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My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?
June 21st, 2011
10:10 AM ET

My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?

Editor's Note: Jonathan Dudley is the author of Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics.

By Jonathan Dudley, Special to CNN

Growing up in the evangelical community, I learned the Bible’s stance on homosexuality is clear-cut. God condemns it, I was taught, and those who disagree just haven’t read their Bibles closely enough.

Having recently graduated from Yale Divinity School, I can say that my childhood community’s approach to gay rights—though well intentioned—is riddled with self-serving double standards.

I don’t doubt that the one New Testament author who wrote on the subject of male-male intercourse thought it a sin. In Romans 1, the only passage in the Bible where a reason is explicitly given for opposing same-sex relations, the Apostle Paul calls them “unnatural.”

Problem is, Paul’s only other moral argument from nature is the following: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” (1 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Few Christians would answer that question with a “yes.”

In short, Paul objects to two things as unnatural: one is male-male sex and the other is long hair on men and short hair on women. The community opposed to gay marriage takes one condemnation as timeless and universal and the other as culturally relative.

I also don’t doubt that those who advocate gay marriage are advocating a revision of the Christian tradition.

But the community opposed to gay marriage has itself revised the Christian tradition in a host of ways. For the first 1500 years of Christianity, for example, marriage was deemed morally inferior to celibacy. When a theologian named Jovinian challenged that hierarchy in 390 A.D. — merely by suggesting that marriage and celibacy might be equally worthwhile endeavors — he was deemed a heretic and excommunicated from the church.

How does that sit with “family values” activism today?

Yale New Testament professor Dale B. Martin has noted that today’s "pro-family" activism, despite its pretense to be representing traditional Christian values, would have been considered “heresy” for most of the church’s history.

The community opposed to gay marriage has also departed from the Christian tradition on another issue at the heart of its social agenda: abortion.

Unbeknownst to most lay Christians, the vast majority of Christian theologians and saints throughout history have not believed life begins at conception.

Although he admitted some uncertainty on the matter, the hugely influential 4th and 5th century Christian thinker Saint Augustine wrote, “it could not be said that there was a living soul in [a] body” if it is “not yet endowed with senses.”

Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic saint and a giant of mediaeval theology, argued: “before the body has organs in any way whatever, it cannot be receptive of the soul.”

American evangelicals, meanwhile, widely opposed the idea that life begins at conception until the 1970s, with some even advocating looser abortion laws based on their reading of the Bible before then.

It won’t do to oppose gay marriage because it’s not traditional while advocating other positions that are not traditional.

And then there’s the topic of divorce. Although there is only one uncontested reference to same-sex relations in the New Testament, divorce is condemned throughout, both by Jesus and Paul. To quote Jesus from the Gospel of Mark: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.”

A possible exception is made only for unfaithfulness.

The community most opposed to gay marriage usually reads these condemnations very leniently. A 2007 issue of Christianity Today, for example, featured a story on its cover about divorce that concluded that Christians should permit divorce for “adultery,” “emotional and physical neglect” and “abandonment and abuse.”

The author emphasizes how impractical it would be to apply a strict interpretation of Jesus on this matter: “It is difficult to believe the Bible can be as impractical as this interpretation implies.”

Indeed it is.

On the other hand, it’s not at all difficult for a community of Christian leaders, who are almost exclusively white, heterosexual men, to advocate interpretations that can be very impractical for a historically oppressed minority to which they do not belong – homosexuals.

Whether the topic is hair length, celibacy, when life begins, or divorce, time and again, the leaders most opposed to gay marriage have demonstrated an incredible willingness to consider nuances and complicating considerations when their own interests are at stake.

Since graduating from seminary, I no longer identify with the evangelical community of my youth. The community gave me many fond memories and sound values but it also taught me to take the very human perspectives of its leaders and attribute them to God.

So let’s stop the charade and be honest.

Opponents of gay marriage aren’t defending the Bible’s values. They’re using the Bible to defend their own.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jonathan Dudley.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Homosexuality • Opinion

soundoff (6,474 Responses)
  1. Mark

    Bravo, Yale Divinity School. You have done a fantastic job training this
    young man to argue that sin is not sin. Congratulations!

    June 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Angry Hillbilly

      I can almost guarantee that you are wearing fiber of mixed fabrics. You're sinning too.

      Or, is that one that god no longer cares about? Perhaps he was misquoted, or it was taken out of context? How do you defend yourself, sinner?

      June 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Stevie7

      So you agree, then, that men wearing long hair and eating shrimp is a sin?

