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

    You have to wonder if this is a small sample of what happened at the APA meetings in SF and really shows the true behavior.

    June 17, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why are you so preoccupied with what you imagine occurred at this meeting, Boob? Why is that such a burr up your azz?

      June 17, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  2. Blacktea

    Tom Tom continues to impersonate salt, salty and greentea......please disregard any and all of his comments. He is on a weekend pass from the hospital...

    June 17, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • Hotpepper

      Don't worry – everyone can see what has happened to this blog. Some people are afraid and their reaction to the truth – is aggressive and volatile.

      June 17, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yes, anyone with a brain can see that you and your sock-puppets are terrified that gay marriage will be legalized. Why are you so frightened of that?

      How will gay marriage affect you in any way? How will it affect society in any negative way? Can you cite any evidence that it has yet to do so, since gay marriage is already legal in a number of states and in quite a few other countries? What terrible ills have befallen anyone in those places as a result?

      You really are such morons.

      June 17, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  3. CNN Terms of Service


    June 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  4. CNN moderator


    June 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  5. CNN


    June 16, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • CNN moderator

      CNN regards misuse of its name as a violation of its TOS. Users who continue to post false messages using CNN's name will be banned from this website.

      June 16, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • SALT

      CNN, you lie. I have written posts here and am not Tom, Tom. Stop persecuting me. I'm a Christian who just wants to keep gays from inflitatin are schools and poisining our children!

      June 16, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
  6. Bob

    The Lord isn't really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, He will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth He has promised, a world filled with God's righteousness.And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight. And remember, our Lord's patience gives people time to be saved. Some comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction. I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends. Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.But it was to us that God revealed these things by His Spirit. For His Spirit searches out everything and shows us God's deep secrets.No one can know a person's thoughts except that person's own spirit, and no one can know God's thoughts except God's own Spirit. we have received God's Spirit (not the world's spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.
    Although this sounds like today it is excerpts from letters from Peter and from Paul be encouraged my brothers and sisters in Christ we know who we serve and He knows His own.

    June 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • hey

      stfu, mr troll

      June 16, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Salty

      Bob, you said you would come over after you got out of work! I'm waiting! I am wearing my special mask and have the ball-gag all ready for you. Come on, already. Nobody here is going to help you get off like I can.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • JWT

      Just remember that your pesonal view of religion is yours and does not apply to the rest of society.

      June 17, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • YeahRight

      "Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing."

      This is about civil rights and the experts around the world have proven you wrong.

      Homosexuality is not a sin according to the Bible. Any educated Christian would know that. Scholars who have studied the Bible in context of the times and in relation to other passages have shown those passages (Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans, etc) have nothing to do with homosexuality. These passages often cherry-picked while ignoring the rest of the Bible. The sins theses passages are referring to are idolatry, prostitution, and rape, not homosexuality. That’s why Jesus never mentions it as well. There is nothing immoral, wrong, or sinful about being gay. Jesus, however, clearly states he HATES hypocrites. If you preach goodness, then promote hate and twist the words of the Bible, you are a hypocrite, and will be judged and sent to hell. Homosexuals will not go to hell, hypocrites will. This is very similar to the religious bigots of the past, where they took Bible passages to condone slavery, keep women down, and used Bible passages to claim blacks as curses who should be enslaved by the white man. People used God to claim that blacks marrying whites was unnatural, and not of God's will.

      June 18, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  7. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    i am superior to everyone here in intellect and morals

    June 16, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Greentea

      No you arent. You make all kind a mistakes. You spell stuff wrong. I no cos I seen other people say so.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I'm like a scared little kid. This is the one place I can post smack and get away with it.

    June 16, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Salty

      And I am happy to point that out, because it makes me feel smug.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  9. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I mock liars, hypocrites, and trolls. Which one are you?

    June 16, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  10. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I get off on mocking believers. It makes me feel superior.

    June 16, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Salty

      Yeah, he does. Cuz he is.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  11. LittleHero

    Can anyone present a valid legal argument to ban gay marriage? Remember, you can't resort to a religious argument – we live in a country of laws, and your religious objection is irrelevant.

    June 16, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Bob

      It's wrong. It's a sin. It's icky. I am disgusted by it. My son is gay and I am mad as hell about it.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • LittleHero

      Well Bob, if thy hand offends thee – you know the saying. I suggest you lop off your junk to prevent yourself from having any more gay kids.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • JWT

      There are no reasons other than personal prejudice.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      i won't mock you because i agree with you

      June 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • LittleHero


      I'll be serious – do you still love your son? What exactly are you mad about? Are you angry at your son?

