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My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage
The author backs same-sex marriage because of his faith, not in spite of it.
May 19th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage

Editor's Note: Mark Osler is a Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

By Mark Osler, Special to CNN

I am a Christian, and I am in favor of gay marriage. The reason I am for gay marriage is because of my faith.

What I see in the Bible’s accounts of Jesus and his followers is an insistence that we don’t have the moral authority to deny others the blessing of holy institutions like baptism, communion, and marriage. God, through the Holy Spirit, infuses those moments with life, and it is not ours to either give or deny to others.

A clear instruction on this comes from Simon Peter, the “rock” on whom the church is built. Peter is a captivating figure in the Christian story. Jesus plucks him out of a fishing boat to become a disciple, and time and again he represents us all in learning at the feet of Christ.

During their time together, Peter is often naïve and clueless – he is a follower, constantly learning.

After Jesus is crucified, though, a different Peter emerges, one who is forceful and bold. This is the Peter we see in the Acts of the Apostles, during a fevered debate over whether or not Gentiles should be baptized. Peter was harshly criticized for even eating a meal with those who were uncircumcised; that is, those who did not follow the commands of the Old Testament.

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Peter, though, is strong in confronting those who would deny the sacrament of baptism to the Gentiles, and argues for an acceptance of believers who do not follow the circumcision rules of Leviticus (which is also where we find a condemnation of homosexuality).

His challenge is stark and stunning: Before ordering that the Gentiles be baptized Peter asks “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

None of us, Peter says, has the moral authority to deny baptism to those who seek it, even if they do not follow the ancient laws. It is the flooding love of the Holy Spirit, which fell over that entire crowd, sinners and saints alike, that directs otherwise.

My Take: Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality

It is not our place, it seems, to sort out who should be denied a bond with God and the Holy Spirit of the kind that we find through baptism, communion, and marriage. The water will flow where it will.

Intriguingly, this rule will apply whether we see homosexuality as a sin or not. The water is for all of us. We see the same thing at the Last Supper, as Jesus gives the bread and wine to all who are there—even to Peter, who Jesus said would deny him, and to Judas, who would betray him.

The question before us now is not whether homosexuality is a sin, but whether being gay should be a bar to baptism or communion or marriage.

Your Take: Rethinking the Bible on homosexuality

The answer is in the Bible. Peter and Jesus offer a strikingly inclusive form of love and engagement. They hold out the symbols of Gods’ love to all. How arrogant that we think it is ours to parse out stingily!

I worship at St. Stephens, an Episcopal church in Edina, Minnesota. There is a river that flows around the back and side of that church with a delightful name: Minnehaha Creek. That is where we do baptisms.

The Rector stands in the creek in his robes, the cool water coursing by his feet, and takes an infant into his arms and baptizes her with that same cool water. The congregation sits on the grassy bank and watches, a gentle army.

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At the bottom of the creek, in exactly that spot, is a floor of smooth pebbles. The water rushing by has rubbed off the rough edges, bit by bit, day by day. The pebbles have been transformed by that water into something new.

I suppose that, as Peter put it, someone could try to withhold the waters of baptism there. They could try to stop the river, to keep the water from some of the stones, like a child in the gutter building a barrier against the stream.

It won’t last, though. I would say this to those who would withhold the water of baptism, the joy of worship, or the bonds of marriage: You are less strong than the water, which will flow around you, find its path, and gently erode each wall you try to erect.

The redeeming power of that creek, and of the Holy Spirit, is relentless, making us all into something better and new.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Osler.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Episcopal • Gay marriage • My Take • Opinion

soundoff (15,115 Responses)
  1. Seyedibar

    Christians love to rewrite their dogma. It's much easier than facing the fact that you've wasted so much of your life believing in complete bullspit.

    May 20, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  2. DeeCee1000

    I would just like to thank NAACP leaders for doing the right thing this weekend. They are supposed to officially announce their support of gay marriage tomorrow, Monday. It really does mean a lot when groups such as NAACP voice their support for civil rights for the LGBT minority. THANK YOU ! ! !

    May 20, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Is that the truth or just the bible in you talkin'?

      May 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      We have to support the fight for civil rights,even if we're against two men marrying.I don't like it but I won't be doing it so I don't have the right to deny rights for being different

      May 20, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @BamaDaniel

      You just manned-up! Good for you! You are doing the right thing and you know it to be true.

      May 20, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  3. flip flop

    Episcopalians have always been more liberal. Try and tell this to a bunch of Catholics or Protestants and you might be physically beaten, and at very least verbally assaulted, by those so-called followers of Jesus.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  4. BamaDaniel

    @ booty Dino in bible,it was a parrot that threw it's voice in the jungle tricked everybody still laughing that tricky toucan.just say no to drugs,kush will make you laugh at somebody dieing. I think all men should be with a woman.I don't understand somethings and don't want to,because I'm a man and happy being man stupid, that's why I have a woman they're pretty and smart.but as an adult(sober got the boys) it's none of my business and it's your civil right.handle not stolen.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • shut up

      your words have no value and less sense.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  5. Jonathan.M.Brouillette

    John 1:41-42: He first found his brother Simon, and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, "So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter).

