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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. WillieLove

    Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  2. WillieLove

    The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      A M E N !
      He will be exalted!

      May 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  3. WillieLove

    The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  4. WillieLove

    For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?

    May 24, 2012 at 1:12 am |
  5. WillieLove

    Peter is not the rock! it's Jesus!

    May 24, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      ONLY Christ Jesus!

      May 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  6. Elizabeth

    That is such a crooked way to say I am Christian and represent evil sins How can you say I am Christian and not follow the God's law but being against it? You are lair and pure evil . Jesus never sad to accept sinful life and bodies desires are fine. People now will use name of God to turn His picture upside down. Teachers full off lies and evil. If any off you want to do whatever you want to do than it is not my business, God will judge you but does not mean I will approve your ways of life in my life and in teaching my children what is wright and what is wrong , also would be very scared to use God in to my dirty tricks. You people definitely do not believe in God that is why you go away from Him with your crooked minds. It came times when Evil will get very strong and many will follow. I am getting sick on my stomach when I think about it. Feels very scary but evil never won so it will come peace and goodnes again to those who will deserve it.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • JWT

      there is nothing evil about gay marriiage.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:08 am |
    • KCArrowhead

      JWT

      From a Christian perspective, what do you want to call it? Any way you want to cut it, the Bible is quite clear that homôsëxuality is defintely NOT a Christian lifestyle.

      If you are not a Christian, feel free to do whatever you want as long as it is lawful. I won't judge you or condemn you for anything you lawfully do. But if you are Christian, I will tell you that homôsëxuality is a sin that will keep you apart from Jesus – perhaps forever.

      Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homôsëxuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Cor 6:9-10

      “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ – Mat 7:21-23

      May 24, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      "there is nothing evil about gay marriage"
      "gay" marriage is a perversion and mockery of Marriage insti-tuted by God. This is the path, the quickest shortcut to the rock bottom, into the final stage of degenerate civilization.

      May 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • JWT

      @prism

      Gay marriage may be against your view of your god is all. In realuty so what – your god did not create marriage and does not owwn it.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  7. MarkJMo

    Just wondering why everything I post is blocked.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:38 am |
  8. MarkJMo

    Just wonedring why everything I post is blocked.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:37 am |
  9. zelphree

    in the old days his head would have been removed. i don't want that for him.christ said whoever leads these little ones astray it would be better that a millstone be tied around his neck and thrown into the sea.god has this imbecile covered.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  10. margaret

    Jesus also said 'Judge not yet thee be judged'. Think about it......

    May 24, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • L. PAT WILLIAMS

      Uh, uh baby girl... don't get "cute" with His Word. If you "quote" Him, quote ALL OF HIM: "Judge not lest ye be judged for by the same measure you mete, it shall be mete unto you again. So, why should you be a hypocrite? First, get the beam out of your own eye, then you may see clearly to REMOVE THE SPECK FROM YOUR BROTHER'S EYE." See, I love how folks never want to quote ALL OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Only the "part" they think is cute. But, clearly we see here that The Lord Jesus Christ is not telling us to not ever "check sins" and "reprove sin." For HIS GOSPEL clearly tells us to "reprove the works of darkness (sin)." And, His Word says to His People (Those saved by Jesus Christ): "Ye are the judges of the world." How can we REPENT, when our SINS are NOT ADEQUATELY JUDGED?

      SIN MUST BE JUDGED. FOR IT IS THE JUDGMENT OF SIN THAT WORKS ITS WAY TO GODLY SORROW AND THAT WORKS ITS WAY TO REPENTANCE. If you think you have no sin OR refuse to allow your sins to be judged, then you are holding on to your sins and how then can you truly be moved with conviction and contrition to repentance? You can't. That is why The World hates for SIN to be judged by GOD'S WORD. Because The World does NOT want to REPENT of sin.

      But, JESUS SAID: "I COME TO CALL THE SINNER TO REPENTANCE."

