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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. Erik

    "He gives us the chance to fix, or heal it, "

    You can't fix being gay. 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.

    September 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  2. Lorraine

    mike w, I never said that something is wrong with gays, i have a secret, i think many high men were gay, and so what, so did YHWH, HE KNEW, although He will not, allow it, He loves us just the same, (unconditional), and He gives us the chance to fix, or heal it, just like lying, stealing, perversion, etc..., anythang, ok? His love is unconditional as long as you love Him with all of your hearts. YHWH BLESS.

    September 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      His love is unconditional as long as you love Him with all of your hearts.

      So....not unconditional then.

      September 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Hearts? I have more than 1? HOLY SHIT I'M A TIME LORD!! Where do I get my sonic screwdriver?

      September 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Snow

      .. aka. he only pretends to like his lackeys who suck up to him every moment of every day.. and you will burn in hell for eternity if you are even distracted for a second.. what does that sound like? loving leader? really?

      September 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  3. Susan

    1. Is being gay a sin?

    No. Sins are acts that separate us from God and keep us from loving our neighbors as ourselves. Being gay is not a sin. Bullying is a sin. Being hateful to other people is a sin. Putting yourself in the place of God to judge others is a sin. Being gay is not.

    2. What did Jesus say about gay people?

    Jesus said the same thing about gay people as he said about all people: God loves you beyond your wildest imagining and calls you to walk in love with God and with each other. He also said a whole lot about loving your neighbor, welcoming the stranger, embracing the outcast and ministering to the marginalized.

    3. Does the Bible really condemn homosexuality?

    The short answer is no; no it does not. The handful of passages in the Old and New Testaments that talk about God condemning specific sexual acts have nothing whatsoever to do with sexual orientation and everything to do with contexts such as cultic prostitution or gang rape. To put it another way, using the Bible as a handbook on human sexuality makes as much sense as using it as a handbook on astronomy. Just as those who wrote the Biblical texts had no concept of the science that would prove the earth actually revolves around the sun, so they had no concept of homosexuality (which wasn't defined until the 19th century.)

    4. How do I respond when people say "God hates "f–s"?

    First of all, God's nature is to love, not to hate. We believe that what God cares about is not our sexual orientation but our theological orientation - and that the question that matters is not "who do you love?" but "do you love?" Recognizing that homophobia causes some folks to project onto God their own fears, prejudices and biases against LGBT people, sometimes the best response is simply no response. It can be a challenge, but getting triggered by hate-mongers prevents us from being the change we want to see.

    5. I thought gay men and women weren't allowed to be priests?

    The Episcopal Church has been ordaining women to the priesthood since 1974 and we have women deacons, priests and bishops throughout the church - including two women bishops here in the Diocese of Los Angeles. When it comes to gay men in the priesthood, the issue is not homosexuality - it is honesty. The church has ordained gay men for centuries but finally the Episcopal Church added "sexual orientation" in the non-discrimination list in 1994 - ending our version of "don't ask/don't tell." Because the Episcopal Church allows for diversity of practice, the leadership of "out" LGBT and women clergy is more prevalent in some places than others. But the Diocese of Los Angeles is proud to have been in the forefront of inclusion.

    6. Can I still receive Communion in your church if I am gay?

    Of course you can. In many of our churches you will hear a variation on the invitation "whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on the journey of faith there is a place for you here." God's love is radically inclusive and so is the Episcopal Church.

    7. Despite what is happening legislatively, can my partner and I be married in the Episcopal Church yet?

    The only accurate answer to this question is "that depends." It depends on which diocese you're in and whether you're in a state that has civil marriage equality. For example, New York State is a marriage equality state. In four of the six dioceses clergy can both solemnize and bless a civil marriage and in one of them clergy can bless but not solemnize (a judge or justice of the peace has to do the civil marriage part). Here in Los Angeles clergy both blessed and solemnized same-sex marriages in 2008 when it was legal and our bishops have been in the forefront of working to overturn Prop 8 and get marriage equality back. As Facebook might put it: "it's complicated."