      I don't think that the author was trying to define what is a sin and what isn't. I think he was simply pointing out the hypocrisy in focusing on one 'sin' while ignoring a host of others.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • TigerEllis

      🙂

      June 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      And once again we see that when people with open minds look into religion they come away understanding what a steaming pile of crap it is, full of nonesense and contradictions. I'm impressed that the authour managed to still be able to think for himself after spending multiple years in "advance fantasy role playing game school."

      June 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Huh?

      HotAirAce Nice demonstration of your own open mindedness.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Huh!

      Once upon a time, I was open minded about religion, but readily admit that it's "case closed" for religion now. That being said, I think I'm open minded about many things – for all people having the same rights for example. Even people who beleive in sky daddies.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • QuestioningChristian

      Sorry, that last reply was actually meant for @HotAirAce, not @Angry Hillbilly.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @QuestioningChristian

      Question? I don't see a question!

      June 21, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • diva

      You will not be saying that when you stand before GOD. Hopefully you will seek to find the truth so many don't want to believe..... it is to there demise......Sin is sin and we sin everyday. That is why we need JESUS.

      July 18, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • diva

      Don't be decieved into thinking that......

      July 18, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Common Sense

      It seems the west doesn't understand scripture, and that's why the blind European or Caucasian don't or can't face the fact that the final prophecy of the end is the the destruction of the world that was extremely contaminated by White People.

      The Wise Men came from the East, there is nothing that came or comes from the west but the Anti-Messiah who condones this way of thinking.

      August 19, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • EvelynWaugh

      Christians pick and choose what they believe in the bible. If you read the Old Testament which is the original bible there are many appalling things Christians will deny are in the bible. A little over 50% of Christians get divorced .. that's hypocrisy.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • Jerry Fields

      Amen!

      August 31, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  2. lance corporal

    let the hate fest flow.... show us how christian you are

    June 21, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  3. Sybaris

    Above all, your god, whichever it may be, created the gene that causes same gender attraction.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • ChrisA

      I would love to see one scientific study that gives definitive proof that there is a "gay gene"

      June 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Luke

      ChrisA

      We're working on that. We may never ever, per se, find a gay gene, however; but it is important to know that during the infant stages of brain develpment the male brain is drenched in testesterone. During that period, certain neural pathways are carved out for a lifetime. It is during this process that certain pathways may not fire like most brains which result in a depleated level of testesterone and increased levels of other chemicals. Once chemical levels return to normal, the pathways are already carved and the brain may become what you call – gay.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Tom

      Chris A

      They haven't identified a specific gene yet but the evidence is beginning to mount that a combination of genes is probably associated with same s3x attraction. It is probably a 3-4 gene combination. This is not unusual and has been found for other traits.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Yo!

      Hey Chris, it's a combination of things that make people gay.

      Most scientists today agree that s-exual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors. In most people, s-exual orientation is shaped at an early age. There is also considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's s-exuality.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • christian

      hormonal imbalance ,lack of teteosterone,"brain Pathways" lol
      Please ppl do not tdefend the gay community by basically saying being gay is a genetic disorder or a disease for that matter,cuz really are u defending them ?

      June 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • 3lwood

      @ christian, Determining the cause doesn't imply disorder. Although you're unapologetic hate implies it.

      June 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • floydgg

      @Christian: Why not? Of course we are defending them while you are prosecuting them. We win, you lose.

      June 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • Ummmm

      "Please ppl do not tdefend the gay community by basically saying being gay is a genetic disorder or a disease for that matter,cuz really are u defending them ?"

      Ummmm duh Chris the science and psychology is supporting it with facts, not some fictional book.

      June 21, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • tuffgong71

      Actually there are hundreds of scientific studies that show physical and mental differences betweeen gay and straight people. The gay male brain responds to stimuli almost identically to the straight female brain. The gay female brain responds much like the straight male brain. No gene has been isolated though....yet.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • PhdxinxDuh

      Im a psychologist, that gene is a myth, based on biased inconclusive research.
      Sorry.

      July 4, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • lanced

      @Gay Gene – far more REAL scientific evidence for genetic disposition to alcoholism and criminal behavior... where are their rights to fully live out their orientations unabated?

      July 8, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • ravensun

      PhdxinxDuh – Wow, a real psychologist? Learn to spell, and maybe you'll be able to present your thoughts effectively.

      July 13, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • calhou

      Science? Propaganda? In today's world they appear to be the same. Just say it over and over and over and magically..........it becomes true. As there is no real science that can answer teh question......Once the propaganda becomes reality – you have what you seek – absolution.

