home
RSS
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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

At the bottom of the creek, in exactly that spot, is a floor of smooth pebbles. The water rushing by has rubbed off the rough edges, bit by bit, day by day. The pebbles have been transformed by that water into something new.

I suppose that, as Peter put it, someone could try to withhold the waters of baptism there. They could try to stop the river, to keep the water from some of the stones, like a child in the gutter building a barrier against the stream.

It won’t last, though. I would say this to those who would withhold the water of baptism, the joy of worship, or the bonds of marriage: You are less strong than the water, which will flow around you, find its path, and gently erode each wall you try to erect.

The redeeming power of that creek, and of the Holy Spirit, is relentless, making us all into something better and new.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Osler.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Episcopal • Gay marriage • My Take • Opinion

soundoff (15,115 Responses)
  1. Douglas

    There is no Christian case for "gay marriage".

    Gay/Lesbian coitus and marriage are prohibited in the Holy Bible...the Christian religious guidebook.

    A case for "gay marriage" may be attempted outside of a Christian Church, however, it is out of bounds in a Christian Church. Likewise, Orthodox Jewish, and Muslim religions also prohibit "gay marriage". The Dalai Lama, the Pope and other religious leaders have warned about the threat to the family inherent in the pursuit of "gay marriage".

    In a Christian environment, celibate LGBTQ worshippers are welcomed. This behavior is consistent with Biblical authority.

    Jesus defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman in Matthew 19.

    After 197 pages in this blog, no contributor has produced any evidence to refute Jesus' command for the rite of marriage.

    I submit this case is closed.

    –Douglas

    December 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Phil

      "In a Christian environment, celibate LGBTQ worshippers are welcomed. "

      This person is not someone who understands what real loving relationships are about. The belief that sex is not important is a dangerous and intimacy-eroding myth. Sex provides an important time-out from the pressures of our daily lives and allows us to experience a quality level of closeness, vulnerability and sharing with our partners. If your sex life is unfulfilled, it becomes a gigantic issue. People like Douglas are dangerous for our society and don't understand the fundamental of human intimacy, gays or lesbians.

      December 17, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Melvin

      "After 197 pages in this blog, no contributor has produced any evidence to refute Jesus' command for the rite of marriage."

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

      December 17, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You can "submit" whatever you like, doogie. The case isn't yours to make or to close or to decide.

      You don't speak for god, you imbecilic twit.

      December 17, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • ImLook'nUp

      Ms. Tom, I think God speaks quite well for Himself. He never joined a man + man or a woman + woman in a marriage setting, EVER.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Brent

      " He never joined a man + man or a woman + woman in a marriage setting, EVER."

      The term “traditional marriage” is a term employed by anti-gay religious groups and individuals to promote bigotry, prejudice, hostility and discrimination toward gay and lesbian citizens.

      The term is used to justify a social injustice both in terms of denying gay and lesbian individuals equal treatment guaranteed by our Constitution and also denying them human dignity. The use of the term is an action that promotes constitutional unfairness and human indignity and therefore one which is morally wrong.

      If a person of faith agrees that a practice that promotes looking upon a segment of society as inferior, unworthy and undeserving of that which we find as good in our lives, the use of the term “traditional marriage” therefore also must be sinful.

      Regardless of their particular faith, the person would be hard-pressed to say that love, compassion and wanting what is best in our lives for others around us are not the core principles of most religions. When a person of faith stands opposed to those principles, their attitude and actions stand opposed to the principles which they strive to uphold in the everyday interactions with those around them.

      There is also deceit involved in the use of the term “traditional marriage” because those who employ the term attempt to perpetrate an untruth and ulterior motives of hostility and prejudice.

      The untruth comes when “traditional marriage” is offered up as a term that defines a religious concept of a God-blessed union of a young man and woman who fall in love, get married with no prior sexual experience, have children and remain together into old age. They are implying that this is how God ordains marriage.

      If it is, it took him until just 50 years ago to arrive at that conclusion.

      The tradition of marriage in Old Testament times meant the man and his wife could have the same father.

      In the Bible, the patriarch of the Hebrew people, Abraham, and his wife, Sarah, couldn’t have children so Sarah put forth her slave Hagar for Abraham to have children by.

      In Old Testament times, it was normal, sometimes even required for a man to take multiple wives. A man having multiple wives was accepted by the church as late as the 5th Century, 500 years after the teachings set forth in the New Testament. The church for a very long time apparently did not interpret biblical teaching as an edict for one-man, one-woman marriage.

      The tradition of marital unions in the 1700s and 1800s in America doesn’t seem to measure up to God-ordained – especially from the female perspective.

      One third of brides were pregnant at the altar in Concord, Massachusetts during the 20 years prior to the American Revolution.

