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. Tallgrass05

    Using the Bible and religion to justify or approve gay marriage is just as intellectually dishonest as using them to disapprove or prohibit gay marriage. Religion should have nothing to do with it.

    May 21, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • ironman59

      That is true but unfortunately the American Taliban are alive and well in this country. It is unfortunate that so, so, many Americans cannot enjoy Freedom FROM Religion. The far-right wants Freedom of Religion so long as it protects their agenda. They fail to realize that even today there isn't a single religious organizaton that can legally marrry someone without a license from the state.

      On top of it their whole "pro-creation" argument doesn't hold water. More and more couples marry strictly for convenience without any desire to raise children. With divorce rates at 50%+ their arguments hold little true value. Marriage and the rights from the state should be open to everyone. We deny a class of people rights to hospital privelages, adoption rights, medical benefits and numerous others items that couples and singles enjoy without having to deny who they are.

      It is time to get religion out of Secular Law once and for all. It is time to start taxing the churches if nothing else to pay for all off the laws they want to implement that invade our bedrooms.

      May 21, 2012 at 7:47 am |
  2. 1word

    The first great commandment is to love the Lord with all your Heart Mind and Soul. If you do this, and Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you would do what he says. This means you will no long be Gay, this is the whole reason behind Following Christ. He is your Saviour if he can't save a person from being Gay then God is a Lie. I'm tired of people using the Word for wrong doing when they aren't even following the 1ST GREAT COMMANDMENT!

    May 21, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      El is head of the Elohim

      May 21, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • sam stone

      no longer be gay?

      May 21, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • sam stone

      tell me, 1word, can you change your eye color?

      May 21, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • a person of the Name

      The fullness of the God head is in Jesus. Jesus is God.

      May 21, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • NoTheism

      You assume there to be a god and you assume the commandment to be from such a being. In addition, you do not care about whether the commandment is a good one (you do not try to understand and justify such 'laws').

      May 21, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • 1word

      sam stone, yes no longer Gay. I know plenty of people who are converted after giving their life to Christ. God can do all things, if that means change your eye color you darn right he can. If he can cure the blind, he can change the color of your eyes. The problem with most people is, they can't believe in something they can't see. If you seek God with all your Heart Mind and Soul you will see what a nonbeliever can't see.

      May 21, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • 1word

      There is a God, I know him for myself. You don't know him because you're not one of his!

      May 21, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • Primewonk

      If you are born gay, you cannot become non-gay. The fact that you think you can shows that you choose to be ignorant about the science of sèxual orientations.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • 1word

      No one is BORN GAY! Stop lying and feeding into the hype. God can do all things, if you BELIEVE!

      May 21, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  3. David

    I'm just curious. Has CNN ran an article by a conservative Christian who is against gay marriage? It seems to me that the only view we get from CNN on issues like this is the liberal view.

    May 21, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • sam stone

      Does Billy Graham count?

      May 21, 2012 at 7:02 am |
  4. .

    gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay 25 million people in this country have given up looking for work gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay

    May 21, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • Jahoobie

      If you want to make a point about people not having jobs...I think you can do a better job of arguing that CNN and other groups are spending too much time concentrating on a single subject. saying gay gay gay gay....etc etc etc just makes you look unintelligent.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  5. Treshombres

    Trotting out the apostates. What Bible is he using?

    May 21, 2012 at 5:50 am |
    • Duh

      The Holy Bible

      May 21, 2012 at 6:30 am |
    • .

      CNN's Sunday morning bible. Strictly written to evoke hate-theist bigotry and ignorance.

      May 21, 2012 at 6:57 am |
  6. Spangler

    Most agreee with the general concepts that people should be able to marry the single, non-related consenting adult of one's choice and that the Bible is full of rules (not working on the Sabbath) that are no longer laws. But when it comes to gays, some people forget that they agree with these general concepts.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:27 am |
    • Jim

      If you can marry one why not three or four or a dozen. Who are you to judge me and limit me to one person?

      May 21, 2012 at 5:38 am |
    • K3Citizen

      You can tell a man is Mormon by his willingness to take on several mother-in-laws at once.

