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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. mama k

    Bob, the bigoted one, keeps insisting that the U.S. was founded on Christianity and is a Christian nation. Well it is obviously not entirely a Christian nation and it is not a theocracy and it was not founded on Christianity. God nor Christ are mentioned in the Constitution that we live by. If one listens to the words of our key founders reflecting on our government, we more and more hear a call for moderation for Christians. We hear more and more the influence of Deism on the founders, who were fed up with the persecution between various Christians sects that was going on at the time.

    Listen to James Madison, POTUS #4, and the chief architect of the U.S. Constitution:

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    (A Remonstrance . . to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785.)

    Listen to John Adams, POTUS #2:

    The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

    Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.

    (from A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America [1787-1788])

    Listen to Ben Franklin:

    Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of the sermons which had been preached at Boyle’s Lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them. For the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to be much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.

    (from his Autobiography)

    Thomas Paine was very Deistic. He witness Quakers being hung in Massachusetts by other Christians.

    Thomas Jefferson had his own Deistic version of the Bible.

    Of course Deism holds to the belief of God as the creator of the universe. But many Deists also believed that God did not interfere with the lives of his creation. And many Deists disbelieved in all of the "magic" in the Bible – some of them refuting the Bible completely.

    Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Paine, Mason & Madison all witnessed violent persecution between Christian sects in their home states around the time the government was being established. So it is of no surprise that they needed a secular government and they knew the only way to enforce freedom of religion was to keep religion out of the government as much as possible.

    Listen to James Madison speak about the need for the need to keep religion out of government (Jefferson wasn't the only one to explicitly speak of the separation of church and state):

    Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

    The Civil Govt, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.

    (from letters to Edward Livingston and Robert Walsh)

    Madison as president vetoed two bills that he believed would violate the separation of church and state. He also came to oppose the long-established practice of employing chaplains at public expense in the House of Representatives and Senate on the grounds that it violated the separation of church and state and the principles of religious freedom. (Library of Congress – James Madison Papers – Detached memorandum, ca. 1823.)

    President John Adams and the U.S. Senate on behalf of the U.S.

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;

    (from Article 11 of the U.S. treaty ratified with Tripoli in 1797)

    Senator John F Kennedy said on Sept. 12, 1960, just prior to his winning the Presidential election:

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.

    So secular the government was, and secular it is, Bob. Sorry to burst your bubble.

    December 4, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  2. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    "They committed horrific abuses," said Cilina Nasser, of Amnesty International. "They set up courts, their own courts and claimed to apply Islamic law."
    One man, accused of spying for the U.S., was killed and then had his remains crucified. A video obtained by the rights group shows the rotting body, which had been left out in the open for days - a warning to anyone who might consider doing the same.

    That's what happens in a theocracy. That's what Boob wants to see in the US.

    December 4, 2012 at 9:56 am |
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    December 4, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  4. Bob

    Christianity and many other religions are anti-American. They are full of bigotry, including, in the present case, towards gays, and they are anti-freedom. They are anti-capitalism since they oppose a free market and optimal pricing of goods, and they are anti-free speech. True conservatives should oppose Christianity, as should reasoning liberals. Christianity is also racist and bigoted, given that it presents a "chosen race" and is unfair to women, among other reasons.

    Christianity, particularly that flagrantly practiced and grossly over-preached by evangelists, is also anti-science and is therefore putting our young people and our future workforce at a disadvantage relative to competing nations that now have better science education without religious bias and without the ancient supersti-tions that block modern understanding and technological and medical progress.

    Therefore, if we want to keep our great country the greatest in the world, a status that is increasingly questionable and under threat, Americans need to overthrow the power that Christianity has in the US, and ultimately get past religion entirely. We need to take our freedom back from the power-holders and practitioners of Christianity, and push back hard against the idiocies that religion represents.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

    December 4, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      It's so nice when the sane Bob contributes. I truly hope and want to believe that the two Bobs are physically separate people.

