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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. Mikel

    There is nothing in the Bible that justifies the Gay lifestyle whatsoever. It is the opposite. You people can twist the scriptures all you want to fit your perversions, but the absolute truth is that the gay lifestyle is a sin. It is an abomination against God.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • momoya

      I wonder why god allows his word to be twisted so often when he doesn't allow mathematics or chemistry to be twisted?

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

      simple answer: there's no such thing as god.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Levi Straus

      I agree with this.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Levi Straus

      There is nothing in the Bible that justifies the Gay lifestyle whatsoever. It is the opposite. You people can twist the scriptures all you want to fit your perversions, but the absolute truth is that the gay lifestyle is a sin. It is an abomination against God.

      I agree 100 % with this.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  2. kendallpeak

    hey

    May 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  3. Mohoney

    Most gays are born that way! What do you tell someone with male and female reproductive organs? Or who are male genice female outside ?

    May 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  4. Roy Snipes

    Romans 1:27 says,
    In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • momoya

      Sounds like you shouldn't marry a person of the same s3x as yourself.. So how do you feel about gays having the same rights as you do: to marry whom you choose?

      May 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Martin

      Amen. The LGBT's in an uproar are mistakenly thinking their battle is with Christians, religion or the Bible. Their battle is only with their Creator, whom they chose to rebel against.

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

      And Martin, your OPINION on such matters is as important as any other citizens opinion on such matters.. Even if they think that YOU are denying your creator or some such bullsh!t nonsense.

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

      their battles is against the ignorance of the bible.

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

      Scoobypoo 1:1 says –
      In the same way the christians also abandoned natural reasoning and were inflamed with ignorance. They committed indecent laws and outlandish intolerance, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perverse ideology.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  5. Beep Beep

    The gays are not fighting for "civil" rights, they are fighting for "uncivil" rights. That's where the problem is!

    May 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      and you are an advocate for turning your brain off.

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

      I don't know about anybody else, but I've been waiting for an atheist as arrogant as the average christian who's finally got the definitive answer on "where the problem is.". Thanks for showing up!

      May 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Martin

      Well said, Beep.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i know - wanting g.ays to have equal rights sure is arrogant...

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

      mommoya
      Marriage rate continue to drop as we usher God out the door. What is the value of marriage to a godless person or nation since it is simply some paid clerk that gives out a slip of paper. Christians are every bit as responsible as are gays for showing it no longer means anything except a little show so others can see how happy we were at that moment. Then half get divorced and 70% of those that were divorced get divorced again.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • momoya

      @fred

      So you want to keep ho.mos from screwing up marriage as badly as the christians have by not letting them marry, or what?

      May 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • fred

      momoya
      In a godless world nothing matters other than what the godless want or can get away with. Just open a godless government webpage and whoever wants a piece of paper gets it. Strip all financial benefits and pensions from all marriages entered into after 2001. The old Judeo Christian model of the family has died.

      May 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  6. o'Really?

    Doesn't God preach love? So far, I haven't seen very much love towards the LBGT community from the 'Good' Christians. Didn't Jesus say, Don't judge, for lest ye be judged? How is that out of context? I want to know how "love thy neighbor' is taken out of context. I'm very sure it doesn't say 'Love thy neighbor, except if he's gay' Do I consider my self a christian? No. Do I believe in God and Jesus? Yes. The reason I don't consider myself a christian is cause I'm to ashamed of the people who make up the religion, and I've have belief that God and Jesus are shaking their heads in saddness at your attempts to twist their words of love for your own fears and cowadices.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Beep Beep

      Gays are mentally sick people – they have their signals crossed. Treat them as you would any mentally sick person – with respect and compassion, but don't let them foist their sick ways on the rest of the society!

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

      Amen

      May 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Truth7

      "Love thy neighbor".

      Go read WHO He defined as your neighbor. Those who do RIGHT, not those who do wrong.

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

      Beep beep you are wrong

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

      Didn't he also say to love your enemy, Truth7?

      May 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Martin

      Loving perversion isn't "civil".

      May 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "love thy neighbor"

      you should read it. he meant other Jews.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • o'Really?

      I'm pretty sure the one who defined 'neighbor' was Jesus, and his definition extended to all of humanity, since we are all God's children. and Beep, are you in the medical field? How do you know it's a mental disorder? Any sight you show that it is a disorder, I can show you 10 more that show you wrong. And anyways, you treat someone who has a mental disorder with compasion, not hatred or scorn.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      God preaches love and hate - just depends on what page you turn to.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  7. Mohoney

    Your not Christian for saying he is not christian..

    May 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Bry S

      You're not a Christian for saying he's not Christian

      May 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  8. TC

    I've concluded that the only people that come here are atheists to Try to prove a point they cannot prove, Christians who have never studied the Bible and refuse to take everything in totality and just piece meal what fits and LGBs that want to advance their agenda. Is there really anyone that can have a compassionate and logical discussion? It seems not.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • momoya

      What about you?

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

      this one is not like the other 3. Are you?

      May 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • momoya

      Well, there went "logical.".

      May 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • scoobypoo

      Atheists don't have to prove anything.
      Christians, and other believers in imaginary beings, have the burden of proof, and it is profoundly lacking (that's why they call it faith; look up the definition).

