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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

    "kweers have reached the perversion level of the straights"

    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.

    December 6, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • lol??

      You haven't heard? Freud had a wet nurse. Restart the theories, from the beginning.

      December 6, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  2. James

    "The ones that don't agree are themselves gay or just decide to ignore scripture"

    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.

    December 6, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  3. Bob

    Those who signed the US Con-sti-tu-tion, include 39 of 55 delegates who attended the Con-st-itu-tional Con-ven-tion,

    December 6, 2012 at 3:44 am |
  4. Bob

    Rabbi Huna said in the name of Rabbi Joseph, 'The people of the Flood was not wiped out until they wrote marriage laws for the union of a man to a male or to an animal. Kind of interesting don't you think that they were not wiped out till they did this.

    December 6, 2012 at 3:31 am |
    • Observer

      So that's why God torturously killed EVERY pregnant woman, child, baby and fetus on the face of the earth?

      December 6, 2012 at 3:38 am |
    • Bob

      Yup we will all return to God, life is a gift, given by God and He can take it away.

      December 6, 2012 at 3:46 am |
    • End Religion

      Bob, enjoy your death cult. As for me, and anyone with a bit of reason, we understand your god never existed.

      December 6, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  5. mama k

    Also, even though I am not religious, I would urge anyone looking for a church that accepts gay couples completely for who they are, no strings attached, to check out the following and other similar organizations before falling for the bigoted "come worship with us, but be celibate" garbage that Bob and Douglas are trying to sell here.

    For those interested, the following faiths perform same-sex marriage:

    -United Church of Christ: The United Church of Christ was the first mainstream Christian church to fully support same-sex marriage and perform marriage ceremonies.
    -Jewish: Reform Judaism embraces same-sex marriage and rabbis can perform ceremonies.
    -Quaker: The willingness to perform gay marriages varies by meetinghouse, but there is some acceptance and performance of same-sex marriages among Quakers.
    -Metropolitan Community Church
    -Unitarian Universalist

    and I'm confident that more mainstream faiths in the U.S. will join that list as DOMA is repealed and more states join the list of those that have already legalized gay marriage.

    Also, for those interested, check out these gay-friendly organizations if looking for a church:

    http://www.gaychurch.org/

    http://www.awab.org

    And I'm sure there are more. Avoid the Bobigotry.

    December 5, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • lol??

      "Sorry! The word "conflicted" doesn't occur in the KJV."

      December 6, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • mama k

      Well that's pretty idiotic, "lol??" Is that how you assess conflict between Christian interpretation of the Bible? By which words are not printed on the page?

      December 6, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Observer

      lol??,

      Neither does the word "abortion" appear although huge numbers of Christians are delusional enough to think it does.

      December 6, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Bob

      The true Quakers would never accept gay marriage and the modern Quakers that you are referring to do not consider themselves Christians. Lie one down,

      December 6, 2012 at 3:28 am |
    • Observer

      Hearing "true Americans", "true Christians", "true Quakers", etc. is always good for a laugh. It's always ONE PERSON'S OPINION.

      December 6, 2012 at 3:33 am |
    • Bob

      True yes or conservative maybe would be a better word those willing to follow the Bible and not bend to their own desires. As these modern Quakers take on the appearance of the ones that came before but don't adhere to the bible and don't have the same power and even say that they are not Christians

      December 6, 2012 at 3:56 am |
    • lol??

      Mama K, the last time I grabbed a broom out of the closet at church I found you hiding there. I told you to get out and stay out.

      December 6, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  6. mama k

    Readers just scroll down and bit and check out my posts with quotes from James Madison and others. Douglas and Bob are good examples of those types of Christians who are in conflict with other Christians over gay marriage. Learn from my previous post how the key founders of our nation, highly influenced by Deism, were able to step back from the details of Christianity in order to bridge differences and build a strong secular government that could serve all, regardless of belief.

    December 5, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • Douglas

      mama k,

      The "conflict" is not with other Christians. The "conflict" is with the atheist and revisionist
      interpretation of scripture to justify acts and behaviors that are condemned in the Bible.

      This blog and its lead author who supplied the commentary have framed the polemic as
      "The Christian Case for Gay Marriage". It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that
      gay marriage does not exist in the Bible and that the Bible actually condemns LGBTQ coitus.

      Railing against Bob and Douglas changes nothing in the Bible about the condemnation of LGBTQ coitus/marriage.

      –Douglas

      December 6, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • mama k

      "and that the Bible actually condemns LGBTQ coitus."