    8. What do I tell people when they say being gay is a sin and a choice?

    Tell them that Jesus said absolutely nothing about being gay but he said a lot of things about judging other people. Then tell them that while there is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay; or lesbian orientation there IS consensus that sexuality is a continuum. So the "choice" is not to be gay, straight or somewhere in between - the "choice" is to build our own healthy relationships ..-. and give other people the grace to build theirs.

    9. Should I try to "pray away the gay?"

    No. If you need to pray away something, pray away homophobia. Homosexuality doesn't need healing. Homophobia does.

    10. How do I respond when politicians condemn my sexuality, citing their belief in the Bible?

    Remind them that the First Amendment protects them in believing whatever they want to about what God does or does not bless but it also prohibits them from using those beliefs to decide who the Constitution protects or doesn't protect. Tell them to stop confusing their theology with our democracy. And then campaign for and donate to their opponent in the next election cycle.

    September 26, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • CGAW

      Written like a liberal episcopalian. Bottom line is that the Bible refers to acts outside of man/woman marriage several times as wrong and un-natural. You can seek for what is not written but just don't forget to heed what is written.

      September 26, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Lorraine

      Susan, you have been truly mislead, jesus can't say anything without the confirmation of YHWH, and we are all working to do His will, His righteousness, for you must know that we are all responsible for our own righteousness, alright, it just what it is, we are, what we do. Read Genesis-Malachi, and call 1-773-874-0325, for any, any questions, of Jeremiah 23:1-8. YHWH BLESS US ALL.

      September 26, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Pigeon chess. ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

      September 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Melvin

      "Bottom line is that the Bible refers to acts outside of man/woman marriage several times as wrong and un-natural. "

      The Scriptures at no point deal with homosexuality as an authentic sexual orientation, a given condition of being. The remarkably few Scriptural references to "homosexuality" deal rather with homosexual acts, not with homosexual orientation. Those acts are labeled as wrong out of the context of the times in which the writers wrote and perceived those acts to be either nonmasculine, idolatrous, exploitative, or pagan. The kind of relationships between two consenting adults of the same sex demonstrably abounding among us - relationships that are responsible and mutual, affirming and fulfilling - are not dealt with in the Scriptures.

      September 26, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  4. Lorraine

    Bob, I got you, that means i agree, and JWT, I have said time, after time, that all religions are fake, false , pagan, prophesied in Deuteronomy 32:17, by Moses, to come in the future generations, and in the future vision of Daniel 11: 36-45; of false religions, and corrupted governments, all man made, and not of YHWH.

    YHWH does not do religions man, He's higher than that, He is the Almighty Creator of all Life, the Strong One of all righteousness, He is The King YHWH, you know. And, NO, I'm not having a slow day, never, we are all a progress in the making, this is just life, we all have much to achieve, or master in this life, as David did.

    Although I have to admit that David went through a very, very, hard time for his wrong doings, all of the book of Psalms was not a good time for him, but he kept YHWH in his heart wholeheartedly, and was loyal, and dedicated, with a lion's heart, so his 'seeds' would get recognition in the future generations, and grace in the end, he accepted his wrong doings, and like a man dealt with them, being responsible for them. It's not easy, it's hard, coming back from doing wrong. There are consequences is all I'm saying. YHWH BLESS, AND ALL PRAISE GOES TO YHWH.

    September 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • JWT

      Religions are no more fake than gods. ANd neither is necessary for afulfilling good life on this earth. There are no problems with not believing in any god other than what some ill-founded people who by misguided notions insist that we all must believe in that they do, do.

      September 26, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  5. John

    "The Bible. Where a man + man or a woman + woman is never -e v e r- joined in a marriage setting."

    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

    September 26, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  6. ImLook'nUp

    The Bible. Where a man + man or a woman + woman is never -e v e r- joined in a marriage setting.

    September 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Primewonk

      The bible – where young unengaged ràped victims are forced to marry their attackers.

      September 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • TC

      The Bible never mentions ending slavery, so it should still be legal? It neve rmentions cars, so we should not drive? PC's and smartphones were inconceivable in those days, should we now aviod them?

      Try logic.

      Try again.

