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.
The scientific evidence of the genetic cause of h.omos.exuality, heteros.exuality, bis.exuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded s.exual orientation – and that's all s.exual orientations, including – 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 s.exuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology or the role of sugar in sweetening coffee.
Don’t confuse this, however, with the so called “gay gene”. No 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!" But that's not at all what it means. No "tall gene" will ever be found, but that does not make height a choice.
Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore have a role in se.xual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in s.exual 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.
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.
So, whatever else you want to think about h.omos.exuality and your position on it; two truths remain; (i) h.omos.exuality is genetic; and (ii) there is no single “gay gene.”
I doubt this will change many Christians’ mind, given that they have hardly demonstrated themselves as being limited by facts on most matter, but, to the extent your view is inconsistent with the above, it is factually misguided, whatever your value judgment on the matter might be.
Gene splicing, no more gay makes.Yea
@BamaDaniel – Once again you can't form a complete sentence. Are you capable of a complete thought?
Please change your name. You're confirming southern stereotypes.
Thank you, Colin, for this nicely written post. Your information seems well grounded, and your opinions reasonable. Breath of fresh air.
I have a right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That includes freedom from your religion.
Oh lord, please save me from your followers.
Athiests are less likely to divorce than Christians. Does that make athiests better Christians, than Christians?
Only the taliban are worse christian than american christians.
Here is the best case scenario for the human race (highly unlikely but still the best thing since sliced bread): The smart humans, by this i mean anyone who can think for themselves and ask harder questions, leave planet earth and go to a different galaxy. All the idiots left behind revert back to the Stone Age; the intelligent humans come back in a form of a massive empire (single man/woman rule is the wisest thing) and reconquer Earth in the name of science, tolerance, and knowledge.
CNN is NOT posting my comments. I tried twice. There isn't anything offensive in them but the truth. Let see if they post this one but not the others.
Auto filter.. Letter combinations..
cons t i t ution and v a g ue and the like can trip it.
Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations, or some html tricks.
ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
cu-nt.....as in Scu-nthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
p-orn… as in p-ornography
pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
And your point is?
Typical protestant idiot.
Catholicism is where it's at.
"James Cobble, executive director of CMR, who oversees the survey, says the data show that child $ex-abuse happens broadly across all denominations and that clergy aren't the major offenders.
"The Catholics have gotten all the attention from the media, but this problem is even greater with the Protestant churches simply because of their far larger numbers," he says"
$ex abuse spans spectrum of churches. Christian Science Monitor
I love everyone. Peace.
God said you're not his son your mama lied
I get what he is trying to get at. Don't judge blah blah blah. But we are all sinners needing a savior. Who do you put your hope in man or Jesus?
You need him to save you from the hell he created? If I set your house on fire, then came in and rescued you, would you consider me your savior?
If I could actually tallk with jesus about the situation I'd have a better idea of what he really wants..
TOP TEN WAYS TO KNOW YOU'RE A FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIAN:
10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs - though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.
Say that to John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court and one of the early presidents of the Amerian Bible Society. No, your post shows your disgusting hostility to Christ and his holiness and purity and your making yourself a liar to cover it up. and THAT is what this is about.
Wow, Robert.. The "I'm rubber, and you're glue" argument.. Nothing better to offer?
Yeh, I have a lot of faith in the U.S. supereme court – the court that thinks I should work, pay taxes, raise 2 orphaned children, but deny me my civil rights. Okey Dokey Smokey!
Oh, Robert. If you only had ears to hear...
You should have left them at the orphan they would be better off
Better yet BamaDaniel, your incestuous parents should have opted to have an abortion instead. Abort a BamaDaniel, raise humanity's IQ level.
At least you will have forever in hell to know your wrong.
@STar Wars – If Christians are going to heaven, I think I'll opt out.
Reply to "TOP TEN WAYS TO KNOW YOU'RE A FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIAN"
10 – As difficult as it is for the world to accept, the world's religions fall into two categories: true or false. Christianity is truth. All other religions are false. If you disagree that "truth" exists at all, consider the Holocaust. Is it "true" that the Holocaust was evil...or can you debate it both ways?
9 – We are not "dehumanized" evolving from other animals. We were created in God's image. Stating that God did not create the world, or more so that God does not exist, is insulting to Him, not us.
8 – A Triune God is not polytheistic. There is one God.
7 – My face turns purple when I see the suffering of any of God's creation. Suffering is deserved by everyone due to our sin.
6 – I do not laugh at Hindus. I am saddened that they do not believe the truth. The world's religions reflect man's desire to know Him. It's not a coincidence that some religions have developed similar beliefs to the truth.