      In this quote from a wedding couple in 1855, we see that the church had no problem blessing a legal marriage that was considered by many – including this couple – as a violation of the woman’s dignity and civil rights:

      “We believe that personal independence and equal human rights can never be forfeited, except for crime; that marriage should be an equal and permanent partnership, and so recognized by law; that until it is so recognized, married partners should provide against the radical injustice of present laws, by every means in their power…”

      So we can look back and see that religious teachings which uphold the ideals of love, dignity, compassion and respect for each person within marital unions throughout history has taken a back seat.

      In other words, the definition of a God-ordained tradition of marriage has never been constant rather it has evolved.

      History shows us it’s the marital union that should be uplifted…not the evolving traditions of a social institution. In other words, it’s not about how we come together but why.

      Rev. Mark Gallagher, a Unitarian minister, in 2004 asked “what about a marriage could have that quality of spiritual beauty? What makes for sacredness in a marriage?” He names four things.

      “First and foremost, mutual love. A feeling of heightened affection, respect, concern, and appreciation between marital partners. It gives a certain sparkle to the time spent together, and potentially to the entire experience of life. The presence of love makes a marriage sacred.

      “Fidelity contributes to the sacredness of a marriage. Commitments fulfilled. Coming through. Hanging in. Placing the integrity of the relationship over personal preference and convenience. It builds a powerful trust. Fidelity makes a marriage sacred.

      “Intimacy brings sacredness in a marriage. When two people reveal themselves to one another over time, they cannot help but gain acquaintance with the deep regions of the human experience. They get to know one another, of course. But more importantly, they get to know themselves.

      Through relating intimately over time, deeper honesty and authenticity become possible. This is the spiritual journey to know and be known, behind the public charade, however subtle or crude that may be.

      “And forgiveness generates sacredness in a marriage. We all make mistakes and need forgiveness. Our spiritual liberation requires that we become masters of forgiveness letting go of resentment for slights and injuries. The prolonged togetherness of marriage will present myriad opportunities for the practice of forgiveness. When forgiveness flows freely, there is a palpable quality of gentleness and compassion.”

      Does the heterosexual couple uniting in marriage today lift up the union as characterized by love, fidelity, intimacy and forgiveness. We expect they do and we suspect those characteristics as Gallagher concluded in his sermon are what exude sacredness.

      We also know that gay and lesbian couples uphold those same characteristics for their unions. Why would they not? Why would a parent of a gay son or daughter not want their child to enjoy the happiness derived from a lifelong devotion to those characteristics? Why would a brother or sister with a gay sibling not want their brother or sister to enjoy the happiness derived from a lifelong devotion to those characteristics?

      Why would a person of faith not want the gay or lesbian individual to enjoy the happiness derived from the pursuit of marriage sanctity?

      Why would we as Americans not want our government and its laws to recognize that same marriage sanctity for gay and lesbian individuals in their pursuit of liberty and happiness?

      There can be only one reason and that is because many of us have been conditioned by years of misguided church teaching to look upon gay and lesbian individuals as morally inferior, unworthy and therefore undeserving of that which we uphold as good and sanctified in our lives.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You don't have any idea what god has or hasn't done. All you know is what you've read in a book full of inaccuracies and contradictions. And none of that matters in a secular nation. By all means, if you're opposed to gay marriage, don't marry a gay person. You have no say over what others do as long as they are not violating your rights by doing so.

      Millions of people in this country are NOT Christian, and your bible has no relevance for them. While your church can decide who will marry within its doors, it cannot decide who will be able to marry outside them.

      December 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • ImLook'nUp

      I'm glad millions of people in this country ARE Christian, and the Bible has relevance to them.

      Living in a Godless society would be hell.

      December 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You don't even grasp the difference between "godless" and "secular," do you?

      Why am I not shocked?

      Your beliefs have no relevance for millions who are not Christian. That is why we don't use the Bible as the basis of law–laws are based on protecting us and our rights and freedoms.

      I notice not one of you has yet answered the question I have asked the BLOB repeatedly. How will gay marriage affect you or your marriage? How will it affect society? NONE of you morons has been able to show ANY negative effects in any state or country in which gay marriage is already legal. Why is that? Why can't you find a single negative effect reported in a credible, widely-accepted news source?

      You're all frauds.

      December 18, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • ImLook'nUp

      Ms. Tom,
      God’s laws are based on teaching His followers. Since you are not a believer, you have no mind for Spiritual. The realm of God is Spiritual. He communes with those who gather around His throne and breaths out the life giving words of Truth.

      You breath out a constant stream of vinegar.

      Society is crippled when Godly and godless choose to ignore God’s directives. He at no time brought together a man + man or a woman + woman into marriage setting. I don’t have to look or wait for some experts to write a paper on the subject. It goes against the grain of God and that is what I know.

      Remember, Ms. Tom, when you breath your last, He will be there.

      Vinegar and oil do not mix.

      December 18, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • JWT

      Expecting people who do not believe in your version of god to follow that version of laws is ludicrous. There is no possible valid reason to do so. All you are doing is saying your beliefs are right and mine are wrong. You are welcome to your faith but only as long as you are not requiring me to follow then same.

      December 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  2. YeahRight

    "the gays are totally glossed over and not addressed at all."