      December 4, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If the two Bobs are one and the same, I will be quite disappointed. Anyone who would spew the kind of ignorance the Boob has posted in order to provoke reaction is achieving nothing. Those responding to the Boob are mostly on the other side of the argument. What is the point of posting as a poe, if only the choir is reading?

      December 4, 2012 at 9:48 am |
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    December 4, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  6. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Boob, you cannot be anything but a Poe.

    December 4, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  7. Bob

    While the atheists try to spin hate and anger in dramatics that people who don't follow them and their ideas are bigots I only see that they lie about the origin of the country, lie about what the Bible says about gay marriage, subvert gov with money from the wealthy to promote gay laws and then call us bigots who adhere to what this country was founded on. These are just like the socialists, communists and Nazis that burned books, banned the Bible or any other religion that gave people the option to have individuality. They seek to make people forget where they came from and who died to make this country great in order to push their own perverted agenda. So who are the ones that really hate when they take away our very great heritage pull down morals so anything goes and forget the benefits of doing things right instead of perverting everything. Why don't I see gays arguing the point here instead of atheists? What do they want to achieve? If gays found it so important don't you think they would want to promote themselves? Don't drink the koolaid they are serving we are the greatest nation in the world and we didn't get that way on their ideals.

    December 4, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      We became a great nation by recognizing the rights of people to live their lives with as much freedom as possible, as long as they are not infringing on the rights of others. We became a great nation by protecting individual rights to do as we choose as long as we do not injure anyone else.

      How is gay marriage injuring anyone, boob?

      December 4, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Hi Bob, I hope you are well.

      While the atheists try to spin hate and anger in dramatics that people who don't follow them and their ideas are bigots

      Do you understand the definition of the word "bigot"? It begins with a label for a group of people. It includes judging an entire group of people and making laws that affect only that group of people.

      If the word fits, it should be applied. That is what words are for.

      I only see that they lie about the origin of the country, lie about what the Bible says about gay marriage, subvert gov with money from the wealthy to promote gay laws and then call us bigots who adhere to what this country was founded on.

      What lies about our origins, Bob? So far, the only lies I see about our nation's history come from those who try to claim this is a Christian Nation....and if you were trying to adhere to what this country was founded on, we wouldn't be having an issue, as this country was founded on freedom of religion.

      These are just like the socialists, communists and Nazis that burned books, banned the Bible or any other religion that gave people the option to have individuality.

      No one here is calling for book burning, even if that book is the bible. While taken wholly the philosophies do not work in practice (as history tells us), there are good ideas within socialism and communism. Or do you not realize that much of what Christ taught is socialism?

      They seek to make people forget where they came from and who died to make this country great in order to push their own perverted agenda.

      Who does? Anyone I know who lives in this country where they are free to speak, free to worship or not as they feel is right, who is free to LOVE whomever they choose, honors those that lived and died to make it so. There is no agenda. I keep telling you that.

      So who are the ones that really hate when they take away our very great heritage pull down morals so anything goes and forget the benefits of doing things right instead of perverting everything. Why don't I see gays arguing the point here instead of atheists? What do they want to achieve? If gays found it so important don't you think they would want to promote themselves? Don't drink the koolaid they are serving we are the greatest nation in the world and we didn't get that way on their ideals.

      How do you know the orientation of anyone posting here, unless they tell you? I happen to know that several regular posters are, in fact gay. Others I believe are, but I haven't asked. Why? IT DOESN"T MATTER.

      We're all human. We all deserve the same rights. Anyone can argue for those rights, regardless of whether they are gay or straight or bi or whathaveyou.

