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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 • Opinion

soundoff (15,115 Responses)
  1. Samuel Badaru adekunle

    Oh God its total rong for a man to man to become gay or woman to woman to become lesibian, to do that it a sensles aiitud. even the animal can not do that / see bible ( Leviticus 18: 1-30 ) ( Leviticus 20 :1-27 ) ( Romans 1: 24-28 )

    May 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • momoya

      Leviticus instructs you to stone/kill disobedient children and kill people who work on the Sabbath.. Start there and then we'll talk.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Drew

      Leviticus is an ugly, hateful text. No one in their right mind cares about it

      May 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Rosemary Peppercorn

      Do you eat shrimp? You do? SINNER! It is against the Bible's teachings.
      Do you make people from other lands your SLAVES? You don't? Why not? It's okay according to the Bible.
      Do you, as a wife, obey your husband at ALL TIMES and YOU OPINIONS ARE WORTHLESS? No? WHY NOT? The Bible says the MAN is in charge of YOU!!!

      We can quote the dang Bible all day. It's meaningless. So don't quote your ANTI-GAY Bible quotes. You believe WHAT YOU WANT, and you believe in HATE.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      momoya, why do you take passages from Leviticus literally when In light of Christ Christians do not? Did you not hear when we point this out to you or are you short on talking points?

      May 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  2. Doc

    Religion is baloney. If you want to worship baloney every Sunday morning, be my guest. But you should not have the right to impose your baloney on everyone else. It's really that simple.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Fred M.

      Amen! ;)

      May 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • MarkG

      On your deathbed, I would bet any amount of money that you ask God to forgive you for all of your sins.... just in case you come to the realization you were wrong, which by the way, you are. I hope it really doesn't take you a life time to figure this out.

      Go in peace.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Surviving the World

      Mark

      Pascals Wager....

      May 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Secularism is baloney. If you want to worship nothing but yourself, and believe that existence is irrelevant, be my guest. But you should not have the right to impose your baloney on everyone else. It's really that simple.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Answer

      @MarkG

      Oh the emotional retort of the endless suffering that 'you' will get when you don't subscribe to your stupidity. It's so funny.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Doc, so what you are saying, tis better to listen to the corrosive voices of those you follow?

      Disgusting, to say the least. You fools are just as Jesus says. Foolish beyond belief.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • momoya

      @Blackadder

      Christians of different denominations and people of other religions think your god belief is baloney, just like we atheists do.. You don't get to define what makes sense and what doesn't for other people.. Just yourself.. Your opinion has been noted as no more worthy or less worthy than those that feel and think exactly opposite of you.. How's it feel?

      May 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i'm glad christians are moving away from the disgustingly prejudice found in the bible, but it's kind of practicing christianity light - chrisitans don't really follow the bible. they pick and choose which passages they follow.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Cesar Pardo

      Yeah Mark G, on his death bed Doc should ask forgiveness to Sky God who lives in the clouds, he is the one to go to. wink, wink : )

      May 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • TC

      a

      May 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • A Serpent's Thought

      And if you want to worship someone's a.s.s.h.o.l.e then have at it! Pervertedness in any sensual lot is just that perversionism at its' worst! Grow up everyone and quit acting out one's fantasies in sensually perverted Acts!

      May 19, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  3. Worship Poseidon

    Jesus gave my dad a "hot carl."

    May 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  4. Truth7

    God gave us the rainbow as the sign of His covenant to mankind that He would never again destroy us by a flood. And the flood came about because all were walking in their OWN ways and were corrupted.

    Look who's taken the rainbow as their symbol.

    It's a sign to His believers that His return is approaching, because once again, everyone is turning to their OWN ways, and what THEY want.

    God heals and leads to ascension; the serpent causes one to descend. Look back at almost every ancient civilization that was destroyed – most had serpent symbols start to appear and they degraded themselves se.xually. They go together. The highest in God's eyes are those who devote themselves to Him entirely. Those who give up all earthly pleasures. Therefore, the serpent is the opposite. The serpent is fully here and he does NOT care about the gay community whatsoever. He is an equal opportunity employer, and will take down all he can. God and Jesus are the only ones who can heal.

