home
RSS
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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. Pastor Mike Palevo

    Whether you want to justify Biblically, or not, it's not NATURAL, nor can LGBT ever become NATURAL OR NORMAL! Let's leave the Bible out, and one must go outside of Nature to justify! Were there LGBT in the Bible? Sure they were! LGBT's are so confused! Here you have a man that doesn't like women, yet finds another man that acts like a woman?? Then you have the Trans and Bi. I've dealt with some of them before. They can do their best to crossover, but it'll never can be changed! What these people are saying is that God didn't do it right from their birth. So, they must fix the problem!
    The problem is that they can never fix the problem not matter how hard they try. Show me a pagan society of Freaks that has flourished?

    May 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • momoya

      Thanks for proving my point, Pastor Arrogant.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • dc3219

      I agree with you but just to show you an example the Mayans did pretty well in thier day

      May 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • momoya

      And christianity will die just as that religion did.. Just imagine when they realized one morning that they didn't HAVE TO rip the beating heart our of a little child to make the sun rise.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Jean

      Who are we to say what is "natural"? We can say that something is uncommon, yes, but uncommon does not mean that it is a sin. That is for God to decide.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Pastor, you really need to open a science book for a change. I'm thinking all of the reading you've ever done is directly from or about your ancient book of myths. The world has progressed and we now have something called "science", medicine, astrophysics, geology, so forth. It's not as difficult to understand as you might be thinking. Even someone from the Bronze Age like you might be able to get a grasp of the basics. Now go forth and use your brain!

      May 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Pastor Mike Palevo -

      Man! You're all over the map! What's your point?

      May 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Yabba Dabba Don't

      Actually, homosexual behavior has long been noted in animals.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • jungleboo

      You, Mike, are scary enough to be in a horror movie.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • horace

      So, why not let these broken and defective people find love and try to enjoy thier lives. Why do you need to go out of your way to deny them happiness? Does your Jesus teach you to deny happiness to others? Does your Jesus teach you to opress the weak and needy.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  2. momoya

    I don't mind christians having opinions, it's that they are sooooooooo ARROGANT!! It's like they think their opinions are automatically right because of "who they are" within the scope of their religious beliefs.. How stupid.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • dc3219

      Your so smart!!!

      May 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      That's fairly common for mainstream religions.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • zero_up

      You probably feel that anyone with a strong opinion that you disagree with is arrogent. I find that most people who complain of arrogance in others are blind to it in themselves.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • momoya

      @zero

      If you'll address my actual argument, I'd be happy to debate you on the matter.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  3. GodPot

    Last time I checked, the bible was not included in the US constltution, so regardless of what it says, we, as citizens of the United States, base our laws on public opinion and have the constltution in place to protect the minorities from the abuses our founders experienced under British rule. That means that you can either vote for freedom for all, regardless of your religious beliefs, or you can attempt to turn the country into a theocracy like Iran and ban divorce, blasphemy, adultery or the worship of any other Gods.

    These articles are not an attack on Christians, they are merely individuals attempting to both express and affect public opinion to help all Americans see the true light of our freedom, that you can be against what you perceive as immoral behavior in your and your families lives while still supporting freedom for all in America.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • dc3219

      Good point, but we can vote on behalf of our beliefs still. right?

      May 19, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Ituri

      DC, the problem is not when you vote with your beliefs, its when you vote to IMPOSE your beliefs on others. You don't have to LIKE gay people, abortion, contraception, whatever your pet problem is, but that does not mean you have the right to impose behavioral laws on other people. If you have moral issues with such things, FINE.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Truth7

      They are an attack on God's Word because they are spreading FALSEHOOD. Wolves in sheeps' clothing. People want to hear that which upholds their choice of sin, no matter what that might be.

      Who wants you to fall? God or evil? Think about it.

      If the truest believers chosen by God are those who are "pure", what is the opposite?

