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. Larbored

    Christians think their religion is the best, yet they are the biggest haters right after Muslims. They will twist anything around to fit.
    That is so typical of them. Twist the words until they say what you want because there is no god to say otherwise. LOL

    May 19, 2012 at 6:25 am |
  2. Al

    A lawyer telling Christians what is right??? Lordy, if that isn't irony, I don't know what is...

    May 19, 2012 at 6:25 am |
  3. Paul

    Christs meesage was one of Love & truth combined. Love the sinner & hate the sin. All have sinned & are in need of forgiveness & repentance. The article is Love without truth. Remember Jesus message to the woman at the well. He Loved her but dd not accept or condone a sinful lifestyle.

    May 19, 2012 at 6:24 am |
  4. Vikram

    One wonders (on the basis of the article) if the Author has even read the Bible. Even if he has read it, it does not look like he has studied it. Anyone is free to call themselves a Christian, that does not make them an authority on the Scriptures.

    May 19, 2012 at 6:23 am |
  5. Joe Giardina

    Hahahahahaahahahahaahahaa !!!!

    May 19, 2012 at 6:23 am |
  6. JW

    Wait a second, Mark, do you understand what baptism, communion, and marriage means? I don't think you have been studying the Bible at all. There are specific criteria spelled out for each. May I delineate it for you? Baptism: symbolizes repentance–death to sinning, and following Jesus in his death, burial (going under water) and rising to a new walk of holiness. Communion–taken by those who are worthy of it–those who have repented of their sins. Marriage: Therefore a man shall leave his parents and shall be joined to a woman, and the two shall be one flesh. That is what the Holy Spirit actually teaches. The above column is merely you opinion and is most definitely not found even remotely in the Bible.

    May 19, 2012 at 6:16 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Yes, marriage is only between a man and a woman. When did I dispute this? This is what I've been saying. Someone also said I was a racist. I do not understand why. People need to stop twisting my words. I said I disagree with gay activities. It needs to be removed from our land.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Gays are equally repulsive as murderers and child molesters. Their activities lead to more sin. That is why so many of them have ended up in prison or with AIDS. They are the cause of this terrible disease. Some of them began spreading it to women and now it has killed how many people? Disease is the result of sin. AIDS is a result of gay activity which is an abomination to the Lord.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:21 am |
    • Name*Chedar

      Mark from muddle river. An uneducated person like you seems to get your brain forced stuck in the mud. I bet you believe in talking snake. You've easily been fooled by the parasites that sucks every blood out of your brain. You are pathetic

      May 19, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • JWT

      Your religious views, vile as they are, are not applicable to all others.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      "Disease is the result of sin."

      I'm not going to pick apart your other words here Mark because you have your views and no matter what is said, no amount of evidence will ever make you change your mind.
      However this whole "Disease is the result of sin", so do you believe that a child getting cancer or any other person who gets cancer deserves it?

      May 19, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • JW

      My comments were meant for Mark Osler.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:01 am |




    May 19, 2012 at 6:14 am |
  8. b9fruits

    I believe Presbyterian PCA theology is the closest to true biblical interpretation. An attorney, Episcopal church, CNN asking for an article doesn't change Truth.

    May 19, 2012 at 6:11 am |
  9. Name*Chedar

    What we need here is for each one of us to cultivate our own inner wisdom. Not to mind other being with their karma ( enforcing their belief to others ). If they make mistake, then let their own karma rise. It's your own that you have to watch for no one will take care of you except yourself.

    May 19, 2012 at 6:10 am |
  10. Read your own book before you force it on me

    The problem with Christians is far too often they don't even read their own bible. The small percent that do , pick and choose pieces of the bible to follow. @Mark you say that you are standing up for your rights, however you are confused. You are actually standing up to deny other people their rights. You also claim most Americans are Christians.....at first glance that is true. But really look at it, most "Christians" are not, they claim it but they don't practice it.

    For being Christian you sure do judge and condemn a lot. You sound like a devote Christian though, so im sure you have read Leviticus and follow those laws as well.

    Bottom line this is America , where people should be free to practice their own religions, or have none if that what they want. Just because your allowed to practice Christianity doesn't mean the rest of us should be forced to follow your rules. If gay people marry how does that hurt you, how does that affect you. People said the same crap about inter-racial marriage and look at us now.

