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.
Hey, all you narrow-minded, religious bigots: nationwide gay marriage is coming eventually whether you like it or not, just as interracial marriage was finally legalized after a long, hard fight. And you and your backward "God" can't do a thing about it! Ha, ha, HA!
Amen m&^ther f&^ckers!
If you're against it, you're ignorant – period.
Hey "truth" you're sounding a bit like Dubya – "you're either for us or against us" speech. My friends in New Zealand got a big laugh out of that one!
2 Timothy 4:2-4 "2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths."
We aren't rejecting your bigoted, baseless god because he said we would. We are rejecting him because he doesn't exist.
"Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 11:11) You cannot have gay relationships "in the Lord". Period.
Yes, you can. There are many gay Christians who are married already. Too bad God didn't inform you.
Too bad God doesn't recognize those gay marriages. Mark Osler made a religious argument that you cannot stop they Holy Spirit (like a river). He's correct, however, baptism is different from marriage. God was pretty clear that gay marriages cannot be "in the Lord".
You are wasting a perfectly good brain on nonsense.
Too bad it doesn't matter whether you think God does or doesn't do anything. You're not God and you don't have the slightest idea what he thinks of anything.
Furthermore, whether your sort of God recognizes any marriage is irrelevant; no religious marriage is recognized legally unless the participants have the blessing of the state. Marriage does not require any religious ceremony whatsoever.
RobertG, now you're telling pastors who they can and can't marry in their own churches. . . .you need to go see a therapist, seriously. You have issues, control freak.
Of course you can.
and thank goodness that the laws of the land are NOT Gods laws @ RobertG
your God can do whatever to these individuals on judgement day but until then lets leave that up to the government.
@DeeCee100 – Actually, the Bible is telling pastors who they can and can't marry. It's not my fault that they don't read their own Bible. So, I have to show it to them for them.
You "have to"? Says who? Who put you in charge?
And why? If you can't even figure out the filter here, you're not bright enough to be in charge of anything but cleaning the litter box.
RoberG, that holy mess you call the "bible" is interpreted every which way possible. . .how do you explain the fact that there are THOUSANDS of Christian denominations each interpreting the SAME BOOK? You're just another clueless idiot who chooses to be blind and not see how f&^cked-up your bible really is. Also, who the heck do you think you are telling other people what they can and can't believe? You're a total f&6ck wad.
@Tom, Tom – Yes I "HAVE TO" stand up and witness for God's laws. If I don't, I am just as responsible as those who break them. Soooo sorry if it offends you to tell you of God's commandments. (see Luke 7:23)
RobertG, nobody actually cares what the hell you believe in! You can worship a pencil if you want. I don't care! Your religion has nothing to do with my civil marriage to begin with.
@DeeCee – Sure, they can (and do) interpret many parts of the Bible any way they want to. However, Paul's words were pretty clear; you CANNOT have a gay relationship "in the Lord" (Christ centered). It will not be authorized by God and Christians should not perform them or allow them in their churches. Note, this is strictly a religious argument, but there are many other reasons to deny gay marriages. For example, who are you to deny a child the right to have a mother AND a father? Is it males or females who are not important? Why are you se x ist?
CNN, it is soo stupid to block any reference to the common term for the physical mating act... especially in a discussion of gay marriage.
Gay marriage is impossible (from a Christian perspective) because nothing ordained by God can be ordained toward a sinful end. While being gay is not a sin (merely an inclination towards sin... but we all have one or more different types of inclination towards sin), the physical act associated with it is. Since the traditional definition of marriage requires the physical act, and the physical act is sinful in a gay context, gay marriage cannot be justified by Christianity.
Another arrogant twit who thinks he knows what the Bible means and what God thinks.
CNN has at least one shithead in charge who keeps that filter in place despite more than 2 years of constant complaints by posters like you and me.
Do us all a favor, hunt this piece of human filth down and get his / her ass FIRED and I will personally thank you along with thousands and thousands of other people who try to comment and leave in disgust at this pathetic piece of shit filter and the fucked up brain that put it in play.
I imagine if you agreed with my position, you would hail me as a Biblical scholar. I notice you didn't actually address the argument.
Bill in Mary Land, what the f*uck are you talking about blocking?
You're no Biblical scholar.
There are many Christian ministers who perform gay marriages and unions. What's it to YOU anyway? Do you own Christianity? or any of those churches that have accepted gays and lesbians for who they are? Get over yourself hateful idiot. I don't believe in the bible. . .well, because I don't believe in myths. . .but if pastors choose to marry gays, what's it to you?