      May 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • GodPot

      " but we can vote on behalf of our beliefs still. right?" If your innermost desire is to restrict someone else's rights or freedoms, then at worst you should just refrain from voting at all. At best you should try and overcome your beliefs with the understanding that you are not voting for rights as a Christian, you are voting for everyone's rights as an American. But to cast a vote against others rights is to cast a vote for the freedom to trample your own beliefs some day.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      When it comes to Civil Rights for the LGBT, like any other minority, it really isn't a matter for the masses to decide. . . .on the other hand, the way things are going, seeing the overwhelming support of the younger generations after the oldest generation has kicked the bucket, it might very well be the masses who vote yes on Gay Marriage that give gays their civil rights.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  4. WolfySilver42

    See the biggest problem I have with the Leviticus argument is that Christians are telling non Christians what to do and believe. This gets even more frustrating when the same Christians don't believe they have to follow the same rules in Leviticus. If this part of the bible is such a big deal why have Christians ceased to make offerings to the lord? Why is it they eat unclean animals? When was the last time you met a christian who didn't eat pork?

    May 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  5. dc3219

    Being Christian sure is a lot easier if you just say, there is no sin in this, therefore I cannot sin.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • dc3219

      There are no wrong answers therefore I get an "A"

      May 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • momoya

      There is no sin.. It's a philosophical concept.. There's also no Christians because there's no holy spirit.. It's just people with opinioins.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • dc3219

      reply to momoya
      That's like saying if I don't understand it it doesn't exist. Which is like saying you all knowing.
      So maybe since you're all knowing, You are the Holy Spirit / God, or something like that.
      or maybe not........

      May 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • momoya

      Put "I think" in front of my statements.. I can't believe I need to tell you that trick..

      May 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  6. horace

    What the world need is a Christian scoring system so that Christians could have a common metric by which to declare some to be more or less Christian than others. I'm thinking that backwards views on science could be worth 20 points, being anti-contraception could be worth 10 points, gay-bashing would get you 25 points, opposing welfare would get you 20 points, support of the death penalty is maybe 25 points. . . thoughts anyone?

    May 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • momoya

      Might as well.. There's certainly no other mechanism by which they can determine which "interpretation" is more or less correct.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Yabba Dabba Don't

      There are really big Super-Secret Double-Points for witch-burning, religious war, theocracy building, inquisitions, crusades, torture for blasphemy, and of course abortion-doctor shooting. For God is love.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>"support of the death penalty ..."

      Jesus and the "cast the first stone" lesson should cost you points for support of the death penalty. Bonus points off if you are actively Pro-Life.

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

      Don't forget doo doo digger skull cracking

      May 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • LinCA

      @horace

      For that system to work, they would first need to establish what it means to christian. They've had very little success pinning that down considering that there are, by some count, 38,000 different christian denominations, sects and cults. How can you establish a score without first establishing a baseline?

      May 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • momoya

      Once again, LinCA nails it!

      May 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • GodPot

      This reminded me of one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books, "The Sneetches" on the Beach's with the stars on thars. I see a bunch of Christians running around through voting booths trying to out Christian each other all while dumping their cash into the GOP's money dumpster...

      May 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      LinCa. Think of it as a martial art. There are various forms and all of them saying almost the same basic way to throw a punch or throw a person.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • momoya

      None of the martial arts go around claiming to be the only one and that all others are imposters who will be judged by an invisible and very angerable super-human.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • GodPot

      "None of the martial arts go around claiming to be the only one and that all others are imposters who will be judged by an invisible and very angerable super-human."

      That sounds like an awesome movie premise though...

