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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. dc3219

    I just think it's funny that people think there is no right and wrong.
    Or that we as Chruchs get to pick whats right and wrong and that somehow will make it ok.
    I guess if we can't pass the test we'll just keep making it easier, so that we can all do whatever we want and still pretend we have no need to repent.

    I never thought being perfect would be so easy.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>> "that we as Chruchs get to pick whats right and wrong and that somehow will make it ok.

      ..and how many denominations do we have in the Faith? As Christians the only part that we all agree on is that Jesus is the son of God and that he died for our sins and rose from the grave. After that, we have many churches and some of them are even Gay and Lesbian churches. If there were one clear cut straight interpretation of the scripture Martin Luther would not have had to nail the note to the door and there would be one single denomination church.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Righteo

      Your statement is foolish. Everyone has a system of right and wrong. It may be visceral, and it may not be religion, but your first sentence is just foolish.

      Your real problem is that you presume your religion is true and real, and you cannot imagine any alternative. So we will take you right to the heart of the problem:

      There is absolutely no evidence anywhere in the universe that even hints at a divinity or supernatural being. None. The Bible is not evidence, as there are many other scriptures of equal legitimacy, and your Bible has many contradictions as well as a lot very really horrific "morality."

      Without any evidence at all, all of your presumptions are nothing but delusions.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  2. Mark From Middle River

    Wow, Now I feel like Superman. I wake up and see someone has been posting in my name early this morning.

    Crom, Dragonslayer and anyone else that wasted time posting with with whoever that was this morning. No way to prove it was not me, besides most know I am normally asleep that early in the morning and do not wake up until 11 and that many times in the past I have never said anything negative about Gays or Lesbians, and that I speak more here of Tolerance and Coexistance between all sides, I do not think I would change one day and go Rev Terry Jones Westburo Baptist.

    So, since I can not prove it was not me.... I guess I should ...

    ... keep going like nothing has changed. :) Those that know me by liking what I post or hating what I post will just have to be grown up and figure out which Mark From Middle River is posting.

    L'Chaim. :) ... he or she can steal that too, I use it alot, its Hebrew :)

    May 19, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  3. stanknasty

    All sin needs to be repented of.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  4. dino547

    I am a Christian, and I am in favor of gay marriage. The reason I am for gay marriage is because of my faith
    ==========
    Laughable! Jesus followed God's law and God was very clear..

    "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination". Leviticus 20:13

    May 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • horace

      Lesbians are okay though, right?

      May 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • horace

      Also, you do realize that that the bible is a book written by mortals many hundred years after Christ and then translated into English another thousand + years later.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Cq

      Which applies if you're a Jew following kosher rules, not a gentile Christian who doesn't consider all the other things listed as abominations as applicable.

      May 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  5. Rosey

    Momoya likes eating feces.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Rosey, you make severely mentally handicapped people look like Einsteins.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  6. Jesus Is Lord

    Anyone can claim to be a Christian and write anything they want. However, a real Christian is someone who has a personal relationship with God and knows what God approves of and disapproves of.

    It's not surprising that the author is in favor of gay "marriage" since the Episcopalian church has embraced this abhorrent lifestye and even "ordained" gay clergy.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • momoya

      Yeah, that's how it works.. You don't agree, he must be a heretic.. It's what you think of the Muslims and it's what the Muslims think of you.. Just imagine how great it would be if god didn't allow so much confusion about what he wants.. I mean, chemistry and math are emergent, why not god's true nature?

      May 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Righteo

      So when exactly did you sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor?

      May 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  7. Rosey

    Peters in Poop Chutes make Poopsicles! YUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • momoya

      Perhaps god shouldn't have made it feel so good for so many of the population..

      May 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      "Rosey"'s kids are all trash and turds so she's a little p o'd at the world right now.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Playing in doo doo makes you feel good hahahaha doo doo diggers.that's why I smoke Kush for laughable moments like thi

      May 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  8. Reality

    ONLY FOR THE NEW MEMBERS:---->>>>>>>>>

    Let us eliminate the god and Christian effects from the gay union discussion with a prayer:

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    May 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Reality

      Now that we have eliminated god and Christianity from the discusssion-

      Ho-mose-xuality in the 21st century--–

      ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS–-–>>>>

      "Abrahamics" believe that their god created all of us and of course that includes the g-ay members of the human race. Also, those who have studied ho-mo-se-xuality have determined that there is no choice involved therefore ga-ys are ga-y because god made them that way.