      May 21, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • sam stone

      jim: as long as they are consenting adults, i got no problem with it

      May 21, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      If my woman went for it I would have 3 or 4 pieces pus.sy in the bed with me

      May 21, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • Jahoobie

      @sam stone: So, define "consenting"...many women in polygamist relationships are there out of force, but tout up and down it's what they want.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  7. err

    In April 2007, Steele revealed that he began identifying himself as Roman Catholic in recent years, after decades of self-professed atheism.[11] In an interview with Decibel magazine, Steele explained:

    “There are no atheists in foxholes, they say, and I was a foxhole atheist for a long time. But after going through a midlife crisis and having many things change very quickly, it made me realize my mortality. And when you start to think about death, you start to think about what’s after it. And then you start hoping there is a God. For me, it’s a frightening thought to go nowhere. I also can’t believe that people like Stalin and Hitler are gonna go to the same place as Mother Teresa.”[45]

    May 21, 2012 at 4:54 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      So you prove the point that believing in God is a form of weakness and fear. Thanks for the update.

      I'll still be an Atheist thanks

      May 21, 2012 at 5:10 am |
    • Timmy

      You got beat up alot in school didnt you Dragonslayer. Snicker snicker.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:35 am |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things+

    May 21, 2012 at 4:49 am |
    • JWT

      Prayer can being conform to those that pray and sometimes to those that are prayed for. os it is good for theat and nothing else.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:52 am |
    • JWT

      comfort not conform

      May 21, 2012 at 4:52 am |
    • Jim


      May 21, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • Jesus

      *Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!*!

      May 21, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  9. truth

    That Jesus was born of a virgin, he died, rose from the dead on the third day, and is now at the right hand of God.

    *Believe in Jesus Christ, that he died for you
    This requires that you get rid of your old sinful ways
    If you TRULY believe, that is, love Him and give your life to Him, good works and fruit will come out, but these are not what make you a Christian, they are simply an indicator of your faith in Jesus
    Pray, Read the Bible, Love God, Love others, worship God (live for Him in all you do, take up your cross, and know that in all of this God is very patient and loving

    May 21, 2012 at 4:47 am |
    • Gaunt

      And what is your evidence for this silly fairy tale.?

      How can you justify believing in one silly creation myth, and yet dismissing as fiction the tens of thousands of other silly creation myths associetes with other religions, past and present? What makes their deluusions false, but your delusion true?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • sybaris

      Funny that your god who allegedly created perfect humans out of dirt had to use another mans wife to do it again. The other funny thing is that it's not original.

      Grow up, put down the religion.

      May 21, 2012 at 6:41 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      @giant inni Minni miny mo grab a savior by the toe

      May 21, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Jahoobie

      @Gaunt: Have you READ other "silly creation myths" from other religions? have you NOTICED that they all tell teh same story, along essentially the same timelines? Have you noticed that different religions that were never exposed to each other teach the same lessons, tell the "same" creation story??? No? Try reading up on it. Take for example, Navajo creation stories and compare them to the christian bible...smae themes...the lessons they teach...same lessons, different characters. Perhaps if you opened your eyes, and looked beyond bigoted people you'd see religions for what they are meant to be...rules and lessons on how to treat your fellow man.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  10. Andrew

    Ha, almost nobody is either Christian or righteous. Just a whole bunch of willful sinners who still want to imagine that they're good with God.

    9 What! Do YOU not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, 10 nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom. 1Co 6:9

    3 But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, 3 having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, 4 betrayers, headstrong, puffed up [with pride], lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away. 2Ti 3:3

    May 21, 2012 at 4:32 am |
    • Mike from NE

      Right on! For other likeminded readers, I just finished reading the newest LibList, and the man's got a point. http://theliblist.blogspot.com/2012/05/lib-law-35-all-liberals-hate-doobie.html

      May 21, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • sam stone

      Ha! A bunch of people purporting to speak for god

      May 21, 2012 at 7:06 am |
  11. truth

    Only for the Christian

    1 Corinthians 5 >>
    New International Version 1984

    9I have written you in my letter not to associate with se xua lly im mor al people— 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are im mo ral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is se xu ally im m oral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

    12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”b

    May 21, 2012 at 4:22 am |
    • GB

      pick and choose what you want out of the Bible. What about the part before verse 9? It only talks about sleeping with others in the same family. that line has nothing to do with LGBT. and i wish people would stop quoting Leviticus. Here is one:
      Leviticus 19:20-22 "And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the Lord for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him."