      Atheists don't have to "prove" a negative (i.e., there is no god).
      That's like saying you can't prove my invisible pink unicorn doesn't exist; therefore, it does.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      gay agenda is to be treated equally. get an education.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  9. redsawks82

    Hey, CNN, is it possible whenever you do a cover story online about redefining marriage that the headline opinion be a pro-traditional marriage post? The coverage seems a little one-sided.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  10. Martin

    "The Christian Case for Gay Marriage". C'mon CNN.... That's like saying, "The Godly Case For Perversion".

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

      more like The Moron's Case for Gay Marriage.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      It's only perversion in small minded people, the rest of us see it as it is...normal!

      May 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Article Reader

      The interesting thing was that there wasn't a case presented....just some flowery words and one Bible reference that had nothing to do with his topic.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  11. Beep Beep

    Both religion and gay propaganda are trying to manipulate people to accept their preposterous dogmas.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  12. Truth7

    "God is the Rock"

    It's stated about 20 times in the Old Testament. So, this author is a false prophet.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Drew

      That could just as easily make you the false prophet

      May 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Truth7

      drew- the Truth is in God's Word. Look it up.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Drew

      THe bible was written, edited, compiled and translated by men.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  13. Beep Beep

    Both religion and being gay are sicknesses. The first one is an untreated "del usional dis order" and the second one is a brain path ology.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • momoya

      Are you for outlawing both or neither?

      May 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      sounds like you're missing a frontal lobe.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Beep Beep

      Both are fraudeulent manipulations, and need to be stopped.

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

      you need to be stopped. bigot.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • momoya

      So my question was dumb but you decided to answer it? I'll take it for the win.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      @booty what up boyer. Preach beep beep

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

      good morning, BamaDaniel. here to lend your support to g.ay marriage? :)

      May 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  14. Mario

    Most of the so called Christians I know should have a bumper sticker on their car that reads "God told me to Hate you", because they use their religion to justify their bigotry.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      exactly.

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

      True. They also use it in place of thinking for themselves.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Truth7

      Did the gay agenda tell everyone to use the word "bigot" against those who don't agree with them?

      If you call His believers a bigot, then you are directly calling God a bigot. Good luck with that one.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      no, it's used against bigots, like you, who support prejudice.

      you're making an argument that the KKK would make - "i can't believe people thing we're bigots just because we're prejudice idiots."

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

      god IS a bigot.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Truth7

      If anyone has hate in their heart they have not yet become a follower of Jesus. The only ones who have hate are those who are listening to, and following evil. And, that goes for anyone sitting in churches as well as those on the outside. By you calling someone a bigot, you are a hater. If you deep down inside hate God so much, you need to take it up with Him. Question your own self why you want to descend.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  15. andrew

    I've been long time friends with a female couple who've lived together for years. The two women are as nice as can be. They work and pay taxes and buy groceries and pay bills just like we do. Therefore, since they are law abiding citizens in good standing, how and why should I stand in their way if they wanted to get married? I've been married to the same woman for forty-two years; maybe they'd do that too if given the chance.
    I'll not hit them over the head with a stack of Bibles to "change" them. Why should I? It's the ones slamming the Bible over the heads of these two women I'd prefer to slam over the head! The foulest among us aren't these two women; the foulest among us are the one who hate these two women because they're gay. That's dirty and rotten and dishonest and it reeks of filthy human behavior.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Howard

      Very well spoken Andrew. Nobody should be voting on the rights of others.

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

      christians bigots will never understand they're just two people in love.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • TC

      @ bootyfunk – your a bigot yourself for using the words "christian bigots" Bigots are bigots becasue of how they behave, not what group of people they belong to.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Seren

      Well said, and when it comes to a vote in your state, please add your vote to allow these good woman the right to civil marriage.

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

      yes, i'm a bigot because i called a group of prejudice idiots bigots. you're logic is terrible. bigotry is based on an att.itude and actions. and they've taken action to block loving people from getting married - how is that NOT bigotry? even by your shallow definition.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Ramana7

      Well said, Andrew.

      What did Jesus say were the two GREATEST commandments? Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. He went on to say that to obey these commandments is a fulfillment of the law and the prophets.

      It can't get stated any plainer than that. If you're not on the side of love and acceptance, you're not obeying the only laws that really matter in the entire Christian faith.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  16. Gerry Cates

    Read the book of Jude. Then think about it. The sin nature leads humans into various form of rebellion.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  17. The Flamingo Kid

    momoya:

    Obsessing for HOURS on the net is not going to get you the right to marry your bro. IT is a beautiful day. Go outside and catch some rays.

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

      I'm doing four important tasks right now and I'm outside enjoying the rays, too.. I'm just that good.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  18. Mario

    Marriage Equality is also good for the economy.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  19. Article Reader

    This man's Biblical reference has absolutely nothing to do with gay marriage. I can't believe that CNN would post such a poorly conceived and poorly argued article. I'll chalk it up to sensationalism.

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

      Hey, that's what I chalk up all religions to.. Sensationalism all.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Drew

      I think some of you Christians should acknowledge that people like you, making some very similar arguments, have frequently been on the wrong side of history. Slavery, interracial marriage, etc.

      Is it possible that you aren't wrong here too?

      May 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Article Reader

      It doesn't take a Christian to see that the reference had nothing to do with gay marriage. Just by objectively reading the article one could see that the man has a poorly defended stance.

      May 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • momoya

      Does being a christian help, though?

      May 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  20. Fernando

    YOUR NOT CHRISTIAN.

    May 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Surviving the World

      First,

      *You're

      Second,

      No True Scotsman

      May 19, 2012 at 2:45 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.