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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. DiedrichKyrian

    Martin:

    I have. I am a reformed Catholic. I read the Bible. Went to Sunday School, went to Church on Sunday, prayed to God/Jesus. There was a time I thoroughly and entirely loved Jesus and then I realised, it wasnt for me. I searched and found the Truth. So I walked away from Jesus realising that anyone says "This is the only way" for all humans. Is wrong. There isnt just one Creator. There are many. The Universal Truth is. There isnt one Truth.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      And your evidence for this is?

      May 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Spoken as a true soldier of confusion. Kyrian, did anyone ever tell you that everything you know is wrong? No? Consider yourself ... told.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Martin

      Having been a part of a false religion is no proof that Jesus didn't hear your prayers, but is an indicator as to why you walked away from Him

      May 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Roland

      you can't will there to me no truth. Can you will the 2+2 to equal 5. Can you call the sky pink. The power of the lie only holds sway to those who willingly give it power. Unfortunately all lies are unsustainable. Truth is everlasting and the conciousness of man testifies to this natural and spiritual Truth.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • IKYABWAI

      HeavenSent: "did anyone ever tell you that everything you know is wrong? No? Consider yourself ... told."

      Backatcha...

      May 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • abloigo

      To be fair, Jesus never said his is the only way. People who wrote books about Jesus said that. Jesus had a far, far more enlightened perspective.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I was already told that in 1975 which caused me to pay attention to what I read of Jesus' truth. I suggest you do the same.

      Amen.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      abloigo, turn off Oprah and read His truth (the Bible) for yourself.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  2. mathpop09

    let it be. Honestly, who cares? Let them do what they want, this is a free country. However, the only concern is the children that could be adopted by the LGBT community, what if they get teased?

    May 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      they likely will get harassed. teach them to rise above the ignorance.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Bullying will be illegal. Gay people can't take name calling.neither can some other people

      May 19, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      All the carnal folks on this blog answering with carnal thoughts. I'll wait for a Christian to tell you Jesus' spiritual truth. If not, just ask me, I'll lead you to the Book of Revelations to read.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  3. Paul B

    The author misses the entire point of the Gospel. There is a path to salvation that Jesus outlined.

    When Jesus talked to the lady caught in adultery, He strengthened the old testament law. He said that , before, your hearts were hard, but now, you may not divorce (except for adultery). So, if you believe Jesus knew everything, then He knew about gay people. Here was his chance to open marriage up to any two people, and HE DID NOT DO IT.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      jesus is a myth. like hercules.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Worship Poseidon

      He was probably too busy having endless amounts of gay intercourse.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Hercules was real.they called him Samson in the bible

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

      He also misses entirely that "God is the Rock", not Peter.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      BamaDaniel, proof of your claim pls?

      May 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Rex

      Amen, Paul. I also find it disappointing that CNN does not offer conservative blogs on the issue.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Paul, I disagree that the author misses the entire message of the bible. The controversy that he described with regard to Gentiles in the early church is valid. In the early church, many Christians still practiced Jewish law (as did Christ). The Pharisee Christians argued that Jewish law was a prerequisite to the Christian church (ie. Circu-mcision, kosher law, etc). St. Paul famously argues of the centrality of Christ and the crucifixion to salvation, not through adherence to the Law. St Peter receives the vision from God that "Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean." referring to God's sign of accepting the Gentiles along with Jews as he blessed all of them with the Holy Spirit. Christ is for everyone, and it is through Christ that we have hope of salvation.

      However, that doesn't mean that gay marriage is a sacrament.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  4. Worship Poseidon

    Sunday school is a great place to hook up with gay men.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  5. Worship Poseidon

    Jesus looked so hot on the cross. I love his abs.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  6. dizzyspins

    I am Jewish–my faith says its immoral for Jews to marry non-Jews. But no one tries to make it illegal. Why can't you just have your religious feelings about something but not get involved in civil matters?