      You proved my point, Douglas. By far, not all Christians agree on this. They frequently disagree on many things and always have since the beginning of Christianity. My many examples quoted below show that even the key founders of the U.S. recognized this and wrote about it. It doesn't take rocket science to recognize this conflicted nature of Christianity.

      December 6, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Bob

      The ones that don't agree are themselves gay or just decide to ignore scripture

      December 6, 2012 at 3:47 am |
    • Bob

      Any conflict that men feel doesn't arise out of the Bible or Christianity it arises from mens heart not willing to follow what God and the Bible says. The Bible is never in conflict

      December 6, 2012 at 3:50 am |
    • End Religion

      Bob, the bible is in eternal conflict with fact and reason.

      December 6, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  7. Douglas

    Doc Vestibule said

    "To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion." (1 Corinthians 7:8-9 RSV)

    Doc, It's great to see that you are studying the BIble to try to find passages to support your position. Unfortunately, Paul is the wrong guy for this purpose. Paul rages against LGBTQ coitus in Romans. He refers to those engaged in the practice as possessing a "reprobate mind".

    Beyond that, when Paul talks about extinguishing the flames of fornication and lustful passion by getting married, he
    is talking about straight marriage...not gay marriage.

    I admire your effort to review the Bible and trying to find meaning in scripture...keep up the good work!

    –Douglas

    December 5, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Observer

      Douglas,

      No one believes every word of the Bible. They just pick and choose what they like and ignore the rest. That's how hypocritical Christians can select passages to pick on gays while ignoring the MORE IMPORTANT Golden Rule.

      December 5, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Douglas

      @Observer

      The Golden Rule is not about saying OK to sinful behavior.
      If you want to be a Christian... then live by the rules and instructions as defined in scripture.
      If LGBTQ folk like what the Bible says in terms of a universal message of love and peace that's great.
      But...you can't bring along actions and behaviors that are expressly condemned in the Bible.

      As Jesus said in Matthew 19, "Those who can accept this teaching...accept it"

      –Douglas

      December 5, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Observer

      Douglas,

      Christians are told to NOT judge others and to follow the Golden Rule.

      Read the Bible.

      December 6, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Douglas

      Not so.

      Christians are obligated to judge what goes on inside the church.
      What goes on outside the church will be judged by God.

      If you want to practice LGBTQ coitus and engage in a gay marriage
      it has to take place outside of a Christian church.

      See Paul's statement about this in 1 Corinthians 5

      –Douglas

      December 6, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Observer

      Douglas,

      "Christians are obligated to judge what goes on inside the church."

      Read your own words. I agree. If gays have s-x in church, the members can complain. If not, it's none of HYPOCRITICAL Christians business.

      December 6, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • lol??

      "1Cr 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."..........."1Cr 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened............."

      December 6, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Douglas
      I only pull up scripture like that to try and provide an argument that won't immediately be rejected by evangelical Christians.
      I assume the Romans passage to which you are referring is the following:
      "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet."
      – Romans 1:26

      Note the repeated use of the word "natural". If one accepts that se/xual orientation is an intrinsic part of a person, then someone born gay would not be betraying themselves or God by entering into a gay marriage as they would be doing that which is natural, based on the way God made them.
      To say that the people in the scripture suffered God's wrath becuase they had a bi-se/x or/gy is to imply that God would've been A-OK had it been a straight, hetero or/gy.
      It is not the ho/mose/xual nature of the acts that displeased God so, it was the fact that these Christians turned apostate.

      December 6, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Douglas
      It's all about interpretation.
      If the Bible were cut and dry, there wouldn't be thousands of Christian sects.
      Much of the issue comes from translation. There are few people who understand ancient Greek and Hebrew these days and the semantic choices of translators can have enormous impact on how a particular passage is interpreted by the reader.
      For example:
      In Greek, the terms used in Corinthian's list of vices that are sometimes translated as "hom-ose.xual" are 'malakoi' and 'ar.senkoitai'.
      AR.SENKOTAI – Has been translated as "abusers of themselves with mankind" (KJV), "se.xual per.verts" (RSV), "sodo.mites" (NKJV, NAB, JB, NRSV), those "who are guilty of hom.ose.xual per.version" (NEB), "men who lie with males" (Lamsa), "behaves like a hom.ose.xual" (CEV), "men who have se.xual relations with other men" (NCV), and "ho.mose.xual offenders" (NIV). The New American Bible (Roman Catholic) translated ar.senokoitai as "practicing hom.ose.xuals".
      Historically, 'Ar.senokoitai' referred to male prosti.tutes for St. Paul and Christians until the 4th century.