      September 26, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  7. JS

    Christians are increasingly divided over the issue of the acceptance and inclusion of gay persons into the church. The debate itself is usually framed as essentially pitting the Bible, on one hand, against compassion and social justice on the other. Our Christian hearts, runs the (usually impassioned) argument, compel us to grant full moral and legal equality to gay and lesbian people; our Christian faith, comes the (usually impassioned) rebuttal, compels us to cleave, above all, to the word of God.

    Compassion for others is the fundamental cornerstone of Christian ethics; the Bible is the bedrock of the Christian faith. What Christian can possibly choose between the two?

    The answer is that no Christian is called upon to make that choice. The text of the Bible on one hand, and full equality for gay and lesbian people on the other, is a false dichotomy. God would not ask or expect Christians to ever choose between their heart and their faith.

    Reconciling the Bible with unqualified acceptance and equality for LGBT people does not necessitate discounting, recasting, deconstructing or reinterpreting the Bible. All it takes is reading those passages of the Bible wherein homosexuality is mentioned with the same care we would any other passage of the book.

    We can trust God; we can trust that God is loving.

    And we can trust that we can - and that we certainly should - take God, in this matter, as in all things, at his Word.

    If there is no clearly stated directive in the Bible to marginalize and ostracize gay people, then Christians continuing to do so is morally indefensible, and must cease.

    What cannot be denied is that Christians have caused a great deal of pain and suffering to gay persons, by:

    Banning their participation in the church, thus depriving them of the comforts and spiritual fruits of the church;

    Banning their participation in the sacrament of marriage, thus depriving them of the comforts and spiritual fruits of marriage;

    Damaging the bonds between gays and their straight family members, thus weakening the comforts and spiritual fruits of family life for both gays and their families; and

    Using their position within society as spokespersons for God to proclaim that all homosexual relations are disdained by God, thus knowingly contributing to the cruel persecution of a minority population.

    Christians do not deny that they have done these things. However, they contend that they have no choice but to do these things, based on what they say is a clear directive about homosexuals delivered to them by God through the Holy Bible. They say that the Bible defines all homosexual acts as sinful, instructs them to exclude from full participation in the church all non-repentant sinners (including gay people), and morally calls upon them to publicly (or at least resolutely) denounce homosexual acts.

    Without an explicit directive from God to exclude and condemn homosexuals, the Christian community's treatment of gay persons is in clear violation of what Jesus and the New Testament writers pointedly identified as the most important commandment from God: to love one's neighbor as one's self.

    The gay community has cried out for justice to Christians, who have a biblically mandated obligation to be just. Because the mistreatment of gay persons by Christians is so severe, the directive from God to marginalize and ostracize gay people must be clear and explicit in the Bible. If there is no such clearly stated directive, then the continued Christian mistreatment of gay and lesbian people is morally indefensible, and must cease.

    The Bible is not a contract, or a set of instructions, with each passage spelling out something clear and specific. It is not a rulebook for being Christian. It is instead a widely varying collection of poetry, history, proverbs, moral directives, parables, letters and wondrous visions. We would be foolish to fail to understand that not everything in the Bible is a commandment, and that Christians cannot take any small section of the Bible out of its own context, and still hope to gain a clear understanding of its meaning.

    We can be confident that Paul was not writing to, or about, gay people, because he simply could not have been, any more than he could have written about smart phones or iPads. We do not know what Paul might write or say today about gay people. All we know is that in the New Testament he wrote about promiscuous, predatory, non-consensual same-sex acts between heterosexuals.

    If we are to rely on the Bible, then we must take its text as it is. It does condemn homosexual (and heterosexual) sex that is excessive, exploitive and outside of marriage. It does not, however, address the state of homosexuality itself - much less the subject of homosexual acts between a married gay couple. Christians therefore have no Bible-based moral justification for themselves condemning such acts.

    Because there was no concept of gay marriage when the Bible was written, the Bible does not, and could not, address the sinfulness of homosexual acts done within the context of gay marriage.

    The Bible routinely, clearly and strongly classifies all sex acts outside of the bonds of marriage as sinful. But, because there was no concept of gay people when the Bible was written, the Bible does not, and could not, address the sinfulness of homosexual acts done within the context of marriage. Christians therefore have no biblical basis for themselves condemning such acts.

