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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. Dean

    Does God just automatically forgive every sin? No. If He did, then Jesus would not have had to die on the cross as payment for sin. If you are someone who does not care that you have broken God's commandments or offended God, then God will not just say, "It's okay. I forgive you." No, you must admit that you have done wrong, come to God seeking His forgiveness, and turn from your sins. THEN if you are of a sincere heart, God will forgive you. 1 John 1:9 tells us, "IF we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." And Psalm 32:5 reads, "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin."

    The key idea here is "repent". One cannot repent without some sort of effort to chance what they are repentful of.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Peter

      CNN automatically blocks posts with key words against them.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Mike Blackadder

      True, but you can be a conscientious objector and it is not a sin to the same degree. It doesn't do much good to say that you accept something that you do not.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  2. Jesus Is Clearly Gay

    Jesus was WAY into washing other dudes' feet - that's very VERY gay. What parts jesus washed in private and off the record is left to the imagination. (No judgement here on the gay or foot things, to each their own, right?). Jesus also preferred the company of men as his all-male entourage indicates; the cultural bias against women worked in jesus' favor because he was EXPECTED to hang out with guys all the time which allowed him to keep his gay lifestyle a secret. God is gay, too. God made man FIRST, a straight guy would have made a WOMAN first, done "stuff" to here and then saw no reason to create man, so we're here purely because god is gay. God also couldn't get Mary pregnant in the conventional way because he didn"t want to touch - eww!! - a woman, so god got Mary pregnant without touching her so keep his gay ways intact. This is the one and true interpretation of the bible, so just accept that jesus and god are gay and deal with it.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Religionsucks

      As funny as your post is.. it can clearly be construed as fact if one really based their facts on "faith".. so because you posted it then it is fact.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Reagan80

      Remember to chuckle at your little jokes when you're burning in hell.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @Reagan80: It your hell, not ours, so you enjoy it! Judge not lest ye be judged!

      May 19, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Religionsucks

      Oh REAGAN that little thing called HELL.. Hell is living in your brain.. that is hell.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • edwardo

      Great post !!!

      May 19, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Religionsucks

      A moment ago a group of "christians" knocked on my door.. as they do every 2-3 days or so. And every time they do I feel nothing but pitty for them.. and anger that they are tresspassing on my property.... but I cant bring myself to open the door and waste my hot cup of coffee over the argument of what is good and what is evil.. As usual they bring some little booklet letting me know that THEIR VERSION of god is there to help me if i needed it...

      May 19, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Linda

      lol.. such a crazy post, but it made me laugh!!

      May 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  3. Smurfy

    God is ALMIGHTY. He has every right to set the rules and make the consequences for disobedience. God does not want evil doers who pollute the earth to continue to pollute. This is why he is soon to remove all who he deems wicked. This is a righteous act and in the interest of all obedient mankind. Unfortunately, the majority of people are following in Satan's footsteps, but they ALL still have time to heed the warning and change. God is giving a warning. Are you listening?

    May 19, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Huebert

      Might does not make right. that is the thinking of tyrants. Is god tyrant?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • JWT

      you god does nto give any warnings that apply to me. Now there is a fact for ya.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, for the love of Pete. He didn't remove Ted Bundy before he'd murdered all those innocent women, did he? Why didn't he kill off Pol Pot and Stalin and Hitler right after they committed their initial crimes?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • edwardo

      So your loving god "beats his children into submission"?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  4. Sheldon

    My thoughts exactly. Who are we to deny any of the sacraments, expressions of the Creator's love??

