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

    Many years ago I was as everyone that didn't know the Lord, in the world doing my own thing. Jesus was this shadow that didn't really mean much to me and I certainly didn't want to stop what I was doing to even consider who He was. If I did consider Him my examples weren't the best a church no life, and responsibility with no help, people with a life I wouldn't want so why go to Jesus. But I occasionally saw a glimmer of something that looked different than what the world had to offer but I didn't know what it was. One day suddenly I pretty much lost everything it was quite a shock. From a nice house Job cars money in the bank and wife to pretty much nothing. I can say that it was really hard, but it did give me time to think and find out who really God and Jesus are not the stories I heard not the what the churches teach but really who God is. Also could He help me, give me peace help me, with situations and money all the things we think life consists of to have happiness. Well what I found was a God who Loved me and speaks to me and helps me one who provides and calms and protects me. I really couldn't believe it, it took time to trust Him and be able to rely on Him and know that He wasn't false hope. If you want a God you can worship and not know then get religion if you want a God you can know then seek Him. He has restored what was taken from me and done it with joy. I can say what ever your situation, don't let anyone stop you from knowing Him if it is in your heart to do so. He did things for me before I accepted Him,was saved or knew it was Him working in my life so don't let any situation or person stop you from knowing Him. Just say Jesus I accept you as Lord of my life please come help me and fill me with your presence. Tell Him whats on your heart and trust He will do it from removing addictions to help with a relationship to finances or even depression. I would like all no matter who you are to find Jesus, He is a gift of life that does not disappoint, but I know this will not happen, and for that it makes me sad. But this as with all things is a decision made by each person, but the word of God does not change.

    June 10, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  2. Snik

    Stop h.omos now!

    June 9, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  3. Pamela Haley Design

    Thanks Mark, show them what it really means to be Christian! I don't share the belief but I do share in the belief that everyone has the right to love and be loved. It's not anyone's place to judge someone else whether there is a God to do it or not. If it turns out I am wrong in life, then God and Jesus will forgive me because, even if I didn't go to church, pray every day, support gay rights and the right to choice, I did my best to be good to others.

    June 9, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Bob

      Pamela you are deceiver and deceived and have no idea of who God is, your logic is wrong. Since you haven't accepted Jesus as Lord then God will not forgive you. God set up a way to come to Him and tells us what is expected of us. If you don't come the way He has made the provision for then you don't come end of story. He will not forgive just because you are a good person, He knows alot of good people that wont make it. Basically the Bible is a love story. It is the Love of God for His people and the ultimate goal to have a real relationship with them now and for eternity. No person knows how to love until they Love the Lord and He reveals what real love is. God is the judge and will receive all that come to Him but they have to come His way not your way otherwise you would be God.

      June 10, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • JWT

      Be sure to specify which god you are talking about and which truths. The bible is not clear enough to say there s a single truth. Many people hold many different truths.

      June 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Bob

      The Bible says there is a Spirit of Truth and He will reveal all truth to us, also Gods word is truth that is what is worth holding on to not mans changing truth.

      June 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The Bible says....blah, blah y blah. Who the fvck cares what your Bible says, Boob?

      June 10, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  4. ivotedforkodos

    Silly. What a bunch of silly people, with your chicken bones and magic amulets and imaginary friend in the sky and of course...hate and judgment.

    Maybe if you put down that old book of stories you'd do something meaningful with your lives.

    June 9, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Dr Julie R

      hm....like feed the poor, run most of the third world orphanages, nurse dying aids patients, run almost every soup kitchen in North America for the homeless,......work so we can give more $$$ to charity than any other group in the world.....thanks for the advice....we are quite busy

      June 9, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • ivotedforkodos

      ...and show up at the funeral of a dead soldier with a sign that says "god hates f*gs"

      June 9, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • hokieduck

      DrJulieR: You make a tremendous point, although I think you have described Catholic nuns perfectly. I think the pope has recalled them to Rome just this weekend to atone for a lot of those things you describe.

      June 9, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Dr Julie R

      I am truly suprised at your jokes. The Christians who are risking their lives in third world nations are definitely not the ones showing up at funerals with signs. Just as not all male gays attack their male mas-sage people while their wife and children are at home......hello

      June 10, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, you're not. If you were 'quite busy', you wouldn't be here spreading misinformation and hatred.

      June 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  5. mork

    Christians are dumb

    June 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  6. Dr Julie R

    Thank-you Bob you are a light in a dark place

    June 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  7. Lexxi

    Great article! Its refreshing to hear a thoughtful Christian view on gay marriage.
    I like Osler's message; if your faith is true and strong, then you won't have a need to judge those around you. Those who seek to judge are hypocrites, trying to draw attention away from their own issues by pointing the finger elsewhere.

    June 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Bedhead

      Lexxi we are all so touched by your deep words of faith – please!! Your faith goes as deep as going to church with Grama once every five years at Christmas. Most gay relationships fail within a year and most who could commit in a civil ceremony – don't.....why – because they do not commit. You guys try to make it all sound like a gay romance novel – but it is not reality

      June 9, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Conqui

      @Bedhead - Your imagination and prejudices do not fit the facts. 1% of married/civil union gay couples divorce each year, IDENTICAL to the % of straight married couples who divorce each year and LESS than the straight married + civil union couples each year. Although long-term studies in the US are not possible yet because legalized marriage for gays hasn't been around very long, data from European countries who have had gay marriage/unions for many years show no difference in divorces between gays and straights. And like straight marriages, gay marriages with children tend to last longer. As for violence, data is quite sketchy because we know that 3 out of 4 abused straight women do not report abuse and we don't know the reporting stats for gay partners yet. As for disease and other things you mention, there is zero valid data on these for married gays compared to married straights.

