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My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage
The author backs same-sex marriage because of his faith, not in spite of it.
May 19th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage

Editor's Note: Mark Osler is a Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

By Mark Osler, Special to CNN

I am a Christian, and I am in favor of gay marriage. The reason I am for gay marriage is because of my faith.

What I see in the Bible’s accounts of Jesus and his followers is an insistence that we don’t have the moral authority to deny others the blessing of holy institutions like baptism, communion, and marriage. God, through the Holy Spirit, infuses those moments with life, and it is not ours to either give or deny to others.

A clear instruction on this comes from Simon Peter, the “rock” on whom the church is built. Peter is a captivating figure in the Christian story. Jesus plucks him out of a fishing boat to become a disciple, and time and again he represents us all in learning at the feet of Christ.

During their time together, Peter is often naïve and clueless – he is a follower, constantly learning.

After Jesus is crucified, though, a different Peter emerges, one who is forceful and bold. This is the Peter we see in the Acts of the Apostles, during a fevered debate over whether or not Gentiles should be baptized. Peter was harshly criticized for even eating a meal with those who were uncircumcised; that is, those who did not follow the commands of the Old Testament.

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Peter, though, is strong in confronting those who would deny the sacrament of baptism to the Gentiles, and argues for an acceptance of believers who do not follow the circumcision rules of Leviticus (which is also where we find a condemnation of homosexuality).

His challenge is stark and stunning: Before ordering that the Gentiles be baptized Peter asks “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

None of us, Peter says, has the moral authority to deny baptism to those who seek it, even if they do not follow the ancient laws. It is the flooding love of the Holy Spirit, which fell over that entire crowd, sinners and saints alike, that directs otherwise.

My Take: Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality

It is not our place, it seems, to sort out who should be denied a bond with God and the Holy Spirit of the kind that we find through baptism, communion, and marriage. The water will flow where it will.

Intriguingly, this rule will apply whether we see homosexuality as a sin or not. The water is for all of us. We see the same thing at the Last Supper, as Jesus gives the bread and wine to all who are there—even to Peter, who Jesus said would deny him, and to Judas, who would betray him.

The question before us now is not whether homosexuality is a sin, but whether being gay should be a bar to baptism or communion or marriage.

Your Take: Rethinking the Bible on homosexuality

The answer is in the Bible. Peter and Jesus offer a strikingly inclusive form of love and engagement. They hold out the symbols of Gods’ love to all. How arrogant that we think it is ours to parse out stingily!

I worship at St. Stephens, an Episcopal church in Edina, Minnesota. There is a river that flows around the back and side of that church with a delightful name: Minnehaha Creek. That is where we do baptisms.

The Rector stands in the creek in his robes, the cool water coursing by his feet, and takes an infant into his arms and baptizes her with that same cool water. The congregation sits on the grassy bank and watches, a gentle army.

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

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

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

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

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

- CNN Belief Blog

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

soundoff (15,115 Responses)
  1. Laila

    You are not a Christian.

    In order to be a Christian you must believe the tenets of the Christian faith, obviously you do not.

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

      Judge much?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Huebert

      You are a self righteous d!ck. Their now we have all spouted truisms

      May 19, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • I am confussed

      every religion says you are wrong and I'm the only one wright. Read it carefully. When Jesus return to earth all the churches will fall down and Jesus will be the only religion and the only faith. We have so many different faith fighting each other. Many believing that they are the only one. Why can we stop the fight and the hate. In the eyes of god we are all the same. It does not matter if you are one religion or the other. Each religion says I am going to heaven because I am and they are not of my faith. Why have we become God to judge and make a decision for the rest who is different.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Chutney

      I see you're strong enough in your faith to think you have the right to judge and condemn a man for his. All I have to say to that is, you better be right.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • DelphiPsmith

      I assume that includes the bits about stoning people and burning witches and keeping slaves and uncleanness during "that time of the month" ?

      May 20, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  2. Duke One

    There is no Christian case for gay marriage. This is against God's Word.