      But, what The Lord Jesus Christ is telling us in this passage is a CAVEAT a CAUTIONARY instruction to "not judge" unfairly, unjustly or make "unclean" judgments (i.e., being guilty of your own mess). That is why He clarifies HIS INSTRUCTION to say: "Why should you be a hypocrite, first get the beam out of your own eye." MEANING, GET YOURSELF CLEAN, GET YOURSELF TOGETHER, GET THE SIN OUT OF YOUR OWN LIFE FIRST... But, when you do, then you "can SEE CLEARLY" and then "REMOVE THE SPECK" from your brother's eye. You guys assume everyone has not "checked the sin" in their lives. But, some of us, we stay at THE FOOT OF THE CROSS and PLACE OUR SIN UPON THE ALTER OF SACRIFICE and ABIDE UNDER THE CLEANSING BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST! So, we SEE CLEARLY to REMOVE the SPECK from your eyes. The problem is y'all don't want THE SPECK TO BE REMOVED.

      May 24, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Elizabeth

      Does not mean you should agree with evil

      May 24, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Pat is right!
      But we have the ungodly crowd today which is more then happy to quote the Scriptures they don't even believe in, just to silence us who speak God's Word. Sadly , the misled Christians do the same! .... But if they are misled, God will not excuse their ignorance, because they have the Word of God.
      Those who count themselves as Christians, and side up with the ungodly, will be counted as partakers of their sins.

      Everything Pat said in his post is CORRECT!

      May 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  11. L. PAT WILLIAMS

    JWT... No "other Christians" that you point out are A. IN DISAGREEMENT WITH CHRIST JESUS (so they are in disagreement with His Word, I did not say Matthew 19 - JESUS DID!) B. They are NOT even CHRISTIANS at all! They are like you... They are followers of The World and not Followers of The Word (The Lord Jesus Christ is The Word made flesh). So, to tell me what they think, is the same as you telling me what you think... It is irrelevant and does NOT NEGATE THE WORD OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. This man is NOT a Christian blogging. He is a poser Christian and preaching a "seducing gospel, docrines of devils." ANY DOCTRINE THAT TELLS PEOPLE IT IS OK TO STAY IN THEIR SINS IS NOT THE DOCTRINE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Enough said.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  12. Mc Griddle

    This guy is for CNN's version of Christianity.

    No wonder CNN is losing viewers year after year. There are Youtube Channels that get more viewers than CNN.

    May 23, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • L. PAT WILLIAMS

      Exactly! The World wants a "Wide, broad, worldly, no repentance, no reproving, no sanctification, no holiness Christianity." But, LOL!!!!! For such a "type" of so-called "Christianity" is NOT even Christianity at all! For CHRISTIANITY - TRUE CHRISTIANITY IS TO FOLLOW THE LORD JESUS CHRIST and HIS GOSPEL is to do as He said: "Call the sinner to Repentance." To "blot out our transgressions" to call us out of The World. To imput HOLINESS, RIGHTEOUSNESS and SANCTIFICATION in us. To TRANSFORM us... The New Birth. To "turn from our wicked ways" to "reprove the works of darkness" to "resist the flesh" to "deny ourselves" to "carry our cross." IF ANY MAN PREACHES ANY OTHER GOSPEL, (like this dude blogging) HE IS NOT OF GOD. It is as simple as that. And, I thank The Lord Jesus Christ HE PREPARED HIS CHILDREN fot these times! He told us these folks would REJECT HIS HOLY STANDARDS and HIS WORD on a grandscale and that in the "last days sin would abound." That "evil men would wax worse and worse" and these "folks would turn aside to lies, seducing spirits and doctrines of devils" and would "not want to retain sound doctrine of The Gospel of Jesus Christ." THE WORLD IS TAKING ITS POSITION AGAINST THE HOLINESS OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST & FULLY REJECTING HIS GOSPEL, PRECEPTS, COMMANDMENTS & LAWS. But, be of "good cheer children" for "we have overcome the World." We know when these things happen... THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS ABOUT TO WRAP THIS THING ON UP! Even so, "Come Lord Jesus!" HE IS ON HIS WAY BACK! :)