    You are such a liar. The facts are in 2012 the hundreds of thousands of experts in this country 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 16, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  3. Bob

    The problem with all like tom and yeah is they are in a false mind set of a few people coupled with taking God out of the US. Why because the reality of gay marriage and gay ideas that have been proven and are fact even among the gays are totally glossed over and not addressed at all. This is a fact not fiction not hate but a fact. Even in gay loving relationships which by the way are a mere quarter of 1 percent of the US people are we giving in and changing the definition of marriage for all and allowing these who define marriage by their own rules and ways rather than saying you need to live up to this standard. While I agree that many couples end in divorce why use that as a just reason to destroy this definition of marriage. When kids from poor areas or from troubled areas went to sch@@l and wanted to learn the language yet were having problems in this for a number of reasons tea-ch-ers in their failures came up with Eb@n-ics supposedly to help. But in reality the failure to be able to teach these kids the US language and fit to the standard of society. This was a failure sold as a success for all to feel good about themselves. it was soon the joke of society even comic stations had a field day with this and this is what is happening to marriage today. The gov can rule as they want on a civil issue equating marriage to freedom of speech but marriage at that point will be a meaningless thing we as humans do. We made it easy to get out of we made it easy to conform to so we have taken in a attempt to allow all in. The bar or standard that would make it something to aspire to was lowered for all.

    December 15, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Bob

      The collapse of the housing market was because Carter and Clinton did things that allowed all to own a house even when they couldn't afford it now we have learned the lessons of life yet and seek to make for those who don't qualify something available to all that shouldn't be. We will pay the price we do pay the price with the gov telling us they know what is best but constantly proving they are failures. Ultimately it is the gov responsible for this in the lack of upholding prop 8. Taking the peoples own decisions out of the way so they become the deciders of society. This is not freedom but socialism in its finest. To the gov of Cali telling us he will not adhere to his oath of office and protect the decision made by the people. Shame on you for your negligence in protecting the will of the people and not protecting doma and prop 8. We are so far into the gov telling us what to do this is no longer a free society it is no longer gov by and for the people but people by and for the gov. We will pay the price, we will see the day when the Castro section is a normal way of life much the the disgust of most of the US unless our hearts have been so hardened by the bombarding of garbage that has been happening.

      December 15, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • JWT

      So you want segregation back again and slavery and no mixed race marriages and women not to have the vote ?

      Interesting

      December 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Brent

      " changing the definition of marriage"

      The term “traditional marriage” is a term employed by anti-gay religious groups and individuals to promote bigotry, prejudice, hostility and discrimination toward gay and lesbian citizens.

      The term is used to justify a social injustice both in terms of denying gay and lesbian individuals equal treatment guaranteed by our Constitution and also denying them human dignity. The use of the term is an action that promotes constitutional unfairness and human indignity and therefore one which is morally wrong.

      If a person of faith agrees that a practice that promotes looking upon a segment of society as inferior, unworthy and undeserving of that which we find as good in our lives, the use of the term “traditional marriage” therefore also must be sinful.

      Regardless of their particular faith, the person would be hard-pressed to say that love, compassion and wanting what is best in our lives for others around us are not the core principles of most religions. When a person of faith stands opposed to those principles, their attitude and actions stand opposed to the principles which they strive to uphold in the everyday interactions with those around them.

      There is also deceit involved in the use of the term “traditional marriage” because those who employ the term attempt to perpetrate an untruth and ulterior motives of hostility and prejudice.

      The untruth comes when “traditional marriage” is offered up as a term that defines a religious concept of a God-blessed union of a young man and woman who fall in love, get married with no prior sexual experience, have children and remain together into old age. They are implying that this is how God ordains marriage.

      If it is, it took him until just 50 years ago to arrive at that conclusion.

      The tradition of marriage in Old Testament times meant the man and his wife could have the same father.

      In the Bible, the patriarch of the Hebrew people, Abraham, and his wife, Sarah, couldn’t have children so Sarah put forth her slave Hagar for Abraham to have children by.

      In Old Testament times, it was normal, sometimes even required for a man to take multiple wives. A man having multiple wives was accepted by the church as late as the 5th Century, 500 years after the teachings set forth in the New Testament. The church for a very long time apparently did not interpret biblical teaching as an edict for one-man, one-woman marriage.

      The tradition of marital unions in the 1700s and 1800s in America doesn’t seem to measure up to God-ordained – especially from the female perspective.

      One third of brides were pregnant at the altar in Concord, Massachusetts during the 20 years prior to the American Revolution.

      In this quote from a wedding couple in 1855, we see that the church had no problem blessing a legal marriage that was considered by many – including this couple – as a violation of the woman’s dignity and civil rights:

      “We believe that personal independence and equal human rights can never be forfeited, except for crime; that marriage should be an equal and permanent partnership, and so recognized by law; that until it is so recognized, married partners should provide against the radical injustice of present laws, by every means in their power…”

      So we can look back and see that religious teachings which uphold the ideals of love, dignity, compassion and respect for each person within marital unions throughout history has taken a back seat.