    In fact, by denying marriage equality to gay people, Christians are compelling gay couples to sin, because their intimacy must happen outside of marriage, and is therefore, by biblical definition, sinful.

    Being personally repelled by homosexual sex doesn't make homosexual sex a sin.

    Christians cite as additional evidence of the inherent sinfulness of homosexual acts their raw emotional response to such acts. It is understandable that many straight people find homosexual sex repugnant (just as many gay people find heterosexual sex repugnant). It is normal for any one of us to be viscerally repelled by the idea of sex between, or with, people for whom we personally have no sexual attraction. It may feel to a straight Christian that their instinctive negative reaction to homosexual sex arises out of the Bible. But all of us necessarily view the Bible through the lens of our own experiences and prejudices, and we must be very careful to ensure that lens does not distort our vision or understanding of God's sacrosanct word.

    "The greatest of these is love."

    The overriding message of Jesus was love. Jesus modeled love; Jesus preached love; Jesus was love. Christians desiring to do and live the will of Jesus are morally obliged to always err on the side of love.

    September 26, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  8. Bob

    Hark the herald angels sing
    "Glory to the newborn King!Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
    Let earth receive her King;
    Let every heart prepare Him room,
    And Heaven and nature sing,
    And Heaven and nature sing,
    And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.
    Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
    Let men their songs employ;
    While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
    Repeat the sounding joy,
    Repeat the sounding joy,
    Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

    No more let sins and sorrows grow,
    Nor thorns infest the ground;
    He comes to make His blessings flow
    Far as the curse is found,
    Far as the curse is found,
    Far as, far as, the curse is found
    Peace on earth and mercy mild
    God and sinners reconciled"
    Joyful, all ye nations rise
    Join the triumph of the skies
    With the angelic host proclaim:
    "Christ is born in Bethlehem"
    Hark! The herald angels sing
    "Glory to the newborn King!"
    Christ by highest heav'n adored
    Christ the everlasting Lord!
    Late in time behold Him come
    Offspring of a Virgin's womb
    Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
    Hail the incarnate Deity
    Pleased as man with man to dwell
    Jesus, our Emmanuel

    September 25, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  9. Bob

    Loraine there is another Bob on these posts, don't let who ever it is get to you. :) Someone cant be themselves and I have a pretty good idea who it is. God is great!!!! atheism is total darkness and I cant wait soon we will be able to stop all these atheists dead in their tracks because the government cant make a law respecting religion. I love the ones that say that our God has nothing on them what a maroon. Like he can stop God. Its amazing how the Bible predicted the one world goverment and we see that it may not be long before everything is in place.

    September 25, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  10. Lorraine

    What's not a sin? no, its no more a sin than eating buggers, just stop beating up on oneself, if you are in love with YHWH, and do His law, the 10 commandments, just as David did, plenty of wrong in his life, but he prayed, and he prayed, he also loved YHWH so much, he was loyal, and loving to YHWH, so YHWH chose him, and his seed, do the law of righteousness, the commandments, and pray, and pray, love YHWH with all of you heart, and no other man made of flesh ,and blood can judge anyone else, only YHWH can, He has the complete authority, and as long as you have a relationship deep with Him, He knows. We are all a work in progress. YHWH BLESS.

    September 25, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • JWT

      Feeling slow today ?

      Your god has no authority over me as I gave no such permission. Now or ever. Being gay is only a sin for those people who belong to a particular religious subgroup that beleive it is is a sin. It is not a sin for anyone else.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Lorraine

      JWT, you are made of flesh, and blood, bones, take heed, don't try to challenge the most high, I know how you feel, and it's from those who persecuted you, those with no might at all, and they don't have any right, they are not in that position to even begin to try.

      You are truly loved, and He sees you, and knows you, and no one else matters, no one. Only you to YHWH is of you, with our faults, with our short comings, His love is unconditional, only His is. What you do personally with YHWH is no one's business, and the fruits are so greatly rewarded. YHWH BLESS.

      September 26, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Bob

      "His love is unconditional, only His is"

      No it's not if you don't believe in your cult and God then it tortures for all eternity that is conditional.

