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

My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage

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

By Mark Osler, Special to CNN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Take: Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality

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

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

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

Your Take: Rethinking the Bible on homosexuality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Episcopal • Gay marriage • Opinion

soundoff (15,115 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Here's a great Christian response article. It points out Mr. Olsers flaws.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/2012/05/the-christian-case-for-gay-marriage-the-smackdown.html

    May 22, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  2. B Zaffarano

    at long last, a compassionate voice of reason.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Pamela

      A deceived voice to lead many astray.......he clearly does know scripture

      May 22, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  3. Keith

    This guy is so full of crap that it is hard to know where to begin with this apostate false teacher.

    May 22, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • sam stone

      Yeah, Keith, I am certain that YOU are sooooo much more tuned in to god.....

      May 22, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  4. Mbane18

    Sick and tired of the Evangelicals claiming to be Christian. This is not an issue in Europe where that vast majority is Christian. The only people who constantly bring this up are the American uneducated Evangelicals.

    May 22, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Ken from FL

      If you think the "vast majority" of Europeans are Christians, you need to do some research. The number of those who profess to be Christian has been declining steadily over the past few decades, and the numbers of those who say they regularly attend church has declined dramatically, to fewer that 10% of those who profess Christianity or simply a belief in God. Europe is hardly the model to hold up for the rest of the world.

      May 22, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • catholic engineer

      @Ken from FL It's true that church attendance in Europe is dramatically down. But Europe is kind of torpid in most areas, anyway.

      May 22, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  5. Reality

    ONLY FOR THE NEW MEMBERS:

    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 such as disease, divorce and family interactions.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    May 22, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • mfmaine

      Your post is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in this country. There are so many people like you: sincerely deluded. Even your god

      May 22, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Reality

      What god might that be:

      Summarizing with a prayer:

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized"/"miraclized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (References used are available upon request.)

      May 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  6. 4 john

    PRESIDENT BAPTIST CHURCH ..BOB JAKSON

    May 22, 2012 at 5:38 am |
  7. Ohemaa vasty

    Where are our fellow Christians. It is about time we make our concern with what goes on behind closed doors. People just miscoat the bible of which they must be punished for

    May 22, 2012 at 5:16 am |
    • sam stone

      yeah.....nuttin's christians likes more than peekin' their shnozzes in other people's bedrooms

      May 22, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  8. really

    wow! You can say or twist Gods word however you want, but in the end His is the only one that is going to count.

    May 22, 2012 at 3:13 am |
    • sam stone

      and other religions have other versions of "god's word". what makes yours the right one?

      May 22, 2012 at 4:20 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'really' is a form of the flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      May 22, 2012 at 4:44 am |
    • Cindy

      Yes, people twist the word of God to fit their lifestyle. We are supposed to conform to the Word of God, not the other way around. But, God gives us free will to live and believe as we want to. In the end, His word, His rules and His laws are what counts. If you don't follow them you are lost and you will be punished. As parent, we don't set dowm rules and then allow our children to intpret them as they want to. If they don't follow them, they are punished.Same thing with God. Most people don't want to see that because they would have to give up things in their life that they don't want to give up. Sad but true. We will all find out one day what is truth and what is not.

      May 22, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • sam stone

      "If you don't follow them you are lost and you will be punished"

      Your empty proxy threats are laughable. Now, get back on your knees

      May 22, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • YeahRight

      "Yes, people twist the word of God to fit their lifestyle. "

      Yeah you mean like all the adulterers running around, the people who are full of greed and gluttony. Or how about these abominations: Unclean things (Lev. 7:21) ; Cheating (Mic. 6:10) ; A proud look (Pro. 6:16-17) ; A lying tongue (Pro. 6:17; 12:22) ; Hands that shed innocent blood ((Pro. 6:17) ; A wicked scheming heart (Pro. 6:18) ; A false witness that speaks lies (Pro. 6:19) ; A sower of discord (Pro. 6:19) ; A false balance or scale (Pro. 11:1) ; The proud of heart (Pro. 16:5) ; Justifying the wicked (Pro. 17:15) ; Condemning the just (Pro. 17:15) ; Refusing to hear the law (Pro. 28:9) ; Wearing clothes of the opposite sex (Dt. 22:5) Re-marriage of former companions (Dt. 24:1-4) ; Cheating others (Dt. 25:13-16) ; Making images/idols (Dt. 27:15) ; Eating unclean things (Isa. 66:17) ; Robbery (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Murder (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Adultery (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Oppression of others, particularly the poor or vulnerable (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Violence (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Breaking vows (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Lending with interest to a brother (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Lying with a menstruous woman (Ezek. 18: 6-13).

      The point is you're not cherry picking to bible to block their civil rights now are you. But, you are cherry picking it to justify your prejudice and bigotry towards gays and their civil rights. What a hypocrite.