      December 4, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  8. Bob

    Mammy K why are you here along with Tom Why you are atheists and dont know the Bible and in no way are keeping with the thought of the article. The Mayflower Compact was signed aboard ship on November 11, 1620 This ruled the land with the Bible and English law. This is what he pilgrims drafted who founded this country that even the atheists live in. Then the articles of con-fed-er-a-tion Articles of Con-fed-er-a-tion was unanimously adopted in 1781. The US Con.sti-tu-tion was written in 1787 in response to the inadequacy of the articles of Con-fed-era-tion due to new trade. This is in light that all members where mandated to belong to a religion of choice in order to serve in a state position. Also did you know in the Capital building today that in the main room there are paintings of prayer meetings held there. So the US is a Christian Nation. The Bible was also used as the first school books and look how far down the road to perversion when from 1620 to 2012 in 392 years we are told that the US was not a Christian nation. The bankers still plunder with impunity the people and gov doesn't do anything about it and we also have teen pregnancies and atheists telling us what the Bible says and that gay barrage is not a perversion now the courts are mandating the laws because congress is lost. In 1913 Roos-e-velt signed the reserve act that officially took control of our money out of our hands. Atheists like these say that they have a better way well all I see is the farther we have come away from the Bible the farther this country has slid down a slippery slope. So I guess George knew what he was talking about when he said gov without the Bible to bridle peoples passions doesn't work, how wise.

    December 4, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Ummmm. . . you might want to wipe that foam off your chin.

      December 4, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'm here because this is a free country and you don't run CNN, Booby. I'm here because I care about the rights of gays to marry. I'm here because I don't intend to allow morons like you to have the only say on the issue. It's a Belief Blog, Boob. Not YOUR Belief Only Blog. YOUR belief isn't the only one and you don't get exclusive rights to express it.

      For someone who touts his understanding of American history, you really are stupid.

      If you want to express your beliefs on a forum that doesn't allow dissent, there are plenty. Go find one. I'm not leaving.

      December 4, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "So the US is a Christian Nation."

      A majority of its citizens are Christian. A majority of its citizens could be black. That wouldn't make it a "black nation."

      It's a country with a secular government, boob. Not a theocracy ruled by the laws of the bible. If you want to see what kind of things happen in theocracies, check CNN's front page. A man was crucified and a woman beheaded.

      Is that what you want?

      Move there, then.

      December 4, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Bob

      Tom is the one foaming at the mouth because she has no where else to go to listen to her garbage. Stick to the article tom and if you cant then take your meds so at least you can fit into society somewhat. But at very least sit back relax and learn maybe then you might be relevant so someone might actually listen to you.

      December 4, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Apparently, boob, you can't read any better than you write. Re-read my last sentence above. I'll write what I want where I want. If you can't take it, leave.

      December 4, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • WASP

      @bob: the main point you fail to grasp bob is the united states of america HAS NO OFFICIAL RELIGION.
      we are prohibited from having involvement in ANY religion, due to the fact it may be misunderstood as being an endorsment.
      religion is forbidden.............even though it doesn't stop them from trying..........to interfer in politics.
      all you christian taliban need to boil over one major detail in let's say you win and america declares an OFFICIAL RELIGION;
      what if that religion ISN'T YOUR RELIGION...............................then what will you do? ROFLMFAO.
      "idiots never think their actions through to every possible detail before they commit themselves to a cause."

      December 4, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Bob

      Wasp great point about what if that religion is not yours, Well atheism is not mine yet we see atheists trying to rewrite the history books, the gov, and even the courts.

      December 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Bring'em Young

      Bob
      The atheists are trying to CORRECT the govt and the courts.

      December 4, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Bob

      I love it atheists to the rescue NOW THAT'S FUNNY

      December 4, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  9. Douglas

    There is no "christian case for gay marriage".

    Why?

    1. The Bible (The Christian living guidebook) explicitly condemns LGBTQ coitus.
    2. In Matthew 19, Jesus (the founder of Christianity) defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

    This means there are no provisions or precedents for gay marriage as a "Chrisitan practice".

    This blog is about hijacking Christianity to justify fornication by LGBTQ couples who thumb their noses at the Bible
    and Jesus' instructions in Matthew 19.

    Celibate LGBTQ Christian couples are not under condemnation since they refrain from fornication.