    (**NOTE – The above scripture totally negates the protestant argument that Jesus called Peter "petros" or "petras", which is Greek. Jesus spoke Aramaic, which means that he called Peter "Cephas", which means "Rock" in Aramaic.)

    May 20, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      How incredibly interesting!

      May 20, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Truth7

      There is only one Rock if you understand that you are to place God first, always.

      Jesus was telling us to build our church on God so we can't be washed away when the flood comes. The dragon uses a flood (many words) to go after God's people. If your foundation is built on His Word, you won't be swept aay.

      It's all about who you place first.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • flip flop

      word for the day Jonny boy – relevance.
      adjective
      bearing upon or connected with the matter in hand; pertinent:
      as in, your comment has absolutely no relevance to the article.

      May 20, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      You have to love two crazy nuts not agreeing on what the bible says!

      May 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Truth7

      Voice of reason – a billion Catholics believe that Peter is the rock, because their church tells them that is so. Yet, Jesus tells us we are to be taught by God. He didn't say "man". It all comes down to wanting to know the Truth. If a person wants to know the Truth, go to the source instead of listening to others. As to Peter's name maning "rock", of course it does. The RCC had to be built, it's referenced in Revelation. So, they used that line to claim their authority to be the first church. However, when you place God first, as one should, you would realize there can be only ONE rock and figure out what Jesus meant.

      May 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  6. Truth7

    Peter is NOT the Rock.

    The Old Testament reveals that God is the Rock.

    If the author can't even get that right, you can't trust anything this author claims. Another false preacher being peddled to the masses.

    "Build your church on GOD".

    May 20, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Do you know what a rock is?

      May 20, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • LinCA

      Copyright to the name "The Rock" has been issued to Dwayne Douglas Johnson.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Therefore god must be Dwayne! Hooray!

      May 20, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Mark

      Doesn't the bible say something about presuming to know what God thinks? Isn't you insistence on your version being the correct one violating the word of God?

      May 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • d

      LOL LinCA. Spit out my food laughing on that one, nice.

      May 20, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Truth7

      Mark – He says that He does not think like us. Hint – as Jesus said, we are to overcome the earth in order to get it. Sell everything. The willingness to let all you hold dear go.... knowledge wise because it was learned on earth....in order to "hear". We have to shift our spirit.

      May 20, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      you'd have to be smoking rock to believe anything in the pages of the so-called holy bible.

      May 20, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      @ voice

      Dwayne is much more s­e­x­i­e­r than Jesus. I don't like h­a­i­r­y men. :)

      May 21, 2012 at 2:31 am |
  7. n8263

    Christians should care what the Bible says regarding homosexuality about as much as they care about how it commands parents to stone their disobedient children to death.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Truth7

      Stones = words

      May 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Words = stones and stones won't break my bones, proven.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • tallulah13

      What a crock, Truth7. Stoning has existed as a punishment for thousands of years. Stop lying to protect your pretend god.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Actually, as you all probably know, stoning still exists to this day.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Truth7

      tallulah – and that's because men with evil hearts do not have the Spirit of God to guide them in what He is really saying. What do you think Jesus was trying to convey? That people were not "hearing" God. They weren't hearing the REAL meaning.

      Did God kill Cain after he kil.led his brother? NO. He cutoff him off and banished him.

      That's a huge clue that many are missing the true meanings. If God Hmself didn't k.ill Cain, why would anyone think He would advocate killing someone with stones????

      May 20, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Bet

      The Hebrew words used in Deuteronomy 21:21 is translated "death by stoning" or "pual". It means rocks, not words. Stop trying to protect your god and your book of hate with lies.

      בָאֲבָנִים = pual = death by stoning

      כא וּרְגָמֻהוּ כָּל-אַנְשֵׁי עִירוֹ בָאֲבָנִים, וָמֵת, וּבִעַרְתָּ הָרָע, מִקִּרְבֶּךָ וְכָל-יִשְׂרָאֵל, יִשְׁמְעוּ וְיִרָאוּ. = And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die; so shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

      I know you have to actually read the text to find the Hebrew word in there, and you're probably not used to reading the bible, especially in the original language, but it's there in black and white.

      May 20, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  8. Voice of Reason

    Are there a bunch of you strapped to wheelchairs? Don't get me wrong, that would be very unfortunate, just curious.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Bet

      Why do you ask? People in wheelchairs aren't on your hate list too, are they?

