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. Bob

    God will protect those that love Him that are His true children

    June 9, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Yellowfeather

      Yes and amen Bob.....the words of truth are merciful and directional for those who can hear.....it will all come to pass soon enough and then all will see

      June 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      See what? You nuts have been yapping about his return for 2000 years. It isn't happening, and even if it does, so what? Your God isn't the source of laws in a secular nation. Your beliefs as to what he "thinks' are irrelevant to anyone else.

      June 9, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  2. Bob

    For the wisdom of the world if foolishness to God

    June 9, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  3. Bob

    Walk as light among men so they see and will glorify the Father

    June 9, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  4. Bob

    Ask God to reveal the truth and He will

    June 9, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  5. Bob

    Do not be led astray by the logic of the world,pray,read Bible.

    June 9, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  6. Bob

    Most of their arguments including the author laughable blind and tainted by sin no truth, distortions,. lies

    June 9, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  7. Bob

    They operate in error

    June 9, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  8. Bob

    NO case for gay marriage in the Bible

    June 9, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  9. Bob

    Jesus IS LORD

    June 9, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  10. Bob

    So they stopped the opposition loosers

    June 9, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  11. Bob

    couldn't stand the truth

    June 9, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  12. Bob

    except for yeah,john,tom abusers

    June 9, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  13. Bob

    gays only

    June 9, 2012 at 8:23 am |
  14. Bob

    No posts appearing heavily censored

    June 9, 2012 at 8:21 am |
  15. Bladepolisher

    Why are my posts not appearing CNN?

    June 9, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Why are my posts not appearing CNN?"

      CNN uses WordPress blogs for their opinion pieces, and they use automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. If your post doesn't show up, it most likely had a forbidden word in it.

      Repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
        arse         as in Arsenal
        cock         as in cockatiel
        coon         as in cocoon
        cum           as in circumstance
        homo         as in homosexual
        poo         as in spooked
        rape         as in grape
        sex           as in homosexual
        spic         as in despicable
        tit             as in constitution or title
        vag           as in vague

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      June 18, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  16. same old same old

    If this article was written as little as 20 years ago, 99% of the posts would call Osler a nut...Now the majority have jumped on the band-wagon. Makes you wonder if it's enlightenment or just a bunch of media-influenced lemmings.

    June 9, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • Yellowfeather

      Um.....it is not a majority. Same s-ex marriage was voted out in California and North Carolina......the voice of the majority spoke and said No.......but yes he is a nut then and now

      June 9, 2012 at 4:13 am |
  17. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    y'all have to forgive me, i have anger issues and i'm filled with blind hate

    June 9, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Hello

      Jesus loves you Tom Tom.....(not joking...)

      June 9, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • SweetGenius

      Your kidding, we would have never guessed that, Tom Tom filled with hate, who would have thunk it???

      June 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's "YOU'RE", you illiterate dolt, and the fact that you respond to a post by some troll is indicative of your lack of intelligence.

      June 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • SweetGenius

      Exactly Tomy, your an insane, wacked out troll......with nothing intelligent to say...Amen.

      June 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What's that make you, Sweet Dumbbell?

      June 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  18. JWT

    Me trash Oprah ? She has never been one of my supporters and is an entertainer who looks for hype and the spectacular – the truth is not an issue with her. I have maintained for a great many years that she is a great entertainer and a lousy place to learn anything.

    June 8, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Spot on, JWT. Oprah is nothing more than P. T. Barnum. Anything to get 'em in the door; facts be damned.

      June 8, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      If people are born gay then it's a lot like being born an 'endomorph'. The endomorph is born with a tendency to be obese. The endomorph has a lifelong struggle with overeating and the gay has a lifelong struggle with being attracted to same se x.

      Both groups need to change their lifestyle habits and the govt should not promote ga yness any more than they should promote or encourage over-eating or junk-food.