    May 19, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Mike Blackadder

      We have no right, and it is futile to try. The relevant question is whether gay marriage is a sacrament. If God actually does not approve of the union of gays then if we call this a sacrament we are essentially declaring that God approves which is a clear violation of the third commandment.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • momoya

      So where's the christian outrage over divorce?? Make divorce illegal for christian except in proven cases of infidelity, and then maybe, after it makes american greater for a couple decades, we'll let you have a seat at the table discussing who can and can't get married.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  5. momoya

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkeKKszXTw&w=640&h=390]

    May 19, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Mike Blackadder

      momoya, you mock the bible while following the gospel according to Walt Disney. Do have anything other than cartoons in your repertoire?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • momoya

      I use logical argument in 99% of my posts that you can only attempt to mock instead of attack squarely on the points set forth.. Keep up your little whimpering meows.. It's a good change of pace.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Eddie

      Just like Satan would have said it, mixing truth with lies.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • momoya

      You mean like god's lies in the bible about how the universe formed or a world-wide flood that never occurred?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • edwardo

      THANKS MOMOYA ! You rock! I've literally got tears in my eyes.. the truth can be hilarious.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • momoya

      All you ever have to do is explain to Christians what it says in their own bible.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • mandarax

      I love the videos and I hope people are watching them. Thanks, momoya.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Mike Blackadder

      It's a stark contrast between biblical scholarship/ richness of Christian philosophy and your drive-by YouTube videos and commentary. I know that you are highly impressed by these things, and obviously don't see the irony of criticizing Christians and study of the bible, while posting this kind of stuff to win people over to atheist beliefs.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • fofo

      Bravo momoya. I really liked it and I think this should be shown in the schools to all children. It's about time for the children of these Christian to wised up and see the stupidity of their parents religions and not follow their food-steps.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Linda

      LOVE IT!!

      May 19, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  6. bluesblood7

    We have bad hermeneutics because we have bad exegesis. Just one comment: The water that smoothed the stones will eventually make them disappear. That's the whole story.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Huebert

      can i buy some pot from you?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  7. Smurfy

    edwardo:

    Yes, you may. Children are products of their upbringing. Parents mold their children. If my child became a pedophile or mass murderer, unless their was some type of brain tumor involved, it would be my responsibility for raising a warped child.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ridiculous. You've obviously never been out of your small town if you think that children who are raised by good people always turn out to be good people.

      How stupid.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • edwardo

      That's so true! Instead of sending killers to prison, let's send their parents there. You've got this figured out. I wonder what my parents did that made me gay. Hmmm... I have 6 other siblings, and none of them are gay... just me. Maybe hypnosis will help?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  8. Reagan80

    And, THIS guy calls Peter naive and clueless.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  9. Nii

    Yes Momoya He does destroy people just as de US does n calls it collateral damage! Just make sure the guy next to u is doing right! We are all in the same ship and when it hits the iceberg we sink together not just the drunk captain or the lookout who can't see! Charitable love doesn't just pamper!

    May 19, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • edwardo

      Yes Mamoya – It is your responsibility to make sure I'm at church on Sunday. If I'm not, please build a great big boat, and fit 2 of every living thing on it !!!

      May 19, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Huebert

      The god you believe in is a huge d!ck.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  10. slmhlh

    All I will say is that this author and anyone that thinks GAY marriage is supported by God is truly not a Christian. If you really read the Bible and not just the parts you think you can change around you would know this.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • GoSitInTheCar

      soundbite "religion" is so much easier though!

      May 19, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • StandFast

      Please re-read his argument. He's not saying its not a sin. He's saying we don't have the authority to deny sacraments to others.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • david

      I agree with you 100%

      May 19, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Huebert

      If you really read the bible you'll become an atheist. It usually happens around the time that you hit Noah's ark. Most five year old's can recognize that as a fable.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  11. Religionsucks

    Rather than spending all this energy on gay marriage, we should establish studies linking religious fundamentalism to LOW IQ.. and how that shows itself in a cowardice to follow mythical notions of what is right and wrong. Cant think for yourself and need others to tell you how to live? Then religion is perfect for you.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Good luck with that study. Make sure to actually publish the results.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • MRS

      It takes zero intellect to refuse to have an open mind and fairly ponder the things of spirituality.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • momoya

      There's already excellent data that shows the more intelligence the less fanatacism.. And also, the higher the education attained, the greater chance of atheism and agnosticism–certainly MUCH LESS mouth-frothing fundamentalism..