5 – Tell me, if scientists were present when God created an oak tree, would it be "zero" years old? Would it have "age" rings? Would a grown man (Adam) be "zero" years old? If you dug into the earth, would there be layers? Calling the Earth a billion years old does not mean it came into existence a billion years ago.
4 – Suppose for a moment that it was true that the entire population of this planet, with the exception of you who share Christian beliefs, will indeed spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. How would you balance "tolerant" and "loving"? I agree, many Christians do not balance these two traits well.
3 – Tongues do not prove Christianity. Modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics do not disprove Christianity.
2 – You misunderstand prayer, as many Christians do as well. 100% of prayer is answered by God. If you could observe your life from an eternal perspective, you would pray differently.
1 – Some Christians know less about the Bible than others do. Most know more. Surround yourself with solid Christians.
If you had cancer and I had the cure, I would give it to you. If your eternity was dependent upon knowing Jesus, I would share it with you.
Read it carefully. Only God can judge. We are not supposed to judge each other. So by judging than you are saying you are GOD. That is the biggest sin of all.
...and you have just judged right there, you know!
No, fraidie cat, That is not a judgement. A judgement is a statement handed down from an authority regarding guilt or innocence, bearing a penalty or an expungement of record. His statement is a caveat, or suggestion if you will, promoting the option of thinking more clearly. It is unfortunate that you lack the ability to understand the finer points of the language you speak. That is my "feeling", after reading your words.
LOL, You just negated the message of the root post!! HA!!!!!!!
Think of it as The Fairy God-Mother swooshing her little wand around, pointing it at someone and smiting them with her magical wand. That is how the Judeo-Christian "god" judges human beings. I prefer the Greek gods myself who were known to change people into certain types of animals. . ..much more interesting than the Judeo-Christian "god".
I think you need to think that out again.
If it is *impossible* for anyone to judge unless they are in authority, why the caveat for the general populace not to do it? If you are not in authority it isn't really judging anyway then.
Yeah, DeeCee1000, we can tell so much about people by how their imaginary god feels and behaves.
I wonder if the believers in Zeus considered Vishnu or Ra, for example, to be false gods?
Why is god allowed to judge? Because he said so? Ok, I say I'm allowed to judge. Let god tell me to my face that I'm wrong. Otherwise, grab a more interesting book from the fiction section and believe that. If you are going to be delusional might as well have fun.
Excellent argument! Well done. Those who practice excommunication and other forms of shunning have totally missed the central point of Christ's message. You might also have mentioned Christ's rebuke to those who would seek to punish sinners: "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."
If you'll just go ahead and throw out that bath water, you'll see that there's no baby at all.. Those who claim to know about the baby being there but never want you to see it for yourself have been fooling you for far too long, don't you think?
Best use of that cliche that I've ever heard.
John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, was also the president of the American Bible Society. He would say that Mark Olser was a worthless, immoral and perverse man, and not even a man. He would have had him disbarred and probably thrown in jail for years for the crime of insurrection against the country. Patrick Henry would have done the same. Henry said that whether our liberty, which he was one of the fathers of, becomes a blessing or a curse would depend on the virtue of the people. Patrick Henry and John Jay would certainly consider what's happening today to be a curse.
Mark Osler is an educated fool, but he knows nothing. To me, he's a disgusting swine as are the editors and management of CNN. They are all totally worthless.
Sounds like christian love to me.. I guess I'll consider you a swine since you find it so easy yourself.
And Great Apostle John would say that Mark Osler is a liar and the truth is not in him. I think he is stupid, he's dangerous and he should be silenced. And one day he will be silenced by God himself at the great judgement thrown of Christ when Mark Osler is thrown into the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels to receive his just punishment in eternal torment and unimaginable suffering. And guess what. It will be no more than he deserves for attempting to take the place of God by perverting his word.
Thanks for the lesson in judging, Robert.. I'm judging you exactly as you judge Osler.. Thanks for showing me how.
As long as you're mentally mas t u r b a ting, here's a topic for you to talk to yourself about.. Enjoy.
Is that the best you have got? Not a citation, not an actual argument, just a lot of assertions and name calling? Your approach is so repellent and hateful you are most likely helping to convince folks that Ostler makes sense and his opponents, like yourself, are the fools without reason or a deep understanding of the Christian faith.
Maybe Robert doesn't have any other ideas than bigotry.. I mean, if that's all you got, you consider it precious..
It's tough crying uncle isn't it? There are millions of tears shed by victims of your righteousness. You carry the banner of your ancestors and it is a horrifying sight.
Communion is not to be taken by just anyone. Jesus gave clear instruction that it should not be taken if one has un-confessed sin in their life. That is ungodly behavior that they are unwilling to turn away from. God makes salvation available to all. However, one cannot be counted among His sheep when we choose not to allow the Holy Spirit to change our sin nature and take on the nature of Christ.
That settles it then.