      In other words, the definition of a God-ordained tradition of marriage has never been constant rather it has evolved.

      History shows us it’s the marital union that should be uplifted…not the evolving traditions of a social institution. In other words, it’s not about how we come together but why.

      Rev. Mark Gallagher, a Unitarian minister, in 2004 asked “what about a marriage could have that quality of spiritual beauty? What makes for sacredness in a marriage?” He names four things.

      “First and foremost, mutual love. A feeling of heightened affection, respect, concern, and appreciation between marital partners. It gives a certain sparkle to the time spent together, and potentially to the entire experience of life. The presence of love makes a marriage sacred.

      “Fidelity contributes to the sacredness of a marriage. Commitments fulfilled. Coming through. Hanging in. Placing the integrity of the relationship over personal preference and convenience. It builds a powerful trust. Fidelity makes a marriage sacred.

      “Intimacy brings sacredness in a marriage. When two people reveal themselves to one another over time, they cannot help but gain acquaintance with the deep regions of the human experience. They get to know one another, of course. But more importantly, they get to know themselves.

      Through relating intimately over time, deeper honesty and authenticity become possible. This is the spiritual journey to know and be known, behind the public charade, however subtle or crude that may be.

      “And forgiveness generates sacredness in a marriage. We all make mistakes and need forgiveness. Our spiritual liberation requires that we become masters of forgiveness letting go of resentment for slights and injuries. The prolonged togetherness of marriage will present myriad opportunities for the practice of forgiveness. When forgiveness flows freely, there is a palpable quality of gentleness and compassion.”

      Does the heterosexual couple uniting in marriage today lift up the union as characterized by love, fidelity, intimacy and forgiveness. We expect they do and we suspect those characteristics as Gallagher concluded in his sermon are what exude sacredness.

      We also know that gay and lesbian couples uphold those same characteristics for their unions. Why would they not? Why would a parent of a gay son or daughter not want their child to enjoy the happiness derived from a lifelong devotion to those characteristics? Why would a brother or sister with a gay sibling not want their brother or sister to enjoy the happiness derived from a lifelong devotion to those characteristics?

      Why would a person of faith not want the gay or lesbian individual to enjoy the happiness derived from the pursuit of marriage sanctity?

      Why would we as Americans not want our government and its laws to recognize that same marriage sanctity for gay and lesbian individuals in their pursuit of liberty and happiness?

      There can be only one reason and that is because many of us have been conditioned by years of misguided church teaching to look upon gay and lesbian individuals as morally inferior, unworthy and therefore undeserving of that which we uphold as good and sanctified in our lives.

      December 16, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bob, you're an ass.

      December 17, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  4. 261 Ministers Proclamation

    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 15, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Bob

      From 250 to 261 lying deceived backsliding pastors what a joke the numbers dont make it right as the numbers do lie

      December 15, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • YeahRight

      "From 250 to 261 lying deceived backsliding pastors what a joke the numbers dont make it right as the numbers do lie"

      Bob is so dumb he can't figure out that ministers keep adding their names to the list. LOL!

      December 16, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  5. YeahRight

    "Being gay means pushing the parameters of s@x and family, and in the process, changing the very fabric of society.”
    National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy director, Paul Ettelbrick Kurtz, 2003"

    The experts in 2012 state 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 15, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  6. mama k

    Bob continues to push his bigoted agenda here on this article. He seems stuck in the past – quoting outdated material and living with this very narrow view of the world.

    I have a funny feeling that SCOTUS will soon do away with DOMA. Even many of the people who were pushing for it before have vocally turned around on it. So whether it be slow, or sped up by SCOTUS, traditional marriage laws will fall reasonable soon. It's difficult to slow down a civil rights movement once it gets going.

    Whether one likes it or not, the Biblical case for gay marriage was actually made quite a long time ago. Gay couples have been getting married in quite a number of Christian and other churches in the states where it has been legal. The opportunities will grow as more and more states push for gay marriage laws. It's hard to stop a justifiable civil rights movement once it gets going.

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

    -United Church of Christ: The United Church of Christ was the first mainstream Christian church to fully support same-s ex marriage and perform marriage ceremonies.
    -Jewish: Reform Judaism embraces same-se x 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-se x 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. Do your own research and if you really want church, find one that is fully accepting of you and your partner.

    December 15, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  7. Bob

    Being gay means pushing the parameters of s@x and family, and in the process, changing the very fabric of society.”
    National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy director, Paul Ettelbrick Kurtz, 2003

    December 14, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You're really desperate, aren't you, Blob?

      Why?

      December 14, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Douglas

      Keep 'em honest Bob.

      Good research. Let's peel back the onion and expose the true LGBTQ Agenda.
      They are fighting to walk around naked in front of an elementary school in San Francisco.

      So much for "family values".

      Keep up the good work Bob!

      December 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      OOOh, Dooogie's all excited about the thought of gay men walking around NAKED!