      May 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  7. KM

    This article is not fully scripturally based. It does not take all the scriptures concerning marriage of one man and one woman. I am offended as a true Christian that many people are basing this argument of gay marriage around the Bible. Gay marriage is a choice and marriage between a man and woman is also a choice. Their are many people who are gay that don't believe in Jesus Christ and plenty of men and women who are married that don't believe in Jesus Christ and his teachings. The water baptism and the baptism of the holy spirit is for all upon repentance of sin and belief and acceptance in Jesus Christ and savior. I recall the Bible telling us to LOVE everyone, study the bible to show and you would see. Once you come to salvation Gods expectations of our life and sin are very clear. He gives us the strength and power to walk in those expectations through his Holy Spirit. It is also very clear in the Bible that God created us as man with free will and the free will to choose life through him. For those who are Christians ought not to be offended for those who choose not to accept his full life through repentance and teaching. For those who study the word we must accept this life in whole not in parts. Please don't put God word through this turmoil. If the country chooses to allow gay marriage in order for these individuals to have certain rights that is a choice but please don;t base this on God's word.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • JWT

      According to the christian church and teachings it is fully acceptable to be gay and to be married in the christian church. It's not an issue.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Well, maybe you should go around stoning people to death as your book of myths instructs you to do. . .and I hope you're not a woman because you book of myths also CLEARLY states that females have no business voicing their opinions or having any say-so on these types of matters. So if you're a Christian female, you should keep your mouth closed lest Jesus send you to hell for all eternity for voicing your opinion. And don't be blaming me or others. THAT'S what your book of myths says.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • horace

      The Bible describes marriage as one man and several women. If the Bible is the model from which to base our laws, we should allow polygamy. While we are at it, we should bring back stoning and slavery.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

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

      prove it

      May 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • just sayin

      @martog
      We just did, you are here. God bless

      May 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven
      Again

      May 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • El Giblet

      @martog

      Prove it doesn't.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • momoya

      @ El Giblet

      Your god is an intestinal parasite.. Prove he isnt.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • I wonder

      El Giblet,

      Burning incense changes Rama's mind.

      Prove it doesn't.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • I wonder

      Ainhfcaolt,

      If it worked, you wouldn't be here posting your garbage. "True Christian" experts have pleaded with you (and have surely prayed) that you would quit embarrassing them.

      Keep it up, though. I like it.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  9. momoya

    I sure with I could find my inteligance somwhere

    May 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • another repentant sinner

      not too bloody likely

      May 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      CNN has got to put in Login controls.

      I might hate Momo, but this ain't her.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • momoya

      I disagree.. The idea always shines through if it's clear and sensible enough.. Idiots will always try to mislabel their own stupid sh!t..

      May 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Try again... that's not Momo's normal response too me.

      "Bentsen: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy. "

      May 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Mark From Middle River

      You said, "I might hate Momo, but this ain't her."
      Hate? Don't you mean "disagree with", or "don't care for very much"?

      But I agree that the original post seems to be from an imposter. If anything, momoya can spell. I guess she's struck a nerve. There have been a few posts under her handle that I suspect were not hers.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • momoya

      More than a few, for sure.. But I don't care.. I care about the idea itself, not what the person thinks of me or any impostor.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      I know, someone was awake at 6am this morning and posting repeatably as me. Check out pages 2 through 4. I wake up and someone is thanking me for my posts.

      I just do not think CNN editors want to put controls on this section. They have logins in some sections and none in others which makes no sense unless they just want folks to clash and fight for any reason. Be it Faith, Non Faith or that someone can login as you and post things you would not say.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  10. Truth7

    "Peter, the 'rock' on whom the church is built".

    Another false prophet article. The Old Testament tells us multiple times WHO the 'rock' is, and that IS GOD.

    Jesus is telling us to build our church ON GOD!!!!

    We are the temple, not a brick and mortar building. How many people in the world listen to man instead of God is utterly astounding. Of course, I shouldn't be surprised when most don't even open their Bibles.

    If one fails to place God's Word, and God Himself, FIRST, they fail in "hearing" what God is teaching.

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

      The problem is that the people who claim to know what god wants all disagree with each other.. And since no interpretation can be measured against any verifiable standard then all opinions are "good to go.". It's why there's so many denominations and religions..

