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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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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. stella

    There is no "Christian" case for gay marriage, period! The bible is clear on the subject, its not a debate. Someone is wrong here, either its God, or its gays/society. So if I have to take my chances on who should direct my life and what I believe, I'll take my chances with God.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Kevin

      I really hope you don't ever ever get divorced or do anything else that goes against God's will that is outlined in the Bible. Or are you one of the people who thinks that some parts don't have to be followed literally while the parts that condemn gays must be?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Town Crier

      Stella, you are an idiot. and your god is dead. better yet....never was

      May 25, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • MaraLynn

      And you are right. In everything you do. But you see sins as being normal or not so normal? And it's those not so normal sins you despise. Like the women who were stoned for adultery (not the men)

      June 1, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  2. wizzzard in the sky

    Gay and lesbian= malfunctioning machine. Return to manufacturing.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  3. Nicholas

    A law professor writing an argument of convincing words that ultimately are a slippery slope argument. LOL...only a lawyer or someone in that field would do that. Sorry sir, but you are with the world. And you know what the Bible says about friends of the world right?

    May 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Brandon

      Description of Slippery Slope:

      The Slippery Slope is a fallacy in which a person asserts that some event must inevitably follow from another without any argument for the inevitability of the event in question. In most cases, there are a series of steps or gradations between one event and the one in question and no reason is given as to why the intervening steps or gradations will simply be bypassed. This "argument" has the following form:

      Event X has occurred (or will or might occur).
      Therefore event Y will inevitably happen.
      This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because there is no reason to believe that one event must inevitably follow from another without an argument for such a claim. This is especially clear in cases in which there is a significant number of steps or gradations between one event and another.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  4. Danny

    As a Christian I say let everyone do as they want. We can suggest to others what not to do but eventually is their choice. We should still treat them with love as Jesus would. Let those who chose to live how they want and ignore God face their own consequences.

    This shouldnt be surprising to us Christians anyway. It does say in the Bible that these things would happen. Let us rejoice at this because it also says that His return is near as more of the world decided to turn away.

    Im happy!

    May 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Nicholas

      Danny I see your point but our charge as a Christian is to stand in place of Christ here on earth and be an advocate for Him and our Father's will. We can't stay on the sidelines. If we do, we are failing Him. And ultimately our concern should be pleasing God, not making friends with this World.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Zack

      "but our charge as a Christian is to stand in place of Christ here on earth and be an advocate for Him and our Father's will." I just read this from someone... SINCE when is this our charge as Christians?? Where did Jesus tell us to do this!? Jesus = GOD.. and he told us to LOVE everyone and leave the judging to GOD.... WAKE UP "Christians"

      May 21, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  5. seebs

    The world is full of people whose marriages do not meet with my personal approval. You will note the complete lack of efforts directed to enacting legal bans on recognizing them. That is because it is not everyone else's job to live up to my moral standards, or adhere to my beliefs.

    It simply doesn't matter whether I think something someone else wants to do is "wrong". If I can't show how it hurts someone else, it is not really any of my business. On the other hand, I have to do what I think is right, as best I can. And that means sticking up for the downtrodden and the outcasts. So... Yeah. Let's just let people marry and keep the theological arguments focused on our personal lives and relationships.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  6. Liberator

    If no one has the moral authority then no one can't tell a man that he should not marry more than one woman. Poligamy should not be rejected either if that is how we are defending gay marriage. Period! the mormons will agree on this

    May 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Kevin

      If you've seen one "slippery-slope" argument, you've seen them all!

      May 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Truth be told, why not polygamy? As long as all involved are of legal age to consent and enter the marriage with full disclosure. But why limit it to a man and multiple wives? Why not two men and a woman. Or three women. Or two men and three women.

      Sure, there'd be legal stuff to work out to make sure no one is getting any "special" benefits legally, but when you see it in action and realize that the children raised in such a family never lack for parental guidance, have high grades and are very creative, how can you deny it would be a good thing?