      June 10, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Yellowfeather

      Conqui you are almost funny....your stats are a joke for all to see.....gays only make up about 3% of the population – so now take a stat on the ones that actually married!!! and now take a number on the ones like Rosie O Donnell who did not stay married.....aaaahhhhhh

      June 10, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, then, Yellow, what "threat" does 3% of the population pose? Why can't you answer that question? How does gay marriage affect you in any way?

      June 10, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Really-O?

      @Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son –

      Two words – ignorance, fear.

      June 10, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  8. Bob

    If you loose your life for me you will find it for I am the good Shepard

    June 9, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Get Real

      A shepherd takes care of his sheep for profit (shearing or slaughtering) or for a nice yummy dinner.

      Which one are you?

      June 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Dummy, it's "LOSE", not "LOOSE". Why are you fundiots so ignorant?

      June 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Conqui

      I don't think Bob made a mistake. He means if you live a loose life. That's why a person might need a shepherd, for loose people, because sheep are among the most stupid and logic-deficient animals. At least Bob understands that he needs one.... a shepheard, I mean, not a sheep.

      June 10, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  9. Bob

    There is a time coming when all will be revealed

    June 9, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • JWT

      When are you going to the nude beach bob ?

      June 9, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • SweetGenius

      Amen Bob!!!! Shout it from the housetops!!!

      June 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Mark

      apocalyptic fools. christians have been spouting this crap since they put jesus on a stick. such a sad perspective to live your life from. why are you so afraid to face reality. It might not be your fault – indoctrination of children is child abuse – so you should probably blame your parents.

      June 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Bob –
      You must be right...Led Zeppelin declared it in 1975 – "talk of days for which they sit and wait and all will be revealed"

      June 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Yellowfeather

      Yes we are in the end of days....for those who do not know scripture.....that does not refer to the end of the world, that is something hollywood makes up. This is the end of days as we have known them......its an amazing time to be alive. What we are about to see – will be like nothing in the history of the world up to now.......there is only one thing to say – Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.....

      June 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Mark

      Bob...., Bob....., Bobby – you are one of the saddest little monkeys I have ever come across. I cannot imagine how dark and sad and pathetic the little bubble you live in must be. The universe is an incredibly wonderful and beautiful place. It is far, far bigger and more beautiful than the authors of this bronze aged tale you follow could ever have imagined. You are limiting your life by such a drastic amount. It is very, very tragic. I really wish I could help you. In the big picture, does it really hurt you if two people who love each other and are committed to each other want the legal and societal recognition that they deserve? I'm a straight father of 3, but since I'm not stained with religious belief, I can see the harm caused by christian short-sightedness and bigotry and it almost makes me ill.

      June 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Yellowfeather

      Mark besides Tom Tom you may be one of the most near sighted, short sighted people on this blog. What does "two people loving each other" do to the rest of us...? Nothing if it is a man and a woman. Mark do you think its ok for a man to marry eight young women?? Answer please.......if you want the definition of marriage to change ONE OF YOU SHOULD AT LEAST ATTEMPT TO ANSWER THE QUESTION.....cause that is what comes next on the menu!! You guys are so caught in navel gazing you cannot see the BIG picture at all

      June 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why don't YOU answer your own question, Yellow Bellow? How, precisely, does gay marriage affect you in any way? Has the fact that gay marriage is already legal in 5 states changed anything about your life? I'm still waiting for a single one of you morons to stop frothing at the mouth long enough to actually answer that question. Not one of you has done so yet.

      You are all too busy brushing your single tooth, apparently.

      June 9, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Salt

      Tommy do you have to have EVERYTHING explained to you? This is something that is still being established – the results on society for these decisions will come in over the next ten years at least.....and by then we will also be able to see who else has demanded to be married as well....

      June 10, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      OHHHH!!! Gee, I'm so glad that you answered the question-oh, wait, you didn't. You can't because there IS no effect. Gay marriage is already legal in 5 states and DC. What dreadful fate has befallen any of those locales that is the direct result? Yellow the Bellower says that only 3% of the population is gay. How can allowing less than 3% of the population to marry be such a threat?

      You and your sock puppets know this already. That's why you keep posting nonsense you can't back up. You're not here for the purpose you claim. You're trolls.

      June 10, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  10. Bob

    I am sending you out as sheep among wolves

    June 9, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  11. Bob

    Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves

    June 9, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  12. Bob

    But remember little ones I am with you always even unto the end of the age

    June 9, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • midwest rail

      We hold these truths to be self evident...

      June 9, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Get Real

      Suuuuure, Bob...

      2 Kings 8:12 "You will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women."

      "Isaiah 13:16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives ravished."

      June 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  13. Bob

    But everyone who hears my teachings and does not do them is like the house built on sand

    June 9, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  14. Bob

    But place the light on the stand so it give light to everyone.

    June 9, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  15. Bob

    It will be thrown out trampled under foot worthless

    June 9, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  16. Bob

    You are the salt of the earth but what good is salt if it lost its flavor

    June 9, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  17. Bob

    But anyone who obeys and teaches to obey Gods law will be great in the Kingdom

    June 9, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  18. Bob

    Jesus came to accomplish its purpose for whoever teaches to ignore will be least in the kingdom

    June 9, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  19. Bob

    I did not come to abolish the law of Moses

    June 9, 2012 at 9:12 am |
  20. Bob

    It is the true worshipers that will be saved so take up you cross and follow

    June 9, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • ImLook'nUp

      @ Bob

      Truly, so many believe as you do. Marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Gods word is true.

      1 KINGS 19:18
      "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel - all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

      June 9, 2012 at 10:48 am |
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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.