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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. SMURFY

    WEHOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I love annoying people!!!!

    May 19, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      When are you going to start doing so?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  2. SMURFY

    Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son:

    SOURCES???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is this a term paper????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think not! Look it up for yourself is you don't believe me. It will take your lazy butt 2 seconds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 19, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nah. I don't need to do a thing. You're doing all that's necessary for my purposes.

      I command you to respond and continue to post multiple exclamation points. Do so or your sky-daddy will smite you.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  3. tnfreethinker

    It just does not matter what the bible says. We are a nation built on individual freedom. In order to maintain individual freedom, we are a secular nation who favors NO religion. If you value the freedoms that you are afforded as an American, you will not try to restrict the rights of others based on your personal beliefs. Don't agree with gay marriage. Don't have one. Don't agree birth control, don't use it.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  4. Truth

    "Huebert
    You've been waiting for judgement day for 2000 years. It isn't going to happen."

    Making that statement clearly demonstrates you've never known and do not understand God's love and patience with all unbelievers. The only reason it's been 2000 years is because He wants all to inherit the kingdom, even you. Yes, He loves you too and wants you to celebrate in his love. However, that choice is yours and yours alone. I am thankful He is giving you time to repent and turn to faith in Him, because the just will live by faith.

    But, if one truly understood biblical truth, one would know that the days are drawing to a close. The fact that Israel has become a nation again is testament to that as the eyes of the world will once again turn towards Jerusalem.

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

      Actually Israel was formed by Terrorism. Stern Gang and all that.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Huebert

      He, god, doesn't exist. If he did he could reveal himself and at once: stop all religious fighting, Solve all theological squabbles, and finally tell humanity which religion he wants us to follow. But he doesn't do that because he doesn't exist.

      As to the part about Israel, Tony already nailed that answer.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  5. SMURFY

    Tom Tom the RETARDS son:

    I hope you like arguing with 12 year old boys. And by the way, I happen to like my comments to appear at the top of the page AND I am a NON-CONFORMIST so I can do whatever I want!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 19, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • tony

      Not according to the bible you can't

      May 19, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yep, you certainly can. Thanks for providing proof of you stupidity.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "your".

      Really, SMURFY, you've been a laugh.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  6. Mick

    Here we go again...people on both sides of the debate saying : "Hey, we need some wisdom here...where should we turn? I know...the book that contains a story of a talking donkey!"

    May 19, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  7. SMURFY

    tkessler45:

    You are REALLY STUPID. The Menendez brothers claimed to have been horribly abused and even sodomized BY THEIR FATHER. You have got to be the stupidest person alive. Just because they were "well off" does not mean they were not dysfunctional.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Where are those sources, dear?

      I see you still can't manage that reply thingie.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • momoya

      Why do I get the feeling that no matter what facts you are presented with you'll just redefine your position to the point where it becomes meaningless.. You'd say that every family is dysfunctinoal before you'll be honest about the subtle shades of reasons for poor behavior.

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

      Bush and newly Catholic Blair killed at leasta 100,000 innocent Iraqis.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • elleoop

      Agree. Stupidity and dysfunction come in all shapes, sizes, colors and all socio-economic levels

      May 19, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  8. GoSitInTheCar

    @ Tony...Evil was not invented. Look at it like darkness..there's no such thing. You can't measure darkness, you can measure light though. So darkness is actually less light. Evil is actually less God.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • tony

      But Tsunamis must be from God, like parting the red sea was from god.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  9. TPN51

    If there is one line that can sum up the Hypocrisy of Religion it comes from the song of Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" and I quote : "Hate Your Next Door Neighbor But Don't Forget To Say Grace"

    May 19, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  10. Fufu

    Atheism is not about disbelieving in God. It is about hating God and Christians. Hateful name calling posts in this blog are pretty clear proof of that.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Peteyroo

      C'mon, FeeFee, I don't hate Christians. I feel sorry for you and your confusion and despair. Want to ride my unicorn? That'll make you feel better. I'll send the leprechuans to cut one out of the herd.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Fufu

      See the mocking scorn of Peteyroo. Thanks for being the first to step up and prove my point.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • momoya

      Fufu

      Please go educate yourself on logic and reasonable argumentation.. You're not even making enough sense to have an arguable position.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Fufu

      Ah yes the "you cannot argue on my intellectual level" technique. Another dismissive attempt, but still thinly veiled hate.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • momoya

      Fufu

      If you understood how logic works you'd understand how you didn't present a reasonable argument.. I'd rather that you continue to present unreasonable arguments, so I'm not going to explain what I mean.. I was nice enough to attempt to show you how to help yourself, but now I wish I hadn't been..

      Please, please, please, do NOT do research on proper argumentation.. Continue on in the stupidity you find so comfortable.. Please.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Fufu

      II don't think there is a post on here where you and folks like Tom Tom have called somebody f'ing stupid or something of that nature or made a statement to sarcastically dismiss others. You call THAT reasonable argument and logic? Anger will wear you down eventually.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • momoya

      @Fufu

      I'm not religious or biased.. Plenty of atheists posts contain no reasonable argument or sensible logic.. What has that to do with your inability to do so?

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

      And yes, Fufu, your anger, or anyone's will corrode yours or that person's own philosophy..