      MALAKOI – Literally means "soft" or "males who are soft". This word has been translated as "ef.feminate" (KJV), "hom.ose.xuals" (NKJV), "corrupt" (Lamsa), "per.verts" (CEV), "catamites" which means call boys (JB), "those who are male prosti.tutes" (NCV), and "male prost.itutes." (NIV, NRSV).
      Until the Reformation in the 16th century and in Roman Catholicism until the 20th century, malakoi was thought to mean "mas.turb.ators."
      Only in the 20th century has it been understood as a reference to hom.ose.xuality.

      December 6, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Why are you such a coward, Boob?

    December 5, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  9. Bob

    Outlines a general philosophy of gov that justifies revo when government harms natural rights. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.We derive our rights from God not gov and we are a Christian nation.This is as stated in the Dec of Inde

    December 5, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Wow Bob, you really are just a pathetic, worthless, pointless person on this site. I really hope you find some sort of meaning, because I'm really starting to pity you.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Poor little boobykins. You can post more drivel, but you can't address the questions posed, can you?

      Never mind, dumbs!t. No one is surprised.

      December 5, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Saraswati

      The declaration of Independence has no authority within our legal system.

      December 5, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • redzoa

      As this came from TJ, you can rest assured his notion of God is not the Biblical notion of God. Furthermore, the text speaks of "Laws of Nature," "Nature's God," "Creator," and that the the "truth" of these rights is "self-evident" as opposed to divinely revealed. This is non-denominational, non-Christian Deism.

      December 5, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Redzoa, you'll have to draw a map for Boob. He is completely unable to comprehend anything that isn't drawn in crayon with directional arrows.

      December 5, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Bob

      Endowed by their Creator, So I know atheists don't have a Creator so whats this all about??

      December 6, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • Observer

      Bob,

      If the smart men who worked on the Declaration had intended to say "God" they would have. Instead they purposely chose a generic version of Zeus, God, Allah, etc. It could also cover the Great Pumpkin.

      December 6, 2012 at 3:20 am |
  10. Bob

    Benjamin Rush
    Signer of the Dec of Indep
    My only hope of salvation is in the infinite, love of God manifested to the world by the death of His Son upon the cross. Nothing but His blood will wash away my sins. I rely exclusively upon it. Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly!

    December 5, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What do you imagine this means, Booby?

      Do you think this is a theocracy?

      Watch now while Boob skates around the issue yet again.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • mama k

      Maybe he'll continue to go backwards even more – back to the Mayflower Compact.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I don't think the Boob could BE any more backward than he already is.

      December 5, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  11. Bob

    Samuel Adams
    Father of the American Revolution, Signer of the Decl of Ind-epen-den-ce
    I recommend my Soul to that Almighty Being who gave it, and my body I commit to the dust, relying upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins.

    December 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Bob

      Charles Carroll
      Signer of the Dec of Indepen
      On the mercy of my Redeemer I rely for salvation and on His merits; not on the works I have done in obedience to His precepts.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Bob

      William Cushing
      First Associate Just.ice Appointed by George Washington to the Sup-reme Cou
      Sensible of my mortality, but being of sound mind, after recommending my soul to Almighty God through the merits of my Redeemer and my body to the earth . . .

      December 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Wow Bob. 7 months and still no point I see. That's got to be some kind of record.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Bob

      Signer of the Dec of Indep
      I John Han being advanced in years and being of perfect mind and memory-thanks be given to God-therefore calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing it is appointed for all men once to Hebrews 9:27 do make and ordain this my last will and testament and first of all, I give and recommend my soul into the hands of God that gave it: and my body I recommend to the earth nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mercy and power of God
      Patrick Henry Gov of Virgin, Patriot This is all the inheritance I can give to my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What is your point, Boob? Do you have one? Posting quotes of long-dead politicians that have no bearing on the issue of gay marriage smacks of desperation.

      Answer the question, Boob: do you think this is a theocracy?

      December 5, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      More worthless quotes that have nothing to do with anything. Do you enjoy being a moron Bob?

      December 5, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • mama k

      S. Adams was most certainly a courageous figure in American history. But, as with these other people Bobigot is listing, he had little to do with implementing our government. That task fell the a company of men heavily influenced by DEISM.

      (Readers scroll down to read some interesting quotes from the people responsible for our Constitution.)

      December 5, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ahahahhha@ at Boob. You're quoting Charles Carroll-from MARYLAND where GAY MARRIAGE IS NOW LEGAL.

      December 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  12. mama k

    Bobigot goes on with more of his rants like: "but again proves my point atheists are stupid when in comes to what makes a Christian . . ."