      September 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Lorraine", but your assertions regarding everything are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      September 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Lorraine

      hal 9001, no support, so when you wake up each morning it is by your doings o. k..Isaiah 47, your knowledge has deceived you, who do you think gave it to you? hal, 9001, upgrade to 2013, His righteousness is near, Isaiah 51:5, you must get the book that was distributed in over 3000 languages, the KJV 1611, for it won't be long now. YHWH BLESS.

      September 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Lorraine

      Still spouting crazy bullshit with no evidence to back it up I see.

      September 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • JWT

      This is the point your god is not the most high as far as I am concerned. In fact it does not even exist.

      September 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  11. 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 cliches 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?

    September 25, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Douglas

      Yes it is a sin.

      But celibacy can heal the broken hearts.

      September 25, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • James

      "Yes it is a sin.

      But celibacy can heal the broken hearts"

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

      September 26, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Lorraine

      JP, the Sons of YHWH(God), had more than one wife, there was no celibacy here, you are trapped in this change of the vision of book Daniel of our future going into idols, and false religions, and corrupted governments.

      And, do not think that having more than one wife is not a true, and great, responsibility towards procreation, and the goodness of 'LIFE' it comes from YHWH, ONLY, NOT YOUR LOINS. It is what YHWH wanted not you, depending on what child He wanted to be born. Our children come from the most high. Read, Genesis-Malachi to get the real truth, then call, 1-773-874-0325, if one has any, and I mean, any questions of Jeremiah 23:1-8, the Movement. YHWH BLESS.

      September 26, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • mike w

      The Bible is unfounded sh it. Celibacy is unnatural and causes problems. End of story. (@James, Douglas and any other christards on here)

      September 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • mike w

      Although – even if you did believe the bible, the case against gays is virtually nothing. So James is right about that.

      September 26, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  12. Traitement cancer

    You really make it appear really easy together with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually one thing that I believe I'd by no means understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am having a look ahead for your subsequent post, I'll attempt to get the dangle of it!

    September 25, 2012 at 3:56 am |
  13. Douglas

    There is no "Christian case" for gay marriage.

    The Holy Bible is unambiguous about its prohibitions against gay coitus.

    Both the Old and New Testament warn believers to avoid gay coitus.

    There is thankfully a place for GLBTQ folk. Celibacy provides a refuge for GLBTQ
    believers intent on joining the rest of us onthe road to salvation.

    Welcome celibate GLBTQ couples to your place of worship...extend the hand of fellowship
    and let them know they are bound for glory when they jettison the excess baggage of fornication.

    September 25, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • James

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

      September 25, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  14. Lorraine

    tom tom the piper guest what again, and everyone is responsible for their own righteousness, so what does that have to do with me, it will be on everyone's own head to answer to in the end, won't it? And, Loopo, I'm only reciting scripture, what do you want for me? This coward site is keeping most of the truth from the blind, walking in darkness anyway, blocking my post, lol. YHWH bless you too.

    September 24, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ahahhha! Wow. You're beyond nuts, Loopy. You can't even post a coherent thought, much less argue a point effectively.

      Good luck getting that GED, dear.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Lorraine

      That's fine the word of YHWH is great enough for me hon, and my thoughts are good, and coherent enough that you respond promptly, and diligently, are you hooked? LOL!!

      September 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So the only thing that justifies your existence is my response?

      You're a sorry sack of sh!t, then, Loopy.

      Gays will marry legally across the US in a matter of a few years, and there isn't a fvcking thing you can do to stop them. You'll be irrelevant as ever. And soon you'll be dead, too. Guess what? No one will care.

      September 24, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Lorraine

      tom tom you piper get a grip...LOL,lol.

      September 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Robert

      Tom Tom you are correct because if you notice Lorraine only responds to this particular blog with their brainless useless posts.

      September 25, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  15. Cindi

    LIKE YOU, I TAKE THE BIBLE SERIOUSLY! Many good people build their case against homosexuality almost entirely on the Bible. These folks value Scripture, and are serious about seeking its guidance in their lives. Unfortunately, many of them have never really studied what the Bible does and doesn’t say about homosexuality.