    While marriage in a Chrisitan church is not permitted, a civil partnership for asset management is perfectly acceptable
    and makes sense for survivor and inheritance planning. As a celibate couple, their souls are not stained and they are bound for glory with the rest of us when the Lord returns.

    Reach out to LGBTQ Christians at your place of worship and share the good news about celibate living with them!

    December 4, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nope. In Maryland, gay marriages will be legal beginning in January. There are plenty of churches here that already welcome EVERYONE and they'll continue to perform marriage ceremonies uniting gays just as they've been doing. The difference is that now those unions have legal clout.

      Nobody should have to remain celibate if he/she loves another consenting adult.

      Your bible is irrelevant.

      December 4, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      And while you good christians are coaching gays on celibacy, will you also be as clearly discussing the s3xual practices of heteros that your god might find offensive? Will you be "in the face" of your cult members who you know are living together but are not married? Will you be rigorously applying your Babble's rules about adultery and fornication? Or, as I suspect, will younbe focusing your holier-than-you att!tude only on gays?

      December 4, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  10. mama k

    Regardless of whether one follows trends or not, it is quite easy to recognize those who are on the extreme bigoted end of the spectrum of all religions. Such is Bob, and many others who play the part of judge for their God of Israel. Instead of living in the real world, Bob lives in the world of ancient mythology, and as such, his unfounded judgments are extreme and harmful to the progress of mankind. When I brought up the importance of the Constitution, Bob challenged with the Mayflower Compact as if that were more important to us today. Regression, not progress is Bob's motto. I pointed out that there are many Christian churches that are fully accepting of gay couples, but that flies in the face of Bob's bigoted view of the world. Of course this is one of many indications of how conflicted Christianity is and has always been since its beginnings. The phrase "you're not a Christian" is something we hear frequently – and mostly among conflicted Christians. That kind of conflict between Christians has always been with us in the U.S. It's what caused one Christian to say:

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785. And that moderate Christian (heavily influenced by Deism) was James Madison, the chief architect of the U.S. Constitution, and our 4th POTUS.

    December 3, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  11. Bob

    I don't go by trends because trends come and go, I don't live in a vacuum either. I have seen too many human failings and all say they know best yet fall on their face. But I have not seen those who put faith in the Lord fall and not get up. I have seen drug addicts accept the Lord and never do drugs again, The same with every addiction and perversion out there. some lives a terrible train wreck and they make the decision to accept the Lord and you would not recognize some of them today. I have seen families reunited with a word from the Lord. so you want me to accept something that I have never seen good come out of? Something that the Lord says is no good? To me that is where I will put my trust not in the whims of man or atheists that don't know and don't have answers. You only know a limited amount because you don’t know the spirit and think it foolish, a side of life I know well. God is a spirit. All churches should welcome gays but not perform gay marriage. A church is supposed to be a hospital and training center if they throw out the people who need the Lord then why are they here. But they cannot bend the rules gay is a sin just like any other sin but the church doesn't indulge sin it casts it out. God can change anyone it’s just how close do you want to be and will you give up what He wants you to. I would think gays knowing what the Bible says about gay copulation would strive to follow the Bible rather than subvert it so that the full blessings of God would be received. If a church does marry gays and knowing the Bible condemns this if it were me I would say that I wouldn't want to be a part of a club that bends the rules to accept me. I am what I am God accepts me and I don't try to subvert the Bible but try to live it and I want all the gifts and good things God has for me. The churches that are the money grubbers and liars are the ones that accept gay marriage how good can that church be if it will lie about its own doctrine? Why would anyone want to try just to feel good rather than let God make you feel good and remove the condemnation Himself? Man cannot remove what Gods law has ordained but God can make a person live comfortably in His law. This is the experience that is denied those that tickle their ears or listen to people who say God won’t accept them. He came for the sinners but He said REPENT or go and sin no more. You can love someone but not accept their lifestyle. As Jesus loved the sinners and saints He didn’t bend what God told Him to do but wept at the loss of a soul. If i have to live on the fringes of society or be the voice of one crying in the wilderness so be it. I would rather be that one and have nothing on the outward than to have everything on the outward and lose my relationship with God. I could have bit the dust several times in my life and it was the Lords protection that brought me through so where do you think my loyalty is going to be? As always we know that there is no justification for gay marriage.