    May 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Drew

      because Jews are sane and a lot of Xtians are bat**** insane

      May 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • momoya

      They've gotten their way for so long that they now assume it's their right.. Stupid christians.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Answer

      The long and short of it is that some people think that authority was granted upon them by their bs book to place judgement onto others and condemn it. It is all about that brain-washing that they receive that they 'feel' is justified to do so.

      There is no god – only the personal god of the individual that created 'it' in their minds.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • mandarax

      That example provides a good answer to those who keep asking "why does everyone attack us poor Christians more than other religions?" This is why.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Rex

      Dizzy...how appropriate. You seem to be confused between marrying between two religions versus a non-marriage of two immoral people. Re-read the Torah please.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Dizzy, as a Jew your folks and relatives would guilt you to no end if you didn't listen to wisdom learned from God.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      I agree with you. Why can't gays have a legal union similar to heteros? It's not my business, and in terms of legal rights granted by the government it's probably fair.

      However, this article suggests that gay marriage ought to be a sacrament. His argument is based in Christianity. Other Christians are allowed to disagree with him on that basis.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Answer,

      Judging Is Believing. Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right? (Luke 12:57)

      What is right?

      The statutes of the Lord are right (Psalm 19:8).

      Amen.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  7. DiedrichKyrian

    Martin:

    Sorry. Not my Creator. I absolutely believe without a shadow of a doubt that my Creator is someone else entirely than your God. There are many Gods. And I am very much content with my spiritual and where I will be going on the next life.

    Thanks for proving to me exactly why I dont follow the other Aesop's Fables.

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

      Ahh but there is only One God and One Creator......but many demons. I challenge you to spend some quality time in the Bible.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the bible is disgusting. i think you should spend some time with it. the bible supports slavery and the murder of innocents.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Bootyfunk, you missed the subject, content, and righteous and unrighteous outcomes in what you complain about. I suggest you read those scriptures on your own instead of copying them from the miserable site of non-believers who are also miffed that they don't want to give up their sinful natures. Or, is this too logical for you?

      May 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  8. Name*Lamp-unto-my-feet

    Paul wrote to the Romans in Romans 3:20-32 and the Corinthians in 1Cor. 6:9-10 out of his love for them. As christians, we love the sinner, but not the sin. Recognization of our sin is a prerequisite for receiving the grace of God.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Worship Poseidon

      Do you recieve the "grace of god" from behind? That's how me and Ricardo do it.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Romans 1:18-28 is a must read.

      Amen.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  9. Worship Poseidon

    My faith is so strong I want to penetrate Jesus from behind.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Truth7

      And is there any doubt why believers in God know some of these people are hand in hand with evil?

      Perhaps that's why Ellen has a prominent '66.6' in her JCPenney commercial.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Worship Poseidon

      Wow. Are you real?

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

    Mary should have had an abortion with Jesus. There are already too many mexicans.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  11. Worship Poseidon

    I dedicate my life and sanity to mythology.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  12. mandarax

    This should be a simple issue.

    Do we try to treat all humans equally in this country? Yes.
    Are gay people humans? Yes.
    Do we allow adult humans to get married in this country? Yes.
    Do we allow adult gay humans to get married in this country? No.

    No? Something is wrong here, and it stinks like religion.

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

      Mentally sick people are usually prohibited or prevented from getting married.

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

      sounds like beep beep is destined to live a lonely life then.

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

      Beep Beep, based on this and your comment below, on what authority to you claim hom.ose.xuality to be a mental illness? What makes you a better informed expert on this than all the psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, medical doctors, and on and on who have declared definitively that it is not?

      What is the source of your expertise?

      May 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Cambermeister

      "Do we allow adult gay humans to get married in this country? No"

      I think you meant to say 'Yes'.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • JWT

      Well beep beep – mentally ill pepole can get married and do so all thetimes. Gay people are not mentally ill and they get married in the christian church all the time too.

      May 19, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  13. Drew

    Christians: what separates you from people who used the bible to oppose interracial marriage or abolition?

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

      The bible contains more scriptures in support of slavery than it does against gays.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Beep Beep

      Christianity goes back to Roman times when slavery was the game of the day.