    Is the real issue marriage? To me, no. It's sin and watching people descend is sad. Life is no joke people, but your eternal life is more important. God tells us point blank "evil is used to go against the wicked". Then, the evil are thrown in the pit.

    Becareful, because the "mark" seems to be related to those people who CHOOSE to go against God and try to take away those who believe in Him

    May 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Drew

      "Look back at almost every ancient civilization that was destroyed – most had serpent symbols start to appear and they degraded themselves se.xually."

      hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

      I doubt you can cite three instances of this

      May 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Worship Poseidon

      Are you real? Wow. Taliban much? Mythology isn't real.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • jazzbanana

      Religion – especially Christianity, will always have anatomy on its side.

      I hope the gay community will stop seeking to justify themselves. From Adam until now, most human beings have recognized God's creation and laws. We MUST keep it that way.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • momoya

      You mean like when the bible claims that sprinkling diseased pigeon blood on skin conditions will heal them or like when the bible describes insects as having four legs?

      May 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Drew, all false religions are a take off of Jesus' truth. Satan (through his son Cain and offsprings) planted many false religions and false prophets into the world. The purpose: to blurr Jesus' truth by adding doubt. Satan takes 95% of Jesus' truth and adds to that 5% lie, this formula can alter any and every truth of God into a lie. You are proof that doubt works.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Answer

      LOL @ HS

      Hilarious bs.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Answer

      HeavenSent – as usual you're a laughable nutcase.

      Absolutely adorable to watch and laugh at.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  5. Timber

    Should we deny rights to people we don't agree with...? Well...let's take it to the extreme: there are people who believe that se x with children should be perfectly legal, and have even formed lobbying groups for just that purpose, despite the mountain of evidence that says performing se xual acts on children below the age of puberty does significant damage to said children.

    They (NAMBLA, et al) don't agree with me. Should I "impose" my "beliefs" on them legally...? Absolutely. I should absolutely deny the "right" of a person to mo lest a child.

    Instead of pe dophilia, insert: eu thanasia, ne crophilia, ge nocide, or any other thing which people wish to do. The argument remains the same: "because I wish to" is not a legal rationale for any activity, and "because I believe itt is harmful" is, in fact, a valid legal argument to "imposing" that belief on others, if that belief is supported with evidence.

    After all....a "right" isn't a "right", just because someone thinks that it is, or everything would be a "right"...and then nothing would be. You can't draw the line arbitrarily.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Drew

      Children can't consent, which is why se x with children will never be legal. Gay adults can consent. Grow up

      May 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Truth7

      That' s exactly what some are pushing for right now. Science has shown an extremely strong link between childhood se.xu.al mol.es.tation and a person turning out to be gay later in life.

      In one study, 47% of gay adult men admit that they had been abused as children, compared to just 7% of adult males who are straight. And these are those who "remember" the incident! So, it appears they aren't born this way.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Drew

      Truth, that study was performed by a biased "pro-family" organization, and I have no confidence in the results. Also, studies have shown that the structure of gays' brains are different. they are born that way

      May 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Timber

      Drew

      We weren't talking about the ability of children to consent or not. We're talking about people claiming "rights." Ryan says "who are we to impose our beliefs on others?" I cited several cases where "imposing" our "beliefs" on others is not only a good thing, but necessary to prevent damage and destruction.

      So...is this where I tell you to "grow up"...?

      May 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Drew, first, give me a break with your baloney. 2nd, you are one of the reason Moe Howard from the 3 stooges kept saying this line "tried to think, but, nothing worked" ... whoo, whoo.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Surviving the World

      Timber,

      You clearly need to grow up if you can't see the difference between "imposing beliefs" on others and consenting adults. Gay adults are asking for the same rights already afforded to heteros, they aren't imposing anything on you, they aren't trying to force you to get married to another dude. necophilia, ped.ophilia, and genocide all include non consenting adults. do you see the difference?

      May 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • LOL

      HeavenSent was in line when they handed out brains... thought they said "drains" and said, "No, thank you".