      May 20, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      you guys are funny

      May 21, 2012 at 2:32 am |
  9. n8263

    Christians think Sharia Law is immoral but impose their own Sharia Law in America.

    No matter what version, it's immoral to impose your religious superstition and deny others civil rights.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • agreed

      agreed i don't see how they can justify it

      May 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  10. Mary Magdalen

    Jesus tried to bone me but he couldn't get it up.
    Then the Romans came for him and all his buddies ran away like scared rats.
    Then Jesus got nailed up and shanked in the gut and died.
    Then stray dogs ate his carcass.
    Then the scared rat buddies made up a bunch of lies about Jesus flying up into the sky cause they were ashamed to admit they were scared rats.
    Everybody laughed at their stupid stories and spit at them.
    Then some bloodthirsty maniac Roman emperors made everybody say they believed the stupid stories, or else they'd get their heads chopped off.
    The people were forced to hear the stupid stories for so many centuries, and anybody who spoke up and said "that's ridiculous" got their head hacked off, that finally the people didn't know any better, and thought they were real.
    The end.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • us

      an example of free speech – say that about Mohhamad and lets see your head get wacked off – THERE ARE VIDEO
      PROOFS of that, ask that journalist – Islamic free speech

      May 20, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      I can get it up for you ,but you're to darn old and wrinkly,and they say old women give you worms,got.any Prost i tuting great great great great great great great great x 10 granddaughters

      May 20, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  11. God

    My only son was gay. I've learned to live with it.

    May 20, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      all you have to do is love him

      May 21, 2012 at 2:33 am |
  12. Really?

    If you've ever been persuaded to change your opinion on a "belief" issue as a result of a CNN forum, please click on "Like"... bet there aren't any or many clicks!!

    May 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      The lack of a 'like' button may have something to do with the lacks of clicks on a 'like' button.

      Tell me if I'm going too fast for you ...

      May 20, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Truth7

      Having a "like" button would reveal that Americans don't agree with the lies and pr.opag.anda. Can't have that now.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      hahahahah @ johnfrichardson

      May 21, 2012 at 2:34 am |
  13. Wrath of Zeus

    if I want to brutally bang a rectum until it tears your intestinal lining with a Jesus figurine I should be able to do that.

    May 20, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  14. us

    I wrote a positve comment and your not going to post it

    May 20, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • us

      OK OK

      May 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      lies! you've never written anything positive.

      May 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • us

      these guys will POST phok christians bot they wont post Phuk Nuslims

      May 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • LinCA

      @us

      You said, "I wrote a positve comment and your not going to post it"

      CNN uses automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. Your post must have had a forbidden word in it.

      Repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
      arse
      bastard
      bitch
      cock
      coon
      cum
      cunt
      douche
      effing
      fag
      ftw
      fuck
      homo
      horny
      jackass
      jap
      jism
      kinky
      kooch
      nipple
      orgy
      pis
      porn
      poo
      prick
      rape
      sex
      shit
      slut
      snatch
      spic
      tit
      twat
      vag
      whore
      wtf

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      May 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      LinCA. . . how were you able to get all of those words through the filter ! ! ! LMAO

      May 20, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • LinCA

      @DeeCee1000

      I'm in cahoots with the dark lord. I have special privileges. To know the secret, you have to view the source. Bwa ha ha ha

      May 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      omg LinCA, I'm almost afraid to ask. But of course you realize how crazy and totally hilarious it looks when you are able to post up an entire list of words that are supposedly banned by the filters? You're so funny ! ! !

      May 20, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • LinCA

      @DeeCee1000

      But really, to know the secret, you have to view the source (right-click this web page, select "view source", or something similar).

      May 20, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      I love being able to say F­U­C­K­I­N­G A­S­S­H­O­L­E B­I­G­O­T­S and it gets posted.

      Love the "INNER CIRCLE".

      May 21, 2012 at 2:37 am |
  15. hal9thou

    Here's an opinion: PHUKK OFF CHRISTIANS!

    May 20, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  16. mike

    I've never seen an article stay up so long during such a key time. AGENDA

    May 20, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      yeah, the christian agenda sux, doesn't it?

      May 20, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • hal9thou

      Phukkin' Christians.

      May 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • sam stone

      yeah, mikey, equal rights always bother bigots. wrapped up in a bible or not, it is still bigotry.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things...

    May 20, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • just sayin

      A ho-mo-se-xual can find salvation in prayer.A ho-mo-se-xual can find freedom from its sin and deviation by praying. Prayer can change a ho-mo, prayer changes things. God bless

      May 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      Religion is not healthy for children and other living things.

      as proved by history.

      May 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • just sayin

      A ho-mo-se-xual can find salvation in prayer.A ho-mo-se-xual can find freedom from its sin and deviation by praying. Prayer can change a ho-mo, prayer changes things. God bless !

