reject it in its entirety. Hand-picking the stuff you like is bogus, especially when you only pick the stuff that seems to legitimize your meanness to other people.

    So the Old Testament is out.

    Before we all start playing REM’s “Losing My Religion,” consider this denying someone the right to marry is not Christian, and certainly not American.

    The people who are opposed to gay marriage, and by extension, gayness itself have no excuse. They are bigots and bigots alone. They can’t use their special book to justify their hate, even according to the special book itself. They have no one to thank but themselves. They take the Lord’s name in vain and feel righteous about it

    Yes, they take the Lord’s name in vain. Most people believe incorrectly that this commandment is about cussing, but it’s not. It’s about using God for yourself, for your own vain (personal) ends. They hold the Bible in the air and use it like a bitch to bolster their own prejudices and bigotry and hate and that is vanity, all is vanity.

    The teachings of Christ are plain enough: love and forgiveness, tolerance and healing, acceptance and rebellion. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing more needed. Add what you will to it, it still won’t be from the Christ. It will come from your own (black?) heart.

    Jesus Christ is the origin of the word ‘Christian’. Perhaps we should pray about that a bit more.

    Today’s Christians tend to be followers, accepting of the notion that religion is just a box built by someone else into which they must stuff their spirit. They are naive and willingly line up like lemmings wherever told. They have a casual ignorance that tells them the Beast will come in the obvious guise of science or secularism or liberality. They cannot conceive of the Father of Lies actually lying to them.

    Sinclair Lewis said that when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying the cross. When the Beast comes to the world; you can bet your sweet ass he will be thumping the Bible and preaching a hate disguised as love.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  12. Erik

    "Being gay is one's choice, I've always said that,"

    Being gay is not a choice science, in fact, is actually not in dispute on this matter.

    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.

    Reparative therapy, also called conversion therapy or reorientation therapy, "counsels" LGBT persons to pray fervently and study Bible verses, often utilizing 12-step techniques that are used to treat sexual addictions or trauma. Such Christian councilors are pathologizing homosexuality, which is not a pathology but is a sexual orientation. Psychologically, that's very dangerous territory to tread on. All of the above-mentioned medical professional organizations, in addition to the American and European Counseling Associations, stand strongly opposed to any form of reparative therapy.

    In my home country, Norway, reparative therapy is officially considered to be ethical malpractice. But there are many countries that do not regulate the practice, and many others that remain largely silent and even passively supportive of it (such as the Philippines). Groups that operate such "therapy" in the Philippines are the Evangelical Bagong Pag-asa, and the Catholic Courage Philippines.

    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!"

    Take this interesting paragraph I found on an Evangelical website: "The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene" – meaning it's not likely that homosexuals are 'born that way.'"

    But that's not at all what it means, and it seems Evangelicals are plucking out stand-alone phrases from scientific reports and removing them from their context. This is known in academia as the fallacy of suppressed evidence. Interestingly, this is also what they have a habit of doing with verses from the Bible.

    This idea of sexuality being a choice is such a bizarre notion to me as a man of science. Many of these reparative "therapists" are basing this concept on a random Bible verse or two. When you hold those up against the mountain of scientific research that has been conducted, peer-reviewed, and then peer-reviewed again, it absolutely holds no water. A person's sexuality – whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – is a very deep biological piece of who that person is as an individual.

    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).

    Furthermore, 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.

    Having said that, in the realm of legal rights, partnership rights, and anti-discrimination protections, the gay gene vs. choice debate is actually quite irrelevant. Whether or not something is a choice is not a suitable criterion for whether someone should have equal rights and protections. Religion is indisputably a choice, but that fact is a not a valid argument for discriminating against a particular religion.

    July 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Spoc

      Bull-crap Erik!!! There is not one drop of scientific proof anyone is born gay – not one!!!! Many in the gay community do not agree with this thinking....they have declared openly that this is their choice to gay......very confusing for the rest of us!! One thing I am certain of – if they find conclusive proof that people are born gay – CNN will be the first to put up HUGE headlines and celebrate.....until then....good luck

      July 26, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  13. Lorraine

    Jen, you understood that sentence perfectly well, stop lying, fork tongue, that's why you responded to it, lol. And jwt, it's amazing to see that many have the pride of a monster, raising up on high, as if they are greater than mother nature, and they think even more so than YHWH, if you will. Goodness, YHWH has mercy, and grace on those who have no idea of who they are fooling with. Praise YHWH. The perversion, I was meaning about the swearing coming out of the mouths of these folks on this site. Being gay is one's choice, I've always said that, for we will all answer to what is right, or wrong, in the end, it is an individual responsibility.