      May 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  7. Bible Verses

    No, unfortunately Christians don't have the power to stop others from sinning against GOD anymore than we can stop anyone else from sinning. But at least we can educate people about GOD's Word.
    As far as your legal and civil rights and morality, we'll they all initiated in Biblical morality. But 5 generations later people want to say humankind created morality and want to forget and ignore where we got our moral ideas from. We got it thousands of years ago from the Bible. And instead of acknowledging that fact people want to believe morality is a human creation. It's not.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • BamaDaniel

      Everything we know is older than the bible.the bible is not the oldest source of knowledge on planet earth.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      Much of the morality in the Bible is common sense to achieve peace with your fellow man. 'The golden rule' should be the only rule any person needs to follow if you ask me. ............. that is unless you're a masochist. If that's the case, then a community of masochists needs to be formed, and they can 'golden-rule' each other all day.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Kevin

      I thought that's what this guy was doing, educating you about God's word ... but wait, you don't believe him, you want to believe your own interpretation. So it really isn't about spreading God's word ... it's about spreading YOUR OPINION ABOUT WHAT GOD HAS TO SAY. Why can't the Bible and one's own faith speak for itself. Why must you think that everyone who doesn't see things exactly the same way you do is wrong?

      May 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Bob

      While you are presenting Bible Verses, be sure that you include some of the especially juicy demands the bible AKA the Christian book of nasty presents god making. Fine stuff like this, so that Christians deservedly start squirming as we look at the idiocies of their beliefs about their sky fairy:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      May 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • vonxx

      Yes but you can't tell them that..How anybody can say we just spring up from ape is crazy..... So how do they explain them being a individual!!....That in its self just happens one time.....But that is to far over some peoples heads i guess... I is called your soul!.. Not your brain!.. This you can not see..

      May 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  8. AverageJoe76

    Since only a small percentage of humanity will make it into heaven, doesn't that mean God makes a defective product? Shouldn't the 'assembly line of souls' be stopped and tweaked to prevent this?

    May 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Jack

      What I find funny is that the Bible says the narrow path leads to Heaven, yet some Christians claim that the vast number of Christians is proof of thier God's existance.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      "We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low". Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  9. FormerNYer

    It's nice to see some shift in the opinion of some Christian people here in America but I've said it before and I'll say it again, Gay people don't necessarily want the church to recognize the wedded union. It is the LEGAL rights we want. Your church doesn't want to recognize, good for you and I'll make sure I don't attend your Sunday services. Stay out of my legal rights. Remember, separation of church and state for that exact reason.
    Whether you enact a thousand laws banning Gay Marriage, civil unions, domestic partnershps, etc, we'll still form our households, our families. We'll still fall in love and adopt children, or not. You want to stop us from forming those bonds but you have no right to take them away. None whatsoever.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • pauleky

      @FormerNYer – Exactly!

      May 21, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      I do not hold an opinion on this issue but to ask from the sidelines if what you declare that Gays and Lesbians want are the rights then if Civil Unions which would give all of the rights and benefits to Gay and Lesbian couples in all matters, would you accept this and drop the desire for the term "marriage" to be used.

      Also, since you have stated that you are Gay, this semester we had the normal student lectures and a transgendered student took to the stage and he was pretty upset with the Gay and Lesbian community. He felt that while the Gays and Lesbians now have the protections against being thrown out of their homes and fired by their employers they did not continue the fight for those who are transgendered in society. Do you feel that the Gays and Lesbians have chosen to leave the transgendered behind to continue their own goals and objectives?

      May 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Peter

      "He felt that while the Gays and Lesbians now have the protections against being thrown out of their homes and fired by their employers they did not continue the fight for those who are transgendered in society. Do you feel that the Gays and Lesbians have chosen to leave the transgendered behind to continue their own goals and objectives?"

      Those laws are not in every state yet only about half the states have that protection. So it might help if you educated your students correctly.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Peter, I am not a teacher. Just a simple student.

      Was not aware that the laws did not exist in every state. Question, would the fight for protection nationwide have been a more worthy battle?