    December 3, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Boob says "I don't go by trends."

      You don't even know what a "trend" is, Boobalistic.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Bob
      Such arrogance!
      What of the parts of the world that are not now, and never have been, Christian?
      Do you think that every single Ja'panese person who has ever lived is an, immoral, spiritually empty being?
      Religion is losing its impact thanks to instantenous global communication. The information generation growing up now is exposed daily to myriad ideas, worldviews and religions. You cannot hope to keep people insulated from differing viewpoints anymore.
      Sociological evolution is leading us away from religions becuase they are necessarily divisive.
      Religion, like people, has evolved based on the laws of Darwinian evolution in that different environments have brought about different religions. That the 4000 year old mythology of displaced desert people and it's various offshoots has become the predominant religion of the "developed" world is too long and bloody a history to recount here, but other faiths exist too.
      Nobody has been able to build a truly universal God based consensus.
      Any proposition that relies on faith can and will be twisted by unscrupulous individuals for their own gain. Its just far too easy to manipulate those who are willing to suspend critical thinking and accept something without evidence.
      What it will take to achieve peace and understanding is democracy. True, participatory democracy based on what is the greatest good for the greatest number – globally.

      December 4, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  12. John

    "there is no justification for gay marriage"

    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.

    December 3, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  13. YeahRight

    " They don't care about the issue "

    You're the one that has proven your a prejudiced bigot on this issue. This is about civil rights. Marriage was defined by the US Supreme Court as a civil right. Recognized federal civil rights law in the United States is grounded in the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. By this standard, marriage has long been established as a civil right.

    The operative constitutional text is section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868. The relevant passages read as follows:

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    These rights include:
    Tax Benefits
    -–Filing joint income tax returns with the I R S and state taxing authorities.
    -–Creating a "family partnership" under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members.
    Estate Planning Benefits
    -–Inheriting a share of your spouse's estate.
    -–Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.
    -–Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples, including QTIP trusts, QDOT trusts, and marital deduction trusts.
    -–Obtaining priority if a conservator needs to be appointed for your spouse – that is, someone to make financial and/or medical decisions on your spouse's behalf.
    Government Benefits
    -–Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.
    -–Receiving veterans' and military benefits for spouses, such as those for education, medical care, or special loans.
    -–Receiving public assistance benefits.
    -–Employment Benefits
    -–Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer.
    -–Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.
    -–Receiving wages, workers' compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.
    -–Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse's close relatives dies.
    Medical Benefits
    -–Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.
    -–Making medical decisions for your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.
    Death Benefits
    -–Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.
    -–Making burial or other final arrangements.
    Family Benefits
    -–Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.
    -–Applying for joint foster care rights.
    -–Receiving equitable division of property if you divorce.
    -–Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.
    Housing Benefits
    -–Living in neighborhoods zoned for "families only."
    -–Automatically renewing leases signed by your spouse.
    Consumer Benefits
    -–Receiving family rates for health, homeowners', auto, and other types of insurance.
    -–Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.
    -–Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.
    -–Other Legal Benefits and Protections
    -–Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).
    -–Suing a third person for offenses that interfere with the success of your marriage, such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation (these laws are available in only a few states).
    -–Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can't force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.
    -–Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.
    -–Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.
    -–Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family.

    December 3, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  14. Erik

    "God can change anyone"

    There is no need to change a gay person. 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.

    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!"

    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).

    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.

    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.

    December 3, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  15. Jeannine

    " But they cannot bend the rules gay is a sin"

    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.