      May 21, 2012 at 7:56 am |
  12. n8263

    Christians think Sharia Law is immoral but impose their own Sharia Law in America.
    No matter what version, it's immoral to impose your religious superstition and deny others civil rights.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:11 am |
    • truth

      James 1 >>
      New International Version 1984

      22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

      26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      n8 ..you are my favorite cut and paste blogger.

      You can sleep tonight knowing that for there to be a Christian style Sharia law all or the majority of Christians would have to agree on the interpretations of the scriptures. We can not even reach agreement on the Trinity so Christian Sharia would be a major leap.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:24 am |
    • truth

      12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”b

      May 21, 2012 at 4:42 am |
    • JWT

      god has no right (presuming he even exists) to judge those from outside your particular religious sect. Your god's judgement of me is pointless and will never happen.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:46 am |
    • err

      you hope.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:04 am |
    • JWT

      No need to hope for something that I know,.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:21 am |
  13. mandarax

    At most, there are only three passages in the entire New Testament that refer to what we today would call homosexual activity.
    None of the four gospels mentions the subject. This means that, so far as we know, Jesus never spoke about homosexuality, and we simply have no way of determining what his attitude toward it might have been. Moreover, there is nothing about homosexuality in the Book of Acts, in Hebrews, in Revelation, or in the letters attributed to James, Peter, John, and Jude. Further, homosexuality is not mentioned in ten of the thirteen letters attributed to Paul. It is only in Romans 1:26–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, and 1 Timothy 1:8–11 that there may be references to homosexuality.2 The paucity of references to homosexuality in the New Testament suggests that it was not a matter of major concern either for Jesus or for the early Christian movement.

    ht tp: / /w ww.westarinstitute.org/Periodicals/4R_Articles/homosexuality.h tml

    May 21, 2012 at 4:00 am |
    • Aaron

      Considering how much of the old testament is about god wanting animal sacrifice, and I mean tons of details about that, seems animal sacrifice is far more important to Christian god than gay issues. Maybe god goes both ways -kind of makes sense that he'd be bi/multi, except that he's not there at all.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:07 am |
    • truth

      James 1 >>
      New International Version 1984

      12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

      13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

      16Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:12 am |
    • Mirosal

      @ "truth" ... in those little verses you're so adept at copying and pasting, would you tell us just WHAT do they have to do with ho'mo'se'xuality? Your little diatribe can be interpreted in many, MANY different ways. Is this your sad, lame attempt of some kind of "proof"?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:18 am |
  14. Alan

    More Communist Propaganda to destroy Christianity.........................................

    May 21, 2012 at 3:26 am |
    • truth

      Many have tried, including Communism, and failed. The word of God cannot be stopped. It has already been decided.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • Waylon

      No Alan, just reason fighting back against religion. Get used to it. Your ancient myth known as Christianity is collapsing.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:56 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      For the most part people who oppose gay marriage comprise a very specific demographic....namely people who will be dead soon.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:03 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Are you predicting the Rapture or are you planning on going Virginia Tech on Christians?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:18 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Neither...just pointing out that the majority of them are grey haired dinosaurs.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:58 am |
    • err

      shows how little you know.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:05 am |
    • mandarax

      err, Pew Research shows how little you know:

      Oppose gay marriage
      18-29 yrs old – 27%
      30-64 – 55%
      65+ – 67%

      It also shows that support increases with education level – go figure.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:13 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      when it does, it will be for the better

      May 21, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • sam stone

      Alan: Christians themselves are doing great work at destroying Christianity. Now, put on your big boy pants and realize that not all of these iron age myths apply to modern man.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • jmac121


      Over two billion christians in the world doesn't sound like something that is dying, my friend ... as someone noted earlier, people have been trying to destroy true followers of God for thousands of years but He has promised to always protect His elect

      May 21, 2012 at 6:06 am |
    • sam stone

      it may not be dying, but it is shifting geographically.