      To wit:

      o The Royal College of Psy-chiatrists stated in 2007:

      “ Despite almost a century of psy-choanalytic and psy-chological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heteros-exual or hom-ose-xual orientation. It would appear that s-exual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of ge-netic factors and the early ut-erine environment. Se-xual orientation is therefore not a choice.[60] "

      "Garcia-Falgueras and Swaab state in the abstract of their 2010 study, "The fe-tal brain develops during the intraut-erine period in the male direction through a direct action of tes-tosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hor-mone surge. In this way, our gender identi-ty (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and s-exual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender ident–ity or s-exual orientation."[8

      See also the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

      Of course, those gays who belong to Abrahamic religions supposedly abide by the rules of no adu-ltery or for-nication allowed.

      And because of basic biology differences said monogamous ventures should always be called same-se-x unions not same-se-x marriages.

      From below, on top, backwards, forwards, from this side of the Moon and from the other side too, ga-y s-exual activity is still mutual mas-turbation caused by one or more complex s-exual differences. Some differences are visually obvious in for example the complex maleness of DeGeneres, Billy Jean King and Rosie O'Donnell.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  9. I am done

    No wonder the world still has not advanced to the next level of our growth. Eveybody hates everybody. You are wrong, I am wright religious belief among each individual religion. We have a few people who belive in love, peace, a better world and no hate. I have read so many comments in this segment and I see a coldren of poisonest hattred that just makes me sick. This is just a sad world that has non stop hate. Lets have peace, so we can progrest to the next level of our humanity.

    May 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  10. Scholar

    MARRIAGE IS A LEGAL CONTRACT

    Here's a question that no one seems to be asking amidst all the news and opinions.

    Why do people get married?

    Is it because of their religious beliefs?
    Is it because it provides each other with greater legal protections?
    Is it because it provides their possible children with legal protections?

    While the religious organizations and devout religious people want to protect their religious views of marriage, they ignore totally the fact that marriage is a legal contract first, and an optional religious rite second.

    It is a powerful legal contract where the spouse becomes the de jure next of kin, supplanting all others. We saw that this stood against all governments that sought to intervene in the Terry Schiavo case, all the way to the highest federal courts and against the expressed wishes of Congress and the President.

    It is this facet of the marriage contract that will work its way through the courts in the coming years.

    May 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Historically marriage was two families becoming one in the future through the bonding of their blood through the birth of a child .two men cannot make one child no future for species survival

      May 19, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  11. SingAPsalms

    Well CNN, I hope you're happy. Another heated argument. More people angry with each other. Nothing solved. Case not closed, unfortunately.

    May 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Don't you just love how religion has a habit of causing division, bigotry and hatred? . . . .STILL to this day. You would think human beings would have learned by now.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • momoya

      But if it gets the law changed this argument WILL be settled.. Isn't it better to argue for a while and settle the issue rather than just let it fester more and more?

      May 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Righteo

      It's much easier to blame others (like CNN) for the hatred and division the your religion has always caused.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      All you have to do is check the Ads at the bottom or sides of the pages. CNN is a business and the more folks post and post and post, the more ads they can sell.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  12. stanknasty

    CaN someone say willy wonka and the chocolate factory.

    May 19, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Sure. But I'd rather say that your incestuous parents should have opted to have an abortion while you were still in the womb.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Doo doo diggers can

      May 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      BamaDaniel, your existence is a sad thing to witness.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Rosey

      LOL!!!!!!!!! HEE HEE

      May 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  13. james

    This guy is about as "Christian" as my cat. He has "problems" with practically everything in the Bible which he doesn't agree with. Such as person is not to be taken seriously. Too bad.
    James

    May 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • GodPot

      I'm pretty sure taking someone serious who believes snakes and donkeys talked, Mary was a virgin, the universe was created in 6 days and a person lived who was raising the dead and healing the sick with absolutely no contemporary record of it is a much harder sell.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post by 'james' is an instance of the No True Scotsmen fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      May 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Bobby

      Ask those close to you, your cat may be more "Christian" than you are.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Righteo

      Given a choice between a cat and a Christian, I will take the cat every time. Much nicer.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Matt

      "Judge not, lest ye be judged" (Matthew 7:1).

      May 19, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Scholar

      Take a careful look at Genesis 19:34 and say whether or not you agree or disagree with the acts therein.

      The work is old, aged, written in a time of strife and stress by men who wanted power over others perhaps and not particularly because they wanted to practice their religion in private.

      While we have the lessons from Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Matthew, there are many stories in the Bible of men seeking power and not particularly private piety and private communion with God as the truly devout believers practice.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  14. Christine Ulmer

    Thank you. A thoughtful piece about what Christ's message of love. May hearts transcend hate and expand to love.