    May 19, 2012 at 6:04 am |
    • pervert alert

      Perversion isn't a racial issue. Sin is not a right. Ho mo se xuality is a criminal and shameful abomination, not a cause. Qu-eers should be jailed not endorsed.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:09 am |
    • Muhammad

      We or us would have to pay the health care cost of the gay couples for government jobs and in private sector more company profits go to a non-worker which leave less for the people who actually work for the company. –get a job to have same medical benefits at my company as me

      May 19, 2012 at 6:19 am |
    • Read your own book before you force it on me

      If they dont believe in your garba i mean bible than why does it matter to you. Touching dead pig skin is a sin i dont see people boycotting football.

      Muhammad That would be the same as a man and a woman being married yet that doesnt seem to bother christians. If thats how you think then lets get rid of health care for all those woman and children who take away money from the company because they dont work there !

      May 19, 2012 at 6:30 am |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    May 19, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      i wish it would change your SPAM postings. like change it up a little sometimes.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:19 am |
  12. Spangler

    To deny gays the abilibty to spin Bible verses is real discrimination, since everyone else does.

    May 19, 2012 at 6:00 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      no kidding

      May 19, 2012 at 6:20 am |
  13. LoL

    And no I dont claim to be an atheist or a liberal. I dont need to be categorized and labeled. That's how much better I am than Mark.

    May 19, 2012 at 5:57 am |
  14. Mark from Middle River

    Crom claimed that there is no God and has undeniable factual evidence to back up his claim. Please, everyone. Stop everything you're doing so he can post this dramatic mudslide of information he has promised. We're all waiting for you, Crom. You know, since you called ME the liar.

    May 19, 2012 at 5:53 am |
    • LoL

      You post your evidence first.

      May 19, 2012 at 5:57 am |
    • Crom

      @Mudslide Murk
      All of science, all of history, all facts, all knowledge, the sum total of human knowledge is my proof.

      What do you have? NOTHING.
      You avoid truth.
      You avoid facts.
      You avoid honesty.
      You avoid logic and rationality.
      You avoid proof altogether of any credible sort.

      Why? Because there is no god. All your lies have been already proven to be lies. This is also a fact.

      May 19, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • honest joe

      Crom, who are you asking? If you ask some scientist, they would argue for science and others argue using the same evidence, for God. So whose scientists are we believing. You guys know why religion divides people. because you cannot accept that some hold a different belief system. "Christians spew hatred" someone else on here posted, but the most common name calling and hatred spewing like on here I see is coming from non-Christians. Its not called hatred because someone disagrees with a lifestyle because of their faith and beliefs.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:10 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      The sum of human knowledge? Answer me this Crom, what percentage of ALL human knowledge do you personally possess?

      Can you name all of the parts of a car?
      Can you name every species of animal?
      Can you tell me all of the books in the Bible?
      Can you tell me the names of all of the instruments used in an orchestra?

      You claim such vast knowledge, surely this won't be too daunting of a task for you. After all, you atheists are much more intelligent than Christians such as myself.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:12 am |


      May 19, 2012 at 6:13 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      That's real cute. So much for the "educated" atheists you all are.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:16 am |
    • Crom

      @Murk the Retarded Bigot

      Since none of those things proves your god exists, then consider it a done deal. More proof for me, still none for you.
      Keep on whining, Mark. Your bigoted rants don't mean shtt here.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Well, you claimed the sum of all human knowledge. You clearly know less than a thousandth of a percent of the sum of all human knowledge. This means that you don't really know anything at all. You can't claim anything as fact even though you like to in order to puff up your chest and make everyone else think you're intelligent. You haven't offered ANY proof. You've simply stated the claim that you offer the sum of all human knowledge as proof. Wow, you sure showed us Christians who's boss. Really, you did nothing but blow hot air and even your atheist cronies know it.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      I'll see you on Monday. Hopefully you'll have some actual proof by then. Until, goodbye.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • Chuck

      I'd call this one a stalemate, neither one of you idiots came up with any evidence

      May 19, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • Crom

      So here we have "Chuck" (aka Mark) pretending nothing was said, no proofs given, no arguments made, so he can pat himself on the back for "denying" the truth and taking (I suppose) some of the sting of losing away with him.
      Chuck, if you had anything else to say, you would not be Mark so obviously. You really are incredibly stupid.

      May 19, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • aaronj77

      Mark ,please do humanity a favor and get an education!

      May 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  15. Paul

    Seems strange he didn't actually quote a bible verse. Jesus would be labeled an extremist. Also seems strange that God made man an woman. Not woman and woman.
    No one wants to talk about God's judgement to Sodam & Gamora.