      May 19, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Jamest297

      FuFunator. You would be wrong. Atheism means not believing in a god. It also compels atheists to educate believers appropriately and to mock them whenever possible because:

      1. It is so much fun.
      2. IT cannot be refuted.
      3. It is the right thing to do.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Fufu, when you and your pals stop posting stupid nonsense, I'll be happy to discuss the issues rationally. Until then, I'll call a spade a spade. Now if you have a cogent argument to make, make it. Your root post here is nothing of the sort.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      FeeFoo, you're confused and bewildered again.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  11. tony

    No god. So lots of different religions. No "marriage made in heaven", so roughly 50% divorce rate among US Christians

    May 19, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    May 19, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • tony

      But you're not dead yet?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Peteyroo

      You sound like a broken record. Prayer does nothing and changes nothing. What happens when two people pray for their sports team to win and these two teams are playing each other? Somebody's prayer is not going to be answered.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Huebert

      Still a lie, hope you chock on it, or choke which ever you prefer.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  13. R. Smith

    DeeCee1000; You sound like a teeny bopper and I hope for your sake that you are because wisdom only comes with age and you sound to be about 2. You flaunt only your ignorance and I truly feel sorry for you and anyone who exalts themselves at the expense of others. Yours is a lonely world whose highlights drag you to darker depths. Believing in nothing takes the joy from life. However, in your case that may be for the best.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      I believe in LOTS of things you silly fool.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Peteyroo

      DeeCee1000

      Including unicorns & leprechuans?

      May 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  14. Einstein

    Amen to that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 19, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  15. Poodle

    edwardo:

    Ha Ha Ha First you will have to find me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why such a violent reaction to someone who has a different view from yours? Threatening to physically harm me because I disagree with you? I guess this makes you a bigot and a hypocrite!

    May 19, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  16. Oklahoman

    I'm a Christian and I don't necessarily support gay marraige but I'm not going to throw a fit over it and say it's wrong. God does not hate the gays, whether he liked or disliked gay marraige is irrelevant. Just let people love who they want and be who they want to be. Their decisions to be gay does not affect you, so don't discriminate against them.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  17. Peri Browner

    You are a rare christer who actually follows the teachings of christ. The bigots need to learn ancient Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic to read the bible in its original language and to learn that the english words they take as gospel are mistranslated. When "unusual" becomes "abomination" they are following someones political agenda. Oh, these are rush's dittoheads. How foolish of me.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  18. K. Rhodes

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

    I find the idea that you are a Christian and a gay marriage supporter to be contradictory. Do we as Christians promote and endorse sin? If your faith gives you reason to support gay marriage then your faith is not Biblical..and maybe you need to go back and read your bible. Jesus would have never condoned gay marriage or sin for that matter.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • momoya

      Then you folks shouldn't marry someone of the same s3x.. But you don't get to tell other people that they have to abide by YOUR moral code based on an idea that hasn't even been attempted to be proved.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • K. Rhodes

      Did i say anything about gay marriage other than the Bible does not condone it? I was replying to the article. I do have one question though...what should marriage be defined as?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • momoya

      Marriage should be abolished as a governmental license; "marriage" could be defined by a private church, but then if the couple leaves that church their "marriage" isn't valid.. Civil contracts all around–hetero, ho.mo, or multiple partners.. Clearly defined from the outset in legal contract.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • DK

      Actually K. Rhodes I think he did a pretty good job of pointing out the parts of the bible he did read, and your reply pretty much indicates you either ignore the new testament, or haven't done a good job of reading / understanding yourself.

      the bible also supports treating women as property, having slaves, having multiple wives and killing people who work on Sundays ... are you also in favor of these things, it would seem from your understanding of the book that these things should also bother you.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Actually, the mythical "Jesus" in your bible condemned over-zealous religious idiots like yourself. I'm not sure which mythical "god" you are following since there have been many throughout history, but it's obvious that you are not following the judeo-Christian bible's "Jesus". In short, you're a phony trying to use your version of a religion as an excuse to hate other human beings. Human beings such as yourself should be incarcerated, shipped off to Antarctica where you can become a human ice cube.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  19. Jonquil

    This is the truly spiritual interpretation, Mr. Osler. But in modern society, people are materialistic and Churches have become like exclusive clubs. People want a "return" on their "investments", like seniority at a job or academic authority. The idea that religion is not like that - or it shouldn't be - is frustrating to materialists. They want to feel they've earned the right to judge and be self-rightous, here on Earth - that's they've earned a special place of favor with God. What I hear more and more, are people who resent the ideal of inclusiveness, where a "sinner" can walk off the street and into a Church and be equal to those who have been attending mass since childhood, took all the sacraments, volunteer for The Church and serve at functions. They hate the idea that love and spiritual inclusiveness is available to them when they want it, nomatter how "sinful" their lives may have been. It's sort of an: "Hey! That's not fair! I've been showing-up every week and denying myself pleasures, but that person is loved as much as I am?! And they're immediately accepted here? Not if I can help it!"

    It's the same, old thing. These entrenched elitists are exactly who Jesus warned against in The New Testament and it was the politicians whom the religious "purists" appealed to - the elitists that brayed for Jesus' blood - who had no scruples in how they exploited religious beliefs and manipulated the masses for public support. Some of the first, political "flip-floppers".

    May 19, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • R. Smith

      Thank you. Well said.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  20. Poodle

    I think that we should ban fat slobs from using the electric wheelchairs at wal-mart.

    May 19, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • palintwit

      How else are the teabaggers and birthers supposed to get around ?

      May 19, 2012 at 11:25 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.