      May 22, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  9. FC

    Great resources on this topic:
    http://www.wordonfire.org
    Theology of the Body for Beginners – Christopher West
    Man and Woman He Created Them – A Theology of the Body – John Paul II

    May 22, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • FC

      Other great resources on this topic:
      Catechism of the Catholic Church 1992 or 1994 – Compiled by Catholic Bishops Worldwide with John Paul II
      United States Catholic Catechism for Adults

      http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/ccc_toc.htm

      May 22, 2012 at 1:47 am |
    • Ken

      FC, this is a better reference than yours. Really cuts to the chase, no dogma:

      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      May 22, 2012 at 4:47 am |
  10. Jimbo

    I like the article.. a little psychology with social conditioning to make people think perversion is "totally" what God wants for us.

    May 22, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • sam stone

      a little psychology and social conditioning and you can get people to believe that man speaks for god

      May 22, 2012 at 3:16 am |
    • Guy

      A scoop of brainwashing, a dash of close-mindedness, and a splash of naivete cooks up a religion.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:02 am |
  11. SCOTT

    The first mistake in the article is the point you make about Peter being the "rock upon whom the church is built". It is quite clear that the rock upon whom the church is built is Jesus Christ, not Peter. If you understood the original Greek language it was written in that would become clear. It's not just a common mistake of misinterpretation because English is so limited compared to Greek, it's also a complete lack of taking into account all of the other new testament scripture that clearly defines Jesus as the "rock". If you can't even get that right, then it's not worth taking the time to read the rest of the article.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • dan

      Touche.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Ken

      So how come big omnipotent Christian goddy-boy couldn't come up with a better book, or better than a book, to market his wares? Not such a great god ya got there. Zeus was way more impressive and Greek myths are way better fiction than the Christian babble.

      May 22, 2012 at 4:50 am |
    • liz

      Agreed. Jesus is the "capstone"

      May 22, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  12. suncoinc

    I really don't care what your bible says. Lord XENU has no problem with it. (Although, Xenu's word says Christian marriage is a sin.)

    May 21, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  13. swingstater

    For all the Christian churches I've attended, gay marriage is a non-issue. The Left-leaning churches see gay people as people with rights and the right to get married. There really isn't much of a controversy there.

    Note to any LGBT: you are perfectly welcome to come to church. There are many churches that welcome LGBT and would love to have you. I know too many LGBTers who believe that all Christians don't like them-not so at all.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Cindy

      It's not a matter of liking a gay person. It's their lifestyle we don't agree with. I have several gay relatives and I love them. But, we don't agree with their lifestyle! We chose not to discuss it. We agree to disagree and go on wiht our lives. Pushing it down my throat and telling me it's normal is what I can't stand.

      May 22, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • YeahRight

      "Pushing it down my throat and telling me it's normal is what I can't stand."

      It's the experts that have proven it's normal. Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience.

      May 22, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • sam stone

      So, Cindy, your gay relatives have learned to deal with your bigotry? Good for them. Bigotry wrapped up in a bible is still bigotry

      May 22, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  14. Bob Dobbs

    We have separation of church and state. We also have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (nee property). As such, gay marriage should be universally accepted. That being said...IF...you want to make a Biblical case for gay marriage, I would urge you to look at the ONLY Biblical advice in the New Testament. Paul says (he makes it clear it is his words too) that you shouldn't get married, but if you are burning to the do the dirty with one another...go ahead and get married and do it. The Bible has spoken.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • er

      Thankyou for that it shows how you , like Dawkins , are a theological nitwit.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Cindy

      That was Paul's opinion, not God's word.

      May 22, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • sam stone

      Cindy: You have no authority to speak for god.

      May 22, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Bob Dobbs again

      That would be theological nitpick not nitwit. I feel very safe saying it is Paul's opinion because he clearly states it is his opinion...and surely you believe every word in the Bible is true. Like wise men's hearts really do tilt to the right.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  15. Paramad

    Mr Black adder Europe was anything but secular during the middle ages and life was any thing but sweet under the church.
    , The Inquisition, The massacre of the Albigensians, the persecution of women in general.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  16. Leelee

    1word...
    What I get from your words is that you used to be gay (you still are) but Jesus has "fixed" you.
    It is a sad state of affairs when someone hates themselves so much and is brainwashed by religious nonsense
    that they are able to believe their own lies.
    Accept yourself and if God is all-loving, he too will accept you.

    May 21, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • 1word

      LOL, Naw I wasn't G A Y. I married with 3 kids. I love my wife, God said a man that finds a wife finds favor from the Lord. He didn't say a man who finds a man finds favor from the Lord. STOP trying to make sin something God wants us to do.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @1word, God only exists in your imagination, and you cannot prove otherwise. If the magical fairytale superbeing you have in your head, is dictating what sin is to you, it doesn't then follow that everyone must be subject to your imagination as well. No matter how much faith you have, or how much you want to believe in something, the evidence just isn't there that god is anything more than your own delusion and faith is just "pretending to know things you don't know."