Maryland is right. As someone who has studied scripture all my life, has taken numerous theology courses and done extensive reading I must agree that this is an accurate interpretation of the bible. Including the cultural contexts and overall message of the bible, the interpretation fits.
Bill. The fact that you reduce marriage to genital acts pretty much makes you the pervert. God, like the gays, recognize that marriage should be more about what is in your heart than what is between your legs.
Oh, well, av, if YOU say so, it MUST be true. Except you're not the final authority on anything, any more than Bill is.
I'm just glad my civil marriage has nothing to do with anyone's silly religion.
And neither are you tom. But the least I can say is that I do have training and practice at reading scripture. You have given no such credentials, but simply spout statements you cannot verify. Please, do your research a bit more thoroughly before you simply make sweeping generalizations.
Avdin, I've studied the bible in English, Aramaic, Hebrew, Latin and Greek. The only conclusion I can come to is that it is full of contradictions, myths, fairy tales, violence, murder, and oppression and that your god isn't very good at communicating clearly.
The stupid CNN filter seems to wipe-out any pro-traditional marriage arguments. See 1 Corinthians 11:11 as you cannot have a Christ-centered gay marriage.
You mad, sweetie?
Yes, you can. Sorry you're so misinformed.
Sure you can.
Yes, I'm angry. When you spend time writing any legitimate and valid point, only to have it censored is not only maddening, but it's a violation of free speech.
There ARE no censors, you silly man. There is an automatic filter. You're using words or combinations of letters that get spit out by the filter. No humans involved, dear.
Good god, did you really think someone is employed by CNN to read every post and decide whether or not it measures up to some liberal standard?
Take a wider look at your scripture. It states:
1 Corinthians 11:10-13
"10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own[a] head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God."
and, then it says
"13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?"
Now, ask yourself; was he talking about marriage here?
Check out the list on page #53.
And yep, we ALL hate that filter - deal with it (or not).
I was not using anything offensive in my post. I didn't even put anything from page #53 in it and it was STILL filtered out multiple times.
This blog is owned by CNN, not the public, so your complaints fall on stupid and deaf ears in the bloated CNN corporation.
You have no free speech rights here.
All we can do is complain and ask for an intelligent filter, but they don't give a fuck as we have been shown time and time again ad nauseum.
Any one who claims to follow Christ yet blatantly and continuously disobeys His law and His commands is not actually following Him. No one can serve two masters.
I'm betting that you did use one of those taboo letter combinations - they are tricky to find sometimes. Maybe you've come across a new one, though... let us know if you figure it out.
Again, why don't butt out and let god do the job instead of pretending you're one of his cops?
Well, RobertG, you've forced me to tell you the truth. I wrote to CNN and TOLD them to remove all your posts.
So sue me.
maybe CNN got tire of your peoples same-old arguments being used on the subject. Now the filters want you to think of new things. :)
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.
Please provide me with a reasonable answer to my question. Why do you keep posting this?
I retract my last post with you. Keep it up bro!
it never ceases to amaze me how many people believe that they are smarter than God.....as far as i am concerned, kudos for Rob, Todd, and Prism for their courage in standing firm in their faith.....as for me and my house, we will follow the Lord....
Jesus died on the cross to pay the sin debt of all people, straight or gay or anything else.....but God does not make anyone love and follow Him. That is a decision each one of us must make for ourselves – but make no mistake, the day will come when every head shall bow and every knee shall bend and all will give an accounting of their lives. i pray that each person who has scorned God in these comments comes to a saving realization that they are in the wrong.....but I am realist enough to know that most of these commenters are beyond the point of redemption. i say this not as a limit of God's power, but in recognition of His willingness to let every person choose whether they will love Him or not.
You are such a man!
Like I'm going to listen to someone named "P-Daddy". Riiiiight.
You live in the hood bro?
"it never ceases to amaze me how many people believe they are smarter than God"
P-daddy, I assume you are including yourself in that grouping. To assume you know the mind of God regarding his design for gays is the epitome of arrogance. If gays know they are loved by God and have a personal relationship with Him who are you to assume otherwise?
I doubt anyone believes he is smarter than God. But I'll bet a lot of people here are smarter than you, Todd, or Rob.