      May 21, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  15. Mello

    Baptism and Marriage are very very different. This was a poor attempt to use the Bible to say its okay.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:16 am |
    • JWT

      There are many definitions of baptism amongst christians. Different chirstians feel differently about gay marriage. The meaning of the bible is not obvious. People will take fro,m it what they want to. Fortunately most people take the good parts.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:49 am |
  16. Susie

    "If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.” St Augustine.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:13 am |
    • mandarax

      And yet that is exactly what every Christian does. Have you sold all your belongings and given the money to the poor? Have you forsaken your family to follow only Jesus? What about the rest of the bible (which Jesus said still must be followed)? Did you sacrifice a ram this week and smear the blood on your house? You didn't wear any clothes made from different threads did you? Christians choose whatever anthills from the bible that they want to promote, while ignoring the mountains that are inconvenient to them.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:22 am |
    • Ting

      Where in the gospels is there mention of ho mose xuality?

      May 21, 2012 at 3:35 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Manadarax but it is also what many Atheist do with the Bible as well. How many times have we heard Atheist quote negative scripture after negative but never scriptures.

      Never hear a Atheist quote:

      Matthew 5:9 ““Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

      2 Corinthians 13:11  Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

      Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

      But, Atheist also “choose whatever” from the Bible that promote and further their image and agenda. Atheist are as guilty of cherry picking as they declare Christians of doing.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:17 am |
    • mandarax

      Mark, that's partly true (but if you've read my posts you've heard me say there are some wonderful parables in the bible), but there's a reason for that.

      Believers claim that the Bible is all good – that is the perfect word either written or directly inspired by God – and that it is the gold standard for morality. Therefore, pointing out immoralities and inconsistencies in the Bible disproves their claim. That's why critics of fundamentalists point those out.

      Non-believers don't insist that every word of the Bible is false or immoral, so admitting to the good parts doesn't prove or disprove anything. I said below that I try to follow the Golden Rule. That is referenced in the Bible, but I'm not claiming that there is nothing positive or useful in the Bible so that doesn't disprove any claims I am making. I hope this makes sense – it's late.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • mandarax

      Think of it in terms of this classic logic example:

      Claim: all geese are white.
      For this to be disproved, you don't have to look at every goose in the universe, you only have to observe one that isn't.

      Christians are claiming that the the whole Bible is perfect. For this to be disproved you don't have to acknowledge every good verse in the bible, you only have to observe one that isn't.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:37 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>”Believers claim that the Bible is all good – that is the perfect word either written or directly inspired by God – and that it is the gold standard for morality.”

      I believe that the Faithful declare that the answers and definitions of morality can be found in the Bible but the inconsistency that I feel are in the interpretations of the scriptures. I have a hard time with saying it is the perfect word the same way many Christians would in that we wish that it would be more straightforward in its meaning. Two Christians can read the same scripture and get two different interpretations of the text. I have seen Atheist and even others inside and outside of the Faith declare that the Bible is not perfect. They give two passages and declare that what they believe the scriptures to mean do not “add up”. Scholars for hundreds of years have challenged the Bible and have been caught in quagmires.

      But lets play. I am not that much of a Biblical person and I do not know scripture up one wall and down another. Can you give me your “black goose”.

      Yes, it is late and I will check back on this thread tomorrow. I just went back and read ten pages on this article searching for someone stating that the Bible is perfect.

      One more post and I am heading to bed.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:18 am |
    • mandarax

      Mark, your views sound fairly moderate and open to reason, and I respect that. However, it is common to claim that the bible is the inerrant word of god, and many churches state that in their mission. The accepted meaning of fundamentalism is belief in the literal truth of the bible (or koran, etc).

      As for the gray geese, there are some different kinds, if you mean factual errors there is:
      The first two chapters of Genesis, which present two conflicting scenarios of creation. They can't both be literally true. (and by the way, I have a hard time with your idea that the creation story fits well with evolution, there are a number of things in error even if you take the story figuratively).