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

      Which god? Mark Osler's god seems fine with it.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Ting

      Thanks grandpa. We'll take your opinion into consideration.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • JWT

      funy how the christian church approves of and peforms marriages for gays. Obviously the christian chuirch is pro gay marriage.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Chutney

      How do you know it's against the word of god? Do you speak to him? Are we all to believe that you are the recipient of frequent visits from god and he tells you what is and is not on his mind? How does it feel to be the chosen one?

      May 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  3. Puckles

    Peters in Poop chutes make Poopsicles. YUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 19, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  4. Gush much

    It astonishes me how some people can respond to something simply by quoting some verse from their book of fairy tales about a sky daddy. Religion does serve a purpose: it exists so that its followers don't have to think for themselves. Obviously they are unable to make any kind of rational, thought-provoking discussion to this conversation.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  5. BOb the Prairie Dog

    NO ONE knows what happens when we die, and ANYONE claiming such knowledge is a liar who probably wants your money, or in this case, they want to peek under your sheets.

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

      I KNOW I KNOW..... you die, and then you rot, and then you are dirt again. that's it

      May 19, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Mick

      Huebrt's right. This can be observed. What's the big mystery?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Sane Person

      I'm still holding out for a big asteroid to come pick me and my slaves up one day.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  6. Jay Zurell

    I hadn't thought of that argument before, but it's solid. Baptism is a sacrement like marriage. True, Peter and Paul didn't care if those newly baptized gentiles followed the OT laws, especially the purity laws, one of which Leviticus 18:22. So, it's a good argument. The only question I have is, after baptism, were the gentiles supposed to follow the purity laws?

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

      No. It is hard to covert people when you tell them they can't eat what they are used to and have to cut the end off of their junk

      May 19, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Ituri

      If you can ask that question, then you didn't learn the lesson.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  7. Jamest297

    These are only SOME of the current day reasons that christiannity is in decline. However, the reasons for the decline can found in the roots of the business going all the way back to its founding.

    A brief summary of a case study of the problems from the beginning is as follows:

    A brief review as to how god failed in his business because of where and when he opened his business:
    God started his business in the middle of the world’s largest desert – among a group of illiterate and wandering tribes. God did this in spite of the fact that there were much larger civilizations already thriving in India and China. In both India and China, there were already very large cities and the civilization was already mostly literate in that the populations could read and write.
    If god had launched his business in either of these two cultures, he would have gained a much larger global market share and obtained an insurmountable market share vs. Islam as an example. As it is, Islam started +/- 700 years AFTER Christianity and has now overtaken Christianity in global market share. Islam remains the fasted growing organized religious strain in the world. (Atheism, however is the fasted growing segment of the overall religious business landscape). So, not only did god blow a 700 year head-start, he also arranged for the mur_der of his one and only forever son in the middle of the same desert and among the same group of illiterate wandering goat herders for crying out loud. That was a huge mistake on top of the earlier huge mistakes and meant that god sacrificed his Return On Investment (ROI) and eventual market share dominance by this very short-sighted set of decisions. Look where his business is today. It is losing customers faster than it can replace them by acquiring new ones; the business is in disrepute among many of its long-time customers; it is losing actual raw numbers of customers in some parts of the world where it used to be the only option; its customers are being mur_dered in many other parts of the world for simply being his customers – it’s a real mess. So, I’d suggest anyone starting a similar new business avoid these mistakes so that the mur_der you planned for your only son and then performed so that you could later use as a recruiting tool/story might actually produce a higher ROI for you than it did for god.

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

      Why worry so much about something you obviously dont believe in?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  8. Laila

    Wrong, wrong, wrong again.

    All these personal opinions about this issue is the whole point of why we should not make personal opinion the standard. Man's reasoning in error always leads to catastrophe.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • momoya

      But your reasoning on the matter is spot on?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Ting

      So you are suggesting that we don't put thought into it? We should blindly follow the Bible as our predecessors have done?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  9. mat

    I believe what he is saying is referred to as false doctorines. A wolf in sheeps clothing if you will.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Jamest297

      Who told you his views amount to false doctrine? Maybe his is the view that exactly represents the true doctrine. Did you ever consider that?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Humanist

      mat, I see you're missing a cross in your name.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  10. Wow

    Talk about a hypcritical Christian. For the life of me I can't believe you call yourself a Christian and endorse this. Didn't even need to read the whole article just stopped after the 1st sentence. Shame on you. This article has been published in your book of life and you will have to answer to GOD one day for misleading the world.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Justin

      Well one thing is for sure... either this author will or you will... one, or even more likely, both of you are wrong on this topic. A little humility goes a long way.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • momoya

      It's because god loves confusion.. Just think, if he had provided some way to verify which interpretations from his word was correct, you'd not be in this mess and there'd be ZERO denominations and ONE church/bride.. Stupid bible god.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • J C Lewis

      So you didn't read past the first sentence...just like when you study the Bible.