      May 24, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  13. PRISM 1234

    What we are seeing before our very eyes, has been foretold long ago in the Word of God....
    I am just amazed at the corruption of human character that I have witnessed only in my own short lifetime .... I've never dreamed in my worst nightmares, nor could have I imagined in my early years, that I will see the day when human beings are capable of being so corrupt and brazenly unashamed, and so dead in their consciences that they thought it perfectly normal to call evil good, and good evil, as we are seeing today.
    But our Lord said it would be so in times close to the end....
    By observing the world stage of today and placing it according to the Scriptures on God's timeline, with all the man's advancements in tech and science we're witnessing today, and yet, seeing such corruption of human character....
    it only points to the fact that the time for the "man of sin" is at hand and his army is being prepared for time of his arrival. The rampant evil we see in the world today:
    ~the corruption of human character so prevalent even in the young,
    ~ the disregard of everything that is pure, virtuous and godly, being replaced with apathy and indifference toward anything that stands for righteousness,
    ~the boastfulness and pride in man's own achievements...
    ~the inability to recognize the beauty and virtue in things that generations of the past naturally understood.
    ~the music and visual entertainment that resembles more to something spewed out of the pits of hell, then something human beings would dream up, unless they are demon possessed....
    ~the perversion of God's natural order and His intent for human kind, and justifying of it, calling it good, even using the Name of Christ to justify it, such as this article is clearly showing....

    All those are saying only one thing: We are seeing in our day the prophecy of the Word of God coming to pass before our very eyes, and we are about to see the final Book of the Holy Scriptures being fulfilled, even as the ungodly crowds gather emboldened by their number..... But God will let them have "their day".
    And God 's people will know and understand, but the ungodly will grow more ungodly and will not understand.....

    This is the wisdom of our God! To Him be glory, power, majesty and dominion forever and ever

    May 23, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  14. Winchester M House

    Where does the Bible support sodomy? I can't find it. That seems to be hurdle in its absence.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      And the original definition of the word sodomy was any se.xual act that wasn't for procreation. Ever been to 2nd or 3rd base?

      May 23, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  15. Whys Alives

    One word: Love.

    May 23, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • L. PAT WILLIAMS

      One Word: Repent.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  16. John Davis

    It seems that what many people do, since there are so many wildly conflicting views in the Bible is that they cut and paste sections of it to make their own version of Christianity.

    This guy has just got his own version of it. Is it any better or worse than someone else's interpretation?

    The Bible has been added to and subtracted from, altered, mistranslated and misinterpreted. It contains much which is simply not compatible with 21st century planet Earth – the punishment of putting someone to death seems to have been much more prevalent 2,000 years ago. Isn't it about time someone rewrote it and cut out some of the garbage?

    May 23, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • L. PAT WILLIAMS

      THE BIBLE IS ROCK SOLID. THERE IS NO CONFLICT IN THE BIBLE. The "conflict" is in the "readers of The Bible" who want to try to make The Word of God line up with their own thoughts and will instead of simply DOING WHAT GOD COMMANDS and THE LORD JESUS CHRIST COMMANDS US TO DO. The Word of God is immutable, that is why even with translation, transliteration Y'all folks in The World STILL REJECT THE BIBLE and STILL HATE IT. Because at the end of the day, God "changeth not" and neither does His Word. That is why y'all say it is "old" and "passe" and no longer has place (so you ignorantly think) in this so-called "progressive" post-modern culture. So, if God's word was "mutable" then by now, y'all should have been able to make it acceptable to yourselves by now. But, you can't because SIN no matter how many ways and times you "translate" it, it still comes out as SIN. Repent no matter how many times you translate it, still comes out as REPENT. So, try that "slick" talk else where.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  17. chris87654

    If gays lived on their own planet and didn't use artificial means or adoption, they would become an extinct species – nature has her way of filtering anomalies.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Marie

      Chris87654, gay people are born every day – to straight people.........