      If you mean clearly immoral teachings, there is:
      “Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us – he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” (Psalm 137:9)

      If you mean inconsistencies, then (in addition to Genesis creation):
      “…for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. (Gen 32:30). However, John 1:18 states, “No man hath seen God at any time…” Both statements can't be true. Either there is an error of fact, or an error of translation. In either case, there is an error. And if there is an error, then infallibility of the Bible is falsified.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>and by the way, I have a hard time with your idea that the creation story fits well with evolution, there are a number of things in error even if you take the story figuratively”

      Good morning. If you take the steps of creationism from Genesis you see that God did not just “poof” and everything sprang forth at once. Try this. A Shepard is sitting in a field and wonders.. how all of this, us and the planet came to be. God appears and says take my hand and gives the Shepard a front row seat to view how it all began. In science and evolutionist theory we hear that the Earth was this blob of molten substance that was floating around after the “big bang”. I then turn to Genesis and read that in chapter one verse two that “And the earth was without form, and void;”. Now, remember the Bible is supposed to be for those that thought the Earth was flat but some how someone, at the very beginning of the Bible, knew something that it would take evolutionist hundreds of years to even theorize. The same person detailed that other life, such as plants and basic animals existed before humans. Another item that some how someone witnessed that it would take evolutionist hundreds of years to theorize.

      Take a step away from creationism, many claim that Bible folks were all once flat Earth people. But in Isaiah 40:22 the scripture points to the view that the earth is round. It is things such as these that cause me to see the parallels.

      >>>”If you mean clearly immoral teachings, there is:” (Psalm 137:9)

      I am not a Bible scholar so I had to treat this scripture in the same manner as when another person of Faith gives me a single scripture. In Psalm 137:3 it paints the better picture of 137:9.

      “For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.”

      Their captors were requiring them to sing a song of Zion and 137:9 … I interpret as, the captors wondering how they could sing and make happy those that killed their children. Think of the American slave being told to sing tribal songs and the discussions of how could they.

      >>>Genesis 32:30 vs John 1:18

      Yep, inconsistencies between new testament and old. Was it God who Jacob had wrestled? In that view, the Bible, I believe, has other times when God has walked amongst us, appearing mortal. In that view, would any of these be the true face of God?

      >>>”Mark, your views sound fairly moderate and open to reason, and I respect that.”

      I to you as well. This was a difficult exchange because most of the time I find myself locked into debates with other Christians who feel that just because they can quote scriptures back ward and forward then they must be some level above other Christians. When I ask them how God has touched their lives they can quote me a scripture detail how “can” touch our lives but testimony they are often very weak on. I look for God's continued presence in today and from that I have my Faith. So you are debating someone who normally does not grab a Bible to debate Faith. It was fun and with honor I enjoyed it.

      L'Chaim my friend.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • mandarax

      Thanks, Mark, I agree – the discussion was enjoyable and informative. I too often end up with debaters who quote scripture without a lot of reflective thought. I appreciate your perspective. Peace.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  17. DC

    How about a gay's case for traditional marriage?

    May 21, 2012 at 2:57 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      there's a GAY CASE for Traditional Marriage????/
      Umm where?

      I think you are misguided there v­i­l­l­a­g­e i­d­i­o­t.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:17 am |
  18. mandarax

    @RobertG, I think you protest too much. Just like ol' Ted Haggert. You're having to fight on the outside everything you secretly feel on the inside. I bet you have a whole other secret life full of sweaty man love, don't you? I bet you like the rough stuff, huh? You know, they're gonna find out someday...

    May 21, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Jim

      Sounds like you have exp. in sweaty man love mandarax? Seriously where do they find these people who just make up theology for CNN?

      May 21, 2012 at 2:50 am |
    • mandarax

      No, I have no experience – just comfortable enough in my manhood to talk about it. As for your second sentence, you could leave out the "for CNN" phrase and it would be even more true. All theology is made up. Theology is just detailed discussions of the stitching patterns, the tailoring, and the fabrics in the emperor's new clothes. It's like adolescents debating the Harry Potter books.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:57 am |
    • Jim

      Im glad your so sure.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:53 am |
    • The Taught Police


      You're wrong in your use of 'your'. Whose who's are you hewing into hues? There are two tu's to your tutu too. It's time for its correct usage.

      Religious folk are generally pretty stupid.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • mandarax

      I'm not 100% certain. Evidence would change my mind, but in my life so far I haven't been able to find a shred of it. And I've looked.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:03 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      A few pages back someone said the same about Atheist.

      Yall' on the extremes of both sides are funny. Both use identical insults against each other.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:06 am |
    • mandarax

      Mark, show me one single post where a Christian said they're not 100% sure, but they will follow the evidence.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:09 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Mandarax, it is a stalemate and another point of similarities between the sides, with that one my friend. Both sides will only recognize what they believe to proof. I will say that maybe Agnostics are open to the possibilities of both but Atheism, I have never heard anything but 100% certain that God does not exist.