      June 8, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • jungleboo

      b4thebigbong, Your supposition that endomorphic build and hom.s3xuality are related on a dysfunctional scale is idiotic. Endomorphic builds are not about obesity. An endomorph is simply more compactly built than an ectomorph. If you thoughts on this were in any way valid, the ectomorphs would all be starving themselves and in meed of help. Your funny opinion is not based on scientific research, and is only your guess. Your fascination with the H subject is curious.

      Quit trying to "protect the future". The future is undoubtedly unfolding as it should, and people who wrestle with it end up making fools of themselves. The Inquisition, witch hunts, subjugating women and blacks, denying gay people their fundamental rights as American citizens...all of that effort is simply backward and you know it. Get out of the way and try to live your own life for a change. I know you don't think that's important to do because you have a hot date with Heaven sometime in the future, but trust me. Here and Now is where it has always been. The past is in your imagination, the future is in your imagination. So's your god. Imagination is a wonderful thing that is a human feature. Try not to misuse yours.

      June 8, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      b4. I have to sa that you are truly laughable in your ignorance. Keep on doing you jig, dear. You're a better argument for the opposition than anything I could come up with.

      June 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • hotpepper

      Wow...now you have really proven how out of touch you are......where are you from Skokumville?

      June 9, 2012 at 1:26 am |
  19. Melvin

    The Scriptures at no point deal with homosexuality as an authentic sexual orientation, a given condition of being as we understand it today. The remarkably few Scriptural references to "homosexuality" deal rather with homosexual acts, not with homosexual orientation. Those acts are labeled as wrong out of the context of the times in which the writers wrote and perceived those acts to be either nonmasculine, idolatrous, exploitative, or pagan. The kind of relationships between two consenting adults of the same sex demonstrably abounding among us - relationships that are responsible and mutual, affirming and fulfilling - are not dealt with in the Scriptures.

    June 8, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • BrownSugarmama

      There not dealt with in the scriptures because they are not suppose to exisit silly. You people are doing what feels good to you not what is right.

      June 8, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "You people are doing what feels good to you not what is right."

      The experts disagree with you, they have shown that being gay is NOT a mental illness, it's NOT a choice and it CAN'T be voluntarily changed. Duh!

      June 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Jeannine

      Melvin I agree. The Scriptures were written approximately 2000 or more years ago when there was no knowledge of constitutional homosexuality. The Scripture writers believed that all people were naturally heterosexual so that they viewed homosexuality activity as unnatural. Women today are pointing out that the inferiority of women expressed in the scriptures was a product of culture and the times in which the Bible was written; it should not be followed today, now that we are beginning to appreciate the natural and God-given equality of men and women.

      Similarly, as we know that homosexuality is just as natural and God-given as heterosexuality, we realize that the Biblical injunctions against homosexuality were conditioned by the attitudes and beliefs about this form of sexual expression which were held by people without benefit of centuries of scientific knowledge and understanding.

      It is unfair of us to expect or impose a twentieth century mentality and understanding about equality of genders, races and sexual orientations on the Biblical writers. We must be able to distinguish the eternal truths the Bible is meant to convey from the cultural forms and attitudes expressed there.

      June 8, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      BrownSugarDumbazz, are you retarded? "Not supposed to exist"? Guess what, stupid? Gays have existed since time began.
      If you have a problem with it, you should ask you precious savior God why He created them.

      But you're so fuc king stupid, you don't have the brains to frame such a question.

      June 8, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • hotpepper

      Melvin you clearly do not know scripture...nor do many on this blog. Should there be new information on how God created the sky....God made his intentions very clear through creation. He does not have apologize or revamp His creation. On top of that there are many scriptures that deal with omos-exuality. And many more scriptures where Jesus himself speaks about marriage between a man and a woman. You guys can twist and spin till the cows come home......but it does not change the facts.There is not ONE drop of scientific proof that gays are "born this way".....not one drop. Two years ago Oprah had on a large group of gays and lesbians who said they were NOT born this way – and did not want to be considered a genetic mistake. Very confusing for the rest of us .........exhausting in fact

      June 8, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      HotPo0per farts again.