      Smart people understand that spiritual claims cannot be vetted and so are just myth belief.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Jen4016

      Hmmm, so CS Lewis had a low IQ. Read his "mere Christianity", it is free on google books. He calls atheism too simple of a theology. Use your IQ to explore instead of look down on things you don't understand

      May 19, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • momoya

      Jen

      Lewis was a cool dude but he used stupid, stupid, stupid arguments for his faith..

      May 19, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • mandarax

      Here's a few to start, especially for Blackadder who might try reading rather than just assuming things.

      Nyborg, Helmuth (2008-03). "The intelligence–religiosity nexus: A representative study of white adolescent Americans". doi:10.1016/j.intell.2008.08.003. Retrieved 2008-10-17.

      Lynn, Richard; John Harvey and Helmuth Nyborg. "Average intelligence predicts atheism rates across 137 nations". Elsevier Inc. doi:10.1016/j.intell.2008.03.004. Retrieved 2008-06-27.

      "Intelligent people 'less likely to believe in God'". telegraph.co.uk

      Science News (24 February 2010). "Liberals and Atheists Smarter? Intelligent People Have Values Novel in Human Evolutionary History, Study Finds". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 20 April 2012.

      Paek, Ellen (2006). "Religiosity and perceived emotional intelligence among Christians". Personality and Individual Differences (International Society for the Study of Individual Differences) 41 (3): 479–490.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • momoya

      Blackadder isn't interested in facts, though.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • mandarax

      "So CS Lewis had a low IQ?" No, that is not at all what that means. You have no idea about how statistics work do you? They describe populations of individuals, not every single individual. You have said the equivalent of "So you say humans average 5 ft 8 inches in height, so you're saying Magic Johnsons 5 ft 8 inches tall?" Doesn't make sense, huh.

      These are the exact reasons Lawrence Krauss is right in saying "we need more college degrees far more than we need more faith."

      May 19, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  12. GoSitInTheCar

    Gay marriage and abortion are excellent forms of population control. Especially with a government hellbent on eliminating personal responsibility

    May 19, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Reagan80

      Abortion is a convincing argument for Natural Selection.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    May 19, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • uriah

      judgement changes things

      May 19, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  14. Questions401

    Faith should not be used as a weapon to oppress the free and manipulate the weak minded among us. If your "Faith" compels you to hate, violence, or to discriminate against your fellow human beings then you follow a falsehood.

    Do not judge others by your morals for it is god's will we shall be judged by and human kind has little knowledge of gods plan.

    Change the Tax code to treat all people equally.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Reagan80

      Why is it that you left-wing nuts always accuse us of "hate" as you spew out your bile?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Questions401

      @ Reagan80 I have accused no one of anything, I simply stated that if religious beliefs compel someone to violence they follow a falsehood.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Reagan80

      If you don't want to be misinterpreted, stop using the buzz words of the left.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  15. really

    Ok. We get it. CNN wants everyone to know that all religions support gay marriage. By next week we'll find out that Muhammad had a gay crush on Jesus.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  16. reedbo

    Hate the sin, love the sinner – that is the message of Christ. We are all sinners, therefore the issue isn't who sins more or less. The issue is what is/are the rules of morality under which we will live as a society? The Bible tells us about God's plan for marriage, justice, etc. In other words morality. If we break those rules there will be consequences – single parents, broken homes, children coming out of those environments turning to crime, etc. We simply cannot do what we want simply because we want to.
    Also, Jesus is the Rock read Matthew 16:16. Peter states “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” To which Christ replies 18. and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. No Jesus/Messiah – no church.
    Lastly, there is not one instance of infant baptism in scripture. Baptism was a voluntary act of testimony and worship entered into by adults.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • bla

      That same bible tells you to stone people to death, and Jesus never said you should stop.