      Hit the books!!!

      May 19, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • ozzie

      Your openess is breath-taking – taking the very breath and spirit of life out of the grace of dialogue. People who are willing to dialogue inspire me. Your approach seems more like the Pharisees. If you believe you have the truth, and that truth is rooted in the divine spark, why are you so afraid to discuss these issues?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Humanist

      All that from reading just one sentance? Witch!

      May 19, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • dizzyspins

      You said it all when you said you stopped reading after first sentence—your faith is so flimsy you cant handle anyone questioning yr interpretation of the Bible. Do you stone women who aren't virgins or unruly children? Do you shun people who have leprosy? No? Then you're not following the Bible and can't speak with any authority. GOD has SPOKEN!

      May 19, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  11. The Bible

    The Bible says the following:
    Leviticus 18:22: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination."
    Romans 1:26-28: "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting..."
    God is clearly NOT in favor of gay marriage.

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

      PRECISELY!

      May 19, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • StandFast

      But read the argument. He is not saying its not a sin! He's saying: who are we to deny the sacraments to some people?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Jamest297

      Doesn't matter what god wants relative to gay marriage. Dog is powerless to stop it if people give themselves to one another.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • ozzie

      Why not capitalize GOD?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • I am confussed

      How do you really know what God Really thinks? The Bible was created by man who felt that they needed to control their people to learn something in his time period. Each generation that Bible has been updated and change to meet those societies needs and wants. If you go back to the time that the Bible was created, it will look completely different than what we see today. If we follow everything that the Bible says to be wrong then we are the greatest sinners in the world. I believe god to be true and real. A human person wrote the Bible long time ago. Many religious humans have used the Bible in the ancient times to terminate anyone who was not a believer of the word. A human use the Bible to control a person in the pass because that person was a woman, a different race or religion. Look at the Bible; it says that a woman has to be almost like property of a man. She has to obey and honor him. Excused me, I believe that they are both equal. She is not his property and he is not her property. They are two loving humans who want to make a life for each other and work together as a team. If you read it more carefully the Bible was written by a group of men who wanted to teach a lesson to their people for their time period. If we follow everything the Bible say is wrong then we are all in trouble. Why do we always say He or Him when referring to God. God could be her or she. See we do not know. We will only know if we were correct on our belief when we die. Stop the hate, stop the control and teach peace, love and compassion for each other. Stop making God to be a God of fear and hate. Listen and read many of the comments on radio, internet and TV from people who use the Bible as a front for hate. If you follow the word, only GOD can judge, not man. So if we judge others and we are following the word of God then we are our own sin because we judge a human and we make a choice for his or her punishment. We forget that those who follow the word of God that was written by a human in a holy book that only GOD can judge a fellow human and only GOD know who is right or wrong.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • fee

      You read the entire book and thats the only thing you choose to obey....Do you even know what abomination means. Probably not...BE CARE I DONT THINK GOD GAVE YOU PERMISSION TO TAKE HIS JOB!

      JAMES 4:12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

      ROMANS 2:1 Therefore, you have no excuse-every one of you who judges. For when you pass judgment on another person, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, practice the very same things.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Mark D.

      LIkewise, eating shellfish, cutting your hair, wearing poly-cotton clothing is also an abomination to your "God". Ever done those things?

      May 19, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  12. southernsugar

    This article is awful and heretical. You may have your opinion, but understand that it's heretical.