      May 21, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • 1word

      GodFreeNow
      I really feel bad for you, you will not experience the LOVE, PEACE AND JOY God is offering. It's really sad, especially if you have children, they should be brought up in an environment of love. GOD IS LOVE, and he is a God of Mercy. So when you're begging him for Mercy he will be Righteous enough to allow you to Accept him at the 11th hour.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @1word, Don't feel sorry for me. I'm not wasting my life away on some promise of a dream that will never come. One doesn't need god to experience love, peace and joy. In fact, I found these things when I let go of the delusion of god and found freedom from that slavery. As people often point out, we are both atheists... you just have one more god than I do. Imagine how you think about muslims or mormons or whatever your belief isn't. This is how we feel about ALL religions. Now you tell me... who is the one that really deserves the sympathies of the world: The person who has accepted the reality of the way things are and finds peace in it, or the person chasing a dream that will never come true?

      May 21, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • sam stone

      1word: equal rights always bother bigots, whether they wrap themselves in a flag or a bible

      May 22, 2012 at 3:14 am |
    • sam stone

      1word: i am an athiest, and i have found "love, peace and joy" without god.

      May 22, 2012 at 4:39 am |
  17. doG is God backwards

    The bottom line is that no one should live their lives by a crusty old book of fairytales from the bronze age.

    May 21, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • 1word

      Wow, I can't believe you're disrespecting God like that. You should be ashamed of yourself, oh well when you die you will answer for your ignorant behavior.

      May 21, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • SoPoJim

      The real problem is that this is HIS version of how he interprets the fairy tales. He doesn't even know it but he is still the problem because it's not the opinion,but how these people derive their opinion

      May 21, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • sam stone

      1word: another empty proxy threat from the pious. jesus is coming, get back on your knees

      May 22, 2012 at 3:11 am |
  18. 1word

    Ezekiel 36:24-29

    New King James Version (NKJV)

    24 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. 29 I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses.

    May 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      And yet most people think that there is no connection between the old testament and the gospel.

      May 21, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • 1word

      Jesus is the same Lord that spoke these Words. The New Testament perfected the Old. These Words are true, I know when I gave my life to Christ and when I was given the gift of the Holy Ghost, I changed into a new Creature. All I can do is thank God for his Mercy and GRACE!

      May 21, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  19. 1word

    GOD SAVED ME! I WAS A SINNER NOW IM A CHILD OF GOD!

    May 21, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • sam stone

      you made your own choices, now you are a spiritual slave.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • 1word

      Sam Stone, I am a Servant of the Lord. I am a Servant of the Creator of Heaven and Earth, I am a Servant of the very same God that created me. HE SAVED ME AND I OWE HIM MY LIFE, WHY BECAUSE HE GAVE IT TO ME!

      May 21, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      A few points

      1) Caps lock does not make people take you more seriously.
      2) You can make all the assertions you want, but until you can demonstrate that your claim is true, then no one else has any good reason to believe you.

      May 21, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • 1word

      Hawaii, I know the person I was. I KNOW THE PERSON I AM NOW. Thank you Jesus for caring enough for me! You gave your life for me and I've done the same for you because I love you!

      May 21, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      That's a lovely non answer that you gave.

      May 21, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Sam God created humans. With Him we fulfill our humanity. Christ was more human than you or I. How good is humanity at defining their own version of happiness without God? The 'virtues' of secular society wpeak for themselves. How have we made ourselves happy through the morality of secularism? It is always the virtues preached through Christ that is the foundation of prosperity and happiness. The faithful Christian knows true freedom.

      May 21, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Joe

      No, 1word, your parents gave you life.

      May 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      No, 1word, you are a pompous fool who wants to use iron age mythology to deny people civil rights here in the 21st century

      May 22, 2012 at 2:58 am |
    • sam stone

      mike blackadder: what i see from you is a whole lot of conjecture.

      May 22, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • sam stone

      1word: you gave your life for jesus? yet you are still here.

      May 22, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • sam stone

      also, mike, how was jesus more human than you or i?

      May 22, 2012 at 3:05 am |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Sam, humanity is Gods creation. Sin perverts our tue nature. Jesus is God but also the most pure form of humanity.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Meant to say: our nature.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Oops – our true nature.

      May 22, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • sam stone

      Mike: Perhaps it is man who created God, not vice versa. In any case, what do the writings of iron age, middle eastern agrarian society have to do with us now? What I see from you is conjecture. As is mine, but I admit as such

      May 22, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • sam stone

      mike: what i am saying is that i, and a whole bunch of people, do not care to a live by the blatherings of iron age sheep lovers

      May 22, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • sam stone

      mike: if being human is to be a sinner, then how was jesus human?

      May 22, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  20. Salero21

    I guess then that words like: H O M O S E X U A L, H O M O S E X U A L I T Y are being censored. Totally Ridiculous and beyond belief! Those are correct english language words!

    May 21, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Salero21

      Or is it, that in the Bible H o m o s e x u a l i t y is called S o d o m y what's being censored by CNN's Belief Blog. How R I D I C U L O U S!

      May 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      I know you cant even use words from the original article. You get used to it.

      May 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Salero21

      Thanks Mike Blackadder for the info. here and in the previous page.
      I guess I'll have to get use to it.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
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