      May 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Norman

      Mark from Middle River-nope-we want the term marriage. You should educate yourself. Your "side" doesnt wnat gays to have any rights-see the fight in WA about civil unions. Besides, you dont own marriage-marriage predates religion by THOUSANDS of years. We want marriage and we will have it. HINT-marriage in teh US is NOT religious-it is civil-its only religious if you wwant it to be

      May 21, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Norman

      Mark-gays can still be denied housing in 28 states. Gays can be fired for being gay in 25 states. Transgenders were lumped into the Gay and lesbian community-they are just as different from us as they are from you-they need to fight their battles, but cant expect us to carry them. I believe they should have equality as wlel, but they are not "us".

      May 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>”You should educate yourself. Your "side" doesn't want gays to have any rights-see the fight in WA about civil unions. “

      Norman, sorry if you feel all Christians carry the same view but as I stated ...”I do not hold an opinion on this issue”. This gets me into more trouble than it is worth. Maybe its cowardice but I have some on both sides that are of the “with us or against us mentality”. That is why I said also “from the sidelines”.

      The side that is “my side” is me and me only and really, as the old folks sometimes say.... “I don't have a dog in this fight”. So I am basically out of it.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Mark? Why the hangup over the word marriage? The concept of marriage predates your religion, plus marriage is a civil contrct. Why not leave the word marriage to folks who actually understand the constîtution, and understand science. Perhaps you fundiots could choose a new word?

      Many years ago, some gay folks would have "settled" for civil union. But the problem is that the ignorant, hômophobioc, religious môrons, like the ones in NC and Texas went out of their way to specifically write constîtutional amendments banning gay folks from even having civil unions. So parden the gay folks if they think you fundiots are full of cràp

      May 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  10. 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 21, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Get all of us Christians to agree on the Trinity first, then I would worry about your fears of a Christian sharia law.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Mark, try to find how many times that n8263 has repeated this comment thoughtful this thread. This is just typical troll behavior.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  11. Bible Reader

    (1) GOD defines marriage between a man and a woman.

    "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
    Old Testament, Genesis 2:24.

    (2) Throughout the WHOLE Bible of 66 chapters GOD never ever promotes even one single relationship between two men or two women. Why do you think that is? Do you really think GOD would have forgotten to support gay marriages in HIS Book?

    May 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • pauleky

      But, see, we live in America. Some of us believe in your God, some of us believe in other Gods, some of us believe in multiple Gods and other believe in no Gods. Why should ANY of us have to live our lives based on YOUR religious beliefs? Period.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Bible Verses

      As far as legal and civil rights and morality, we'll they all initiated in Biblical morality. But 5 generations later people want to say humankind created morality and want to forget and ignore where we got our moral ideas from. We got it thousands of years ago from the Bible. And instead of acknowledging that fact people want to believe morality is a human creation. It's not.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Jess

      Actually, there was a whole lot of living and a whole lot of civilizations with moral codes well before Christianity ever formed.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • JWT

      That god in fact does promote and allow gay marriage in many if his denominations and churches. Thus that god is not entirely against gay marriage.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Primewonk

      I'm sorry bible verses, but that is a huge lie that you folks repost over and over. Your god, cobbled together from other minor deities in this area, is not original, nor are your stories original.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  12. Double R

    “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. (Job 38:2-3)

    The Lord doesn't like it when people speak about what they don't understand, simply to try and prove a point. Every word you have ever said, written or thought are all recorded in the book of life. And we will all stand before our Judge and answer for them.

    Let the courts decide whether gay marriage should be legal. Let God decide whether or not those who live what he condenms as a wicked life deserve salvation. We are all granted his grace and mercy, whether or not we deserve it. If we accept it, then it is up to his to live a life according to his word. That's what it all comes down to.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Huebert

      Why do you enjoy the idea of anonymous strangers being tortured?

      May 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • JWT

      Your judge is not my judge – the only theological judge i accept is my wife.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Double R

      @ Huebert

      Where in my post did I say I enjoy that? I don't, in fact I pray for those who are lost in this world, believing and living Satan's lie. But it is not up to me whether or not you spend eternity separated from God's graces. My responsibility is only to deliever the word and pray you receive it and live by it. That's where my responsibility ends and yours begins. Whether or not you choose to accept it is totally up to you, our God given free will.