    July 25, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • JWT

      You also insist that being gay is against gods will – your god – not other people's god that is.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • JWT

      and my opinion of your god is that it has sat naked on far too many pineapples in a row.

      July 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Jen

      'But, you can keep the perversion it seems to be normal for most as well today.' Ummm...nope...that sentence makes NO SENSE. My three year old can put together a much better sentence than that.

      Being gay is not a choice, but being poorly educated is. An extremely bad choice. You will be judged for that one day...hope you have a good excuse as to why you aren't.

      July 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Lorraine

      Jen, alright you need the comma after the word perversion, there, you got it. lol....

      July 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
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    July 25, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  15. YeahRight

    "But, you can keep the perversion"

    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."

    Social science has shown that the concerns often raised about children of lesbian and gay parents—concerns that are generally grounded in prejudice against and stereotypes about gay people—are unfounded. Overall, the research indicates that the children of lesbian and gay parents do not differ from the children of heterosexual parents in their development, adjustment, or overall well-being.

    July 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  16. John

    "doing right is an abstraction to most today, for many have been taught wrong"

    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

    July 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Spoc

      Bishop Frankennuts has been cut and pasted again – yahoo

      July 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  17. Lorraine

    jwt, you do not have to, do as you will, stay just as you are its yours to choose; but many prophecies are unfolding, and what it is, is what it is, you, and all of us have to do, and answer to our own righteousness anyway in the end.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • JWT

      No lorraine I will not – try to understand that it will help you. Your internal reality is not my reality and never will be.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  18. Lorraine

    Tom,tom,the piper, doing right is an abstraction to most today, for many have been taught wrong, I know. But, you can keep the perversion it seems to be normal for most as well today. YHWH Bless.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Jen

      It's impossible for you to string a coherent sentence together isn't it? Unfortunate that the school system failed you so miserably.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • JWT

      It's a perversion to you lorraine so dont do it -= other people have different yet equal morals – its none of your your business if people are rghteously gay. More power to them.

      July 25, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Spoc

      Got to remember Lorraine.....these are the ones who have defended John Travolta and had nothing to say about Coach Sandusky......they live on another planet....where the morals are much different.....not equal though.....that is the fantasy part of their doctrine

      July 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  19. Lorraine

    Thanks guys for all of your concerns of my post, gosh such love from you, this feels like family, well I guess people here are not that bad at all, now that that's said, I know some of you will resume the ridicule, but being one with the Creator YHWH is the only way from the truth, and righteousness that He left for us in the book of remembrance, the so called OT, the obvious truth, from Genesis-Malachi, the last prophet until this day. Remember, YHWH does nothing without His servants the prophets, in Amos 3:7.

    For much that is happening today, is to be compared to how they did in the days of old, it has not changed today people are still the same, full of pride, doing what is wrong, and calling it right, or good, as prophesied they would do in Malachi 3:13-15. Although, one must also discern this book of course, of the rewriting, mixing the truth, with lies, that all began in 200bce, by the Alexandrian, Roman Jewish writers, 'look it up' making the book an OT, the obvious truth, and a NT, not true, as taught in Micah 7.

    For the seed of David is named YHWH, 'transliteration' (Lord)Our Righteousness, not jc, prophesied in Jeremiah 23:1-8. Prophecy fulfilled. Heads up, we have today over 29 states that are in drought, and this too has been prophesied by YHWH, that would happen, in many scriptures, from His wrath in Jeremiah 25: 13-38, of us giving His praise to these other idols, strange gods, that are not of His peace, and righteousness, of the law of life, the 10 commandments. If it says a man should not lay with another man as with a woman, this is what it is, no adding, no taking it away as taught in Deut. 4:1-2. One must do what is right.

    July 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  20. Lorraine

    People have been doing all kinds of religions, christianity, and islam for over 2000 years, praying to strange gods, not known to Abraham, Isaac, nor Jacob, all from the first generation of Adam, and of the covenant of the 10 commandments, and statues, ordinances, and judgments that are perpetual by YHWH, and the world has not gotten any better, since before the 8th century, this has happened, and at some point one must realize that this religion thing obviously is not working for us, the reality check is to 'awaken' to the truth, and righteousness, of YHWH Our Righteousness, in Jeremiah 23:1-8, and not pagan religions, man-made, and all controlled for selfish gain. YHWH is no religion, His is the righteousness of our life, and the connection of all life to live in peace as a civilization is suppose to be lived. This what we have today is not civil people, its in difference, greed, imposed poverty, hate, perversion, lying, stealing, adultery, etc.

    July 25, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Go blow. You are nuts.

      July 25, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • JWT

      I refuse to believe in your immoral god or have anything to do with it.

      July 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.