      Take this example, a man comes running outside and says that his child's cancer was cured. Watching in the parking lot is a Atheist and a person of Faith. The Atheist will declare that it was that for this child the chemo worked. For the person of Faith, he or she will say that it is a act of God.

      Neither can say why this child gets to go home and five other kids are going into body bags other than what they already believe.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • mandarax

      Except that mountains of evidence show that chemotherapy works a certain percentage of the time and under specified conditions. There is no such evidence for "acts of god." When something is developed that works better than chemo, the rationalist will update their thinking based on that evidence. The faithful, by definition, will not change their beliefs according to evidence.

      As I said, evidence would change my mind. For now, it sounds cliche but the evidence for god really is about the same as that for santa claus – that evidence is that many people believe it and they talk and write about it a lot. But that's all. On the other hand, there is again mountains of evidence from psychology, neurology, anthropology, etc that humans are prone to magical thinking when they don't understand something. And history demonstrates that nothing that we have ever believe to be magic has ever – not even once – turned out to be magic.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:54 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>”Except that mountains of evidence show that chemotherapy works a certain percentage of the time and under specified conditions.”

      You see Mandarax, that “certain percentage” is where the Faithful have placed God or Gods. That is why I choose Cancer. Science is throwing everything they have at Cancer. Some times it works, sometimes (BeeGees Gibbs and Donna Summer), it does not.

      >>>”The faithful, by definition, will not change their beliefs according to evidence.”

      Ahh, if I pointed out the parent stating that they prayed for their child to be cured and God cured their child.... would you be willing to change your beliefs based on what the Faithful declare is “evidence”? Your trap is sorta easy because you declare that the Faithful will not change based on evidence that you approve of.

      >>>”As I said, evidence would change my mind.”

      Are you open to, that God or Gods had a hand in curing this child using our evidence? If you are, I am afriad you are more Agnostic than Atheist. If you are not open to the possibility that God answered the parent's prayers because you discount our evidence, then it is again a stalemate.

      >>>”On the other hand, there is again mountains of evidence from psychology, neurology, anthropology, etc that humans are prone to magical thinking when they don't understand something.”

      ...and still how many times has science failed to explain situations. Anthropology... just finished that class, lots of “inconsistencies” there. 🙂 They can not clearly define what happened to the Neanderthals. At the same time the Bible, defined the Earth was round before Science did (Isiah 40:22) and covered the creation of the planet (Genesis), close enough to science that I know I can not see the reason for the conflict with evolutionist.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:41 am |
    • silentpyjamas

      Just to clear something up, atheism is *not* the position that there are definitely no gods. Atheism is simply the position of not believing in gods. Similarly, agnosticism is not a place between theism and atheism, it is the position that we cannot or do not know that gods exist.

      The position of saying "I know gods exist" or "I know gods do not exist" is gnosticism.

      Many, perhaps most, atheists are agnostic atheists, meaning they don't know that gods do or do not exist and don't believe in them, but would likely be willing to adjust their perspectives if evidence of gods made it possible for them to know that these gods exist. A gnostic atheist is one who would say "I know gods do not exist."

      Most religious fundamentalists, and maybe a lot of moderates as well, believe they know for sure that gods exist, so they would be gnostic theists, but someone who believes, while at the same time not really being sure if gods exist, is an agnostic theist. I don't know how many of them there are who aren't pretty much right on the road to becoming atheists, actually.

      Anyway, the misuse of the terms "atheist" and "agnostic" in this conversation thread demonstrate a verbal imprecision that contributes to huge amounts of misunderstanding with regard to theological perspectives. Atheism is not monolithic, and not all atheists are anti-theists either. Those would be people who actively oppose religion. Maybe knowing what these terms actually mean will be helpful in future discussions about this topic, because using them imprecisely is similar to a nonbeliever saying "Well have fun at Sunday school in your mosque with the rabbi."