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

      HERETICS!!!!!!!!!! BURN THOSE HERETICS!!!! – INQUISITOR.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Jamest297

      Is heritical anything like blasphemer? Do the two sets intersect or they two totally different data sets?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  13. Smurfy

    edwardo:

    There are a whole lot of parents who should be sitting in the jail with their kids because of the way they raised the kids. Parents have the greatest impact on a child's personality. 99% of the time when a family is a good, stable, non-abusive family children are raised who are decent people. 99%-100% of people who commit crimes come from dysfunctional backgrounds. So, YES, parents should b e responsible for the children they raise.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Post your source for this claim, you bozo. I suspect it's from pulledoutofyourazz dot com.

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

      Way to throw out a bunch of BS statistics with nothing to back up your claims.

      Good work.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Come on, Smurfy. We're waiting.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Jamest297

      Hurry up smurfy, we need your citations.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  14. mat

    Amazing how people who dont believe in God constantly talk about Him.And if you dont believe then put your hate in men. Isnt that where it would have come from? No different trying to control men with religion than empty words about fairness and equality or having them rely on the Govt to tell them what to believe and what to think eat etc. The real problem is that people are unable and unwilling to govern themselves individually. So you should hate yourself.

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

      They are trying to convince themselves that God does not exist because they think this will excuse them for their behavior. I think the argument "But God, I really didn't believe in you!" is not going to hold up on judgment day.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, dear, that isn't what "they're" doing. They simply don't believe there's some omnipotent, invisible being who loves us all but will cast us into the lake of fire for not believing in him.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  15. Spangler

    Since neither the "Ten Commandments' (the only thing in the Bible actually written by God) nor Jesus mention this subject, it cannot be Their top concern. Gays are here to 'gadfly' the religious and religious folk are here to remind gays to be emotionally committed before being intimate. Live and let live.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Jen4016

      Have no other God before me. When you deny his authority you put yourself above God.

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

      When you can prove that god exists we can start talking about what he might want of us..

      May 19, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  16. Questions401

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

    May 19, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  17. Lyle w

    If people are gay and want to marry let them. If they do or not it won't affect you any differently you guys will still be posting on CNN early in the mornin

    May 19, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  18. Let us stop and think.

    We hate anything that is different. Look at the past. My grandfather and grandmother had to go to another country he was white and she was not. His Catholic family and their neighbors felt it was a sin for them to be married because he was white and she was not. Look at your past. Many cultures were brought down to an end in the honor of religion. If the person did not convert to that society’s norm and religion they were put to death or sent away. Did God say that no one should judge another? Did he not say that only he or she can judge? We judge everyday so we are sinning. In one religion – sin on Saturday and confess all your sins on Sunday and you will be forgiven. If you fallow every rule in the Bible, then we all commit sins. We are no better. Men use the Bible to its own needs. Words are twisted to satisfy that moment in time. If you believe then you should really sit down and have a conversation with God without the opinion of other people who sin and then go preach the word. We are not perfect. In the news. We see it all the time. A preacher told his followers to punch their child if they show any inclination of being gay. This is bad. How can this person teach his followers to show anger, fear and violence? This is all kinds of wrong. This is another form of continuing the hate. God is love, compassion, peace and a God that forgives if you ask. There are many people who preach that he hates anything that is not part of his plan. Research and find out that there are many items that were not put in the Bible because a man or people felt it not to be important. The hatred will never end because we mold our children to hate. Where do they learn to have hatred in their hearts, well we can look at ourselves the adults. Children are innocent until the adult parent or family member teaches them to hate. I also want to point out that there are good people out there who do not hate others because they are different. There are other preachers who welcome all people no matter who you are to their church. There are good people. God created all of us and he loves every one of us no matter if you are gay or not. Stop the hate. Maybe if we stop hating we can be a better world.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Jamest297

      Well, as best we can determine, dog has never said anything.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  19. Fred

    I don't understand the issue, I wish I did. "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.(Leviticus 18:22." I have heard people say that this scripture is bundled up with other stuff that does not apply anymore. I have heard others say that this represent the bias of the ancient people. Just like other cultural things, like St. Paul forbidding women from speaking in church. I guess the bottom line is that it is the Lord's church and it is his responsibility for it. I don't have to understand it. Its my responsibility to make sure my life lines up to his will, and to share his love with all people.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  20. Ed

    Matthew 19: 4-6) And He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female. 5) And siad, for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh. 6) Wherefore they are no more twain , but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:55 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.