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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. rara

    What about Roman , Chapter One...?

    May 19, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • N&W 1000

      Exactly, but, when one chooses to ignore the clear teachings of scripture, you wind up like our professor friend, with a reprobate mind, believing a lie.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  2. N&W 1000

    Mark Osler falls under a special curse in the bible.

    In Proverbs, and again in Revelation, scripture pronounces damnation upon anyone who adds to or subtracts away from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    I certainly hope Mark heeds this warning and avoids future judgment.

    May 19, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Jesus Loves Dudes

      You think there is an Enchanted Invisible Guy Who Lives In The Sky and I'M the one who sounds like a nut? Isn't that just christian of you!? Judging others is god's job NOt yours, so mind your business.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • N&W 1000

      Dude, enjoy riding your unicorn today.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  3. Concernedmod

    Agruing with Biblical sources is tiring. You can find a verse for virtually any stance especially if you interpret it creatively. This is first of all a legal issue. If there is a church that wants to condone the legal marriage then that is a secondary issue.

    May 19, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Alana

      EXACTLY – everyone has their own interpretation. We are all "sinners," so why are some worse than others? They are not in God's eyes....

      May 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  4. cjonline

    When all else fails, read the instructions:
    Matthew 19:4-6
    4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

    5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

    6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
    The instructions from Christ himself.

    May 19, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • N&W 1000

      Well, yes, but...but...yes, well, but.....yes but well didn't he.....yes but, well I don't believe that, yes but....well, yes, but......

      May 19, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  5. Mike

    This guy needs to keep teaching law because as a Bible teacher this guy is a disaster

    May 19, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  6. Jesus Loves Dudes

    It says on the very first page of the bible that god is gay, deal with it! God made man FIRST, which proves he's gay. A straight guy would have made a woman first.

    God got Mary pregnant from afar and without touching her because - eww! - she's a woman and as a gay man he simply couldn't maintain his integrity to get the job done in the conventional way.

    God is clearly gay, get over it!!

    May 19, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • N&W 1000

      You sound like some kind of nut.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • N&W 1000

      Yes, you really do sound like a nut.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:23 am |
  7. RickyBabaloo

    Thank the Lord I don't get spiritual advice from Lawyers, or legal advice from Pastors.

    May 19, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  8. martog

    Why do so many 'Good Christians' have Gay children? God's will eh?

    May 19, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • N&W 1000

      It is called Free Will, God creates you with it, it gives you the ability to either accept or reject His commands.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  9. jon

    This column doesn't go one day without bashing Christianity while promoting the gay lifestyle and giving a pass to muslims, hindus and all other religions...why do we let them get away with it?

    May 19, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  10. Crom

    Some christian filth keeps stealing my name!!!

    May 19, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • Mike

      Christian filth? That is really getting low. May u rot in hell w the devil. Remember it will be hot and I think your name is at the top of the list.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • Crom

      No no no!! Stop arguing with me!

      I'm not crazy.

      Really I'm not!

      Ahhhhhh!

      I pray for God's help!

      May 19, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • N&W 1000

      What on earth is a crom?

      May 19, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  11. Nathan9887

    Professor is wrong. "A clear instruction on this comes from Simon Peter, the “rock” on whom the church is built." Read Matt 16:13-20. Again! The "Rock" on which the Church is built is Peter's CONFESSION that the Jesus is The Christ, The Son of The Living God", NOT PETER!

    May 19, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • N&W 1000

      This "professor" is way too smart to listen to the bible.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  12. Crom

    brb!!

    I have a christian friend on facebook and he just posted that he found out that his kid has lukemia. I'm going to post on his wall!! hahahahaahahahaha

    He deserves it!!

    May 19, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • Crom

      His wife is already angry! hahahahaha she's calling my phone!! Wah wah wah your stupid kid is sick and won't make it boohoo pray it away LOLOLOLOLOL

      May 19, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Crom

      Some day Jesus will forgive me for what I just posted.

      Because Jee forgives all us idiots.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • N&W 1000

      Perhaps you will one day find yourself in a similar situation, and that will teach you how to act.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  13. Randy

    Believe what you want but it is not hard to figure out be ye Holy for I am Holy means stay away from sinful activities . Sin is still Sin and you or I will go to Hell if we meddle with in these activities. Read Romans chap 1 or Galatians Chap 5 Sodomy is condemmend with plain clarity. Repent and believe the Gospel

    May 19, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Phyl

      well said Randy.....only it's Repent and be Baptized for the remisson of sins....Acts 2;38. The starting of the church (Church of Christ)

      May 19, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • JWT

      Not all christians feel the same way. Both sides are equally right *(religiously) and it does not matter at all.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  14. Crom

    I am an idiot.

    May 19, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  15. BamaDaniel

    What is natural about two grown men screwing in the poo poo shute

    May 19, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Crom

      My boyfriend did me last night and it was pretty good!

      May 19, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      Not natural.nasty qu-eer

      May 19, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • Crom

      It's perfectly natural. I do it with my boy friend every night!

      And twice on Sunday!

      May 19, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • N&W 1000

      Absolutely nothing. It is against nature.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  16. Crom

    I hope that someday all christards are all on cruise ships and they all hit icebergs at the same time and they slowly freeze to death while crying out to god and get no answer.

    May 19, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Crom

      I'm also a complete idiot!

      May 19, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • Colin

      Crom, as an atheist, I do wish you would tone it down. You are coming accross as a fool and making us all look bad.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • Crom

      Colin, you must be a closet christian. FIGURES.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • Crom

      I can't help it, Colin. I'm an idiot.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • Mike

      So r u scared to become a christian? You some day u might just get that disease called aides. I hear it is a terrible death.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  17. Crom

    I'm sorry if I have offended anyone with my stupidity.

    I'm a real idiot.

    May 19, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • Crom

      STOP STEALING MY NAME CHRISTIAN FILTH

      May 19, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Crom

      No! No! No! Stop arguing with me! Stop stop!!!!

      I know I'm an idiot.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  18. David

    Peter denied Christ 3 times and had to be reprimanded by Paul in Galatians.

    I believe Paul was much better then Peter hands down.

    Also it warns up in revelation that when the antichrist comes men will be lovers of men and women lovers of women.

    Do i disagree with this idiots story.

    Dont get me wrong we need to love these gay ( sodimite ) people and with GODS love they will see the error of there ways!.

    Mark Osler is once again WRONGFULLY dividing the word!!!

    Cogradulations Mark! You did it again!

    May 19, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  19. goinmad2009

    God made Adam and Eve....not Adam and Steve. 'Nough said.

    May 19, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • Jesus Loves Dudes

      False equivalancy: Your baby in incabable of bathing itself, adults can wash their own feet, but instead jesus washed their feet because he's gay. Just accept this fact and deal with it.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Name*Chedar

      Don't forget the incestous relationship of Eve and Cain if you believe in the Bible.

      May 19, 2012 at 8:05 am |
      • goinmad2009

        Don't forget to read the Bible first....don't make up your own conclusions because you don't know how else to explain something.

        November 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Phyl

      AMEN !!!!

      May 19, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  20. Nii

    TYPES OF LOVE 101
    1) Charitable love
    2) Motherly love
    3) Parental love
    4) Brotherly love
    5) Friendship love
    6) Romantic love
    7) Lust
    8) Philia
    (in order of magnitude)

    May 19, 2012 at 8:00 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.