      May 21, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • RobertG

      @silentpyjamas – A study of the word roots. "A"-"theism" literally means "against"/"belief in god", or a complete rejection of "theism". "A"-"gnostic" literally means "against"/"knowledge", or rejecting that "god is knowable". Most, if not all, A-thiests are also Anti-theists.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • mandarax

      Thanks, silentPJ's for the clarifications and you are exactly right. I have accepted the simple term "atheist" here but my perspective, as is most people's, is more complex than that.

      Mark, with regard to science and god, you are slipping toward the "god of the gaps" mentality when you imply that things that science have not yet explained are possible evidence for god. In the classic rebuttal, "We don't know" is not evidence for "God did it."

      Scientific information is indeed incomplete, but science is a process not a collection of facts. Anthropologists don't know exactly what led to the extinction of Neanderthals, but we know a heck of a lot more than we did just a few decades ago. We know roughly when it happened (through radiometric dating), what kind of tools they made and foods they ate and their burial practices (through archaeology), and to what degree they are related to us (through osteology and genetics). On the other hand, the bible makes no mention of them at all and shows no awareness of prehistory in the slightest (hence the magical creation stories). As a source for understanding the world factually, science has proven infinitely more powerful.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  19. RobertG

    You can spin the Bible any way you want, but the fact is the commandment was given even before to Noah as a covenant at the time of the flood. #4 was a prohibition against immoral activity including being gay. In return, God gave Noah a symbol: the rainbow.

    Gays have hijacked that symbol (the rainbow) and flaunted the covenant God made with men. Google the Seven Noahide Laws.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Wait .. hyjacked the Rainbow? They use the Pink Triangle as well.

      .,... wanna know where they got that from?

      I think you are stretching a bit there.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:31 am |
    • mandarax

      I once had an old Chevy that had beautiful Noahide seats. Soft and supple – kinda gay, come to think of it...

      May 21, 2012 at 2:36 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      and where exactly did the use of the rainbow you speak of was h­i­j­a­c­k­e­d ­from? LUCKY CHARMS???? LEPRECHAUNS ??? THE IRISH??? RAINBOW BRITE??? THE RAIN and SUN????

      they should have ® Rainbow then

      May 21, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      ACTUALLY.....gather around Christian children, I'm about to teach something for all those who don't know....THE RAINBOW, in regards to the Gay Flag.

      The original gay-pride flag was hand-dyed by Gilbert Baker. It flew in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978. It has been suggested that Baker was inspired by Judy Garland's singing "Over the Rainbow". I JUST LOVE THAT SONG.

      Another suggestion for how the rainbow flag originated is that at college campuses during the 1960s, some people demonstrated for world peace by carrying a Flag of the Races (also called the Flag of the Human Race) with five horizontal stripes (from top to bottom they were red, black, brown, yellow, and white). Gilbert Baker is said to have gotten the idea for the rainbow flag from this flag in borrowing it from the Hippie movement of that time largely influenced by pioneering h­o­m­o­s­e­x­u­a­l activist Allen Ginsberg. The flag consisted of eight stripes; Baker assigned specific meaning to each of the colours:
      hot pink: s­e­x­u­a­l­i­t­y
      red: life
      orange: healing
      yellow: sunlight
      green: nature
      turquoise: magic/art
      indigo/blue: s­e­r­e­n­i­t­y/­harmony
      violet: spirit


      May 21, 2012 at 2:55 am |
    • mandarax

      Yeah, the "freak flags" right? There's a Hendrix lyric that says "They're hoping soon my kind will drop and die, But I'm gonna wave my freak flag high"

      May 21, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      I feel the same about YOUR bible as you do of THEIR FLAG..

      Just a bunch of F­R­E­A­K­S you Bible T­h­u­m­p­e­rs are

      May 21, 2012 at 5:19 am |
  20. Oliver Hare

    Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy all agree: The Bible is pure fact!

    May 21, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • mandarax

      Actually, you know what's compelling about the fundamentalist arguments? Yeah, me neither.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things
      Prayer changes things

      May 21, 2012 at 4:50 am |
    • Mirosal

      What is compelling is that as an adult, you still have an imaginary "friend". Or, do you still have the mental capacity of a 6 year old?

      May 21, 2012 at 5:02 am |
    • DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

      and this PRAYER thingy he keeps talking about...funny thing it is....doesn't work cause if it did....all people different to Christians would be burning in Hell by now.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:21 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.