      Got a little stiffie there, do ya, Doog?

      December 14, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Douglas

      Ms. Tom,
      Sounds like you are the one who is hot and bothered about naked gay men.
      I'll pass.
      No interest here in playing around in a sewer line where AIDS is waiting for its next victim.

      If you want it...go for it!

      December 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "They are fighting to walk around naked in front of an elementary school in San Francisco."

      Your prejudice is so unfounded there are more nudist straight groups that do the same thing.

      December 15, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sure you do, Doogie/Blob. You're here all the time talking about gay s#x. It's obviously on your mind a lot. It has you all upset because you are gay yourself.

      Me? I'm straight and have been married to the same man for over 3 decades. Sorry about you.

      December 15, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • YeahRight

      "No interest here in playing around in a sewer line where AIDS is waiting for its next victim."

      AIDS affects everyone, straight, men, women, children and gays – only prejudice bigots believe it's only a gay disease.

      December 15, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  8. Bob

    William Aaron’s autobiographical book Straight draws similar conclusions In the gay life, fidelity is almost impossible. Since part of the compulsion of h0m0 seems to be a need on the part of the gay to “absorb” masculinity from his s partners, he must be constantly on the lookout for [new partners Constantly the most successful gay “marriages” are those where there is an agreement between the two to have affairs on the side while maintaining the semblance of permanence in their living arrangement.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "similar conclusions In the gay life, fidelity is almost impossible. "

      Again in 2012 the hundred of thousands of experts in this country have stated. 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 15, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  9. Bob

    McWhirter and Mattison believe that gays must redefine “fidelity” to mean not s faithfulness, but simply “emotional dependability.”How can a relationship without s fidelity remain emotionally faithful? Fidelity as such is only an abstraction, divorced from the body. The agreement to have outside affairs precludes any possibility of genuine trust and intimacy.

    December 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  10. Bob

    Paul lets look into this real man of God born in Tarsus, Paul was raised in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel a leading authority in the Sanhedrin in the mid 1st century AD Gamaliel once gave some advice to the Sanhedrin in Acts to refrain from slaying the disciples of Jesus. Paul or Saul same person was a Roman citizen a Pharisee of pharisees and he prosecuted Christians until he had a encounter with Jesus. He was educated in the finest religious traditions and the Sanhedrin was the assembly of twenty-three judges appointed in every city in the Biblical Land of Israel. He also had a miraculous encounter with Jesus that changed his life. This is the man that John is calling prejudice and unscientific. Fourteen epistles in the New Testament are traditionally attributed to Paul. His authorship of seven of the fourteen is questioned by modern scholars. Augustine of Hippo developed Paul's idea that salvation is based on faith and not "works of the law".Martin Luther's interpretation of Paul's writings heavily influenced Luther's doctrine of sola fide.So John who is into credentials is not respecting the credentials of Saint John.With Paul's upbringing and teachings he would not even think it was ok to be gay and might be the one to kill you if you were. he did kill many Christians.Saying that paul would not approve of gay behavior is a drastic understatement. He also was spiritually apprised and had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and was anointed a Apostle by Jesus. Paul understood from God and Jesus the meaning of relations it went far beyond the physical side and when you have relations with someone you are joining yourself with that person. This scripture explains it.
    Do you not know that the one who joins himself to a woman for hire is one body with her? For He says, "THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH." But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. Do you remember that God said I made them man and woman this is the spiritual side of marriage God looks at us in marriage as one person. So if God condemned gays and He created man and woman to be fruitful and multiply and He considers us one person and we are made in His image how many tenants of God does gay marriage violate?Interesting in Johns post he makes mention of Leviticus that the word abomination and says its the same Greek word for menstruation. Abomination in Hebrew is actually three distinct words, and are rendered in the English Bible by "abomination," or "abominable thing. It would be good if these words could be distinguished in translation, as they denote different degrees of abhorrence or loathsomeness. Everything akin to magic or divination is likewise an abomination to¯?e¯bha¯h; as are relational transgressions , especially relations between family and other unnatural offenses. This is the most severe form of abhorrence and it is used to describe gay relations, the abomination of desolation and diviners and mediums. This is the meaning in the Bible where it talks about a man laying with a man. John does not mention this in his research and actually glosses over it. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thy house and thus become a thing set apart like unto it, thou shalt utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is a thing set apart To¯?e¯bha¯h is even used as synonymous with “idol” or heathen deity, So the idea of a gay relationship wouldn't even enter his mind it would be a abomination and a travesty to his relationship with the Lord. Just as he would not make a long dissertation about any sin he would not go into length about the abomination of gay marriage