    December 3, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  16. 261 Ministers Procalmation

    "Because there is no justification for gay marriage in the Bible so the clergy is not going to go against their faith"

    As Christian clergy we proclaim the Good News concerning Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons and publicly apologize where we have been silent. As disciples of Jesus, who assures us that the truth sets us free, we recognize that the debate is over. The verdict is in. Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, and not a sin. We find no rational biblical or theological basis to condemn or deny the rights of any person based on sexual orientation. Silence by many has allowed political and religious rhetoric to monopolize public perception, creating the impression that there is only one Christian perspective on this issue. Yet we recognize and celebrate that we are far from alone, as Christians, in affirming that LGBT persons are distinctive, holy, and precious gifts to all who struggle to become the family of God.

    In repentance and obedience to the Holy Spirit, we stand in solidarity as those who are committed to work and pray for full acceptance and inclusion of LGBT persons in our churches and in our world. We lament that LGBT persons are condemned and excluded by individuals and institutions, political and religious, who claim to be speaking the truth of Christian teaching. This leads directly and indirectly to intolerance, discrimination, suffering, and even death. The Holy Spirit compels us:

    -to affirm that the essence of Christian life is not focused on sexual orientation, but how one lives by grace in relationship with God, with compassion toward humanity;

    –to embrace the full inclusion of our LGBT brothers and sisters in all areas of church life, including leadership;

    –to declare that the violence must stop. Christ’s love moves us to work for the healing of wounded souls who are victims of abuse often propagated in the name of Christ;

    –to celebrate the prophetic witness of all people who have refused to let the voice of intolerance and violence speak for Christianity, especially LGBT persons, who have met hatred with love;

    Therefore we call for an end to all religious and civil discrimination against any person based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. All laws must include and protect the freedoms, rights, and equal legal standing of all persons, in and outside the church.

    December 3, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Original proclamation can be found at http://www.heartlandproclamation.org/. Of the 261 signatories, none are obviously RCC.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  17. Bob

    How stupid mammy k of course churches accept gays, she just wants to stir up things they just wont perform gay marriages. Because there is no justification for gay marriage in the Bible so the clergy is not going to go against their faith and ultimately God She is also a atheist and never been to church so how would she know what churches accept?

    December 2, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • mama k

      Bob – I just know that many other Christians disagree with you position. I don't live in a vacuum as it seem you do. And yes, I am an Atheist, but I have many Christian friends, some of whom are gay couples. Your world is very, very narrow, Bob and it will get narrower the more you stick with your bigotry. You don't see the trend?

      December 2, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Boob, how stupid are you? Do you really think that only believers attend weddings in churches? I've been invited to numerous gay weddings in churches.

      My own wedding was in a church.

      Did you really imagine you had a point? Are you high?

      December 2, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Bob

      K, I don't go by trends because trends come and go, I don't live in a vacuum either. I have seen too many human failings and all say they know best yet fall on their face. But I have not seen those who put faith in the Lord fall and not get up. I have seen drug addicts accept the Lord and never do drugs again, The same with every addiction and perversion out there. some lives a terrible train wreck and they make the decision to accept the Lord and you would not recognize some of them today. I have seen families reunited with a word from the Lord. so you want me to accept something that I have never seen good come out of? Something that the Lord says is no good? To me that is where I will put my trust not in the whims of man or atheists that don't know and don't have answers. You only know a limited amount because you don’t know the spirit and think it foolish, a side of life I know well. God is a spirit. All churches should welcome gays but not perform gay marriage. A church is supposed to be a hospital and training center if they throw out the people who need the Lord then why are they here. But they cannot bend the rules gay is a sin just like any other sin but the church doesn't indulge sin it casts it out. God can change anyone it’s just how close do you want to be and will you give up what He wants you to. I would think gays knowing what the Bible says about gay copulation would strive to follow the Bible rather than subvert it so that the full blessings of God would be received. If a church does marry gays and knowing the Bible condemns this if it were me I would say that I wouldn't want to be a part of a club that bends the rules to accept me. I am what I am God accepts me and I don't try to subvert the Bible but try to live it and I want all the gifts and good things God has for me. The churches that are the money grubbers and liars are the ones that accept gay marriage how good can that church be if it will lie about its own doctrine? Why would anyone want to try just to feel good rather than let God make you feel good and remove the condemnation Himself? Man cannot remove what Gods law has ordained but God can make a person live comfortably in His law. This is the experience that is denied those that tickle their ears or listen to people who say God won’t accept them. He came for the sinners but He said REPENT or go and sin no more. You can love someone but not accept their lifestyle. As Jesus loved the sinners and saints He didn’t bend what God told Him to do but wept at the loss of a soul. If i have to live on the fringes of society or be the voice of one crying in the wilderness so be it. I would rather be that one and have nothing on the outward than to have everything on the outward and lose my relationship with God. I could have bit the dust several times in my life and it was the Lords protection that brought me through so where do you think my loyalty is going to be?