      May 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  6. Worship Poseidon

    Interracial marriage is wrong. Down syndrome is a lifestyle choice. The earth is roughly 6 thousand years old. I am an adult who believes in mythology.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • TC

      My guess is probably dont believe in anything at all except yourself.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Poseidon, you do follow the liar satan when you twist and contort truth for your own gain.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Isaiah 40:22: "It is he that sitteth upon the CIRCLE OF THE EARTH."  How did Isaiah know in 700 B.C. the earth is round? The non-believers of Isaiah's day thought the earth was flat. They didn't discover the earth is round until the early 1500s when Magellan sailed around the world. How did Isaiah know something over 2000 years ahead of the non-believers?

      May 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Poseidon, when Christians speak of the earth being 6,000-14,000 years old, they are referring to this earth age (the 2nd earth) age. There are 3 earth ages and 3 heaven ages listed in the Bible. I suspect you read the Bible so you know what you are posting instead of ripping off the other miserable folks on the rag non-believer sites that also don't know or believe the bible because they are wallowing in their sins.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Cesar Pardo

      Yes I agree with Heaven Sent, read the bible and worthship Sky God and his beloved son, he is the best. The choice is clear...like the cloudless sky. = D

      May 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  7. TC

    Adam and Eve indicates the union of man and woman as a unit and what God has joined together let no man separate – clearly indicated in the Bible – it's whether or not you choose to twist or revise things for your own personal beliefs. Remember – God started humanity with terms of success and the family unit was at the core of it all and as he handed down His plan through salvation history, He emphasized a man and a woman. Why does the Bible not directly address LBG marriage? Because it only had one form of marriage to address – man and woman and Jesus is very specific about marriage particularly divorce. And nowadays divorce is the norm and now accepting LBG relationships as marriage. As usual, many Christians do not take the Bible is totality and try to cite specific sentences (or the absence of them) as proof of their belief or disbelief. Most important thing is that people who claim to be Christian, quit hating on people who do not live according to the Bible and the people who don't live according to the Bible need to quit hating on believers for expressing their beliefs. Many Christians seem to forget we are supposed to love everyone.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Leslie

      The bible is a novel, written by men, get over it and be a "true christian" and accept everyone for who they are!

      May 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • TC

      And you are the people I'm talking about – clueless and judgemental.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      "Adam and Eve"

      Yet there are no records outside of the buybull to prove these two ever existed.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  8. duh...

    If this is all a matter of religion, why not just cite "Separation of Church and state". anybody read Thomas Jefferson's bible? None of America's founding principles were of a Christian source. "Under god" is an exclamation of freedom to worship any god which was limited by the Anglican British rule prior to the Revolution. Religion is merely a cultural phenomenon that cannot be accepted as complete logic. I dont deny the existence of any god but the rejection of specifying its form. if its truly beyond your understanding, how can you tell me I'm wrong? just a rant though...

    May 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  9. DiedrichKyrian

    Seems my post got lost on another article, but I do have a question.

    *WITHOUT* using, quoting the Bible. Again to be extremely clear, *WITHOUT* using the Bible as a source. Please explain to me why Gays/Lesbians should not get married?

    May 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Martin

      Sorry. Can't do that. The Bible is your creator's rulebook. Just the way it is. It's built into all creation, whether you adhere to it or not. But you were already well aware of that. You can pretend your State Drivers Manual doesn't exist but ignore the rules and EVERYBODY pays.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Drew

      Martin, if the bible is a "rule-book" I guess slavery should still be legal

      May 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • CNN555

      Thank you. That's easy: for the same reason society should not sanction polygamy, bestiality, et al. It does not conduce to strong families. It does not lead to well-adjusted children being raised by these unions. If a significant fraction of society is encouraged to engage in these behaviors, that will be the end of the species. So to answer your question in scientific terms, the basic fact of reproduction is the source of the objection.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  10. I was born bi

    I want equal MARRIAGE rights!

    I love my girlfriend boyfriend equally. We want to be married so that our love can be consumated and we want to take it to a spritual level!

    May 19, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Drew

      fine by me

      May 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Priestly in Memphis

      You cannot be born BI se xual that must have been a choice like the gay lifestyle.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Marvin

      3 sum much???

      May 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  11. abbydelabbey

    We are ALL God's creation, ALL his children. We are called to love one another, not condemn.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Sorry but my existence has more to do with my parents than with your imaginary friend.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  12. Worship Poseidon

    I love Jesus so much I just want to penetrate him from behind.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  13. Worship Poseidon

    Thinking about Christ gives me an erection. Am I going to burn in hades?

