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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 Traxler

    Here's a quote that isn't scriptural, but seems to apply, tangentially: "When the truth is found to be lies, and all of the joy within you dies, don't you want somebody to love? Don't you need somebody to love? You better find somebody to love...Tears are runnin up and down your breast. And your friends, baby, treat you like a guest. Don't you want somebody to love? Don't you need somebody to love? You better find somebody to love." Jefferson Airplane c. 1968

    June 22, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Didn't that group evolve into Jefferson Starship and tell us in the early 80s that "We Built This City on Rock and Roll" 🙂

      June 22, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Texan

      "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers...Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." I John 3:16, 18

      June 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Texan

      "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? I John 3:17

      June 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Mark from MR, see, evolution is real!

      June 22, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Tex, your brother isn't allowed to get married, but you are. Can he share that possession of yours? And will you lay down your life for your brothers when a mob wants to kill them for being gay? I don't believe in god myself, but I do know what He demands from you and it's a lot. Everything you have.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  2. Michael

    Jonathan Dudley clearly doesn't take the word of God seriously which was already prophesied about the last days that these thing must happen 2 Timothy 3:1-9 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

    2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

    3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

    4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

    5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

    6For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

    7Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    8Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

    9But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their's also was

    June 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Peace2All

      Hmmm.... Michael, haven't these things that you have quoted in the Bible been going on for, oh, I don't know...?

      You know what I mean...?

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 22, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Bryan

      The world can't be coming to an end and traditional values still be the law of the land. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Well, then end times must have begun centuries ago, because that fits the fall of the Roman Empire as well as it fits America in the Twenties or Germany in the Thirties. I was once told that thinking YOU will actually be present at the end of the world is a classic example of the sin of Pride.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  3. Ignatios

    The author seems to be mislead when he states, "For the first 1500 years of Christianity, for example, marriage was deemed morally inferior to celibacy." This might be true for Western Church, Rome, but it does not apply at all to the Eastern-Orthodox Church, such as the Ancient Holy Sees of Antioch, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Jerusalem. Yet also can be found in the newer Sees of Russia, Romania, Georgia, Bulgaria. Rome was primarily the only See, now former as they are schismed from the Church, that taught Priests cannot marry.

    June 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Jeff

      Thank you for pointing to another pathological faw in Christianity (or more correctly, today's Christians): There are dozens of Christian factions and clans, many of which disagree. At least get your story unified "about what god said" before ramming it down the throats of other people, or worse yet injecting it into geopolitics.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  4. Muneef

    Islam's position on ho-mo$exu-ality

    http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/index.php?page=articles&id=135433

    June 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Muneef, do you agree with the article you linked to?

      June 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Jeff

      Pointing to yet another dogmatic work of fiction isn't really helpful.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  5. Texan

    Is it the Christians who focussed on gay rights or is the the gay rights who focussed on the Christians?

    June 22, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Most Politiacains "profess" to be Christians, they currently have the power to make (or Change) the laws.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • ....

      Christians who focus on gay rights otherwise gays would have their civil rights by now.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Texan

      I still have the same question: is it the professing Christian policitians who brought this issue it to the forefront or are they simply responding to the gay rights movement?

      June 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Texan

      So, Christians are supposed to roll over and play dead and not express their views?

      I thought if you bring up an issue in America, I have the right to respond.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Texan, you have every right to express your views but, should your "Religious" Views effect the lives of others, especially if those others are not effecting you in any way?

      June 22, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Jeff

      Both are focused. . gay people seek their basic civil rights (which hurts no one), while self-righteous Christians are focused on depriving them (which hurts everyone who doesn't subscribe to their dogma).

      June 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • ipevin

      texan i knd of understand your point but it's a moot point for this reason. whenever the jews came to try and make jesus their ruler he went away from them because he wasn't there to solve the problems of their day he was there to preach the kingdom message and then wait until his day of restoration. the same thingholds true today. we can't solve the worlds immorality there is one person who will solve it at gods appointed time until then we were told to make it our aim to live peaceably among them buying out the opportune time

      June 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  6. Buddy R

    The Bible from the first few chapters on says a man shall cleave to his wife. It never says a husband shall cleave to his husband or a wife shall cleave to his wife. Jesus said one man and one wife is God's idea of marriage (Matthew 19:4-6)

    June 22, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Buddy R, I don't mean for this to sound flippant, I am not a Christian (I am a non believer, you would call be an Atheist), why should I care whats in your Bible? Why would your religious beliefs effect me, when the Law of the land clearly states that it shouldn't?