      Sounds like you're going to have quite a bit of explaining to do to god when you meet him about why you haven't been obeying him.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • edwardo

      Hate the religion, love the religionist. That's my motto.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Laura-Nicole

      Wait. So because my parents divorced, I will turn to a life of crime? Okay. Let me leave my church, quit kid's ministry and get to selling drugs and robbing banks, simply because my non-Christian parents decided to get a divorce over a decade ago.
      Kids from broken homes, with single parents or even from a home with two moms or two dads aren't automatically going to go into a life of crime. Where are you getting your information?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  17. dentont

    CNN enough of the gay stories,

    May 19, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      No one is forcing you to read them. Something tells me you are a little more interested in gay seks than you care to admit to yourself though. Why do you feel compelled to read stories about gays so much? Perhaps you need to go see a therapist about your obsessions with gay articles. I'm thinking there's a little more to it than you care to admit.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • dentont

      didn't read it, just had to check out the level of stupidity spewed forth by people like you

      May 19, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      You sound like a real weiner.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  18. Smurfy

    edwardo:

    It is the parents fault their children died in the flood. They failed to heed God's warning and therefore their offspring suffered for it. They should have listened to God, as should you.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • momoya

      Yes.. Your god tortures people for somebody's else's sins.. He's a terrorist and he doesn't abide by his own moral code.. He might do anything–you just never know.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Christians are so proud that their "god" is the worst mass murderer in Earth's history.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • edwardo

      So, if your children commit some sort of atrocity, may I drown you?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • mandarax

      Okay, if I say I'm gonna shoot this gun at someone's heart, if they don't get out of the way it's their own fault? And I'm fair and good for having given them a choice? Ridiculous.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  19. JSizzle

    The belief blog is more of a farce than a real conversation about any belief. Mainly, it's a forum for people who don't believe to anonymously, but vehemently accuse those who do believe, especially in Jesus Christ, of hypocrisy, lunacy, or idiocy. In America, tolerance of the so-called intellectually superior ends about 100 yards away from the Way.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • momoya

      So then why are you taking part?

      May 19, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      It's hilarious when religious fanatics post all of their hatred on these blogs. It makes their religion look really bad, like it's full of a bunch of hateful spiteful bigoted subhumans. I LOVE it ! ! !

      May 19, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • dentont

      deeCee1000, you are the pot calling the kettle black

      May 19, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Intolerance of intolerance is a good thing.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Chris R

      Sorry, but I believe and my faith is strong. I don't think God exists. I know God does. So I will call out my brothers for their un-Christ like behaviour and hate and the way they judge. I will love them as best I can but that doesn't mean I won't correct them. God is love. You cannot have love without God. If there is love then there is God. As such, if two people love each other, really love each other, then God has already blessed them. If you say "Their love offends me" then you are saying "God offends me". It's about that simple for me.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      I love how all the right fringe religions are now being categorized as hate groups. . .along with the neo-nazis and kkk. It makes all the idiot religious fanatics posting on blogs like this look like total as**oles.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  20. John

    I find it humurous how so many say they are Christian yet seem to know ZERO about there own faith. Maybe they should try reading thier bible so they might come to the knowledge of truth. The bible it very clear on God's stand on Gay & Lesbian relationships; He is against it BIG TIME! Romans Chapter 1 makes it very clear; specifically verses 22-32.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • momoya

      Christians have learned from the many denominations and their pastors how to interpret "the wurd" to support any idea that they wish it to support.. The leaders instructed and the laity learned the trick well.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • momoya

      Christians have learned from the many de.no.minations and their pastors how to interpret "the wurd" to support any idea that they wish it to support.. The leaders instructed and the la.ity learned the trick well.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • momoya

      Christians have learned from the many de.no.m.in.ations and their pastors how to interpret "the wu.rd" to support any idea that they wish it to support.. The leaders instructed and the la.i.ty learned the trick well.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Christian

      Again someone who wrongly believes everything in the bible is what God stands for. Actually the bible is compilation of what man believed and said: predominately white men with there own agenda and oppressive ideals. It is interesting that people want to take specific passages out of the bible which meets there own agenda, If we took the whole bible literally the only people with power and authority would be white men. The rest of us would be condemned with no rights.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:03 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.