    We gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians take the Bible seriously, too. Personally, I’ve spent more than 50 years reading, studying, memorizing, preaching, and teaching from the sacred texts. I earned my master’s and doctoral degrees at a conservative biblical seminary to better equip myself to “rightly divide the word of truth.” I learned Hebrew and Greek to gain a better understanding of the original words of the biblical texts. I studied the lives and times of the biblical authors to help me know what they were saying in their day so I could better apply it to my own.

    We must be open to new truth from Scripture.

    Even heroes of the Christian faith have changed their minds about the meaning of various biblical texts.

    It took a blinding light and a voice from heaven to help the apostle Paul change his mind about certain Hebrew texts. A sheet lowered from the sky filled with all kinds of animals helped the apostle Peter gain new insights into Jewish law.

    Jerry Falwell believed the Bible supported segregation in the church until a black shoeshine man asked him, “When will someone like me be allowed to become a member of your congregation?” Through those simple words, the Holy Spirit spoke new truth about the ancient biblical texts to the Rev. Falwell, and in obedience he ended segregation at Thomas Road Baptist Church.

    Even when we believe the Scriptures are “infallible” or “without error,” it’s terribly dangerous to think that our understanding of every biblical text is also without error. We are human. We are fallible. And we can misunderstand and misinterpret these ancient words — with tragic results.

    What if someone asked you, “Is there a chance you could be wrong about the way you’ve interpreted the biblical texts sometimes used to condemn homosexual orientation?” How would you respond? What does it say about you if you answer, “No, I could NOT be wrong”? I am asking you to re-examine these texts — carefully and prayerfully. Lives hang in the balance.

    If heroes of the Christian faith could change their minds about the meaning of certain biblical texts, shouldn’t we be prepared to reconsider our own interpretations of these ancient words when the Holy Spirit opens our minds and hearts to new truth? That’s why we study the Bible prayerfully, seeking the Spirit of Truth, God’s loving Spirit, to help us understand and apply these words to our lives.

    On the night he was betrayed, Jesus told his disciples he was going away from them for a while, but that the Father would send them a “Comforter,” an “Advocate,” the “Holy Spirit” who would “teach them all things.”

    I believe with all my heart that the Holy Spirit is still teaching us. When we reconsider the texts that are used by some people to condemn God’s gay children, we must fervently seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance, or we risk being misled by our own prejudices.

    The Bible is a book about God – not a book about human sexuality.

    The Bible is the story of God’s love for the world and the people of the world. It tells the history of God’s love at work rescuing, renewing, and empowering humankind. It was never intended to be a book about human sexuality. Certainly, you will agree.

    In fact, the Bible accepts sexual practices that we condemn and condemns sexual practices that we accept. Lots of them! Here are a few examples.

    DEUTERONOMY 22:13-21
    If it is discovered that a bride is not a virgin, the Bible demands that she be executed by stoning immediately.

    DEUTERONOMY 22:22
    If a married person has sex with someone else’s husband or wife, the Bible commands that both adulterers be stoned to death.

    MARK 10:1-12
    Divorce is strictly forbidden in both Testaments, as is remarriage of anyone who has been divorced.

    LEVITICUS 18:19
    The Bible forbids a married couple from having sexual intercourse during a woman’s period. If they disobey, both shall be executed.

    MARK 12:18-27
    If a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir.

    DEUTERONOMY 25:11-12
    If a man gets into a fight with another man and his wife seeks to rescue her husband by grabbing the enemy’s genitals, her hand shall be cut off and no pity shall be shown her.

    I’m certain you don’t agree with these teachings from the Bible about sex. And you shouldn’t. The list goes on: The Bible says clearly that sex with a prostitute is acceptable for the husband but not for the wife. Polygamy (more than one wife) is acceptable; as is a king’s having many concubines. (Solomon, the wisest king of all; had 1,000 concubines.) Slavery and sex with slaves, marriage of girls aged 11-13, and treatment of women as property are all accepted practices in the Scriptures. On the other hand, there are strict prohibitions against interracial marriage, birth control, discussing or even naming a sexual organ, and seeing one’s parents nude.

    Over the centuries the Holy Spirit has taught us that certain Bible verses should not be understood as God’s law for all time periods. Some verses are specific to the culture and time they were written, and are no longer viewed as appropriate, wise, or just.