      June 22, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Kati

      Bible also says that we ALL are sinners and are forgiven by the grace of God and no one sin trumps the other. You who have never sinned should throw the first stone. Everyone who accepts Jesus will be forgiven, whatever their sin may be.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Buddy R

      Hey -Buddy...

      You Said: "The Bible from the first few chapters on says a man shall cleave to his wife. It never says a husband shall cleave to his husband or a wife shall cleave to his wife. Jesus said one man and one wife is God's idea of marriage (Matthew 19:4-6)"

      O.K. apparently that is what it says in the Bible. And... i'm sincerely curious to your opinion. In 'reality' what, direct, tangible, demonstrable, harm, if any, does someones' being gay inflict upon you...?

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Kati, when you say "all" are you only referring to those that believe in your Bible?

      June 22, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Kati

      Nope, everyone is. It's like gravity. Whether you believe in it or not – you're still standing 🙂

      June 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      So what you are saying is that we are all subject to your Gods will? Are you subject to The Islamic God Will or the Hindu Gods or any other God? If not then, why are we subject to your God, I don't believe in your God any more then you believe in the other Gods?

      June 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      ....what if they are the same God 😀

      June 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Mark from Middle River, if all are the same God\s, it doesn't change the fact that I do not believe in them. Nor I suspect do you believe in all of them.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  7. Jeff

    I confess that these discussions about The Bible and what it says are a complete mystery to me.. Given that the entire text is fiction, I find it a monumental waste of time to study it at all, much less to boldly drive its "divine message" to oppress individuals and damage the very fabic of civilization. Were I to extract a political agenda from other fiction such as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, I'd be deemed insane.. yet, somehow, religion holistically seems to be the one area where sensible people lose their senses and not only is it ostensibly "sane", but also exalted. The Bible is FICTION, people. PURE FICTION! Now that you've been made aware of that fact, please move ahead and do something useful with your lives.

    June 22, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Buddy R

      Anti-theists make a lot of nonsensical statements that we are supposed to accept on faith. Sorry, you can't prove the Bible is nonsense. You appear to be just a Dawkinite parrot.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Texan

      Jeff, have you done your homework? Lee Strobel, a atheist journalist did. And when he "examined and studied" the bible and it's claims, he became a Christian.

      Do your homework before you declare the bible fiction.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Texan

      Lee Strobel wrote Case for Christ – based on his investigation.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Jeff

      It's more than fine for you to live (in a fantasy world) based on your faith in religion and god.. but please quit pushing that faith on the rest of us who have the ability to think clearly, who choose to accept personal responsibility for our actions rather than believing we are the hapless minions of an obtuse diety. i.e. If you're opposed to gay marriage DON'T HAVE ONE.. and quit righteously meddling in the lives of others.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Kati

      Yuop, and you also believe that "Big Bang" created the universe and intelligent life out of "anti-matter", which cannot be rectreated or proven to exist today. THAT sounds like way more of a fiction to me.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Texan

      If we're going to talk about rights, those who do not believe in gay marriage have just as much right to state their case as those who do. Isn't that democracy? You can't have it one way only. Both sides should be heard.

      On the other hand, as I stated before – bible instruction is for Christians not non-Christians. So, how do I as a non-believer in gay marriage keep others from pushing their beliefs off on me?

      June 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jeff

      Critical thinking skills tell us something that is defined in terms of itself .. (e.g. The bible is the word of god, the bible asserts the existence of god) .. is not only not sound, but not valid..

      I think The Bible has any number of wonderful teachings and messages, and in fact I coincidentally subscribe to and practice many of them.. But that doesn't mean god exists.. nor does it mean the entire text is valid or useful or even interesting. Appealing to those who find reality in fantasy is similarly uninteresting and unsound... and worse yet, unhealthy.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jeff

      So .. if gay people want to get married, that's pushing their beliefs on you? I'll need you to explain. Please provide details of how gay marriage affects your life in any tangible way (other than your being aware that it exists).