    May 19, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • momoya

      Yes, because god punishes finite sins for an infinity.. That's just the way he rolls.. He also has a ventilation system that carries the smoke of your torment up to the throne room.. It's in Revelations.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Timber

      There is no such thing as "burning in hell forever." This is a manmade myth to scare people, and exists nowhere in scripture. You are quite right about this: God does not punish finite sins for infinity.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  14. mat

    There is no christian case for gay marriage. Period.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • momoya

      Seriously?? I've been wrong this whole time thinking that christians are arrogant beyond belief?? It seems that the christians who come here keep proving me right over and over and over.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  15. Answer

    Hey christian soldiers ...

    Who leads you? You're a mere soldier correct? Whose the captain and so forth? Your 'Commander in Chief' is this delusion of yours' so who are the others that are above you?

    A lot of you ants just troll around proclaiming this great fight and war that you are waging. It's ridiculous and funny.
    Here is some logic to help you out about the relationship to your heaven and hell fight:

    If those 'places' were so close to each other and the devil and his minions could invade that sacred heaven doesn't it mean that your god is utterly useless at defending his home? Do you think you are in for a promotion above the angels when you get there? LOL

    You grunts will always be fodder for this stupidity.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Answer

      You might as well give thought to this also:

      Who gets more privileges in this heaven – a dead priest or a dead 'you' -> the lowly soldier?

      May 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Lily

      Why are you so full of hate!

      May 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Answer

      Hate?

      So classic a reply. You label someone to avoid your own stupidity.
      Why do you people do that? Is it because you hate logic?

      May 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  16. carol

    Unless you are mormon and believe that one day you will be a god, remember you are not God and he doesn't need your help. He created these people so who are we to second guess him.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Drew

      Just think, you would be saying the exact same thing 50 years ago in opposition to interracial marriages

      May 19, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  17. immobee

    tis a shame. I used to admire rainbows

    May 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  18. Worship Poseidon

    Dan Jones and Kirk Cameron are an item.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  19. A Serpent's Thought

    @ Worship Poseidon & Observer

    What's that? Can't answer a "simple" question when posted and try to ridicule the questionaire with verbose rudeness?

    Here, let me repost my question for you to come up with an answer!

    What do you know regarding the rising and falling of Sodomy throughout the ages of mankind's laments?

    Oh Observer, I never did deny hetero's actions of sodomy so don't float your crapola of whineries to avoid the question!

    May 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Worship Poseidon

      Tim Tebow and Kirk Cameron are somewhere just punishing each others' fannies right now.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • A Serpent's Thought

      @ Worship Poseidon

      Only a very young child would dare post ilk to evade the question! Answers please! Answers!

      May 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Drew

      I don't think you know what "ilk" means

      May 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Surviving the World

      I don't know about the other two, but please define "rise and fall of Sodomy".... it's a simple action that isn't recorded every time it happens and it happens on a very consistent basis. You think Sodomy doesn't occur in Iran just because they've banned hom.ose.xuals?

      I reject you question as silly and asinine.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  20. immobee

    Read the bible carefully. Jesus is the rock or "foundation" that the christian congregation is built on. STOP BELIEVING IN MAN'S TRADITION. If it's not in the bible, don't believe it.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Drew

      So you believe the earth is six thousand years old?

      May 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA...TOO FUNNY

      Just because you are not capable of thinking for yourself does not mean the rest of the world must follow suit.
      Your buybull was written 2000 years ago, not within this century. The information contained within it is no longer information that can be trusted.
      You know imaginary friends are only friends that children and schizophrenics have...are you one of those?

      May 19, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Drew

      And BTW, men wrote the bible. the bible is man's tradition

      May 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • o'Really?

      Do you believe in slavery? It's in the bible. It even tells you how much you're allowed to sell your daughter for...

      May 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Derek

      There are so many things not in the bible, including the basic laws of physics. Are you suggesting I shouldn't believe that gravity exists? Are you suggesting that I shouldn't believe that water is made up of two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule? None of that is explained in the bible.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:53 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.