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

My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage

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

By Mark Osler, Special to CNN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Take: Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality

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

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

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

Your Take: Rethinking the Bible on homosexuality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Episcopal • Gay marriage • Opinion

soundoff (15,115 Responses)
  1. Bob

    If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. SOURCE: Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and they keep telling it with no facts just reposts.

    December 20, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  2. John

    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 20, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  3. Bob

    Vice President of Liberty Council Action, attended the B4U-ACT Symposium and reported that some speakers acknowledged the political motive behind changing the APA’s inclusion of h0m0 in the para-philia section. He reported the following from the conference

    December 20, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  4. YeahRight

    Bob – the biggest liar anywhere. We've pointed out over and over again you are using reports from well known hate groups that the experts in this country have proven are false. The experts in this country are stating 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 20, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  5. Bob

    The reason “h0m0 was taken out of DSM is that people didn’t want the gov in the bedroom,” he said As groups like B4U-ACT implore, ped are just misunderstood community members. It is society’s strictures on adult/child s@x that are at issue, and judgmental manuals like the DSM are a large part of the problem. Hence the push by ped groups to remove ped from the DSM.

    December 20, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • YeahRight

      This poster use well known hate group to get there information that has been proven to be false. It's why the experts in this country released this statement. 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 20, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  6. Bob

    D-r. Fred Berlin acknowledged that it was political activism, similar to that witnessed at the conference, rather than scientific considerations that successfully led to the declassification of h0m0 as a mental disorder

    December 20, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  7. Bob

    A consensus belief by both speakers and ped in attendance was that, because it vilifies MAPs, ped should be removed as a mental disorder from the APA Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), in the same manner h0m0 was removed in 1973

    December 20, 2012 at 12:05 am |
  8. Bob

    In April 2006, Stefanowicz told the Masss Jud-icial Commit Hearing of her harrowing experiences as a child raised by an active h0m0. She said that the h0m0 subculture does not have “boundaries and principles of morality and monogamy” and that even in early childhood, she said her experiences with “transs@x-ual-ism, and transient and anonymous multiple partners,” were “common.” By ten, she had been introduced to “a gay nude beach, a s@x shop, and a gay cruising park.”

    December 20, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • mama k

      More garbage I see. And this is the poster who said the Mayflower Compact was more important to us today than our Constitution. lol.

      December 20, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Douglas

      Over there in San Francisco the gay men are demanding the right to stroll back and forth n@ked in front
      of the Harvey Milk Elementary School. These are the family values they want to force us to follow.

      Not with our children!

      December 20, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  9. Sarah

    Being gay is not wrong. It is not unnatural. It isn’t immoral or gross or something that should provoke disgust. What is wrong, what is unnatural, what is immoral and what is gross is intolerance and discrimination against fellow human beings for their sexual orientation and active pursuit of preventing loving and committed homosexual couples from legally being married.

    I believe in God, and I identify as a Christian, and this identity as a Christian has provided me with the insight to know that people who oppose gay marriage based on “religious reasons” are just making excuses for their homophobia. The idea that homosexuality is sinful is a farce. The Bible never actually condemns homosexuality. You know what the Bible does condemn?

    Winking. “He who winks is plotting perversity.” Proverbs 16:30

    Rounded haircuts. “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.” Leviticus 19:17

    Tattoos. “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you.” Leviticus 19:28

    It is unacceptable that some modern Americans think it’s alright to toss rules like these aside and yet still vehemently oppose marriage rights for homosexual couples.

    As a Christian, I’ve been taught to love my neighbor. Somehow, active public discrimination against homosexuals and barring fellow human beings from marriage rights does not seem very loving or neighborly to me.

    Homosexuality isn’t a disease: it’s an innate way of being.

    Nobody is going to “catch” gay.

    Nobody is going to be “cured” of their homosexuality.

    Sexual orientation is personal and affects nobody but the individual and is absolutely not the business of anybody but the individual.

    The fact that people continue to suggest otherwise and perpetuate this idea that homosexuality is wrong and attempting to make outcasts of people who identify as gay is unbelievably disgusting and frightening and old-fashioned.

    It’s 2012, and we should have come much further than this by now.

    This matters. This is an issue that, if left unfixed, tacitly permits discrimination and harassment.

    The prevalence of anti-gay messages encourages bullying and hate crimes, and there are literally confused, hurt, frightened young people who actually kill themselves over issues like this — and yet people still insist upon calling homosexuality a sin.

    The cruelty and hypocrisy is infuriating and unacceptable.

    It needs to stop.

    Until marriage equality is legal in all fifty states, I hope Americans will have the courage to end hatred and homophobia.

    December 20, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  10. Bob

    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 19, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • mama k

      Your truly the most incompetent tool with your stupid studies from the 70's, Bob. Please try to keep up, dear.

      December 20, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  11. Bob

    The famous study, The Male Couple, conducted by two hom..ls, one a psy and the other a psyc.hia.trist, found that of the 156 couples studied, only seven had maintained s@x fidelity. Those couples that had maintained a relationship for more then five years were unable to maintain s@x fidelity.

    December 19, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  12. mama k

    Bob and Douglas continue to push their bigoted agenda here on this article. They seem 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 19, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  13. YeahRight

    "Did you hear the latest news?" More of Bob's idiotic gossip.

    Again, you're a proven liar, Bob. We've pointed out over and over again you are using reports from well known hate groups that the experts in this country have proven are false. The experts in this country are stating 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 19, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  14. Bob

    A pioneering h0m0 activist Frank Kameny celebrated by fellow h0m0 the world over and honored by big O and his adm-in says the God of the Bible is a sinful h0m0pho bigot who needs to repent of his sinful h0m0pho.He was integral in pressuring the APA to reclassify gay activities as normal,has written to a pro-family organization that he believes bestiality is fine,as long as the animal doesn't mind.

    December 19, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  15. Bob

    Anytime a scientific organization endorses sod, remember Gittings words: They are running scared.Pro-sod activists have learned that intimidation and strategic alliances work, and they are never hesitant about using intimidation and psyc manipulation to reach the goals of their radical agenda.Adopting terrorism as a means, pro-sod activists set their vicious sights on D.r. David Reuben, one of the best-known psyc in the area of human sxu in 1974. Unbeknownst to Dr. Reuben, pro-sod activists were lying in wait outside one of his lectures and his physical safety was at risk. Pro-sod author Leigh Rutledge describes the attack in her book The Gay Decades

    December 19, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • mama k

      Living in the past I see, Bob. My goodness what a bigoted dork you are.

      December 19, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  16. Bob

    There is also much success among preachers and physcs to turn gays back to a normal healthy relationships that these atheists dont want you to know.

    December 19, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • mama k

      Bobigot strikes again with his nonsense. Stuck with his "science" from decades ago.

      December 20, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  17. Bob

    Did you hear the latest news from the transgender marriage that the woman who became a man in the relationship then had a baby as a man or wait was that just a ugly woman? I wonder if this is the reason God called it a abomination and doesn't allow for gay marriage or any act of relations of gays. Along with men are not supposed to wear women's clothes

    December 19, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  18. Eric

    Bob's lack of understanding on this issue is an understatement.

    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 19, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  19. James

    As usual, Bob is wrong again. 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 19, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  20. Bob

    Elmo Elmo Elmo does that name ring any bells like hand in the wrong places or the Castro Section of Cali or the 13 guys that got arrested hanging out in bathrooms or George Micheal's bathroom episode maybe its right of passage for some that want to get married to do these things we probably just don't understand.

    December 19, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.