    May 19, 2012 at 5:52 am |
    • LoL

      No one wants to talka bout it because it doesnt apply to modern day anything. If you cant move on from an ancient book that clearly discriminates against entire groups of people, then you dont matter

      May 19, 2012 at 5:59 am |
  16. Chuck

    This guy is wrong, simple as that. Its like a cop telling kids its ok to drink and drive

    May 19, 2012 at 5:52 am |
  17. Harvey UKen

    Amen. I have long maintained that God Almighty is just that- mighty. Mighty in His love for all of us. Who am I to deny, judge, ridicule any one the chance to be in a relationship with Him. And to be loved by Him. As the old song says, He saved a wretch like me. We are married to Jesus, through faith. But most important of all, God is big enough to accept all into His arms, even misguided Christians.

    May 19, 2012 at 5:50 am |
    • honest joe

      Being a Christian and taking the word for what it is it not misguided. Who are you to judge? Christ said we are all to judge and discern right from wrong. We are not to condemn someone to hell because that is not our job. According to the WORD. all are loved by God but our actions separate us from Him.

      May 19, 2012 at 5:58 am |
  18. SOAPY32

    D987654321 i pray to god holy spirit that your reading disorder illiteracy dsylexia be cured don't lose faith!

    May 19, 2012 at 5:47 am |
  19. C Smythe

    I was raise Catholic and now hold no beliefs at all. However I have learned and experience much. The author of this article presents the best argument I have ever heard! His is the same argument I heard from Nuns on Sunday school 40 years ago. It is a long time since I heard of Christ's love and compassion for all. If ever there was a son of god it would be this version . . .

    May 19, 2012 at 5:45 am |
    • Flamespeak

      As I frequently like to ask those of Christian faith who spew hatred toward others and announce 'so and so is going to hell.'

      "Did Jesus die for everyone's sins? Or just those that s uck up to him for it?"

      May 19, 2012 at 5:48 am |
    • honest joe

      Flame, yes Christ died for everyone's sin. but what is being argued as I am reading and understanding is the existence of sin. Some are arguing that this is not the case. Am I wrong?

      May 19, 2012 at 6:01 am |
    • Flamespeak

      @Honest Joe

      I personally don't believe in the concept of sin, since I am not a Christian, however, it does seem that some Christians are stating that something that is directly called a sin in the bible is not a sin, you are correct about that.

      As I posted previously on here, 'What two consenting adults do with their lives, so long as it doesn't cause physical or financial harm to others, should be legal and they should be left alone."

      May 19, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • honest joe

      Flame, I get what you are saying. I will say this though. We complain and argue about it, but if we (Christians) do not vote for something then we have done our part. Does not mean that we have to condone it or accept it.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:13 am |
    • Flamespeak

      @Honest Joe

      That is fair. It wouldn't be as interesting a world as it is if everyone felt the same way and thought the same way about every issue.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:37 am |
  20. LoL

    We will never move forward with our nation and our government until we move past this nonsense of letting religous extremists dictate the opinion of uneducated masses. Sheep only get led to the slaughter if there's a shepherd around doing the herding.

    May 19, 2012 at 5:44 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      You mean liberal atheist extremists that cry over every mention of God and tell us we HAVE to be tolerant of sin? Great thinking.

      May 19, 2012 at 5:50 am |
    • Flamespeak


      While taking advatage of people's faith for personal reasons is terrible, please do not assume that being religious means someone is uneducated. I do not mean to put words into your mouth if you did not imply that with your post, and I apologize if that was not your intent and I misunderstood you.

      May 19, 2012 at 5:51 am |
    • LoL

      Flame, I meant uneducated people who dont know any better and assume politicians are speaking with God's divine blessing. Had nothing to do with Christians as a whole. Mark is one of the uneducated who assume I want him to accept anything at all. I look at his kind as a dinosaur on the verge of extinction. He doesn't matter.

      May 19, 2012 at 5:55 am |
    • Amy

      Well said, LOL.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:15 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      atheists will always stand up for civil rights. @ mark
      We don't care if you choose to follow your God like sheep. We just make a point that we are not sheep. Your beliefs will not dictate our laws.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:24 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Your laws do not alter TRUTHS. Sorry, but your kind will never win.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:27 am |
    • Crom

      We are always winning arguments. It gets tiresome to always be winning, but at least we exist. Your god? Not so much.

      May 19, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      Truths? Ya sorry we deal with cold-hard facts rather than illusions. Honestly Mark if you don't like it in America then why not go where others share your Truths?

      Because AMERICA is based on Freedom from Religion in State and Federal Laws.
      Your kind WON'T ever win and that's THE TRUTH!

      May 19, 2012 at 6:32 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.