      June 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      HotP00per, don't you ever get tired of being a complete idiot? Do you REALLY think that a show on Oprah is "proof" of something, you dim bulb?

      The APA has studied hom0s3xuality for decades and has concluded that it's not some aberration. It's a variant, no different than being left-handed or red-headed.

      Why are you so friggin' ignorant, when information is so readily available? I can only conclude that it's because you're stupid.

      June 8, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • JWT

      They watch oprah tom sort of like jerry springer without the fights.

      June 8, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • hotpepper

      Wow...in calling me down – you are really calling your own group down. Victory!!! You are identifying for once the confusion the rest of us are in watching all of this.....half of you say one thing – then half of you say another thing!!! Oh and we are supposed to keep up with all of your latest "feelings"!! Please...this is narcissism at its grossest

      June 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • hotpepper

      This is classic as well.....Oprah has been one of your greatest supporters and because you don't like what I shared – you trash her....one of your fans.....very typical

      June 8, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      With every post-fart, P00per, you look increasingly stupid. No one is "trashing" Oprah, imbecile. But if you're citing her show as proof of anything factual, you're a complete and utter moron.

      June 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • hotpepper

      Was sharing the Oprah story as proof of anything.....simply to display the utter confusion it is to listen to the gay community. When this group was on Oprah they clearly stated that this was a lifestyle choice.....and they agreed that there was no scientific proof that anyone was born this way.....hello

      June 9, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  20. Bob

    If we find that robbers are born with some thing in their minds that causes them to do this are we going to change society to allow robbery. the doctors can say all they want they have science and science can never say and doesn't care what is moral or immoral. by the way dont assume what people know and dont know especially about science.

    June 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "If we find that robbers are born with some thing in their minds that causes them to do this are we going to change society to allow robbery. the doctors can say all they want they have science and science can never say and doesn't care what is moral or immoral. by the way dont assume what people know and dont know especially about science."

      Keep showing how clueless you are on this subject since robbery harms other people and is illegal. LMAO! Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. 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. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      June 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Bob, you obviously choose to be ignorant about science. So why do you come onto these threads and demonstrate that ignorance?

      June 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • just sayin

      Bob, interesting...you keep comparing being gay to criminal acts. Your perspective points to your childish bias and bigotry. Your childish moral view of gay people has no bearing on civil rights and freedoms. You compare acts that do not impose on other freedoms (being gay) to criminal acts that clearly impose on the freedoms of others.

      No one can take you seriously. Your view and acts are that of a child that has no clue.

      June 8, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • just sayin


      Bob, you obviously choose to be ignorant about science. So why do you come onto these threads and demonstrate that ignorance?

      Or he has the brain of a child.

      June 8, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • just sayin

      Is it me or is tlaking to Fundis and Evangelicals like talking to tribesmen trying to explain that taking a picture does not capture your soul. Mythical and superst i tious cavemen.

      June 8, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • JWT

      Let's think about it a second (and that is all it takes)
      1. Robbery hurts people and disturbs the peace and tranquility of the community
      2. Gay and gay marriage hurts noone and disturbs nothing.

      June 8, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • LM

      That's an absurd anology, of course. It doesn't take a high IQ to understand that robbery is a crime against others. It HARMS others. Being gay is a natural orientation that has NO affect on others.

      A better anology would be to say that someday we will change society to allow left handedness, or short stature . . .

      Oh wait......

      June 8, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bob, do your teeth hurt from that foot you keep shoving in your ignorant mouth?

      June 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • hotpepper

      Bob you are doing great!!!!! The fact is there is not one drop of scientific proof that gays are born this way. Sadly many years ago....many entered this as a result of abuse. Now today its trendy and perverse.......and hollywood says its good. Very sad

      June 8, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      HotP00per, you're an idiot. I could cite articles to disprove your claims, but it's far too much work wasted on a dimwit. When you manage to grow up, maybe you'll have enough brain power to research the issue and figure out how stupid you are.

      June 8, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
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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.