      May 23, 2012 at 11:15 pm |

  18. Christians think Sharia Law is immoral but impose their own Sharia Law here in America.
    No matter what version, it's immoral to impose your religion and deny others civil rights.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Anna

      Saw this sad, stupid comment on some of the other comment pages.....very boneheaded

      May 24, 2012 at 12:58 am |
  19. Bob

    Id like to know how someone with such little knowledge of the Bible and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit gets to write a article that is draws so many wrong conclusions? What a biased poor show. . The Devil is the father of all lies and distorts and counterfeits all that God has there is no truth in him. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth if you have the Holy Spirit in you then you don't write lies and half truths that is the devil. The Bible also says that in these days there will be men depraved in their own mind not able to come to the understanding of the truth. Also that in this time men will seek to have a form of Godliness but deny its power, and they will also tickle their own fancy we are seeing it come to pass here. None of what was written in the article is truth.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Julie Buckley

      I agree wholeheartedly Bob...Sadly people will flock to his lies because his lies support their wrong thinking.

      May 23, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Drachenstat

      The huge gay population is a result of rampant molestation, in a culture that is habituated to power, and hides behind a veil of innocence. The duality of Christian belief is a violation of Torah. For all of history, Christians have persecuted, for whatever reason is currently thought appropriate. Their belief in "Satan" is straight out of their own depravity. The creature they manufactured empowers and serves them at every opportunity. They dress a human as a representation of God. The Aztec , Mayan, and Inca did the same.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      HEY, EVERYBODY!!!! Look over here at the idiot!!!

      May 23, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Anna

      Ya Bob , you are right on!! This article is written by a terrorist imposter.....with only one objective – to twist the bible

      May 24, 2012 at 12:54 am |
  20. L. PAT WILLIAMS

    JWT... OK, you keep believing the LIE OF SIN. But, JESUS CHRIST THE ROCK makes it plain what MARRIAGE is (while discussing divorce) in MATTHEW 19: "Have you not read, from the beginning God created them male and female and for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife (not husband) and the twain (two) shall be one flesh, what God has put together (male and female) let no man put asunder (separate, disparage, disunite)."

    May 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • JWT

      You make youir own belief of what jesus said/ Other christians quite obviously disagree with you.
      In either vent as a non-christian nothing of what your bible says applies to me, not does it apply to gays who are not a part of your particular church. many of the chistiann churches agree with and support gay marriage, as far as religious docttrine are concerned they are no less right that you are.

      I was nto created by your god and the only definition of marriage that matters is that as agreed to by my wife and I and we both agree that gay marriage is fine and right, thus it is right. Your god has no say in a secular matter anyway.

      May 23, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      "I was not created by your god "

      Oh, you foolish,foolish man! Do you think that you can choose which God made you? Do you think when hour soul exists your physical frame you can just pick to "which road your soul will take ? When I read post like yours I see how blind, and utterly disoriented and lost a man can become when he has chosen his own path, declaring his independence from his Creator! Yet, he will in his own bitter rebellion declare that he is "free" !
      Oh, dear God, have mercy on their wretched souls...shake them up, and deliver them from the clutch of sate3n who has them lulibied and paralyzed like a spider which paralyzes his prey!
      God help them to see so that they'll choose the way of escape and be set free!

      May 23, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Prissy the Stupid brays evermore.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Anna

      JWT is twisting and lying again.......lets talk regionally......one church in twenty is supportive of christians being gay or gays marrying in church. You have been drinking something that has affected your ability to think rationally. Most churches do not hate anyone – but do not agree with this lifestyle, nor would allow a marriage in their building. You have repeated this BS on page after page......maybe just wishful thinking

      May 24, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • JWT

      So Anna frirst you say that I am right and agree with me then call me a liar – you must be a lot of fun in your school debates.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:24 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.