      July 15, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • flyingfish

      name the gene – show me, produce the evidence!

      July 28, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • Common Sense

      no it's choice, with a dose of classic conditioning. Yahweh doesn't make people like that unless they were created to be destroyed, period.

      August 19, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  4. Angry Hillbilly

    Anyone who quotes the bible saying homosexuality is wrong often forgets all the other stuff it says. Namely not eating meat on specific days, not eating shellfish ever, not wearing clothes of mixed fabric, when it's OK to stone someone to death, etc, etc. Most religious people like Red Lobster, The Gap, and say all killing is wrong because it fits with our modern day culture. But homosexuality is scary and new enough that they can point to a single passage and say "See? It says so right here, so don't do it."

    tl;dr: lol hypocrites.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • ChrisA

      Most Bible-bashers do not understand the difference between the laws placed upon the Jews in the Old Testament of the Bible and the grace that governs Christians as found in the New Testament of the Bible.
      For the Christian, the Old Testament and its laws are just for historic reference.
      People would understand this if they READ the ENTIRE Bible rather than picking a few verses that they found on some blog or website.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Eric G

      @ChrisA: Muslims say the same thing about your "New Testament". You would know this if you read something else besides your Bible.

      So, who is reading the right book and what evidence do you have to support your claim?

      June 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Stevie7

      @ChrisA: "For the Christian, the Old Testament and its laws are just for historic reference."
      --------
      So Christians don't follow the ten commandments? The not lying, no adultery stuff is all moot now? Or are you still cherry picking? Because I guess I missed the part in READING the ENTIRE bible that said to ignore everything that came before. In fact, I seem to remember jesus saying something to specifically refute that point. Matthew 5:17, perhaps?

      June 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Joel

      clearly you've never read the bible since this is old testament instructions for a specific people in a specific time. The new testament made it clear how all people should view meat and shellfish....

      June 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • chrisg510

      ChrisA......So you just pick and choose which of GOD's laws you want to follow. So you only want to follow the new testiment, then maybe you should check out Matthew 7

      July 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • flyingfish

      most hillbillies forgot Jesus paid it all, for them, and me, including pork bbq

      July 28, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • Common Sense

      That's why your in the hills. You need to research what your saying, you know nothing about the Torah. You can't take the Hebraic belief and make it fit the very people that it speaks of destroying at the end of time. The West

      August 19, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  5. JohnQuest

    Are any of you Leviticus quoting Christians advocating stoning Ga-ys, if not, why not as you say, it is clearly written? If you truly believe your Bible you must also believe in the punishment.

    If you are not advocating murd er, you are being hypocritical, believing in only the parts that you want and disregarding the rest.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • TigerEllis

      God can fight His own battles; he's a big boy. He commanded us not to kill.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Angry Hillbilly

      He commanded us not to kill, and yet, he also commanded us to stone adulterers to death. Odd.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • TigerEllis

      John 8 (Amplified Bible)
      4 Teacher, they said, This woman has been caught in the very act of adultery.

      5 Now Moses in the Law commanded us that such [women–offenders] shall be stoned to death. But what do You say [to do with her–what is Your sentence]?

      6 This they said to try (test) Him, hoping they might find a charge on which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger.

      7 However, when they persisted with their question, He raised Himself up and said, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Tiger: Commanded us not to kill?!?!? Have you read the Bible?

      June 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Joel

      because clueless, if you remember when a women was to be stoned, Jesus stopped it.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • rainkettle

      Ohh, Jesus stopped it! It's all OK then. All those people who were stoned to death before and after don't matter.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • 3lwood

      TigerEllis, oops, except in this passage:

      “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)

      and here:

      “This is what the Lord Almighty says... ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” (1 Samuel 15:3)

      But yea other than that, we shouldn't kill.

      June 21, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • flyingfish

      Jesus! fulfilled all that main – done – forgiven, but only through HIM – call on His name, mean it, I dare you! Ask Him on your knees to come into your life! I double dog dare you!

      July 28, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  6. dilly

    Rom 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
    Rom 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
    Rom 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
    Rom 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • John Richardson

      So where do you stand on longhaired men and shorthaired women? Or did you not bother to read the author's arguments about the hypocrisy of citing only anti-gay scripture?

      June 21, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Tom

      I shall be told philosophy is comfortless, because it speaks the truth; and people prefer illusions. Go to the illusionists, then, and leave philosophers in peace!

      At any rate, do not ask us to accommodate our doctrines to your hopes.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • EndTheHate

      Don't forget these...

      Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:15 NAB)
      All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense. (Leviticus 20:9 NLT)
      If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)
      A priest's daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9 NAB)
      Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)
      When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)
      If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT)

      June 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  7. TigerEllis

    Leviticus 18:21-23

    Amplified Bible (AMP)

    21You shall not give any of your children to pass through the fire and sacrifice them to Molech [the fire god], nor shall you profane the name of your God [by giving it to false gods]. I am the Lord.

    22You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.(A)

    23Neither shall you lie with any beast and defile yourself with it; neither shall any woman yield herself to a beast to lie with it; it is confusion, perversion, and degradedly carnal.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • John Richardson

      Obviously, you didn't read the article. The author isn't denying these verses are there, but pointing out that other verses against other things are cheerfully ignored.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Tom

      "I shall be told philosophy is comfortless, because it speaks the truth; and people prefer illusions. Go to the illusionists, then, and leave philosophers in peace! At any rate, do not ask us to accommodate our doctrines to your hopes."

      Humanist Bible, Lamentations

      June 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Free

      Eating shellfish is also called an 'abomination', but how many Christians take that seriously any more?

      How about Ezekiel 18:13 (AMP)

      13And has charged interest or percentage of increase on what he has loaned [in supposed compassion]; shall he then live? He shall not live! He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.

      Any Christian bankers out there?

      June 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  8. Eric

    Evidently our author skipped Leviticus 18 and 20: T
    Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.(Leviticus 18:22 KJV)
    If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.(Leviticus 20:13 KJV)

    As well as he missed Romans 1 26:27

    Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. (27) In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

    It's there in the book folks as well as many other things that we shouldn't do. It is not my place to judge, only to show facts and truth.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Stevie7

      It was just an article. I mean, the author could have had an absolute field day with Lev. if he wanted to.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • TigerEllis

      Sorry, Eric, I saw your post after I posted mine. ... Yours is even better; thanks 🙂

      June 21, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Tom

      "only to show facts and truth." LOL. Bible = fiction for fools

      June 21, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • tonytonitone

      Eric, The author seems to be referring to the "New Testament". The precise words of Jesus. If you want to go down the road of Old Testament I hope you realize that if you eat shrimp, wear mixed textiles, don't observe the sabbath, and a host of other things you are committing abominations. The point of the article is that certain Christians pick and choose their verses to defend their own bigotry, not that the bible promotes bigotry.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Free

      The author's point is that the bible verses against gays are given some kind of 'special' importance over the bible verses against divorce, men having long hair, eating lobster, women even speaking in church, not to mention the verses that support slavery, parental right to kill their own children for being disobedient, and so on. It's a basic reminder that Christians tend to cherry pick verses that they want to follow.

      Have you ever read A.J. Jacobs' "The Year of Living Biblically"? He actually attempted to keep ALL of the bible's laws for a year. Very enlightening, indeed, and quite amusing, especially the part where he throws rocks at people.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • John Richardson

      You apparently skipped the article, The author doesn't deny that these verses exist, but is emphasizing that verses exist that condemn other practices that Christians condone or even engage in.

      You religious people get all upset when anyone impugns your intelligence, but then show time and again that you can't follow a simply argument.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Jose

      As a note.. when it comes to eating certain foods, check out Romans 14 I think it was (havent read in a long time) where it basically says to eat what you want.

      romans also states that one day is holy to one man and to another they are all the same.. basically says on the issues of eating and special religious days to live and let live. Many of the old testament laws were basically softened or modified by the new testament.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • FormFactor

      But who needs facts and truth these days when poorly reasoned columns like this one can be passed off as the thoughtful ruminations of an IVY league trained mind?

      July 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  9. Rhonda

    It is wonderful to hear these words, especially in a public forum whose participants seem to accept the caricature of Bible believers as insensitive, unthinking clones. There is a wide diversity in the Christian community regarding issues like those mentioned by the author. He says ' I learned the Bible's stance ... was clearcut.' Face it , brothers and sisters, everything in scripture is interpreted. This does not negate the premise of God's inspiration; it merely makes the teaching a living, moving thing. Jesus broke it down this way, 'Love God; love others. This is the whole law.'

    June 21, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Free

      Rhonda
      The best way to get rid of the caricature is for the Bible believers who do to stop acting like "insensitive, unthinking clones", wouldn't you say?