And you're the one claiming to know what god will do, what he thinks, and what his words mean. The arrogance here is on your part for telling others that you and your pals are the authority on the meaning of the Bible's words. Get off it. Unless you can produce any qualifications that make you the most respected authority on theology, you're just another anonymous poster, like everyone else here.
@Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son
I am by no means dissing you. Why do we have a tendency to place a gender on an imaginary being?
You can replace "his" and "he" with "his/her" or "its" if you wish. I'm too tired to bother.
thank goodness I know when I die I will just be dead. Knowing there is no proof of a God makes me know that I won't have to fear when judgement day comes because there won't be that day and the only judgement comes while I am alive.
Here is my question, how come all the Belief Blog commentators take a decidedly liberal view of Christianity (if not actually opposed to it)... at least as far as "gay marriage" is concerned? Why not get one of the Catholic Bishops to write a defense of traditional marriage? Is CNN afraid that the defense might actually convince a few people (not likely on the internet)?
Why don't you set up your own blog where you can interview all the bigots you want?
Can I start with you?
Sorry darling I'm all booked up already. . .you'll have to try again some other time. . .after my wedding perhaps.
The Catholic Bishops lost their moral authority and credibility a long time ago.
Oh yes, well, of course you are going to bring that up. But if we require people to be sinless to have moral authority we have... ummm... well no moral authorities on the Earth. So I will stick with the Church. You can use the Orthodox bishops if you prefer.
We have laws. Morality does not require a belief in God.
I know that won't ever happen even if they did bring that side to the arguement
I agree. CNN only ever tells one side of the story. On the rare occasions when they do interview conservatives they always put them in a bad light and make them out to look like circus side show freaks. Believe it or not, the ultra liberal look just as foolish (seriously: set the lab mice we are testing cancer treatments on free, but kill the unborn children because their mothers deserve not to have their lives ruined by stressful bundles of joy)
Hey, it's a free country, av. If you don't like CNN, scram. Leave. Vote with your little tootsies and get out. There are thousands of other sites where you'll feel right at home with your nonsense.
Still think it doesn't harm anyone?
Did you conveniently skip the part where it says that the overwhelming number of people living with HIV are HETERO SEKSUAL?
What about the mothers, fathers, brother, sisters, sons, and daughers that have to watch they're loved ones go though this. Does it hurt them? What of the childen that are born with HIV, does it hurt them?
You're such a tool. This has nothing to do with gay marriage. That site is about those persons being gay or straight, that participate in unsafe se xual behaviors. Lesbians must be god's chosen people, since they don't seem to contract the disease. Most people, on a global level, that have HIV ... are NOT gay.
Don't forget to inform people that eating too much can be harmful. . .as is driving a car, as is being a Christian in a Muslim country, as is smoking, as is drinking too much alcohol, as is having too many babies, as is being a foot-ball player, as is being a single male, as is being a female. You left out a few things.
Wow left out my reply.
I'm talking about all immoralty. Wouldn't there be less of this if we wouldn't follow after lus t?
I mean really here are the numbers. If we would follow after God's word, would we not be heathier?
a person of the name. . .I think you would be healthier mentally if you dropped the bible cr4p. . . I also think you'd be smarter if you opened up a science book and used your mind to think.
Hate to tell you this DeeCee but I was raised as a athiest. I looked though and study many things. Most religions are empty, even in Christianty. God revealed Himself in a mighty way with me and I seen myself as very unclean. (I thought I was living a good life but I had fallen way short). So call me names, make me look like the bad guy but in the end all that matters is God.
Then why don't all you bozos shut up and let God take care of it??
someone brought HIV into the debate????
Sit down with the BS
HIV is not a GAY disease
Contrast this with Romans 1:18-32 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, much less the Genesis account of marriage itself. False teachers have always been with us, and those who follow them are without excuse. Anyone can put an "interpretation" on the Bible to suit their lifestyle and preferences, but this approach exposes as dishonest and disingenuous the "interpreter". Disqualified is the biblical term for that.
You're using "Adam and Eve" as "proof"? OMG! LMAO! So if there is only "one" interpretation of the bible. . .why are there thousands of Christian denominations? You people are total nonsense.
Genesis, eh? Well, who did Seth and Cain "marry"; there future sisters, or their mother? Wasn't Eve created from Adam's own flesh making her the equivalent of a modern day clone? Is that the foundation of marriage you are holding up as some great moral light?