    Of course Christianity has always been an extremely conflicted religion where each Christian is telling the next one what it takes to make a Christian. Around the time of the founding of the U.S. government, different Christian sects were at each others' throats in the home states of the key founders. This did not go unnoticed by the key founders who were very moderate and highly influenced by Deism. If one listens to the words of our key founders reflecting on our government, we more and more hear a call for moderation among Christians. We hear more and more the influence of Deism on the founders, who were fed up with the persecution they witnessed.

    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.

    Because of the persecution the key founders witnessed, they realized 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.

    December 5, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Well said, mama. Just another on the long list of subjects where Bob is fundamentally wrong. He has had his @ss handed to him so often on this thread that he has now had a handle surgically implanted to make it easier to carry.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • lol??

      Big Mama K on a Rail. Is the roadbed solid enough?

      December 5, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  13. YeahRight

    "Having not a clue as another example is set before us here."

    The one who hasn't a clue is you, you've been caught lying, you've posted false reports from well known hate groups and you are a troll not a Christian trying to spread your hatred and prejudice about the gay community. The experts in this country have stated that heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

    Like their heterosexual counterparts, many gay and lesbian people want to form stable, long-lasting, committed relationships. Indeed, many of them do and that large proportions are currently involved in such a relationship and that a substantial number of those couples have been together 10 or more years.

    Research demonstrates that the psychological and social aspects of committed relationships between same-sex partners closely resemble those of heterosexual partnerships. Like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples form deep emotional attachments and commitments. Heterosexual and same-sex couples alike face similar issues concerning intimacy, love, equity, loyalty, and stability, and they go through similar processes to address those issues. Research examining the quality of intimate relationships also shows that gay and lesbian couples have levels of relationship satisfaction similar to or higher than those of heterosexual couples.

    A large number of gay and lesbian couples raise children. Children and teenagers whose parents provide loving guidance in the context of secure home environments are more likely to flourish – and this is just as true for children of same-sex parents as it is for children of opposite-sex parents. Based on research findings, mental health professionals have also reached a consensus that the quality of relationships among significant adults in a child’s or adolescent’s life is associated with adjustment. When relationships between parents are characterized by love, warmth, cooperation, security, and mutual support, children and adolescents are more likely to show positive adjustment. In contrast, when relationships between parents are conflict-ridden and acrimonious, the adjustment of children and adolescents is likely to be less favorable. These correlations are just as true for children of same-sex parents as for children of opposite-sex parents.

    Assertions that heterosexual couples are inherently better parents than same sex couples, or that the children of lesbian or gay parents fare worse than children of heterosexual parents, have no support in the scientific research literature. On the contrary, the scientific research that has directly compared outcomes for children with gay and lesbian parents with outcomes for children with heterosexual parents has consistently shown that the former are as fit and capable as the latter and that their children are as psychologically healthy and well adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents.

    December 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • lol??

      Do you love chocolate covered Scarabs?

      December 5, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
  14. Bob

    Your name should be clueless not huh In public, Hitler often praised Christian heritage and German Christian culture, and professed a belief in an "Aryan" Jesus Christ—a Jesus who fought against the Jews. He spoke of his interpretation of Christianity as a central motivation for his antisemitism, stating that "As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice. In private, he was more critical of traditional Christianity, considering it a religion fit only for slaves; he admired the power of Rome but was hostile towards its teaching. Historian John S. Conway states that Hitler held a "fundamental antagonism" towards the Christian churches.If that isn't good enough its really easy to see other resources also but again proves my point atheists are stupid when in comes to what makes a Christian. Having not a clue as another example is set before us here.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Money is god

      I know what makes a Christian. A ridiculous gullibility and desire to believe in myth as reality.

      December 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Huh?

      “Today Christians … stand at the head of ….. I pledge
      that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy
      Christianity .. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian
      spirit … We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in
      literature, in the theater, and in the press – in short, we want to
      burn out the *poison of immorality* which has entered into our whole
      life and culture as a result of *liberal excess* during the past …
      years.” ~ Adolph Hitler

      University Press, 1942), pg. 871-872]

      December 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  15. mama k

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    – John Adams in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816

    December 5, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Bob

      As we look at the church down thorough the ages we do see some great travesties but we also see those in gov and men of depraved minds using the church to control the masses and pervert the gospel to serve their own motives. Just as the church of England used the church for control and our forefathers decided to have genuine worship and fellowship with the Lord set out and made a new country. The fears and tiredness of this control caused them to set out and statisfy the wanting to have true worship with God mixed to form what we have today. I cant imaging the great conflicts in mens minds hearts that were there when this country formed. But what I see is a great church and country that has done more for the good of the world and people than any other country or organization on earth. I know the atheists want to point to the failures but we have to again question the men who for their own motives used the church for their own motives. These atheists point again to say how bad and blame the church which again is my point they don't have the ability to judge between a Christian or not. They rely on words not spirit not truth but a word spoken and we know that the greatest travesties in society were performed not by Christians but men who like Hitler were atheists. So their skirts are not white like snow and should not be pointing fingers and claim to know the way. They do know the way straight to hell.