      June 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Jeff

      .. and as for the appeal to "democracy", I think we can all step back and recognize that the civil rights we all hold true today (i.e. slavery is bad, universal suffrage is good, etc) WOULD NOT have passed a popular vote. It's fine to elect candidates 51/49, since there's no better way to do it .. however, when we're talking about people's basic rights.. a vote ought to be greater than 99:1 before a law should be enacted (e.g. "murder is bad"). Only hateful people who accidentally happen to be in the "majority" (e.g. white christians in the USA) would ever believe that a 51/49 vote is an acceptable margin to deprive others of a civil, fair existence.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Texan,

      You have every right to be against gay marriage and other rights. This country is based on that, which is why the KKK, neo-nazis, black panthers and other radical groups also have the same rights, no one has said anything differently. What people are asking however is that you recognize the rights of your fellow human beings and realize that the just and moral thing to do is allow people to live as propserously as you apparently have,

      June 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Texan

      But that's not what you're asking. I'm saying that your idea of prosperity hinges on my not professing my views on this issue. I must now teach my child that gay marriage is okay when perhaps I don't want to teach that to my child.

      So, therefore we have to debate and respect each other's opinions. Not simply disgard mine because I primarily base them on my religious beliefs and foundation.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Buddy R

      Hey -Buddy...

      You Said: "Anti-theists make a lot of nonsensical statements that we are supposed to accept on faith. Sorry, you can't prove the Bible is nonsense. You appear to be just a Dawkinite parrot."

      Theists, mainly (Christians) make a lot of nonsensical statements that we are supposed to accept on (faith)...and... you can't prove a lot of claims in the Bible. So, what's your point...?

      Regards,

      Peace...

      -----------------------------------–
      @Texan

      Hey -Tex...

      You Said: "Jeff, have you done your homework? Lee Strobel, a atheist journalist did. And when he "examined and studied" the bible and it's claims, he became a Christian. Do your homework before you declare the bible fiction."

      O.K... So, Lee Strobel 'examined and studied' and became a Christian... so what...? Many others that once were Christian 'examined and studied' the Bible, while also applying critical thinking and logic as well, and became agnostic, atheist, or some other religion... i.e... Buddhists, Taoists, etc...

      So, what's your point...?

      Regards,

      Peace...

      ------------------------------------–

      @Kati

      Hey -Kati...

      You Said: "Yuop, and you also believe that "Big Bang" created the universe and intelligent life out of "anti-matter", which cannot be rectreated or proven to exist today. THAT sounds like way more of a fiction to me."

      Just because something hasn't been done...'yet'... does not imply that it will not happen. Scientists are marching forward and narrowing the 'gaps' of knowledge. It seemingly is getting much harder, again, as time marches on and more testable theories and discoveries are being made for the 'believers' to continue to use the..."Since it hasn't been proven yet...this is 'proof' of God argument." This is a logical fallacy.

      Maybe there is a Deity...? Maybe there isn't...? yes...?

      Regards,

      Peace...

      --------------------------------------

      @Jeff

      IMHO... pretty much 'spot on' in your assertions.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 22, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Laughing

      Your right, it does come down to differing opinions, however I ask you this. Will you teach your child to respect their fellow man and treat others the way they want to be treated? If this is the case, than it directly contradicts that message when you say that you want to teach your child that gay marriage is wrong. When people are being oppressed because you keep voicing your opinion and try to stop them because your argument is founded on a religion that not everyone believes and are not forced to believe, then there's a porblem. Hate all you want, but when your beliefs infringe on someone elses rights a human being it goes from being an opinion into something a lot more sinister.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • JohnR

      Anti-matter has been created in the lab many times. That's the beauty of science. Things that are posited by what seems to outsiders simply arcane theory are tested for and often confirmed to exist. Science yields the sort of truth that REALLY sets one free! But if all you care about is sticking your noses into a translation of a bunch of texts written by ancient ignoramuses, go for it! Just stay out of other people's civil rights, eh?

      June 22, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Texan

      The point is Christianity is about a relationship. If you at least study the bible and THEN you say you still don't believe, you can say I studied it and didn't just make assumptions based on prejudice.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Laughing

      Your posting was directed to @Texan, i believe...?