      @ JWT

      It IS my wife's responsibility to judge me rightly, as a child of God. I am the spiritual leader in my home, some poeple refer to the husband as the priest of the home. It is my responsibility before God to keep my family Christ-centered, and if I am not fufilling my responsibility according to the word of God it is her reponsibility to call me on it. And I must accept that humbly. She is not to condemn me, that is God's will, not hers.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • JWT

      @DoubleR

      My wife is my goddess whom I worship and cherish as my full partner in life Equal in every way. Your way works for you ours works perfectly for us. There is no need to live life as the other does – we each choose the path that is best for us. My children will make their own choices as to their spirituality – it is not my place to brainwash to one particular way.

      If your god has a problem with this I suggest he get some psychiatric help and learn some morals.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Double R

      @JWT

      "If your god has a problem with this I suggest he get some psychiatric help and learn some morals."

      Is it necessary to attack my God and my belief system? Did I at any time say that your way of life is wrong and that the way my wife and I live is the way you should live with your wife? Aren't Atheists supposed to be open minded and we are the closed minded ones? I'm simply doing a compare and contrast with you on our family structure. There's no need to get on the defensive and attack my beliefs. I'm simply stating the way a Christian family structure works. And it's smililar to the way you described yours. With a few exceptions. I cannot worship my wife, in a Christian's life that is idolatry? I worship God, and he fills me with the love I share with my wife. I love my wife as Jesus loved the church, where he would be willing to lay down his life for her. Would you lay down your life for your wife? I'm sure you would. So that's something we have in common. Funny thing is, my wife is my partner in life too, the Lord made her that way. There's another thing we have in common. In the Lord's eyes, I am the head of the household, but I am to honor and cheirsh my wife, and put her needs before my own. I'm sure you do the same with your wife. I do teach my children about Christ and his love for us. I will never tell them, "You HAVE to believe!" They have to make that choice for themselves. However, God has granted me the grace to be able to bless my children through MY OWN faith. And I thank him for that. So like a good father, my son and daughter are free to live their own lives, and make their own mistakes. But I will watch and pray for them from a far, and I will never turn them away no matter what trouble they get themselves into. Much like you probably would do also (except for the prayer), and exactly how the Lord would do. So you see, we have more in common than you think. We just have different views on how to get there.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Double R

      @ JWT

      And ANOTHER thing... I fully appreciate how you love and honor your wife, and that you would let your children make up their own minds about their spirituality. That's comendable.

      Too bad you're going to hell... hahaha... I'm just messing with you, don't get all bent out of shape.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • JWT

      i have no problem with your belief system. At least as long as you do not try to apply it to other people, such as denying civil gay marriage.

      And i know i am not going to hell since there is no such plsae,

      May 21, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Double R

      @ JWT

      I have no right to deny gays the right to marry. That is a state or federal decision. I don't agree with it, but what others do in their own lives doesn't effect my own salvation. So in essense, to each his own. Just like I would never force my views on anyone else, I would hope to receive that same kind of respect from others. Can we agree on that?

      May 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • JWT

      Sure we can agree on that. As I said I have no problem with religion in general and would not seek to have it curtailed or to control their belief system. Although I will say warren jeff's belief system needs to be stamped out. So there are limits.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • JWT

      well maybe not all of his beliefs need to be stomped out, just a few of them.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  13. mandarax

    I have a question so basic that I think it rarely gets asked: What is so virtuous about belief? Why does God so desperately need to be believed in by every one of us ants? Why is belief the essential litmus test for salvation? Why is belief more important than love, than doing good, than following the rules, than anything else. What is so virtuous about belief?

    My sense is that just like a placebo, religion only "works" if you first believe. Things that are real work whether or not you believe in them; placebos only work if you trick your brain in advance toward thinking they will work. Thus, belief must be the first thing that is insisted upon for a religion to take hold and spread. It is so important to instill belief as a first step in the placebo process, that doubters must be threatened with eternal torture if they resist belief.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Double R

      @ mandarax

      Hypothetically speaking, how would you feel if you created this amazing life form, molded him, literally breathed life into him, and then created a companion for him. Then suddenly, from the free will you gave that life form, he turned away from you, denied you, and told everyone else you didn't exist and that you didn't create him? How would you feel?