    Often, the Holy Spirit uses science to teach us why those ancient words no longer apply to our modern times. During the last three decades, for example, organizations representing 1.5 million U.S. health professionals (doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and educators) have stated definitively that homosexual orientation is as natural as heterosexual orientation, that sexual orientation is determined by a combination of yet unknown pre- and post-natal influences, and that it is dangerous and inappropriate to tell a homosexual that he or she could or should attempt to change his or her sexual orientation.

    While there are some people now living in heterosexual marriages who once perceived themselves to be gay, there are millions of gay and lesbian persons who have accepted their sexual orientation as a gift from God and live productive and deeply spiritual lives. The evidence from science and from the personal experience of gay and lesbian Christians demands that we at least consider whether the passages cited to condemn homosexual behavior should be reconsidered, just as other Bible verses that speak of certain sexual practices are no longer understood as God’s law for us in this day.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  16. Lorraine

    Matthew, To prove to you that jc is an idol, in Deut.4, YHWH said not to add, nor diminish nothing of His law, then He told us not to make any images, of a man, nor a woman, nor winged beast in similitude of YHWH or the heavens, and who do you know has many images, of jc, mary, deciples, angles, all done by the NT rewritten by His enemies in Psalms 83, and in Exodus 17:14-17, after YHWH told them not to do this. Open your eyes you, and many are being mislead to do wrong as taught in Malachi 3:13-15, and calling it good. YHWH bless us all. (there's so much more truth).

    September 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  17. Lorraine

    The only son, and firstborn, that YHWH the Strong One(not God), of the 'Hebrews' in Exodus 3:18, and 5:3, YHWH says is in Exodus 4:22,it is 'Israel', and in Jeremiah 31:9, His son, and His 'firstborn' can you explain these scriptures sir? Why would the holy One say this then say someone else does that raise a 'red flag' to you at all? In the book of Daniel 11:36-45 is the prophecy of the 'idol' in these times that is not of YHWH, ruling over many for gain. Read Daniel chapters 7-12, his vision of our future, also Moses told us this in Deuteronomy 32:17, of our future generations', for Deut.32:45-47 is our life to choose to 'prolong' our life, as Job did with his new family in Job 42, by doing the law of right the 10 commandments. When the enemies in the NT changed this in Isaiah 24, the rewriting began in 200bc, they angered YHWH, and now we are ALL under the 'sword' in Jeremiah 25 the whole earth from these lies. This law is for us all as taught in Isaiah 56. The true name of the book is the 'book of remembrance' in Malachi 3:16, look it up.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  18. John

    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.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  19. Lorraine

    Matthew, yes as you say here, p e o p l e, do these things, going against the word of YHWH, and His righteousness, did you know that unless scholars go through YHWH they are cut off from Him, their knowledge has deceived them, going against YHWH, Isaiah 47, the daughter of Babylon, the US, who do you think gave it to them, as taught in Malachi 2:11,12, also marring a daughter of a strange god, we are to not put nothing before YHWH. First lean that this book is juxtaposed it is not old like they want you to believe it tells us past, and future prophecy, and whats going on now, many don't know this. They depend on the priest, pastors, elders, popes for the truth, and in Malachi 2, Jeremiah 23, Ezekiel 20, Ezekiel 34, YHWH expresses His anger at all of them until this day lies, and deception to the flocks. research for yourself is what we do at Yhwh Our Righteousness in Jeremiah 23:1-8, at 1-773-874-0325, for any questions, any.

    September 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Bob

      This is how dumb Lorraine is she can't use the reply button.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  20. Matthew

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

    September 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Lorraine

      It doesn't have any bearing on what jc says for the Almighty is the only savior, and redeemer, that we have, taught to us in Isaiah 49:26, Isaiah 60:16, Isaiah 43, and many other scriptures, and you have been mislead by the NT not true book. For YHWH never changed His law of righteousness, YHWH changes Not,in Malachi 3:6, none of HIS law.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Guess what, Loopy? Gays aren't going away just because your beliefs say they should. They're not going to remain celibate just because your beliefs say they "must". And they're not going to give up their rights under law for your stupid god.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:28 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.