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. 9jibticqf65ip

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    41897

    June 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  2. jds1l2dfypi

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    7807

    June 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  3. obw

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    18058

    June 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  4. g27srni

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    49718

    June 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  5. pocgfcf

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    21476

    June 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  6. 008h63lvmq

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    97448

    June 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  7. 8m1z8cnnbqr2i

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    72376

    June 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  8. dgtjuayhedg

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    35643

    June 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  9. 9v66kg88h4iy26pdnafle

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    30843

    June 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  10. x7z3rown

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    66784

    June 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  11. b283ys0k9c2bqhqi7ynou

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    86617

    June 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  12. 3ljsczicsc15xjrkj

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    98023

    June 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  13. p7ac2hexkpw1bkk42y5p

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    53050

    June 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  14. 05isbbgpf

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    4741

    June 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  15. k80obqsqa

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    68821

    June 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  16. 7r1

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    98950

    June 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  17. nj3t8tgnty7hafffz

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    74474

    June 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  18. pnbw03n

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    40847

    June 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  19. y9fhz317rjcsd0kc5t

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    71047

    June 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  20. echks5a

    join the GNAA today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNAA
    91763

    June 2, 2012 at 8:43 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.