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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.

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.

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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. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZU-HQ_c8bg&w=640&h=390]

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    December 20, 2012 at 3:43 am |

  2. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2waZOYD0-A&w=640&h=390]

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    December 20, 2012 at 3:41 am |

  3. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TBd-UCwVAY&w=640&h=390]

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    December 20, 2012 at 3:39 am |

  4. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xxpd3Ye0zA&w=640&h=390]
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    December 20, 2012 at 3:37 am |

  5. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSQQK2Vuf9Q&w=640&h=390]
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    December 20, 2012 at 3:36 am |

  6. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug3YkVhkemg&w=640&h=390]
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    December 20, 2012 at 3:35 am |

  7. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iKqr230U9M&w=640&h=390]
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    December 20, 2012 at 3:34 am |

  8. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCLF2ji0rZI&w=640&h=390]
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    December 20, 2012 at 3:33 am |

  9. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZU-HQ_c8bg&w=640&h=390]
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    December 20, 2012 at 3:31 am |

  10. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2waZOYD0-A&w=640&h=390]
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    December 20, 2012 at 3:29 am |

  11. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TBd-UCwVAY&w=640&h=390]

    December 20, 2012 at 3:26 am |
  12. YeahRight

    Once 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 20, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  13. James

    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 20, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  14. Bob

    The paradigm shift in mental health diagnosis in the DSM-III was neither a product of growing scientific knowledge nor of increasing medicalization. Instead, its symptom-based diagnoses reflect a growing standardization of psychiatric diagnoses.

    December 20, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  15. Bob

    Mat 23:25 "Woe to you, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.
    Mat 23:26 "You blind first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.
    Mat 23:27 "Woe to you, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
    Mat 23:28 "So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
    Joh 2:19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
    Joh 2:21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
    1Co 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
    1Co 3:17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
    1Co 6:17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
    1Co 6:18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.
    1Co 6:19 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?
    1Co 6:20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
    Mat 19:4 And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,
    Mat 19:5 and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'?
    Mat 19:6 "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
    Mat 19:7 They *said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?"
    Mat 19:8 He *said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.
    Mat 19:9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

    December 20, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Observer

      Bob,

      Good. So now you can spend your time trying to save the MUCH MUCH GREATER number of your fellow Christians who commit adultery. Why pick on the MUCH SMALLER number of gays?

      December 20, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  16. Observer

    Bob,
    Skip the HYPOCRISY. Eating lobster and Alaskan king crablegs is an "abomination" too. Have you or any of your hypocritical Christian friends done that?

    December 20, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  17. Bob

    Messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America, went on record Wednesday to oppose any attempt by gay rights activists to frame same-s@x marriage as a civil rights issue.On the last day of their annual meeting, Southern Baptist messengers overwhelmingly adopted a resolution that denounces "the effort to legalize 'same-s@x marriage' as a civil rights issue since h0m0 does not qualify as a class meriting special protections, like race and gender."

    December 20, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  18. Bob

    A study of Canadian ped0philes has shown that 30 percent of those studied admitted to having engaged In h0m0seual acts as adults, and 91 percent of the m0lesters of non-familial boys admitted to no lifetime se contact other than h0mseual W. L. Marshall, et al., "Early onset and deviant s-u-ality in child molesters," Journal of interpersonal Violence 6 (1991): 323-336, cited

    December 20, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  19. Bob

    Repeal of all laws governing the age of consent David Thorstad, a spokesman for the h0m0s rights movement and NAMBLA, clearly states the objectives 'The ultimate goal of the gay liberation movement is the achievement of s freedom for all – not just equal rights for lesbians and gay men, but also freedom of s expression for young people and children This goal has not changed since it was articulated

    December 20, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  20. Bob

    Gay intimate behavior is not only not normal its a abomination in the Bible

    December 20, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Frank

      That's a load of c rap, you idiot.

      December 20, 2012 at 1:11 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.