      If so, ...well said.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 22, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Texan

      "Hate all you want, but when your beliefs infringe on someone elses rights a human being it goes from being an opinion into something a lot more sinister."

      But don't you get it? Your beliefs are just as sinister to me as mine are to you. That's why both sides have such a hard to debating with dignity. If you would find my first post, you would see that I'm all about the relationship. So, I am asking myself how would I want to be treated?

      As for oppression, who's doing the oppression? What's the oppression? Those who have come out of the gay lifestyle have said it's the lifestyle. Just because your body and your mind tells you to do something that doesn't make it legitimize itself.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>”Hate all you want, but when your beliefs infringe on someone elses rights a human being it goes from being an opinion into something a lot more sinister.”

      This goes into another one of those that swing the same way. When I get into my car I am told that I must put on a seatbelt. I am old enough to remember when that was not the law. The same is said for helmets and even the use of Transfats in food. There are many things in society that because a group of people found it to be prudent that everyone believes and acts the way they do, others freedoms get oppressed. Some say that the Bible says that it is wrong is just another way to zap another freedoms to choose away.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Texan

      In my first post, I asked the question, can I compromise on this issue and still be faithful to loving God and loving my neighbor? I can teach my child to respect other's choices just as I would respect my child's choices but to respect someone's choices does not necessarily mean that I keep my mouth shut if I think it's a wrong choice.

      If I'm in a relationship, then in love, I say I don't think what you're doing is right and this is why. Then, if we continue to disagree, I let you go.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • maggie

      Then you should not talk about a book you have not read.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Peace

      Yes it was and thanks

      @ Texan

      I've done my homework and have read the bible many times (it comes with the territory of being a religion minor in college) and I can safely say that I believe it to be an interesting story that teaches SOME good morals, but should not be used as a proof of something. You said, "But don't you get it? Your beliefs are just as sinister to me as mine are to you. That's why both sides have such a hard to debating with dignity. If you would find my first post, you would see that I'm all about the relationship. So, I am asking myself how would I want to be treated?" My question for you is, how do you want to be treated exactly? You claim your values are founded on religious principals and you have clearly demonstrated that you believe those to be so true that you are willing to vocalize your opinion based on it and deny other people something that they desire. Are you equally fine with say, a muslim, hindu or buddhist taking the same approach even when you find yourself on the side of being deprived something you think you deserve because it should be an innate right?

      You said, "As for oppression, who's doing the oppression? What's the oppression? Those who have come out of the gay lifestyle have said it's the lifestyle. Just because your body and your mind tells you to do something that doesn't make it legitimize itself." Who's doing the oppression? Easy, the american government and hate mongers who are trying to take away human rights from gay people. As for the second part of your statement, can a person change their skin color because you deem it inappropriate? You labor under the assumption that people willingly become gay and can equally decide not to, 2 questions for you, 1) when did you decide to become straight? and 2) if it was so easy not to be gay then why is over 10% of the world gay and if being denied basic rights, why not just choose to be straight and forego any suffering they would have to endure?

      June 22, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Texan

      Hey -Tex...

      You Said: "As for oppression, who's doing the oppression? What's the oppression? Those who have come out of the gay lifestyle have said it's the lifestyle. Just because your body and your mind tells you to do something that doesn't make it legitimize itself."

      Nor does it make it an immoral or illegitimate behavior necessarily.

      Also, i believe it was @Jeff that asked of you earlier up in the thread...So .. if gay people want to get married, that's pushing their beliefs on you? I'll need you to explain. Please provide details of how gay marriage affects your life in any tangible way (other than your being aware that it exists)."

      And I would emphasize -Jeff's points... please provide 'direct' 'tangible' 'demonstrable' ...(evidence) that you are being directly harmed in some way by someone's being gay...?

      I think then we might be able to have a true discussion about 'oppression' here, yes...?

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 22, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • .....

      “This goes into another one of those that swing the same way. When I get into my car I am told that I must put on a seatbelt. I am old enough to remember when that was not the law. The same is said for helmets and even the use of Transfats in food. There are many things in society that because a group of people found it to be prudent that everyone believes and acts the way they do, others freedoms get oppressed. Some say that the Bible says that it is wrong is just another way to zap another freedoms to choose away.”