    May 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      In order for that to happen, humanity will have to drop the religion idiocy and have to behave like good, decent human beings. I'm afraid that's probably too much to ask for from what I've seen so far.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Decent hahahaha gay marriage ain't decent

      May 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Bob

      Thanks for your comment, Rick, and wemloce to our blog. If you would like to receive updates from the HBC Blog, please subscribe by clicking the HBC BLOG Subscriptions button in the upper right hand column. And please add your comments whether you agree or not.

      November 8, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  15. Gabriel Herrera

    Amen

    May 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  16. BamaDaniel

    I think I hurt a doo doo diggers feelings he's posting as me hahahaha

    May 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  17. john

    I'm not for or against anything. Actually, I'm to the point where I just hate politics. However, I will say that this is a far stretch. He has twisted scripture to fit his agenda. Furthermore, he hasn't really done a good job at twisting scripture. Marriage and baptism have nothing to do with each other in the Bible. Besides, most Christians would agree that marriage is an act between man and woman. Ancient Jews would've said that marriage happened at the moment of intercourse between a man and a woman; however, they would've stoned two men in that act (because they didn't consider it to be marriage....merely sodomy). There are plenty of ways to twist Scripture and not take a literal stance on this issue; however, this is not one of them. This gentleman should stick to his daytime job and let the rabbis and preachers (furthermore, any educated Christian) do the explaining of the Scriptures. CNN, I am disappointed in your bias and unprofessionalism in order to accomplish an agenda by November. I really, don't mind if two men want to get married, it's their business; but, it really does turn me off when news organizations do this.

    May 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • GodPot

      "He has twisted scripture to fit his agenda."

      Please cite one single Christian faith that does not do this. Just one example please.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • john

      Godpot...I agree; however, I don't think that news organizations should do that. My point was that we have religion to indoctrinate us. We don't need media to do that as well!

      May 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • john

      Furthermore, this was HEADLINE NEWS??? Really? Children starving in Africa, China abusing liberties, New world leaders being elected and CNN has to attack Christians (for prop.'s sake) as HEADLINE NEWS???

      May 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • momoya

      I'm pretty sure that CNN doesn't care about your opinion of them, john.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Righteo

      John, this issue is being used by YOUR side as a way of getting voters angry and afraid so they send in money and vote. It's a common political tactic which is traditionally not truly important, but as it is emotional it gets people riled.

      John, this issue is YOUR SIDE manipulating YOU! CNN is just cashing in on it. All the networks have been cashing in on it. Do you really think FOX isn't playing the God card every chance they get?

      May 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Joe

      Exteremely well written John. Although Marriage is a sacrament within the Catholic Church it is not necessarily a sacrament within many of the Protestant philosophies. Even the definition of the marriage sacrament within those religions or sects that use it will need some scrutiny and explanation.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • momoya

      The RCC is an evil organization that forces people in poverty and without resources to have MORE children instead of controlling population through contraception to match the resources available.. Catholic doctrine has causes hundreds of thousands of children to know no existence other than an eternity of horror and pain.. FVCK those AZZHOLES!!!

      May 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  18. Jack

    What a crock!!!

    May 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  19. JM

    I find it hard for someone to call themselves a Christian and then say they don't believe what the Bible says. Thank God we'll have to let the LORD decide what is true and what is not. As for me and my house we will still believe what the Bible says not just in Lev. 18:22, Lev. 20:13, but I Kings 14:24, Rom. 1, 24k 26,27, I Cor. 6:9, I Tim. 1:9-10. But we must not forget what the Bible says about MANY other things that are OK in todays world. But then there are those who say this is the year 2000. The Bible is the SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW.

    May 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Well you got one thing right. The bible was wrong on many a things yesterday, today and tomorrow. . . .not that I care since your book of myths has no place in my life. . .it's way too evil for me.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • WolfySilver42

      @JM do you just pick and choose what you follow in Leviticus like all other christians? When was your last sin offering?

      May 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Bob

      Well then, JM, I guess you'd be following those other fine commands from god according to the Christian book of nasty AKA the bible. Fine stuff like this:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      May 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • rusty66

      Which (mis)translation?

      May 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  20. TaraP

    Read the Letter to the 7 Churches in the Book of Revelation, and it will tell you what *Church* the writer of this article belongs to....

    May 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • momoya

      The buy-bull is mythical bullsh!t.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Better yet, do your country and the rest of humanity a huge favor. . . .go open a science book PLEASE. Read something intelligent for a change.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Bob

      The churches are just different sects of the same idiotic cult known as Christianity. The smart folk got past all that centuries ago, but some folk still suffer from the religion mind virus.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:59 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.