      June 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Bob

      I have told my son never to come near me again. I am disgusted by him and his behavior and he is condemmed to hell by Jesus for his sinful ways.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • JWT

      If true Bob that is very sad for son to have such a poor father.

      June 17, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Bob


      June 17, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nope. Guess again, dearie. Do you think I'm the only person who opposes your idiocy?

      June 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  12. Salty

    I'm not going to answer you, Tommy, because I have no reason too. I am a Christian and I don't have to tell you anything....I will just post scriptures and quote Jesus.

    June 16, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So you have no reason to oppose gay marriage other than your religious beliefs? There isn't any way gay marriage will affect you personally? What about your relationship with Bob? Aren't you afraid that you'll be classified as 'abnormal' because you two are into S and M? What about the chains and whips you have? Will you have to sell them at a loss?

      June 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  13. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I also like to bully believers into answering loaded questions.

    June 16, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Awww, diddums widdle feelings get hurt??

      How will gay marriage affect you?

      If that's a loaded question, honey, tough toenails for you.

      June 16, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  14. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I post and repost lies when I'm not using my potty mouth.

    June 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hmm. How will gay marriage affect you?

      No 'potty mouth' here, honey. Can you answer without using your pis$-poor evasion skills?

      June 16, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  15. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Green Pee? Are you awake? I'm still waiting for that list of errors you promised me. Are you going to reveal yourself to be a liar?

    June 16, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  16. Salty

    Did you know that was a prof at Harvard, who took all of the ancient prophesies about Jesus Christ that were written thousands of years before He came to earth.....and then he figured out the odds of one man coming to earth who actually met all of the requirements of these prophesies – and it was almost mathematically impossible. Just as the financial collapse of this world is in there and the coming cashless society, the earthquakes, famines etc......I will put my money on the bible

    But I can't tell you the name of the prof and I can't post any source or sight, either.

    June 16, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Total Fail

      Hahaha the "prophecies" didnt make any sense....
      They said somebody would be born with a certain name, somebody was born with a different name, and then a thousand years later, we have Jesus, which was neither of the names.............
      How can you people believe in this reeking sack of horse sh!t (the bible)????????

      June 16, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Get Real


      Don't you think that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (or whoever wrote under those names), Paul of Tarsus, and even Jesus (if he existed and said what they *said* that he said) READ or otherwise HEARD about those old-timey "prophecies"? Pretty dang easy to massage the facts around to fit, you know. Jesus is even alleged to have asked for a donkey (donkeys) for his Palm Sunday parade "to fulfill the prophecies" (they blew it when they admitted that one!).

      June 16, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Smerf

      Salty this is facinating!!!! This is in Hal Lindsay's book as well. Thanks for sharing

      June 17, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  17. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I'm reposting this, simply because I want to add Salt's and Green Pee's names to Bob's. You're equally stupid, illiterate, and wrong:

    You are a dishonest person, Bob. You have lied and lied and then lied some more. You are asked direct questions and make one lame-azz excuse after another to avoid answering them. You claim you can cite studies but you don't. You pretend you can't figure out how to manage the internet, then proceed to use it to post nonsense that doesn't prove a thing you've asserted. The only bs here, Bob, is yours. You've been provided cites, sources, and reasons, and simply dismiss them all.

    Then you pretend that you "have your reasons" but you won't discuss them here and now. Instead, you'll continue to blather and blow more scripture that you proceed to interpret to excuse your hatred and prejudice. You're nothing but an old, stupid, windbag who lies about anything and everything.

    You're a great example of the sort of self-aggrandizing, sanctimonious "Christian" that no one would admire or emulate. You're a disgusting excuse for a human.

    Thanks for proving it.

    June 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  18. Tom Tom, the Piper's Son


    June 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Saltnpepper

      That's an outright lie. I wrote every single one of the posts under my name and under Salt and SALT, too. I write all Bob's posts as well. Stop lying, Tom, Tom. I can sue you for blasphemy.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Bob

      Tom is nothing but a idiot who never red the Bible or went to Church. He doesn't know the scriptures or Jesus. He is a blasphemer and a liar. He asks me to tell why I am against gay marriage because he want's to show I'm rong, but I fooled him.
      I wont answer.

      June 16, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Smerf

      Tom Tom is pretending he is Bob too!!! Sorry Bob!! He is jealous of your knowledge of scripture

      June 17, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Bob


      June 17, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  19. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    And still waiting for Green Pee to provide a list of all my grammatical errors and misspellings. Shouldn't be hard for you, honey, since you claimed I'd made more of them than anyone else on the blog.

    June 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  20. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Still waiting. Still no response from Salt or her sock-puppet Boob. Come on, cowards, answer: how does gay marriage affect you in any way?

    June 16, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
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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.