      What if your own son, whom you cared for, loved, nutured, and guided through life, one day decides you are not his father, denies you and says, "You are dead to me, you're not real!" Would it kill you to see your son turn to wickedness? How would that make you feel? Wouldn't you want your son to believe in you, to tell everyone what a great life he was given, that his father was instrumental in his growth and success? How great would it make you feel to hear your son tell the world what a great father he has? That's all that God wants. To hear those words from his children. For his children to believe in him and tell the world of his goodness, so that his children who have denied him would turn back to him. I can happily say that my Heavenly Father has blessed me abundantly, with a beautiful wife, and two gorgeous children. With a house to lay my head and a car to drive me back and forth to the career he also blessed me with. I will tell everyone I know about his goodness. You don't have to listen to what I say or even care. I know that he is happy with me trying to bring his children home. And it is my belief in him and my daily walk that gives me all I have today.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Rins

      "Why is belief the essential litmus test for salvation? Why is belief more important than love, than doing good, than following the rules, than anything else."

      Exactly. We have no idea how all the matter in the universe was created so I try to keep an open mind, but the idea that a God would supposedly punish an otherwise good person for not believing in a God just doesn't sit right with me. I honestly wouldn't want to worship that kind of God.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @ Double R – The God you describe sounds more like a human than the Creator of the Universe. The faithful seem to fall short of imagining the power of a REAL God. One that controls space/time. So if I create something (and I'm GOD), I know exactly how this little creature will turn out. I am GOD, nothing escapes my understanding, I cannot be surprised by events that unfold. Therefore, I know the end before I've even started. this is my argument against the concept of Hell. The place where defective souls go to be processed by an adversary God has complete control over.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @Rins – My thoughts exactly. I don't want to worship a being like that.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      mandarax, I don't think that belief is the great virtue. In fact, among Catholics faith is considered a gift from God, as are other virtuous qualities through God pouring his graces upon us. So will God judge us on what we believe. I think yes, but in large part this is secondary to acts of faith, or as you say being a good person even if you have little or no faith. I think that in the extreme case where you opinion is to absolutely reject the notion of God simply out of anger, or clinging to a simplistic and limited notion of God then this is the offense that religious people claim is a damnation on your soul. But remember it is evident that even mother Teresa struggled with faith, though she was a good person, and considered a model of Christianity.

      In fact, it is argued that belief (or faith) and a knowledge of God can be s greater damnation upon those who do not act according to that faith. To those who are given much, much will be expected.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>”What is so virtuous about belief?”

      Hi Mandarax. I seems the standard question of why folks feel worth in holding a view that you do not agree with. Its the same as asking someone Irish, what is so good about being Irish. Faith to each, will mean different things. Faith to me is holding that it is something that binds us. To each other and too the ones that came before and to God. That miracles do happen and it is often when science shruggs its shoulders to say that they can not explain. I am not anti-LGBT but it would be the same as someone asking you what is so good about being Gay and having someone judging your reply based on their own views. If you went to Rev Terry Jones and he asked you what is so good about being Gay, do you believe that any excuse that you give him he will declare worthy? To me having Faith and being a person of Faith is a wonderful thing because it is state of answering the questions of life.

      Try this, Manadrax, do you feel that it is wrong for Gay ministers and Clergy to be both LGBT and ministering the Gospel at the same time?

      >>>” Why does God so desperately need to be believed in by every one of us ants”

      Ahh... the “Hand of an angry God sermon” view of how God views us. You know there are still pastors who preach this view. I believe that God does not view us as ants but with love as something that was created in his or her image.

      >>>”Why is belief more important than love, than doing good, than following the rules, than anything else.”

      Where do you get this view of Faith. Love thine neighbor, do good acts, ten commandments. If anything you are stating the acts of Faith. You forgot one though … forgiveness. Now, that I believe is pretty high up there. Also, doing good is subjective. In society “doing good” can mean many things.

      >>>”religion only "works" if you first believe.”

      The same can be said of Atheism. You have to believe that God does not exist. Both sides have not proven either that God does not exist or does exist, so both sides are rationalizing within themselves if their view holds merit. Many Atheist state that they are waiting for proof that God exist. These days the Atheist are now challenged by the Faithful for proof of God's non-existence. You see in that way, Atheism only “works” when you deny the Faithfuls evidence and Faith is when you deny the Atheist evidence.