    December 14, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • YeahRight

      Oh Bob's copying and pasting his abomination posts again. So let's look at all the thing the bible that are an abomination Unclean things (Lev. 7:21) ; Cheating (Mic. 6:10) ; A proud look (Pro. 6:16-17) ; A lying tongue (Pro. 6:17; 12:22) ; Hands that shed innocent blood ((Pro. 6:17) ; A wicked scheming heart (Pro. 6:18) ; A false witness that speaks lies (Pro. 6:19) ; A sower of discord (Pro. 6:19) ; A false balance or scale (Pro. 11:1) ; The proud of heart (Pro. 16:5) ; Justifying the wicked (Pro. 17:15) ; Condemning the just (Pro. 17:15) ; Refusing to hear the law (Pro. 28:9) ; Wearing clothes of the opposite sex (Dt. 22:5) Re-marriage of former companions (Dt. 24:1-4) ; Cheating others (Dt. 25:13-16) ; Making images/idols (Dt. 27:15) ; Eating unclean things (Isa. 66:17) ; Robbery (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Murder (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Adultery (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Oppression of others, particularly the poor or vulnerable (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Violence (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Breaking vows (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Lending with interest to a brother (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Lying with a menstruous woman (Ezek. 18: 6-13).

      So, based on Bob's prejudice logic we should deny people who do these things their civil rights. LMAO!

      December 15, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  11. Bob

    The famous study, The Male Couple, conducted by two hom..ls, one a psychologist and the other a psyc.hia.trist, found that of the 156 couples studied, only seven had maintained fidelity. Those couples that had maintained a relationship for more then five years were unable to maintain s fidelity. Although the study found that close to a third of the sample lived together longer than ten years, they also found that “The majority of couples...and all the couples together longer then five years, were not continuously s exclusive with each other.” On one hand, they bragged that they, “dispelled the myth that gay male relationships do not last” but when gay couples lived together for longer periods of time, their relationship eventually became “open.” An earlier study conducted during the 1970s found that 75% of gay men over age 40 experienced no relationship that lasted more than one year. Only 8% of the gay men studied ever had relationships that lasted more than three years.

    December 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • YeahRight

      LMAO Bob is quoting outdated material that has been proven wrong by all the experts in this country. It's why they released this statement in 2012!

      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."

      LOL!

      December 14, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • YeahRight

      " no relationship that lasted more than one year. "

      They also made this statement in 2012!

      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 14, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Bob

      They? The Studies? WTH, are you really that stupid really I mean really? or just malicious

      December 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  12. YeahRight

    "i wonder if yeah, don, erik,ever has a original thought? but there is no justification in the Bible for gay marriage."

    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.

    The experts 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."

    December 14, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Bob

      thank you for proving me right beyond a shadow of a doubt.

      December 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "thank you for proving me right beyond a shadow of a doubt."

      That's because I actually use fact while you post lie after lie and use well known hate groups reports that have been proven false by all the experts in this country. LMAO!

      December 14, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Bob

      You have posted no facts and every page has the same exact posts pretty much word for word or the same crap so its really a none issue at this point.

      December 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "You have posted no facts "

      I am posting the responses from the hundreds of thousands of experts that have spent decades doing research on this subject and the statements they have released to the public in 2012! LMAO!

      December 15, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  13. Bob

    I wonder if yeah, don, erik,didnt know what name to call him ever has a original thought? but there is no justification in the Bible for gay marriage.

    December 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • YeahRight

      That's why you don't have any facts to back yourself up so you continue to live over and over again. LMAO!
      LOL!
      LOL!
      LOL!
      LOL!
      LOL!
      LOL!
      LOL!
      LOL!
      LOL!
      LOL!

      December 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  14. Bob

    i wonder if yeah, don, erik,ever has a original thought? but there is no justification in the Bible for gay marriage.

    December 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  15. John

    "Jesus defines marriage in Matthew 19 as the union of one man and one woman."

    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 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  16. Don

    "Paul writings in Romans and the Old TEstament book of Leviticus"

    The most beautiful word in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is "whosoever." All of God's promises are intended for every human being. This includes gay men and lesbians. How tragic it is that the Christian Church has excluded and persecuted people who are homosexual! We are all created with powerful needs for personal relationships. Our quality of life depends upon the love we share with others; whether family or friends, partners or peers. Yet, lesbians and gay men facing hostile attitudes in society often are denied access to healthy relationships. Jesus Christ calls us to find ultimate meaning in life through a personal relationship with our Creator. This important spiritual union can bring healing and strength to all of our human relationships

    Biblical Interpretation and Theology also change from time to time. Approximately 150 years ago in the United States, some Christian teaching held that there was a two-fold moral order: black and white. Whites were thought to be superior to blacks, therefore blacks were to be subservient and slavery was an institution ordained by God. Clergy who supported such an abhorrent idea claimed the authority of the Bible. The conflict over slavery led to divisions which gave birth to some major Christian denominations. These same denominations, of course, do not support slavery today. Did the Bible change? No, their interpretation of the Bible did!