      "Face it , brothers and sisters, everything in scripture is interpreted."
      Yes, everything, including claims that Jesus though of himself as God.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Rhonda

      @Free
      Every group has caricatures; even yours. We can only represent ourselves and remember that others also cringe at how they may be lumped with others. As for your statement about the claims of Christ, I agree. Let's respect one another's journey as we interpret.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  10. laynetc

    This is pretty pedestrian. Written from a "I just graduated and am smarter for it" perspective. I look forward to a revisit in 20 years. Not much here really.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Free

      In 20 years most people will probably be amazed that Christians opposed gay marriage to begin with. By that time gay married couples will be as commonplace in churches as interracial married couples are today.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • mark

      That's all you got laynetc? That someone actually educated themselves instead of accepting everything blindly? Yeah, what a whippersnapper, this educated young man. Once he gets older, more bitter and sad, then he'll "get it" just like you, right?

      June 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Cindi

      Laynetc, you sound like every other uneducated, self anointed, under achieving Hypocrit I've ever known.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  11. David

    Thank you for these rational thoughts. It takes people like this to keep saying these things for society to wise-up and do the right thing.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  12. Steve

    At the time the "bible" recorded, the people were nomadic, and long hair could not be kept clean, thus unnatural.

    Gay unions are not productive, unable to bear offspring. It is unnatural, and don't you think it is truly better to have a hetereo-s3xual disposition? Or is it simply a preference that is rooted in aber-rant behavoir?

    June 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Stevie7

      So, should we also bar anyone who is impotent from getting married?

      And how, exactly, is it unnatural? I've never heard any reasonable explanation other than a 2000+ year old book said so. That same book also tells you that eating shellfish and pork is unnatural. Is eating shrimp scampi also "aber-rant " behavior?

      June 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Steve

      Religious views were derived from practical sense of the day. Pork, shellfish had poor shelf life and illnesses were the result of their consumption, thus ta-boo. Just what good reason does one have to be non-het? Defending a gbt disposition as natural is facetious. Any animal has drives, and will usually resort to h-s3xual behavior when no other option exists, isn't natural. The bible simply relates that fact.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Free

      Steve
      "At the time the "bible" recorded, the people were nomadic, and long hair could not be kept clean, thus unnatural."
      What does that say about everyone's favorite image of Jesus with long hair? Is it time to do away with this image, or was Jesus really natty-haired and dirty?

      "Gay unions are not productive, unable to bear offspring. It is unnatural, and don't you think it is truly better to have a hetereo-s3xual disposition? Or is it simply a preference that is rooted in aber-rant behavoir?"

      Should infertile couples have their marriages annulled, and elderly marriages disallowed then?

      As the author so rightly pointed out the evangelical community "is riddled with self-serving double standards."

      June 21, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Free

      Steve
      "Religious views were derived from practical sense of the day."
      Well, it's no linger that day, now is it?

      June 21, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Free

      Oops, meant 'longer'. 🙂

      June 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Stevie7

      "Just what good reason does one have to be non-het? "

      Because one was born that way?

      June 21, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • John Richardson

      The residents of Jerusalem and Rome and the other people Paul engaged with and wrote to weren't nomads, you silly person. And if long hair was impossible to keep clean, why was it the "glory of woman"? Your attempts to justify your selective allegiance to the bible are absolutely pathetic and all the proof anyone will ever need that you mine the bible for the nuggets that feed your rank prejudice and ignore whatever you don't want to accept or deal with.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Thomas

      Stevie7 said "And how, exactly, is it unnatural?"

      Sarah Silverman explained it best when she said: "I poop from there."

      June 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Educating You

      @ Stevie7

      ""Just what good reason does one have to be non-het? "

      Because one was born that way?"

      Directly from the American Psychological Association, you can find it on their website:

      There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterose.xual, bise.xual, gay, or les.bian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on se.xual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that se.xual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • EndTheHate

      @Educating You

      I'm sorry were exactly does it say that g ays are not born that way?

      June 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Free

      "Just what good reason does one have to be non-het? "

      Might as well ask if left-handed people have a 'good reason' for preferring that hand, right?

      June 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Stevie7

      @Thomas: So we now know what's unnatural for Sarah Silverman, which pretty much proves nada. She also urinates from the other place, so the argument is kinda illogical anyways.

      @Educating You: Note that the APA doesn't say that there are not biological factors. Perhaps we shouldn't be basing social rights upon the indecisiveness of the APA. There are plenty of studies that do demonstrate a biological basis for hom.ose.xuality. And studies by sociobehaviorists (surprise) disagree. And whether biological or environmental – what does it really matter?

      June 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Free

      Thomas
      -Sarah Silverman explained it best when she said: "I poop from there."

      And you pee from your dick too. What's your point? Ask a woman how she feels about having urine put inside her.