OMG! Have you seen the new Jesus popsicles? They're so cool! CNN just ran that story yesterday; you should take a look at it. As for me believing in your rituals and mythical "god", try selling it to someone else; from what I've seen the Catholic priesthood is mostly a big scam and a joke. Take your mythical idiocy and shove it.
Um, could we have a citation on that "clear instruction" from Jesus? If so, why did Jesus give communion to unconfessed sinners?
TheWord, Why did Jesus drink his own "blood" and eat his own "flesh"? Cuz he was one sick basterd!
I heard it is possible to cure christianity and the christianity lifestyle because christianity is not genetic. Does anyone on this forum know whether that is true or not? I am desperate and depressed and have asked everyone I know and everyone they know if anyone knows how to cure my christianity. Are there any therapists you know of? Is anyone working on a vaccine where I might be able to get into a clinical trial? Can you come back to me if you have any information that might help.
It takes a lot of honest introspection and a lot of diligent research into the religion and holy book themselves.. Fully consider arguements from both sides with clear, practical evaluation and you should drop it within a few months depending on how brainwashed you are.
the best cure for religion is teaching logic and critical thought. Thinking people as more immune to B.S.
I think Mr. Osler is wrong...wrong...wrong. Jesus took his message to the gentiles. Which denomination accepts or preforms gay marriages ceremonys? Gays have got rites confused with rights. Do they have rights....yes. Should a Christian denomination perform the rite of matromony....no.
In the black or white world I live in, I do not recognize a civil ceremony as a valid marriage. Gay or straight. I really don't care if you agree or not, that's the way I understand my Bible.
Yet legitimate christian churches have gays to lead them and perform gay marriages. What you accept is irrelevant as you and your church do not define marriage for society.
Does not matter if you agree with that or not, the fact remains that the government must issue a MARRIAGE license in order for a MARRIAGE to be legally recognized regardless of whether or not it is performed in a church, a boat, a house, a yard, wherever.
You can remain stuck believing in outdated information or you can join the 21st century.
Fortunately, my civil rights have nothing to do with your book of myths. You can worship spaghetti for all I care but the minute you try to impose your myths on me, we have a problem.
The really hilarious part of the anti-atheist bigot film is "Stage One: Intellectual Bafflement", which means that those stupid atheists actually explain their positions, but those word and idea thingys are just too complicated for Christians, and they do not understand and instead accuse atheists of "bafflement."
Got that? If you explain your position, you are engaging in "bafflement" because they are not smart enough to understand an intelligent discussion.
And don't you just love the straw man atheist they use? They are baffled by discussions, but it is the atheists who are stupid. No bigotry there! Looks like "do unto thers" "Love they neighbor" and "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" to me!
Let me summarize the Christan film:
First stage: I don't understand the big words atheists use.
Second stage: I don't understand analogies, metaphors or satire.
Third stage: I don't understand why I piss people off.
I've noticed that almost all christian insults are projections of their own doubts and inadequacies.. Just think of the average christian arguing for god:
1. A bunch of weird personal stories and v.a.gue "proofs" from scripture that are just more confusion they learned from teh pulpit but were instructed to pretend were "good" sound reasoning..
2. You don't get it because of your anger or disappointment and you just won't give it a try.
3. You're going to spend an eternity in a never-ending torture chamber built by my "good" god, which means I think you deserved to be tortured forever for asking reasonable questions..
DeeCee, why do your civil rights trump mine? I really don't care what you choose to believe. You can get married any time or place you choose, except in my church. Because we believe you are wrong. I was stating my opinion. I guess we'll just have to wait until judgement day and see who is right.
It's been fun, but I have to go cut the grass now before daddy beats me.
Prayer changes things?
I should pray for something larger?
With God all things are "possible" and "can" happen, not guaranteed.
I pray every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday but to no avail. I have yet to hit the Megamillion or Powerball jackpot. Guess I need to pray harder, what ever the heck that means.
It means that you need to get on your knees and really try to please Jesus. If you do it right you'll feel his happiness on your face.
Marriage equality already exists. Everyone can marry someone of the opposite gender. I love how people try to justify a sinful lifestyle with the Bible.
No it doesn't.. You get to marry whomever you wish.. Gays can't.. Don't be so fvcking stupid that you gouge your eyes out to prove that it's okay to put out the eyes of other people.
You're right. Marriage equality DOES exist in a number of countries and states. I just love how you people are so twisted in your thinking that you actually believe fighting against civil rights is a good thing. You're thinking is so perverted.
I just don't understand why it is so necessary to change the definition of marriage. States have no real purpose in regulating marriage other than for purposes of protecting children. And, in doing so, it creates an incentive because children are more likely to benefit society if they are raised by both a father and a mother (of course there are always the exceptions).
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.