      May 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • nope

      @booty...
      nope

      May 20, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      prayer = waste of time

      meditation is better for you. so is mas.turbation.

      May 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • pervert alert

      Qu-eers and atheist types always resort to vulgarity when confronted by Truth.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      you're hatred is vulgar.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      When I think of some of these B­I­G­O­T­ A­S­S­H­O­L­E Christians with their r­e­p­e­t­itive ­postings ­of garbage, it makes me think of those old record players with the b­e­n­t-out-of-shape LPs that skip like a hiccup. OVER AND OVER AND OVER

      ***YAWNNNNNNNNNN***

      May 21, 2012 at 2:41 am |
  18. Wrath of Zeus

    Jesus used to turn hot man loads into sticky poo frostys

    May 20, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  19. Dani3l

    "Gay marriage" is more often used to be disparaging, as "gay" is widely used these days as a general pejorative. If writing from a neutral stance on the subject, the preferred form is "marriage equality". If writing from a position in support, the appropriate form is "marriage equality". Your editor really ought to have caught this, but I can understand how the confusion may have emerged if your primary venue for discussing this issue is among other Christians. Please be more thoughtful with your phrasing in the future.

    May 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      hopefully we get to a point where "g.ay" doesn't have any sort of negative connotation on it.

      May 20, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • pervert alert

      The word gay had no evil until it was stolen by ho mo se xuals to mask their dirty disgusting lifestyle. Qu-eers the folks that gave the world AIDS, lets be sure not to hurt their little feelings.

      May 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      PervertAlert,

      that sounds like a very appropriate name for you.

      did it hurt to have your frontal lobe removed?

      May 20, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • pervert alert

      So are you a qu-eer ?

      May 20, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      why, you hitting on me?

      May 20, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • ufadoof

      perv alert is a deeply closeted gay individual. It's obvious.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Bet

      @ pervert alert

      Thanks for the warning, by the way.

      Also, you brought up the AIDS thing in another thread. You have your facts wrong about how AIDS and HIV came to be. I gave you some actual data regarding the origins of HIV and AIDS, but you never came responded.

      HIV started in primates in Africa. The virus mutated and crossed over to humans via the eating of infected chimpanzee meat, which is commonly done in some parts of Africa. Human blood samples containing HIV virus have been identified as early as 1959. It's been proved that a hetero couple died of AIDS as early as 1969, much earlier than the outbreak among g ay men in the 1980s.

      This is based on scientific, verifiable, peer-reviewed data from the CDC, the WHO and other medical organizations.

      May 20, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • JulianCA

      @Dani3l

      Actually, "gay" isn't an insult to people who are actually gay. That is why they have "gay" pride parades and such. When they come out of the closet, they're likely to say "I'm gay".

      Secondly, whether or not you think it is pejorative, this article is aimed at people who call it "gay marriage". This isn't an article aimed at people who already accept gay marriage. So it makes sense to use the term of the audience to which you are speaking.

      May 20, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Dani, it looks as it you've been living under a rock for a while. . .I, along with most gay men and women are proud to be ourselves and proud to be "Gay". Sure, a bigot would probably use the word in his or her vocabulary in a negative way. . .but calling a gay person "gay" is like calling a Black person Black. Only a bigot would pervert the meaning of the name.

      May 20, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  20. Bootyfunk

    marriage is a legal device, not a religious one.
    get married in a church with church approval but without a gov't issued marriage license = not legally married
    get married in a courthouse without church approval but with a gov't issued marriage license = legally married

    you can add religious or non-religious ritual and ceremony to a marriage, but it's not necessary. marriage is a legally binding contract between two people that g.ays should also be allowed to enjoy.

    May 20, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Booty what up.even cavemen got married come here bia before I club you to death

      May 20, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Doobie Doobie Doo

      Yes. I'm a Christian and I don't see how a government sanctioned marriage means anything to me.

      May 20, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      BamaDaniel, how's it going?

      looks like we agree that g.ays should be able to get married. even g.ay cavemen.

      May 20, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "Yes. I'm a Christian and I don't see how a government sanctioned marriage means anything to me."

      are you married, Doobie?

      May 20, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Yep .it's about civil right not personal beliefs.I'm still going to raise my boys that's it's all about girls girls girls.tradition hard to break and marriage isn't a Christian tradition.

      May 20, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Wrath of Zeus

      Self pleasure of the turd cutter with a cross is a right!

      May 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      and you gonna raise your girls to be about dudes dudes dudes? lol.

      May 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Just two boys

      May 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      whatcha gonna do if one of your boys comes home with a boyfriend?

      May 20, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Do the same thing my daddy did when my big sister went to his house with her girlfriend.tell him you still my son no matter who you with .

      May 20, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      is this the same BamaDaniel? someone steal your handle? i'm a little confused.

      May 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.