      May 19, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Christianity has become like the "Tower of Babel" where there are hundreds, even thousands of different denominations, each thinking the bible says something different. It's as chaotic as hell could possibly be. THAT is only one of the many many reasons why their book of myths is like garbage to me. It's made human beings into a bunch of bumbling fools.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Truth7

      Momoya – yes. God has purposely made most of His people blind (without knowledge) and deaf (without understanding). Jesus came to smite the shepherds and scatter the flocks abroad. There is a reason it's happening and it will be all revealed.

      They can't hear Jesus when He said how the teaching was to take place:

      "They will be taught BY GOD"
      "I take testimony from NO MAN"
      "The Spirit of Truth leads into ALL Truth"
      "Follow ME"

      The Holy Spirit and God were to be the teachers, not men. The big churches are all false.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  11. momoya

    I am an evil man who smokes crack continually

    May 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  12. momoya

    I guess we shouldn't be so hard on Rosie. She does make some sense. I feel bad now.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • momoya

      Ha!! There's two or more of me!

      May 19, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Really-O?

      ...and your doppelgänger either lisps or is nearly illiterate...or both -

      "I sure WITH I could find my INTELIGANCE SOMWHERE"

      May 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  13. A Serpent's Thought

    Trying to reject "hate" from one's emotional treasure trove will never happen! One can cover it up but when the need arises up jumps the hatred! I would rather admit right off that I hate the "physical" actions of the gay crowds and I find myself hating what the gay crowds stand for which is abnormal and perverted actions of sensualisms! Even parts of the hetero crowd is stained by awkward sensualisms! Sodomy is on the rise folks!

    Be a good sodomizer! Bend over and let rover take over!

    May 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • sluniverse

      Why do people such as yourself jump right to beastiality? It says something about you, certainly.

      May 19, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  14. Gabriel Herrera

    I am a Christian and love Jesus and try to do good at all costs. I am also a sinner who must explain myself when I die. Gay marriage is definitely a hot debate. It's not normal yes, in Leviticus it is forbidden yes but really, is it true? The bible just like other books is usually passed by oral traditions and in their own can get twisted. Look how many versions there are of the bible.. My thought process is it is not mans duty to judge or deny another person from doing what they want unless it's affecting them in a bad way or those doing what they want is not in the name of love and being productive. Let gay people get married!!! What's the big deal? One of my coworkers thinks they're sick and should be put in a mental hospital but gets angry at me if I don't agree with him on the teachings of mark?!?! What's up with that? I'm not a hard core Christian but stop the hate talk. If gays are your enemy, Jesus taught us to love one another but love your enemies more. And for those who hate religion in general,I hope in sometime in your life faith comes to you because to me, religion is a guide to live life at its best. Without a guide, it could be difficult. Bless everyone of you and I hope you read these blogs that people put up and ask yourself this, would I want to be treated as u treat others?

    May 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Truth7

      "...but really, is it true?"

      Jesus: "the one who accepts my testimony is the one who CERTIFIES that God is TRUTHFUL."

      May 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  15. Kunle

    D bible is a script encrypt wit heavenly code,physical mind,eye and oda physical tngs cant decode,the only tng dt can interprete it is d holyspirit in u.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  16. John

    There is no case for gay marriage as a Christian.It's an oxymoron.Sin is a choice,not an orientaion,not born that way.You have a choice to sin or not,God respects man's free-will.God has the right to judge it.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  17. Mark From Middle River

    The real truth is that I have multiple personalities, and this is why so many different posts under my name. Right now my personality named "Danny Boy" is writing. He knows that all the other personalities exist and he tells the truth. The other personalities lie.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  18. stanknasty

    CNN is gay.

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

    The guy who wrote the article never quoted any scriptures that condone gay marriage...he just gave his opionion and then tried to say that the bible is okay with it... what a loser.

    May 19, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      YOU ARE SO RIGHT!

      May 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  20. T1

    You, dear One, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.. You are tempted by your own worldly evil desire, You are dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. So be Gay an Happy.... Your time will come to pass....

    May 19, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Advertisement
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.