    Genesis 19:1-25

    Some "televangelists" carelessly proclaim that God destroyed the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of "homosexuality." Although some theologians have equated the sin of Sodom with homosexuality, a careful look at Scripture corrects such ignorance. Announcing judgment on these cities in Genesis 18, God sends two angels to Sodom, where Abraham's nephew, Lot, persuades them to stay in his home. Genesis 19 records that "all the people from every quarter" surround Lot's house demanding the release of his visitors so "we might know them." The Hebrew word for "know" in this case, yadha, usually means "have thorough knowledge of." It could also express intent to examine the visitors' credentials, or on rare occasions the term implies sexual intercourse. If the latter was the author's intended meaning, it would have been a clear case of attempted gang rape. Several observations are important.

    First, the judgment on these cities for their wickedness had been announced prior to the alleged homosexual incident. Second, all of Sodom's people participated in the assault on Lot's house; in no culture has more than a small minority of the population been homosexual. Third, Lot's offer to release his daughters suggests he knew his neighbors to have heterosexual interests. Fourth, if the issue was sexual, why did God spare Lot, who immediately commits incest with his daughters? Most importantly, why do all the other passages of Scripture referring to this account fail to raise the issue of homosexuality?

    Romans 1:24-27

    Most New Testament books, including the four Gospels, are silent on same-sex acts, and Paul is the only author who makes any reference to the subject. The most negative statement by Paul regarding same-sex acts occurs in Romans 1:24-27 where, in the context of a larger argument on the need of all people for the gospel of Jesus Christ, certain homosexual behavior is given as an example of the "uncleanness" of idolatrous Gentiles.

    This raises the question: Does this passage refer to all homosexual acts, or to certain homosexual behavior known to Paul's readers? The book of Romans was written to Jewish and Gentile Christians in Rome, who would have been familiar with the infamous sexual excesses of their contemporaries, especially Roman emperors. They would also have been aware of tensions in the early Church regarding Gentiles and observance of the Jewish laws, as noted in Acts 15 and Paul's letter to the Galatians. Jewish laws in Leviticus mentioned male same-sex acts in the context of idolatry.

    The homosexual practices cited in Romans 1:24-27 were believed to result from idolatry and are associated with some very serious offenses as noted in Romans 1. Taken in this larger context, it should be obvious that such acts are significantly different from loving, responsible lesbian and gay relationships seen today.

    What is "Natural"?

    Significant to Paul's discussion is the fact that these "unclean" Gentiles exchanged that which was "natural" for them, physin, in the Greek text, for something "unnatural," para physin. In Romans 11:24, God acts in an "unnatural" way, para physin, to accept the Gentiles. "Unnatural" in these passages does not refer to violation of so-called laws of nature, but rather implies action contradicting one's own nature. In view of this, we should observe that it is "unnatural," para physin, for a person today with a lesbian or gay sexual orientation to attempt living a heterosexual lifestyle.

    I Corinthians 6:9

    Any consideration of New Testament statements on same-sex acts must carefully view the social context of the Greco-Roman culture in which Paul ministered. Prostitution and pederasty (sexual relationships of adult men with boys) were the most commonly known male same-sex acts. In I Corinthians 6:9, Paul condemns those who are "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind," as translated in the King James version. Unfortunately, some new translations are worse, rendering these words "homosexuals." Recent scholarship unmasks the homophobia behind such mistranslations.

    The first word – malakos, in the Greek text-which has been translated "effeminate" or "soft," most likely refers to someone who lacks discipline or moral control. The word is used elsewhere in the New Testament but never with reference to sexuality.

    The second word, Arsenokoitai, occurs once each in I Corinthians and I Timothy (1:10), but nowhere else in other literature of the period. It is derived from two Greek words, one meaning, "males" and the other "beds", a euphemism for sexual intercourse. Other Greek words were commonly used to describe homosexual behavior but do not appear here. The larger context of I Corinthians 6 shows Paul extremely concerned with prostitution, so it is very possible he was referring to male prostitutes. But many experts now attempting to translate these words have reached a simple conclusion: their precise meaning is uncertain. Scripture Study Conclusion…No Law Against Love

    The rarity with which Paul discusses any form of same-sex behavior and the ambiguity in references attributed to him make it extremely unsound to conclude any sure position in the New Testament on homosexuality, especially in the context of loving, responsible relationships. Since any arguments must be made from silence, it is much more reliable to turn to great principles of the Gospel taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles. Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Do not judge others, lest you be judged. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love . . . against such there is no law. One thing is abundantly clear, as Paul stated in Galatians 5:14: "...the whole Law is fulfilled in one statement, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself".

    December 14, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Douglas

      LGBTQ coitus is condemned in the Bible.

      The BIble has not changed. The threshold for sin acceptance is what has changed.

      Gay marriage is not acceptable in a Christian setting.

      Jesus defines marriage in Matthew 19 as the union of one man and one woman.

      Please share the quote where Jesus talks of the marriage of two men or two women?

      December 14, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • James

      "Gay marriage is not acceptable in a Christian setting.