      >>>”that doubters must be threatened with eternal torture if they resist belief.”

      Again, that is “hand of an angry God”. There are some Christians that believe that such threats should be made to draw ones with doubts into the Faith. Some do so by describing a loving and forgiving God or Gods. It sounds like you have had the first style. My view is similar to Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu, in that we might be surprised who we see in Heaven.

      So, yes and no to your view of what is required for Faith to become part of your life. For some it was and for some, not a single threat was needed.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Huh?

      Anyone else noticing that Mark is not posting like fred and chad use too.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Double R

      @ AverageJoe76

      Actually the God I describe is a father. The father of billions of lost children, and it breaks his heart that those children turn away from him. But you are right in saying that he does know the end result. The bible says that he knows the plans he has for us. He knew us in the womb, before we were formed. God has created this path for you, but he gave you free will to follow that path. Does it surprise him... no of course not. Does it still hurt him... yes, it does because he is a father. Sometimes as much as a father can try to set their kids up for success, they still choose the wrong path and fail. But God uses everything in your path to get you to come back to him, whether good or bad. Even people strung up on drugs who O.D. sometimes end up turning to God. People on death row sometimes turn to God. Sometimes people take the long, challenging road, but it's all a means to an end. What that end is, that's up to you. But like the father and the prodigal son, God will open his arms to you and welcome you home, no matter what you've done in your life. Now that is a father I can be proud of and worthy of praise.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Not sure who Fred and Chad are but this past weekend someone stole Momoya, my user name(handle), and others. On Friday into Saturday morning someone posted under my name. I woke up at noon and some girl was thanking me for a post. I had to go back almost 15 pages before I saw someone had stolen my handle for over 40 anti-gay comments. Nothing, we can do able it until CNN decides to make this a login section of their site. They have it on some and not on others.

      Personally, I feel they want folks on both to fight and flame war for page after page and removing the ability for someone to come in and speak using your name, would go against their desires.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Primewonk

      @ Double R – your god claims omnipotence and omniscience. Your god created Luucifer. Your god knew – before he even created the universe and heaven, that Lucifer would become evil. Yet your god created him anyway. Seems like a pretty stupid thing to do. Your god created humans. Before he created the universe, he knew that humans would become sinners. Your god created them anyway. This, again, seems like a stupid idea. Your god, by virtue of his omnippotence and omniscience, knows who is going to heaven and who is going to hell. He knew this before he created the universe – that's what omniscience means. This means that your god knowingly creates billions of people, knowing that he is going to torture them for all eternity.

      Sorry, but I'm not feeling the love.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Double R

      @ Primewonk

      You're right, God knew Lucifer would turn, but God uses the Devil to his purpose. Read the book of Job. God gave the Devil permission to take everything from Job, to prove how mighty the Lord is in a believer's life. The Lord blessed him for his faith in adundance. The Lord has a plan for everything he creates, even the Devil. Actually, God told Noah that he was dissapointed with the way humans turned out, so that's why he sent the floods and wipe the earth clean and started over with Noah and his family. But mankind still has free will, so that's why we are still slaves to sin. One thing you must understand is that you hold your own salvation in your hand. If you are going to burn for eternity, it's your own fault, not God's. You have the choice to accept salvation and receive ever lasting life with Christ, or reject it and accept damnation. So that kind of negates your argument. It would be more hateful of God to give you no choice in the matter. There is only one way into heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus, and with that faith God has given you a way out of eternal damnation, but if you reject what he's given you then that is your responsibility. I tell my son all the time, if you make bad choices there will be consequences. If you tell God, I choose not to believe in you, then as your creator he has the right to say, ok, you made your bed now lie in it.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      My answer is that belief is not for God's benefit. God has no need of benefit since He is all that is good and pure in existence and in non-existence. Therefore, belief must be for our benefit. The fact that He loves us enough to allow us to choose whether to belief or not is to His highest praise, What kind of God would command that His creation love Him? That is not love and it is not God. Honestly, more people should read C.S. Lewis

      May 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  14. Reallife

    I been listening to this "NO Choice" debate for a while, and I finally understand why gays think their born that way.
    It is possible for a man to be born with less testosterone and more estrogen in his body, which in a sense, would make him feel like a man trapped in a woman's body, and make him feel like he was born to be gay.