      Mark the reason the laws you cite were created because it could bring harm to yourself or others. Allowing gays to have the same civil rights as everyone else does not harm anyone.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Texan

      You wrote "I must now teach my child that gay marriage is okay when perhaps I don't want to teach that to my child."

      This would most likely be completely untrue when gay marriages are legalized. In my world you would still be free to say something like: "Gay marriage is legal and is the law of the land and we must respect the law of the land. Personally, I/we don't believe that it is OK, so we will live our lives accordingly while at the same time respecting the law." Well actually, you would be free to say anything you like, provided that you respected the law, including using all legal means to change it to your liking.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • .....

      "I must now teach my child that gay marriage is okay when perhaps I don't want to teach that to my child."

      That line could be used by skin heads who hate blacks and teach their children prejudice and hatred. That line could be used by the terriost who teach their child to hate Americans. That line could be used by men who believe a woman's place is in the home. The point is civil rights is an equality we should all have regardless of our differences.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  8. IHS

    Really? This kid graduated with a Yale Divinity School, and this is his argument? Two pieces of scripture use the same word, so they must directly correlated? What is Yale teaching these days? This is the same baby kind of reasoning that he is accusing "the Evangelical community" of using. The Bible is riddled with exmples of one man and one woman. Paul talks about this in multuple other places: Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." I can't help but notice the pronouns used: "husbands" and "wives." And this is only one of many examples in the Bible of marriage being between a man and a woman. This Yale Divinity School graduate thinks he's got a good argument with this flimsy argument of his? Maybe he should go back to divinity school, and this time pay a little more attention.

    June 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Genuine love

      totally agree. this article was founded on two similar statements, which clearly do not explain away 1 cor 6:9.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Laughing

      You go after his arguing skills but yours are terrible. You see, what he kept stating was that the bible only has two instances where it deals directly with the issue. If you see quotes that talk about husbands and wives, you are implying that it's also commenting about marriage having to be between man and woman, but its all implication. There's a reason why he went to Yale Divinity School and you are probably a has-been sitting in your moms basement.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Stevie7

      It would seem that both of you miss the entire point – why do Christians cherry pick which verses of the bible they want to force others to follow?

      June 22, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Stevie7

      The husband and wives argument is completely absurd. That's like saying that if a passage only refers to parents and sons, daughters should be valued less. You're reading your own values into those passages and coming away with meanings that aren't there. Yo're basically proving the author's point.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Genuine love

      There is no need for personal attacks on anyone who comments. The attack should be against the article's intellectual value... This "has been" currently has 2 degrees, and is working on a master;s in Theology degree, so please don't use personal attacks, they are pointless

      June 22, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Genuine Love

      Although the insult wasn't directed at you, it was a bit rash, so let me revise my statement by saying I agree with Stevie7 how IHS has clearly read his own values into the text instead of reading whats actually there. You mention you are getting a masters in theology so you might be able to answer this for me then, Why has the christian community as a whole decided to cherry pick things from the bible to be taken literally and others are supposed to be figurative? who does the picking? Simply speaking for the intellectual value of this article, he basically askes the same question and yet you agree with a pretty absurd statement made by IHS.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      I gotta tell you that you sound like a fool with little education attacking the man personally because his theology doesn't agree with yours. Your argument is that you think he is wrong, and therefore he must be a bad person. You fail as a debater, and really you fail as a Christian as well.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  9. Liz

    To answer marylandbill, no abortion hasn't always been considered sinfu. the churches didn't care a hoot about abortion until doctors tragically involved them in the fight to insure that abortions were performed only by doctors. the end result of this unfortunate alliance was the banning of all abortions, not just the amateur ones. and regarding the folks who lump gays together with thieves, liars, and adulterers, that is ignorance at its highest. the proper category if you have to lump gays in with would be left-handed, red-headed, and others who have inborn characteristics that are not widely shared by the general population. banning gays from marrying makes about as much sense and is as decent and just as banning left-handed scissors!

    June 22, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Texan

      What do you think about people who live the gay lifestyle then come out of it? If it's entirely genetic why do some people change?

      June 22, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  10. SoJax

    Maybe the most powerful argument on this subject that I've ever read. Great job Jonathan!

    Message to CNN, why is it that you never ask questions about divorce to those using biblical arguments against the GLBT community? Is it you fear they will no longer accept your invitation for interviews?