      Se.x has a lot of 'transfer' involved. That's probably why the Jews, who have always been particularly concerned with issues of ritual cleanliness, are so concerned with se.x in general. Men having any contact whatsoever with another guy's 'transfers' would have been understandably troubling to them. Remember, they would kick their own women out of the tent every time their monthly came around. Do Christians do the same these days?

      June 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Educating You

      @Stevie7

      Women don't urinate from 'the other place' ... they have urethras, just like men.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Stevie7

      @Educating You – alert the biologists – there's a third hole! The entire argument is, of course, still ridiculous. Personal opinions, likes, and dislikes certainly do not define what is universally "natural", if there is such a thing.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Educating You

      @Stevie7

      Biologists certainly are aware, as it is considered common knowledge. The original argument was to your 'born that way' comment, in which case, science (be it biological, neurological, psychological, etc) has not concluded that to be true.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • 3lwood

      Why is procreation moral exactly? I mean the world has quickly outgrown itself.

      June 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • kd5757

      @ Educating You...
      Where on the American Psychological Association's website did you get that quote? Here is what I found...
      (http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/se.xual-orientation.aspx).
      "There are numerous theories about the origins of a person's se.xual orientation. Most scientists today agree that se.xual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors. In most people, se.xual orientation is shaped at an early age. There is also considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's se.xuality. It's important to recognize that there are probably many reasons for a person's se.xual orientation, and the reasons may be different for different people.

      July 5, 2011 at 1:43 am |
    • nohaso

      Well why according to the bible was it natural for women to have long hair? If it was hard for me to clean, wouldn't it also be hard for women to clean as well? Your argument gets a logical fail!!!!!

      August 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  13. Tom

    It's still a mystery as to how rational adults would even care or follow what's mandated in a book with a talking snake in it.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Eric G

      50% of the population is dumber than average.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Juggling Squirrel-Jesus

      Blasphemer! How dare you imply that Harry Potter isn't true! Of course magic is real. How else could you possibly explain the popularity of the likes of David Blaine and David Copperfield? A thousand curses upon you!

      June 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Free

      There's a talking donkey too.

      -Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?" Numbers 22:28

      June 21, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Stevie7

      Let's not forget that the ability to talk is not just limited to the animal kingdom. Bushes talk too, and while on fire.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Let's not forget the vocalizing incendiary foliage that Moses met, or the rocks that are supposed to scream if people can't praise Jesus.
      Then there's mention of unicorns (Isaiah 34:7), half man half goat beasts (Isaiah 13:21 and 34:14), flaming snakes (Numbers 21:6), seven headed dragons (Revelation 12:3) and serpents that can kill just by looking at you (Jeremiah 8:17).
      But for me, the best is the locust from Revelation that wears armor and a tiny little crown and has the face of a man, the hair of a woman, the mouth of a lion and the tail of a scorpion.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Free

      Doc
      "and serpents that can kill just by looking at you (Jeremiah 8:17)"

      Wasn't that in Harry Potter too, or am I thinking of Medusa from Greek myth?

      June 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Juggling Squirrel-Jesus

      @Free,

      It can be so hard to keep mythologies straight. I believe the snake from Harry Potter was taken from the legend of the basilisk seen in both roman and greek mythologies, which the judaic mythology almost certainly built upon.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Free

      Juggling Squirrel-Jesus
      An C.S. Lewis borrowed freely from Greek, Turkish and Roman mythology for his Narnia fables. My, how he loved talking animals too. Why is it, I wonder, that his heroic child characters get a pass in using magic, but Potter isn't? Just more of the basic inconsistency, I suppose?

      June 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Educating You

      Juggling Squirrel-Jesus

      The basilisk isn't a legend of myths as you say. It is real and well docu.mented.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Platypus

      Eric G: God must have loved the odd ball, he made so many of them. –Abe Lincoln

      July 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  14. Matt Rose

    It seems your argument is more based upon pragmatism than the Bible. If we take one of Paul's appeals to natural order more seriously than another, is it right to assume that we should take both loosely, citing something of cultural norms and so on? Isn't just as likely an option that we should take both more seriously? My understanding is that culture can be relative and, thus, subject to interpretation, but God's created order is not. What do we mean by saying that God created something one way in the past, but now that we know better, we should do it our way?

    Also, in regards to quoting the church fathers, I think it is a fair objection to say that science has changed dramatically since they lived. We know exponentially more about human life now than they did than. And as we have learned more about human life, we have been able to determine that it begins at conception, with or without complex systems of tissues and organs. Because we are barely through the threshold of medical and scientific discoveries, it seems foolish to throw away fact for an ignorant traditionalism. What would have happened if people refused forever to accept that the earth was round? Because by your logic on the morality of abortion, the earth is still flat, and your fingers are in your ears as we celebrate the ships that sail around the globe.

