home
RSS
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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. KB013

    Somehow I think the priests in the Vatican might not agree with this author's conclusions. And how can someone call themselves a Christian if they don't believe in basic tenets of the religion?? Sir you may have Christianity in your blood, but I am not convinced you have it in your heart or your soul.

    May 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  2. Donald "ORANGE JULIUS" Trump

    The christian "case" for gay marriage = Jesus said treat everyone as you would want to be treated. Enough said. Done. Not much of a problem for most decent human beings.

    May 22, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      Well put!

      May 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Ann

      Very well put indeed – except these folks would probably say that the way they'd want to be treated if they were gay would be to have someone "pray it away."

      May 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  3. KCArrowhead

    Not a very educated Christian response.

    May 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  4. raidel

    He is a Christian, but in his narrative about Jesus, Peter, Baptism, the Lord's Supper and marriage he omits a few important things. The first one is the resurrection of Christ. He said, "After Jesus is crucified, though, a different Peter emerges". But, it isn't just the crucifixion what changes Peter, but also and more importantly the resurrection. Second, he talks about baptism (a more passive sacrament), but in the Lord's Supper we are encouraged to examine ourselves (1 Cor. 11) making it a more active sacrament. It isn't as if no matter how you live and believe you can come and partake of this sacred food. There is self-evaluation.
    My point being is that his theological approach to gay marriage lacks some key biblical themes.

    May 22, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Jack

      "It isn't as if no matter how you live and believe you can come and partake of this sacred food. "

      How many Catholics you think sin each week and still take communion?

      May 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  5. Chryseis

    Love this author and his point. A message that I will take with me for awhile.

    May 22, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Brooks

      "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of G od? Do not be deceived. Neither for nicators, nor ido laters, nor adul terers, nor hom ose xuals, nor so dom ites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor dru nka rds, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."

      May 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  6. Rsjohn

    Christians that is pro gay marriage are not Christian. They just say that they are Christian. People read what they want to read in the bible and unfortunately this guy, Mark Osler, doesn't read his bible

    May 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      Why do you think you get to define who is Christian and who is not?

      May 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Linann

      How nice would this world be, if we could still burned christians at the stake.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  7. Petert

    Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. This is the heart and soul of Christianity. If you treat those around you with hate be prepared to be hated as well. If you love those around you you will be loved. If you are inclusive you will be included. If you shun then you will be shunned. If you do not support all forms marriage then be prepared to loose all forms of marriage. Considering how high divorce rates are we already are loosing.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  8. Petert

    Do unto others as you would do unto yourself. This is the heart and soul of Christianity. If you treat those around you with hate be prepared to be hated as well. If you love those around you you will be loved. If you are inclusive you will be included. If you shun then you will be shunned. If you do not support all forms marriage then be prepared to loose all forms of marriage. Considering how high divorce rates are we already are loosing.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  9. Diana

    And listen to what the gays say about christians. They are just as hateful yet the media never calls them on it. Chrilstians are referred to as narrow minded, stupid and that's being nice the rest is as sick as they are. These people are freaks of nature so why are they being given rights? People wanting to change from men to women and women to men. What kind of sense does that make? These people are sick yet some want to look the other way when they too know it is sick and dease.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  10. 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 12:54 pm |
  11. Rhope

    Everything is coming to head.........fascinating to watch

    May 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  12. Mark in Omaha

    If there's no equal rights in marriage, Churches should lose their tax exempt status

    May 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Brooks

      Yeah? And non-profits that benefit solely women, or african-americans, or gays even – should all lose their tax exempt status as well huh?

      May 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Reality

      There are different opinions as to what a religion really is or what a non-profit is and therefore all non-profits should file Form 990's. At the moment, religious groups are exempt from filing Form 990's. To be fair therefore, there should be no tax-exemptions for any group and that includes the Democratic and Republican Parties. Faith and community initiative grant monies should also be cancelled and there should also be no tax deductions for contributions made to charities and non-profits.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Ann

      They should lose their tax exemption anyway.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  13. carlyjanew6

    http://www.Hear-The-Truth.com

    May 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  14. netwallwarrior

    Ludicrous is not strong enough. The reason this "christian" say's these things is, because he simply was never taught better. We've allowed ourselves to embark on a destructive path for society. Does that mean we mistreat people for their selfish sinful ways...?
    I don't think that any rational being would consider something as barbaric as concentration camps. What is significant is this desire to destroy Christianity. At the heart of this discussion is this desire to force these views into the mainstream and have this alternative lifestyle legitimized. It's destroying the very fabric of a moral and civilized society. But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter, because every knee will bend and every head will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord and Savior. So let the heathen rage and say there is no God. If you believe in God take care of your families. If you don't care it's okay too....God has a place for you as well.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Jack

      "We've allowed ourselves to embark on a destructive path for society"...Every society has...Phillipi, Corinth, up until today. Jesus saved all of them and he will save ours too.

      " What is significant is this desire to destroy Christianity"... that issue has also faced Christians from Day 1. However, we were taught to render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's. The United States' founders explicitly formed a government forbidding it to sanction any particular religion. Therefore matters of religion should not intrude into matters of state.

      at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter, because every knee will bend and every head will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord and Savior"... ok, and Jesus as Lord taught us above all love thy neighbor

      May 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Chuck

      "I don't think that any rational being would consider something as barbaric as concentration camps."

      There's no such thing as a rational religion. Faith, by definition, is irrational.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • elb1999

      @netwallwarrior – at what point in our history was this society anymore moral or civilized than it is today? Think carefully about that one.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  15. vicki

    Well done.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  16. Pat

    I believe that what this minister is saying is ludicrus, I am a christian and altho I do not believe that the gay life style is the correct way to live, I also believe that it is not my place to judge them or anyone else. The lord taught that sin is sin and one is not worse nor better than the other. We are all sinners and all fall short of the glory of God. This so called minister is not my idea of a Christian and makes the rest of us look bad. I guarntee you this would not be exceptable to God. Just as Jesus said, he is without sin cast the first stone.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Petert

      So does this mean you are without sin?

      May 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Joe

      You "guarantee" it, huh? The boldness to claim you know God soooooo well that you know what He would and would not find acceptable - that's pretty amazing. I'd like to know where you gained some privileged and superior knowledge....

      May 22, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Jack

      "I guarntee you this would not be exceptable to God"

      His point is clear. Who are you to "guarantee" what is "ACCEPTABLE" to God?

      May 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  17. SRV

    My Take is you are just trying to justify your beliefs, even if it means changing what the bible says. this is usually done in order to conform to the culture around us. Just because you and culture agree, will never override Gods word.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Petert

      Exactly my point. Those who truly believe in God will see the truth, like the author of this article.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  18. aleks

    This is a voice of humanity overtaking the holds of dogma. As an atheist, I respect this guy. It's quite hard to bend the logic so hard that Mein Kampft (bible) really means tolerance and acceptance.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  19. Marci

    Thank you!

    May 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  20. Bill

    What on earth do words in a book from the Bronze Age have to do with the equitable treatment of all human beings?

    It is immoral to even bring personal religious beliefs into this debate.

    If my religious belief is that christians should not be allowed to ______________ in America, and I used passages from the Quran to back it up, what on earth does that have to do with civil law?

    Not a damned thing, folks.

    Same goes for christianity.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228
Advertisement
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.