    Well, the cold hard TRUTH is, IF you were born with a johnson, then you have a choice about where you want to put it.
    People who say they have NO choice are people that don't take any responsibilty for their own actions.

    We ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE....period.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Kevin

      I have no more of a choice where I feel comfortable and natural putting my "johnson" than you do good sir.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • mandarax

      I love when people end their opinions with "period!" That means they are making a declaration and they are not open to any reason or evidence to the contrary. It demonstrates that they are not open to thinking about things.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • sam

      It's so cute when 'truth' is all in caps, as if that makes it more special.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • JWT

      On this matter you have the choice to accept who you are or the choice to live in misery. You do not have the choice as to br or not to be gay.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Souljacker

      So you are saying you feel like you want to put your johnson in another man, but you are doing the brave and moral thing by choosing to put it in a woman instead?

      Good grief, some of these comments are ridiculous.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Pastor Thme

      This is why left-handed people are doomed to hell. Sure, some people are born with "incliniations" to use their left hand instead of their right. But that's just Satan talking. Jesus sat on the right hand of God. Duh. Look it up!

      May 21, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Reallife

      Kevin, You said it yourself friend, it's what you feel comfortable & natural with, right? and that's exactly what you're basing your "Decision" off of, but in the end, it's your decision....hence you're choice.

      Mandarax, I love it when people do that too, cuz it typically means exactly what you said. And that is exactly how I mean it.

      We ALWAYS have a choice in everything we do, and there is no contrdiction to that.....

      Except maybe.... "I had to do this, or I would've died, so I had no choice"

      Sure you did, you CHOSE not to die....

      May 21, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Kevin

      You can "choose" what actions you take in life, but you cannot choose who you are.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Norman

      reallife-youre a complete moron-no gay man feels like a woman-please educate yourself-you sound like a fool

      May 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Primewonk

      @ Reallife – transgender is not hômosèxual. Two totally different things. You have choosen to purposefully ignorant about these things, yet feel compelled force your religious beliefs on everyone else.

      You also fail to understand the difference between gender and orientation and behavior.

      You can choose who to have sèx with. You cannot choose which gender gets your wiener hard.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  15. Reality

    Of course, those gays who belong to Abrahamic religions supposedly abide by the rules of no adu-ltery or for-nication allowed.

    And because of basic biology differences said monogamous ventures should always be called same-se-x unions not same-se-x marriages.

    To wit:

    From below, on top, backwards, forwards, from this side of the Moon and from the other side too, ga-y s-exual activity is still mutual mas-turbation caused by one or more complex s-exual differences. Some differences are visually obvious in for example the complex maleness of DeGeneres, Billy Jean King and Rosie O'Donnell.

    Yes, heteros-exuals practice many of the same "moves" but there is never a doubt who is the female and who is the male.

    As noted, there are basic biological differences in gay unions vs heterose-xual marriage. Government benefits are the same in both but making the distinction is important for census data and for social responses to potential issues with disease, divorce and family interactions.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Souljacker

      Your problem is that you want to force everything into neat little roles and responsibilities and there are just too many variables in organic life for this way of approaching relationships to work.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Reality

      Please list said variables.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  16. AverageJoe76

    "Why did the smell of burning sacrafices smell sweet to God? What mortal asked God if he liked the smell? Why did God need sacrafices at all? Is God not self-sufficient? Is worship needed? Why? Why? Why?" – .......... that's what keeps happening to me when I take the Bible as a literal translation.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • mandarax

      Oh Joe, don't you get it? Stop asking questions and just BELIEVE.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @mandarax – I'm not sure if you're forreal, but can't you see someone of another faith asking you to do the same thing with their God? See the conflict?