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

      So are you saying that we can read the bible according to it's historical context, beep beep?

      May 19, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Truth7

      Drew – you have absolutely no idea what God's Word even says. Evil people are given SNARES. They take from the Bible what their evil hearts want to see. God had rules in place that the Israelites, His chosen tribes, must marry only within the tribes. Why? Because, before the flood, the sons of God (Seth's descendants) started to sleep with the sons of men (Cain's descendants, those banished from God). Good mixing with bad. All the children became corrupted.

      Some evil hearts in this time, determined that it should be done by "race". However, God is who chooses who should come together. He build and plants His people.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      would have thought God would have gotten that right, seeing how slavery is the most evil inst.itution that has ever plagued man. just more proof there is not god - the bible was written by small minded men.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • momoya

      And written by slave owners.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Drew

      So how about slavery, truth7?

      May 19, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Drew, God created ALL the races on the 6th day and said it was good.

      It's the Pharisees, pretending to be Christians that causes your confusion.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • noly972

      @Truth7 – You're right. Evil people pick & choose parts of the Bible. Just like today's American Christians (I meant 'Today's American Christian Taliban').

      Quoting the Bible is much like quoting statistics...

      May 19, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  14. Worship Poseidon

    Trailer park Christians unite!

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

    I think they should have the right to marry who they want. It isn't fair that the one you love is not aloud to marry you. You should be able to marry who want no matter what. That person is your true love. People don't have the rights to control your life...

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

      Danielle, you sound young, and yet so much wiser than many people here.

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

      well said.

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

      True love is seeing yourself reborn .

      May 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • momoya

      @Danielle

      Yep, it really is that simple and obvious.. Don't let anyone tell you differently.. Amazing how many people think otherwise.. It's sad.. :(

      May 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Love? I do believe you're confusing it with LUST of the FLESH which is sin.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  16. abcontador

    who cares what christians think about anything

    May 19, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  17. Worship Poseidon

    Jesus was the biggest gay of them all.

    May 19, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      hung out with 12 dudes. never got with a woman. yep, spot on.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Romans 1:18-28
      18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
      19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
      20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
      21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
      22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
      23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
      24 Wherefore [for this cause] God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
      25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
      26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
      27 And likewise [as with the women] also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet [their just punishments].
      28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient [they forgot/rejected God, so God "forgot" them and allowed their hearts to be corrupted (by satan)]; 

      Amen.

      May 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  18. Beep Beep

    I understand another "underprivileged" group, the pedophiles, are now banding together and fighting for their "rights"!

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

      because pedophiles harm children, and gays harm no one. Why is that so hard for you people to grasp?

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

      In principle, they are all the same – crossed wires in the brain.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Gays harm lodes chances to survive

      May 19, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • momoya

      Look up the following words: "adult" "consenting"

      May 19, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      They harm lifes chance to survive

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

      Momoya – aren't scatophiles consenting adults? Is it sick or not?

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

      No they don't BamaDaniel, because only a small percentage of the population is gay

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

      Not to doo doo diggers

      May 19, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • momoya

      I couldn't care less if I find it "disgusting.". Consenting adults are consenting adults.. Are you going to go around arguing everybody into having the same reaction to the same things that you do?. I happen to think that a certain beetle is pretty disgusting.. Who the fvck cares other than me?

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

      Sorry, "sick" instead of "disgusting." I assumed the proper word instead of the slang.. My bad.

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

      bamadaniel,

      glad to see you're back to offer the same brand of ignorance that supported segregation. you seem so fascinated with h.omos.exuality... me thinks the lady doth protest too much...

      May 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  19. The Flamingo Kid

    scoobypoo:

    Prove that YOU exist.

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

      You show us how it's done, first.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  20. Mohoney

    Men have unnatural acts with females and there are more of them than gays doing it.. Let's make a subject there lol

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

      Only unnatural act with a woman is if she plays with the mans butt

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

      it's a well establish rule that up to the first knuckle isn't g.ay.

      May 19, 2012 at 3:12 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.