      December 2, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • mama k

      "gay is a sin"

      Again, Boob – not everyone thinks the same you do about this. You're not helping anyone if you're spewing that nonsense.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:09 am |
    • JWT

      Gay is a son only to to those that think it is a sin. Which does not not include even all christians.

      December 3, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  18. Bob

    Ask yourself what is a atheist dong here promoting gay marriage? They are promoting their own religion. They will not answer and cannot discuss the blog that is current on this page because they don't know the Bible so don't get fooled by their deception. Why would anyone even listen to someone who doesn't know what they are supposed to be talking about? So much for atheists discussing the merits of this mans post. The only greater waste of time than reading what this person has to say is listening to these atheists.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What complete nonsense, as everyone has come to expect from you, boob. No one is required to marry in a church. No church is required to abide by your bible. Marriages are legal whether you approve of them or not.

      Go cry in your beer.

      December 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  19. mama k

    LOL – first-time readers of this thread need to learn about Bob. He is a bigot extraordinaire. Take the time to skim down through these pages to read what this idiot spews, regardless of subject. When I brought up the importance of the Constitution, Bob challenged with the Mayflower Compact as if that were more important to us today. And the list goes on. Regardless, the fact that there are many Christian churches that are fully accepting of gay couples flies in the face of Bob's bigoted view of the world. Of course this is one of many indications of how conflicted Christianity is and has always been since its beginnings. The phrase you're not a Christian is something we hear frequently – and mostly among conflicted Christians. That kind of conflict between Christians has always been with us in the U.S. It's what caused one Christian to say:

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785. And that moderate Christian (heavily influenced by Deism) was James Madison, the chief architect of the U.S. Constitution, and our 4th POTUS.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • mama k

      And if you really want to find a gay-friendly church, these Christian associations represent quite a number of churches across our great land that are fully accepting of gay couples:

      http://www.awab.org

      http://www.gaychurch.org/find_a_church/united_states/united_states.htm

      Don't buy into the Bobigotry!

      December 2, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Chad

      I contend we are both bigots, I just believe that one fewer societal behavior is proper than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible societal behaviors as being legitimate , you will understand why I dismiss your pet one(same sex marriage)." – Rephen Soberts

      December 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Oh, how cute – the master of disingenuous deflection followed mama to a new thread. You'll find a kindred spirit here, Chad, Bob plays pigeon chess as well.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      I don't believe Rephen Sobert said any such thing. In fact, I don't believe Rephen Sorbert exists. Chad is just making things up as usual. That's called lying – how christian like.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  20. Bob

    Fulton said the only hassle involved in arranging her ceremony came when she was initially told that none of West Point's chaplains was allowed by his or her church leaders to perform gay weddings. So much for churches agreeing about gay marriage because you see there is no justification for gay marriage in the Bible and these pastors know it.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Those pastors think they know what god said.

      Lucky for all of us, there are plenty of churches and pastors that welcome gays. Too bad your churches are so blind they don't see the error of their ways. Their loss.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:42 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.