      December 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Huh?

      " but men who like Hitler were atheists"

      "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited."

      -Adolf Hitler, in his speech in Munich on 12 April 1922

      December 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • lol??

      Wonder what John Adams would say about the 21st century abortion of a gubmint called americult? Oh, dear!?

      December 5, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  16. John

    In days gone by, it was reasonable for Christians not to question conventional wisdom about the Bible. Because everyone used the Bible to justify slavery, for instance, Christians were OK with believing that some of their fellow human beings were just another species of farm animal they rightfully owned. Later, we Christians were entirely comfortable using the Bible to justify the atrocious idea that women are second-class citizens too simple-minded to be trusted with the vote.

    And up until the Internet made readily available all kinds of previously inaccessible knowledge and information, we could be excused for believing that the Bible indisputably states that God considers homosexual love a moral abomination.

    Today, however, anyone who can read, or simply watch YouTube videos, is forced to acknowledge the absolute credibility of the universe of scholarship, and the reasoning based upon it which unequivocally proves that the Bible does not, in fact, oblige Christians to believe that homosexual love, in and of itself, is necessarily any less moral than is heterosexual love.

    That closet door is now swung wide open. The truth of the matter is now there for anyone to behold.

    Christians today who take seriously the search for truth must admit that the old axiom that homosexuality is a sin has been forever reduced in status from objective truth to subjective opinion. From fact to belief. From beyond question to unquestionably dubious.

    Believing that homosexual love is a condemnable sin, in other words, is now a choice one must make.

    And what Christian;what person at all - would choose ignorant condemnation over enlightened love?

    December 5, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • lol??

      "...........simply watch YouTube videos.........." Seriously? That's too deep.

      December 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  17. YeahRight

    "to push their own perverted agenda."

    The experts in this country have proven gays are not perverted. They have stated heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

    Like their heterosexual counterparts, many gay and lesbian people want to form stable, long-lasting, committed relationships. Indeed, many of them do and that large proportions are currently involved in such a relationship and that a substantial number of those couples have been together 10 or more years.

    Research demonstrates that the psychological and social aspects of committed relationships between same-sex partners closely resemble those of heterosexual partnerships. Like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples form deep emotional attachments and commitments. Heterosexual and same-sex couples alike face similar issues concerning intimacy, love, equity, loyalty, and stability, and they go through similar processes to address those issues. Research examining the quality of intimate relationships also shows that gay and lesbian couples have levels of relationship satisfaction similar to or higher than those of heterosexual couples.

    A large number of gay and lesbian couples raise children. Children and teenagers whose parents provide loving guidance in the context of secure home environments are more likely to flourish – and this is just as true for children of same-sex parents as it is for children of opposite-sex parents. Based on research findings, mental health professionals have also reached a consensus that the quality of relationships among significant adults in a child’s or adolescent’s life is associated with adjustment. When relationships between parents are characterized by love, warmth, cooperation, security, and mutual support, children and adolescents are more likely to show positive adjustment. In contrast, when relationships between parents are conflict-ridden and acrimonious, the adjustment of children and adolescents is likely to be less favorable. These correlations are just as true for children of same-sex parents as for children of opposite-sex parents.

    Assertions that heterosexual couples are inherently better parents than same sex couples, or that the children of lesbian or gay parents fare worse than children of heterosexual parents, have no support in the scientific research literature. On the contrary, the scientific research that has directly compared outcomes for children with gay and lesbian parents with outcomes for children with heterosexual parents has consistently shown that the former are as fit and capable as the latter and that their children are as psychologically healthy and well adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents.

    December 5, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • lol??

      Per chance the EXPERTS make a lot of DOUGH with gubmint money? Pay em enough and they'll tell you the kweers have reached the perversion level of the straights. Low bar.

      December 5, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  18. James

    " As when it comes to gays and marriage the bible is very clear,"

    No, it's not. 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.

    December 5, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  19. lol??

    "1Cr 6:16 What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh."..... In americult with the gubmint usurper Beast god controlling everything, confusion reigns. The socialists, whether national or world wide, want to be in control and it appears they are.. The line between harlots and wives is barely in existence. Beast approved.

    December 5, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  20. lol??

    "Sorry! The word "conflicted" doesn't occur in the KJV."

    December 5, 2012 at 8:47 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.