    June 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  11. MarylandBill

    I should point out several points. Lets ignore for the moment the rather silly point about hair, and look a bit closer at the positions of the Catholic Church on abortion, celibacy and divorce.

    There might have been some debate about when life began, but abortion itself has always been regarded as sinful. Also, we need to keep in mind that the position of theologians does not necessarily match the teaching of the Church - Aquinas and Augustine both occasionally came out on the wrong side of debates.

    Last I checked, the Catholic Church still forbids divorce and remarriage. Some will point out that there is the annulment process, but what the Church is ideally trying to find there is whether a valid marriage ever existed.

    Finally, believe it or not, the Church still also teaches that living a celibate life as a religious is superior to the married life. This is not to say that the married life is bad, but that celibacy is a better choice for those who are called to it.

    June 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  12. ipevin

    THERE ARE TWO RULES TO GO BY TO HELP IN GATHERING THE TRUTH IN GODS WORDS( NOT MANS) THE FIRST IS AT 1 CORINTHIANS 4:6 WHICH STATES DO NOT GO BEYOND THE THINGS THAT ARE WRITTEN IN ORDER THAT YOU MAY NOT BE PUFFED UP INDIVIDUALLY IN FAVOR OF ONE AGAINST THE OTHER AND THE SECOND IS AT 1ST JOHN 4:1BELOVED ONES DO NOT BELIEVE EVERY INSPIRED EXPRESSION BUT TEST THE EXPRESSION TO SEE IF IT ORIGINATED WITH GOD BECAUSE MANY FALSE PROPHETS HAVE GONE FORTH INTO THE WORLD.

    June 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Wow...since you have put it all in caps then I take it we should really pay attention to what you wrote...

      June 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • ipevin

      mark from middle river it was pointed out to me about the caps i wasn't doing that on purpose but i do appreciate your sarcasm

      June 22, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  13. Paul

    *slow clap*

    June 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  14. stepwill

    actually, it seems Jesus has no patience with a (one) fig TREE that doesn't produce fruit, even tho not in season. curious, isn't it? just the same, mooP, your point is understood, and clever.

    June 22, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • ipevin

      THE FIG TREE WAS AN ILLUSTRATION AND JESUS DONE THAT FOR A REASON. A SINCERE STUDENT OF THE BIBLE WOULD INVESTIGATE WHY HE DIDIT?

      June 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Stevie7

      ipevin,

      I totally get that the fig tree is supposed to be an allegory – but then what should be taken literally and what should be taken allegorically. It seems that people take literally only what is convenient to them.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • ipevin

      STEVIE 7 YOU ARE RIGHT PEOPLE DO PICK AND CHOOSE BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT A CHRISTIAN IS SUPPOSED TO DO JESUS SAID THAT WE MUST NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE BUT ON EVERY UTTERANCE COMING FROM GODS MOUTH. SO WHEN YOU SEE THE ILLUSTRATION AND MEDITATE ON IT AND APPLY THE PRINCIPLE INVOLVED IN YOUR LIFE THEN YOU START TO BECOME APERSON WHO WANTS TO BE CHRISTLIKE 1CORINTHIANS11:1

      June 22, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • ipevin

      STEVIE 7 LOOK AT JAMES 1:22-25 WHENEVER PEOPLE PICK AND CHOOSE THEY BECOME LIKE THAT MAN WHO PEERS INTO THE MIRROR OF GODS WORDS THEN WALKS AWAY AND IMMEDIATELY FORGETS WHAT HE NEEDED TO WORK ON.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  15. Restorationalist

    Wouldn't it help to have a living prophet who talks with God like the prophets of old to clarify such issues?

    June 22, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Would you prefer it to be Glenn Beck or Kirk Cameron? Those are your choices. Pick one.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • ipevin

      WHY WOULD YOU NEED THAT? tAKE A LOOK AT THESE TWO SCRIPTURES 2CORINTHIANS4:4 AND 2 THESSALONIANS 2:11 AND 12.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      Don't forget George W. Dolt, who claimed that god told him to strike al-Qaeda and to strike at Saddam, which he did. Oddly though, now that Dolt is no longer president, god apparently doesn't talk to him any more.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Rodger

      I think so. There's a lot of talk of FALSE prophets. There has to be TRUE prophets as well.
      It says somewhere in the Bible that God doesn't do anything unless he reveals it to his prophets. If there weren't true prophets than God wouldn't be do anything.