    All that to say, the Bible, not culture or even long-held opinions from dead theologians, should be our standard, if indeed we say we are Christians. The fact that some things outlawed in the Old Testament are permitted today is no excuse to throw out any and every sort of biblical "legislation" over our actions, and anyone who believes it is only proves they do not understand the over-arching story (the meta-narrative) God has written through history.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Free

      Matt Rose
      "My understanding is that culture can be relative and, thus, subject to interpretation, but God's created order is not. What do we mean by saying that God created something one way in the past, but now that we know better, we should do it our way?"

      The author addresses this with
      "Problem is, Paul’s only other moral argument from nature is the following: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” (1 Corinthians 11:14-15)."

      Paul saw long hair on a man as unnatural, and not just a cultural difference. Again, he demonstrates that he either did not know Jesus at all, or the popular image of Jesus is grossly misrepresentative.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Matt Rose, are you saying, Christians should or should not take the Bible literally, or only adopt the parts they agree with, I am reading all in your statement?

      Also, you seems to be saying that Christian should believe science and the Bible (even if they contradict). Which do you advocate science or the Bible when they conflict?

      Are people suppose to hold on to their religious traditions (beliefs) even if it conflicts with current culture (take ga-y marriage for example)?

      June 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Rhea

      "Paul saw long hair on a man as unnatural, and not just a cultural difference. Again, he demonstrates that he either did not know Jesus at all, or the popular image of Jesus is grossly misrepresentative."

      Paul never met Jesus, and the Gospels were written after his Epistles– that's why he never quotes them.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Free

      Rhea
      "Paul never met Jesus, and the Gospels were written after his Epistles– that's why he never quotes them."
      So true, and Paul admits to having been a huge enemy to the earliest followers of Jesus, and later fighting tooth and nail against Peter in his efforts to bring the faith to the gentiles. Why do people actually think that his guy represents the authentic intentions of Jesus?

      June 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • rainkettle

      @Matt Rose, can you tell me when exactly conception occurs? The fusion of the egg and sperm takes about two days. Try mixing some red and blue paint and tell me exactly when you get the color purple. Exactly when.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  15. JohnQuest

    This is the same argument non believers have been stating for years.

    June 21, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Hortense and Her Enormous Cat

      Funny how good arguments tend to persist.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • rainkettle

      It's got nothing to do with belief vs. non-belief. It has everything to do with hypocrisy. If Christians can ignore other rules in the Bible without any justification, why should anyone listen to them when they use those same rules as a weapon against others?

      June 21, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • DM

      To: Hortense.

      The escapism of saying "Forget it because can't stop sinning" is tragic if it results in your going to Hell (1 Cor 6:9; Rev 20:8).

      If you give your life to Jesus and pray, he gives you the power to overcome. The one who said, 'come' to Peter, gave him to ability to walk on water in obedience. If you give your life, thoughts and actions to Jesus. He'll give you the power to overcome. Sometimes, you're instantly released, sometimes it takes time. However, you will overcome if you don't give in, give up and quit.

      July 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  16. Jon in Rochester

    Great article (editorial) ! Thank you. Benefits should not be bestowed based solely on a religious ceremony. The same people that say that marriage is all about religion, wouldn’t want the state and federal benefits and protections that they receive from their full marriage status taken away and they don't want to allow the LBTG community to have those same benefits. I know some gay couples that have been together for over 30 years. Denying those same protections and benefits to those couples is just wrong.

    June 21, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  17. myweightinwords

    Very well said.

    June 21, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  18. Eric G

    I find it interesting how believers cannot provide any verifiable evidence that their god exists, but can claim to know their gods desires with certainty.

    Using their own arguments.....

    If god created man, man would be perfect.
    If man created god, god would be exactally as imperfect as it is.

    June 21, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Stevie7

      I suppose that leaves open the argument that an imperfect god(s) created an imperfect man – older religions seem to think that this was perfectly natural and obvious.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Eric G

      @Stevie7: Actually, it does not leave that argument open. To make any argument as to the actions or desires of a god(s), you must first establish proof of existence. This evidence and proof has never withstood verification, and thus is dismissed.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Stevie7

      Eric G,

      But if there is no Santa, how would we ever know whether to be naughty or nice?