      May 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @ mandarax – LOL, forget my earlier response, I see where your at from your other posts.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • mandarax

      No worries, it occurred to me you might take me literally, but then I suspected you would see my other posts, which you did.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yes, mandarix why not stop acting like a stereotypical parody of a Christian and allow someone to respond intelligently to his question. Presuming Joe is genuinely seeking, all you are doing is clouding the discussion with your sarcasm and ignorance.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  17. Primewonk

    Well, it's been several hours since I last requested that one of the fundiots who keep claiming that gays choose to be gay, post the citations to the peer-reviewed scientific research supporting that contention.

    I mean, tens of thousands all post this claiming it is the truth. And they've posted it hundreds of thousands of times. Why won't a single solitary one of you man-up and post your scientific evidence? How freaking hard is it to construct a decent MESH query in PubMed! Hell, they even have a primer on the website telling you how to do it.

    You claim this is a fact – so show us!

    May 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  18. Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

    So to the people who say that God doesn't change, is that true? Did he change his opinion on shellfish and clothes woven of two different types of fabrics or does he still think those things are abominations? If God is unchanging and unwavering in his thoughts, then those things should still be wrong. You can't have it both ways people.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  19. palintwit

    If I was Sarah Palin I'd stand on my head and pack my nostrils full of fresh bird droppings.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  20. AverageJoe76

    I think most people who oppose gay marriage are mainly people who still believe gays CHOOSE to be gay. I don't believe they choose, I believe they're born that way. If you DO believe they're born gay and still don't support gay marriage, then you may simply be a bigot.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Yes, possibly. I wonder how many religious people would change their opinion if they accepted that gays are born that way.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @ Mike Blackadder – I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. So I think they haven't pushed themselves to accept that they could be born gay. If they did, then some would have to ask themselves "how can I hate someone for the way they were born?" If they still hate them...... then it's biogtry at work.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Larry

      If Gays are born Gay, then show me the scientific evidence that says so. Waiting......... STILL waiting............................

      May 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • palintwit

      Larry...many times a trangender is interviewed and that person will say that they knew already when they were 4 years old that they were born in the wrong body. Happens all the time.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • sam

      Larry...Google it. There's plenty of scientific research that's been done. You're just being a tool.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Huebert

      @Larry

      So you believe that being g.ay is a choice. Tell me did you get a hard on when thinking about other men? If hom.ose.xuality is a choice in behavior why do you only act on your physical impulses towards women?

      May 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • mandarax

      Larry, a statement from the American Psychiatric Association:

      "There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation."

      So, while it is too simple to simply claim people are "born that way" (sexuality doesn't emerge until adolescence), of the potential factors – genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences – the first three are going to be determined before birth by the genetic and chemical characteristics of the individual. There is an overwhelming consensus across all the health sciences that it is not a matter of choice.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Jeff

      In the old testament people needed to continually offer animals for the sacrifice of their sins. Man will sin, Christians sin. No animal was perfect Hench the need for more. Jesus was perfect and only needed to be sacrificed one time for all man kind. Any more question just ask. Faith is not blind. The bible is gods word and true. I wish you hope in your journey.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      AverageJoe76,

      I think that you can still be against gay marriage despite the origin of ho-mose-xuality without being a bigot. There is the argument that gay s e x is a sin, just as mast-erbation, premarital s e x, s e x that doesn't include normal inter-course and use of contraceptives are all considered sins for hetero people, depending on the Christian denomination. Note that some Christian denominations don't consider gay s e x to be a sin, so it isn't necessarily evidence of bias or bigotry to condemn gay s e x on religious grounds.

      Of course, if you separate marriage from s e x none of those particular objections still hold. Though remember that in the minds of people of faith that marriage validates the s e xuality of the couple, and so they infer that to condone gay marriage is the same thing as condoning gay s e x.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      "many times a trangender is interviewed and that person will say that they knew already when they were 4 years old that they were born in the wrong body"
      There is not one 4 year old out there that hasn't been inclined to do wrong either, just by their nature.....and they need to be taught, disciplined and corrected in order to grow up normal.
      There is also another factor involved, one of spiritual nature, and it has to do with ancestral inheritance. But, no child is born "gay" if they were born normal, without abnormalities. Period!

      May 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
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About this blog

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.