      Jesus defines marriage in Matthew 19 as the union of one man and one woman"

      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 14, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Lorraine

      Nope, not said by YHWH THE KING; Lorraine

      The problem is in your first sentence; we are not to go by the word of anyone but YHWH the Almighty Creator of all 'Life' in Genesis chapters 1-7 of all His creation, for He is the only Savior, and Redeemer in Isaiah 49:26, and Isaiah 60:16, not jc, if the word is not from the King YHWH jc hasn't a leg to stand on. Yes the word of YHWH "The Strong One" (EL), Hebrew for With Us Is The Strong One; and not the word 'God' is for everyone taught in Isaiah 56. Said by the word of YHWH, His Son, and Firstborn is "ISRAEL" taught in Exodus 4:22. Its impossible to have 2 firstborn sons, rationalize people learn the true word of YHWH through His true prophets taught in Amos 3:7, YHWH does nothing without His prophets, a man can't just say what He wants unless He gives all say, and praise unto YHWH FIRST. PRAISE YHWH, and YHWH BLESS.

      p.s. taught in Ezekiel 14:14-20, Jeremiah 31:30, and in Deuteronomy 24:16, 'no man can die for another man's sins, we ae all responsible for our own righteousness' So now tell me why would the Almighty YHWH say this through His true prophets from Genesis-Malachi the book of remembrance named in Malachi 3:16, the so called OT; then turn around and say that anyone, or jc died for our sins, rationalize people, YHWH is not contrary He does it all Deuteronomy 32:39, and Isaiah 44:24 alone, He is the Holy One taught in Isaiah 43:3,15, and Isaiah 43:13, 'No man can be delivered from out of His hands'. His word changes not taught in Malachi 3:6. wake up, Selah! YHWH Bless.

      December 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  17. YeahRight

    " There are no decades of credible studies like has been discussed before. "

    The hundreds of thousands of experts in this country would disagree with you. 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 14, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  18. Erik

    "There are no decades of credible studies like has been discussed before."

    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 14, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  19. Bob

    This is the typical bs that the atheists post no facts no figures words like resemble and also the words long lasting are the farthest from the truth with the countries that legalize gay marriage have found out. Gay marriage is defined by different rules it can more likely be called a open marriage. There are no decades of credible studies like has been discussed before. How about some numbers instead of the usual lies and generalizations.

    December 14, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So you've posted "facts and figures," Blob? Where? Oh, you think posting crap from fundie sites and nut-case sources like World Nut Daily is proof of anything?

      Idiot.

      December 14, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Douglas

      Bob,

      Good point. The blog is framed to positively spin "Christian gay marriage".

      This a non-starter since "gay marriage" is condemned in the Bible along with the practice of LGBTQ coitus.

      Nevertheless, the LGBTQ apologists here continue to make claims that the people who wrote the Bible "didn't understand
      LGBTQ coitus in those days".
      A hopeless tactic at best.
      Paul writings in Romans and the Old TEstament book of Leviticus
      clearly demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the extremes of human "s@xuality".
      Bans on beastiality, incest and LGBTQ coitus
      are there to let us know that these behaviors are unacceptable before the Lord.

      Fast forward to 2012...the Bible still is relevant today.

      The behavior and antics of LGBTQ sinners still continues and remains out of bounds for Christian family living.

      December 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Melvin

      "This a non-starter since "gay marriage" is condemned in the Bible along with the practice of LGBTQ coitus."

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

      December 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  20. YeahRight

    "If only they practiced celibacy instead of fornicating...."

    The hundreds of thousands of experts in this country disagree with you. They 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 14, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Douglas

      YeahRight,

      Celibate LGBTQ Christians don't get AIDS.
      There is no exchange between predator and host because there is no
      coitus or activity where the virus can transfer.

      If you are serious about prevention...then you will join us in demanding an end to
      the passage of this plague from predator to host theough the practice of LGBTQ coitus.

      Oh, by the way...I include blacks in this as well. Try and throw in a race card...you still lose.

      AIDS is an equal opportunity killer from predator to host no matter what the color, age, race or religion.

      The only safe s@x is celibacy and no contact with the infected predator. The risk is too high.

      December 14, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Phil

      "Celibate LGBTQ Christians don't get AIDS."

      Monogamous gays don't get AIDS either. This person is not someone who understands what real loving relationships are about. The belief that sex is not important is a dangerous and intimacy-eroding myth. Sex provides an important time-out from the pressures of our daily lives and allows us to experience a quality level of closeness, vulnerability and sharing with our partners. If your sex life is unfulfilled, it becomes a gigantic issue. People like Douglas are dangerous for our society and don't understand the fundamental of human intimacy, gays or lesbians.

      December 14, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Douglas

      Phil,

      People like you are dangerous for advocating LGBTQ coitus.

      The Bible clearly guides us not to engage in this behavior.

      Why lead the innocent over the cliff into the abyss of sin and death?

      Phil, your guidance is truly dangerous. Think about what you are saying and reconsider.

      Your salvation is at risk.

      December 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "People like you are dangerous for advocating LGBTQ coitus."

      The hundreds of thousands of experts in this country have proven you wrong. 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 14, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Advertisement
About this blog

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