      June 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • RLC

      Ironic that with all the politically and socially charged editorials and opinions flying about this site, the first comment/s I've ever wanted to reply to are these, Eric and Stevie. (I hope that's taken as the compliment I intended it to be!) What I like is your subject–and just wanted to subject my suggestion as Stevie did.

      "If god created man, man would be perfect." Agreed, Eric. A logical assumption.
      "If man created god, god would be exactally as imperfect as it is." Also an a logical assumption.
      "an imperfect god(s) created an imperfect man " I LOVE this concept, theoretically, though . . .

      "To make any argument as to the actions or desires of a god(s), you must first establish proof of existence. " DOES refute it.

      However, if that statement refutes Stevie's statement, then it also refutes the original concept–If we want to argue that "If god created man, man would be perfect." then you must first establish proof of existence of God in order to prove his action or desire in creating man (perfect or not).

      Besides, technically, it's all speculation–so Stevie's thought is perfectly valid. No one has to prove the existence of something speculative to speculate. The concepts of perfect or imperfect are sound definitions–and logically, "an imperfect being 'could' create another imperfect being." (I'm generalizing the terms God and Man, of course, but they fit here.) If we had to prove the existence of a thing before hypothesizing it, countless numbers of things would be unproven.

      I'm not saying any of this to be contradictory–I just love this type of logical discussion (Typical unstoppable force against an unmovable object dialogues) they provide such fun opportunities for creative thought.

      Personally, if I had to hypothesize regarding the existence of a "deity" or "perfect" being creating man–I'd throw out those assumptions Eric so wisely points out as paradoxical. Stevie's is more fun and logical.

      Another possibility is a perfect being creating an imperfect being 'perfectly'.

      Something that breaks down and falls apart can't possibly be perfect–but on the other hand, I'm grateful for the continuing increase in biodegradable products.

      I could see a perfect being creating an imperfect man–if there was a logical purpose for the imperfection.

      Man, I could just ponder this stuff forever!

      June 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Eric G

      @RLC: Thank you for your well thought out response!

      Not to get all zen on everyone, but my view is that everything is perfect. Everything that exists does so in the only manner it possibly could. It all works and there is an explanation. To insert a "god" variable is not necessary, and actually degrades the beauty of it all.

      If someone chooses to use this god variable to form their world view and justify their actions, I can demand demonstrative evidence supporting this variable.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Jacob

      Eric G

      "If someone chooses to use this god variable to form their world view and justify their actions, I can demand demonstrative evidence supporting this variable."

      On the other hand, couldn't one ask for demonstrative evidence supporting your beliefs?

      June 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Stevie7

      @Jacob,

      That's like asking for demonstrative evidence that unicorns do not exist. Do you have any?

      June 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Eric G

      Unfortunately, "belief" requires no evidence. I do not form my world views or actions on "belief", but rather in verifiable evidence. Evidence requires no belief. Evidence does not care if you believe it or not, it either supports or disproves a hypothesis.

      To answer your question....

      Yes, I would absolutely hope that everyone can provide verifiable evidence to support their world view and actions.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Jacob

      Stevie7

      I do not have evidence that unicorns don't exist. I do have evidence of the possibilty, however, with the various forms of single horned animals such as the the rhino and the narwhal. Given the fact that there are single horned animals, as just mentioned, and horse like animals (no need to mention) it seems conceivable that unicorns could have existed, however the power that they allegedly possess is in question.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Platypus

      Who the hell is God anyway? And who created God?
      The babble? A farrago of palpable nonsense!
      Yes god must have loved the odd ball!

      July 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  19. John Richardson

    BRAVO!!! Best religion blog article I've read!!!

    June 21, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  20. Stevie7

    Opponents of <> aren’t defending the Bible’s values. They’re using the Bible to defend their own.

    It's not like this is the first issue such hypocrisy has been widely used, and surely won't be the last. In 50 years we will look back on gay marriage as we currently do with interracial marriage and wonder at how we could have been so bigoted and backwards.

    June 21, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Stevie7

      I guess CNN doesn't like "<<" in between the "" should have read: just about any argument using religion to define social policy

      June 21, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Sara

      Christians do not hate gays nor do we use the bible as a means to be hypocrites. We understand that being gay is a sin hopefully god could forgive. We also do not hate gay people.

      August 24, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • LOL

      "We understand that being gay is a sin "

      No it's not what is a sin is male prostitution, rape, and idolatry. You have to put the text into historical context to get the true meaning, that's reading comprehension 101. There are many churches, pastors, ministers and Christians that have gone on record stating what we now know about gays it is NOT a sin.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:00 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.