People. . .if you have the time, please don't forget to write the NAACP and thank them for doing the right thing. Their endorsement of gay marriage this weekend is really helpful to all gays and lesbians and civil rights. Please take the time to send them a little email of your appreciation.
Please provide proof of their endorsement, thanks!
Thanks DeeCee – you bet !! It mean a lot. Feels like constantly, 2 steps forward, 1 step back.. some day, we'll get there.
Whaaaaahh? "Voice of Reason", it's been all over the news! Just Google NAACP. . .I can't believe you haven't heard since you're on an actual news website. What the heck is wrong with you?
I'm old, don't have cable tv and I'm very skeptical to anything that anyone says or does. I love animals, not humans, even though we are animals.
g a y g a yg a y g a yg a y g a yg a y g a yg a y g a yg a y g a yg a y g a yg a y g a yg a y g a yg a y g a yg a y g a yvg a y g a yg a y
jesus, god, please send this thing away!
Yeah, we already know about you, bigfart. Good on you, coming out of the closet at last.
Beatiful analogy at the end. The water truly is stronger than the walls we try to put up. I love this Christian view and thank you for sharing it.
The river is full of sewage, but he left out that little detail.
Go dunk your head in the toilet and you'll get the same results.
This is a cogent advocacy of marriage equality based on scriptural principles. The broader question we as Christians must ask is this: Why did it need to be written in the first place?
Because your "bible" was written by ignorant bigots.
A rational and cogent defense. But the larger question we as Christians must ask is: Why did it have to be written?
Huh ??? What you talkin' about Willis ??
Thanks Casey. History has shown us that those who use the Bible to promote prejudice ultimately are always found to be an embarrassment to religion and the church. It will be the same with this as well.
God formed families with a man and a woman to make children. He did not design men to make children or women to make children but a man and a women to make children. Man, Women, children. May God forgive those who seek to corrupt and confuse what God has designed.
Sorry, the days of trembling at thunder are over.
Go back to your cave, stupid ape man.
God designed gays....so take your own advise and quit trying to corrupt what God has made.
Well, then, Goober, why did he make people gay?
Never mind, you stupid git, I don't care what you imagine to be the answer. Frank has the right idea.
Dave – not everyone marries in order to make babies! My mom married her husband, when she was 62, and he was 60. They didn't . marry to procreate... People marry because they love each other, because they want to share their lives together. Gays are fine with people who wish to marry to make babies, and raise a family. We love that. But, we also have our families, and people we love.
Dave you make claims that you cannot prove, why?
nitwit, like you know what god wants
Hey, I was wondering if Scripture has anything to say about what happens to you if a lesbian zombie bites you? Could happen, you know.
Really. The arrogance is stunning.
Dave's brain is not here.
I'm a woman, and I've been married to a man for 30 years, but we don't have any children. Does that mean I've somehow corrupted your god's design? Good thing I don't care.
Christians are not supposed to take their disputes before non-Christian courts or judges. (“If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?” - 1 Corinthians 6:1 NIV) How interesting! Considering that state is separate from church all courts are supposedly “ungodly”. Does this stop Christians from tying up the supreme court with law suits concerning school prayer, abortion, gay marriage, or numerous other absurdities? Hell no it doesn’t, and my taxes are paying the bill for their hypocrisy!
Besides being an hypocritical you are an ignorant about the Bible: The text you are citing says to a believer do not take another believer to the world court, because, ultimately, the believers will judge the world. It does not prohibit to defend Christians rights pacifically in the court. And if you are concerned with your tax money, you and the gays movement should stop with this no sense about twisting the Scriptures and our sacred values! And if you still want to use the Bible, go, and read it, it will clarify your darkened mind.
And of COURSE, ALL religious scholars agree with this interpretation, don't they? Or are you just SO much smarter than any of those who don't?
@Wilson – Do you realize you said "pacifically" ??? There is no such word as pacifically! You are trying to tell me how scholarly you are, and how you can interpret the bible, yet you said "pacifically". Grammar lesson... I believe the word you were looking for is "specifically"... dip stik..
Finally. A rational interpretation of the Bible. It is obvious that most gays are good and honorable people. It is also obvious that God would not condemn them for loving one another and forming a family. Anybody who thinks otherwise is obviously just using the Bible to justify their own prejudices. Unfortunately that is not an unusual ploy for the religious right.
Be – Well said!
While I appreciate your sentiment I still think we need to view people as people.
"It is obvious that most gays are good and honorable people."
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.