      Very very interesting stuff... Please let me know if anyone has info on any TRUE prophets that are alive today. I would be interested in hearing what they have to say.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Rodger

      I found it !

      Amos 3:7
      "For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.

      Does this mean god isn't doing anything? Or are there true living prophets? Does anyone know how to find them?

      June 22, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • ipevin

      RODGER, JESUS SAID THAT YOU WOULD KNOW HIS TRUE FOLLOWERS BY THEIR FRUIT MATTHEW 6:15-23 TO IDENTIFY HIS TRUE FOLLOWERS YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT THE ORGANIZATION AS A WHOLE. IT WOULD HAVE TO BE WORLD WIDE, IT WOULD HAVE TO SPEAK IN AGREEMENT, IT WOULD HAVE TO BE NON VIOLENT, IT WOLD HAVE TO GLORIFY JEHOVAH, AND IT WOULD HAVE TO LIVE BY HIS WORDS.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • ....

      Hey ipevin learn the etiquette of the internet and stop using all caps it is considered yelling.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • ipevin

      whoever told me not to use all caps i do appreciate that i'm not very good at typing and was unaware of ettiquette i certainly do not want to yell at anyone thank you.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  16. Me

    Many people forget that the Bible is a collection of the writings of me. It is not the words of God, but that which the writers suspect is how God would speak if he could.

    June 22, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Me

      Writings of men.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  17. Scott

    "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses."
    –Ezekiel 23:20

    June 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  18. ReligionIs4Dolts

    fred: Who gets to decide when there is nothing left to be liberated from? YOU? Even if you could get to the point where you felt you no longer needed to be liberated from anything, I would still be feeling the need to be liberated from the likes of you.

    June 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Mark, sure, Christians do a lot of good. I remind myself of that every time I hear one calling for murder in God's name, or lying with a big grin about where the president was born. I keep telling myself they are just taking some time out to do evil things on their way to succor the poor or uplift orphans. God just has trouble getting good help.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  19. Buster Bloodvessel

    I just make up verses to win arguments, like it says you can do in La Viscous twenty-three-eight.

    June 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • pat

      Why ? Are you too lazy to actual read passages to win arguments or fearful of what you may find? Or just virtually illiterate?

      June 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • LinCA

      @pat.

      It is impossible to "win an argument" by quoting passages. Everyone that quotes passages from any religious text is interpreting them to suit their own preconceived notions.

      There is no truth, let alone absolute truth, to be found in any bible verse. Their only use seems to be to justify the hate and bigotry.

      The only true value of the bible is caloric.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @linca
      You must be one of those sinister left handed people.
      The bible clearly states "A wise man's heart is at his right hand; but a fool's heart at his left."
      – Ecclesiastes 10:2
      Enjoy your eternity of torture, southpaw.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Yeah, but in Inspections twenty-nine seventy it says 'Yea, for the Bible is not even mentioned in the Bible, and therefore be thou not impressed thereby.'

      June 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • craigford

      LOL! Imma use that.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >> “Their only use seems to be to justify the hate and bigotry.”

      Lin... but what of all that use the Bible, Koran, Torah and other Holy Books to justify good works, such as drug outreach counseling, food kitchens, and other positives in the community?

      I do admit that there are those that do as you say but as admitted to by many Atheist here, there are many positive works done by those of Faith. 🙂

      June 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Mark from Middle River

      We've had this discussion before. Any good that is done in the name of faith or god can, and is, be done without either. Religion is an easy tool to justify a lot of hatred.

      I'm sure that without the justification, there would still be hatred, but it wouldn't nearly be so socially acceptable.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  20. fred

    Freedom does not come because you are liberated to do whatever you darn well please. Freedom comes when you no longer need to be liberated. There is no end to the perversion of man so limits must always be placed. Your freedom and liberty cross someone else’s freedom and liberty sooner or later. As with abortion there are those that want the freedom to kill a child up to age 3 and others say life begins at conception. Some say 40 year old men should be able to marry 13 year old boys or younger. At some point it all goes wrong as a society becomes more and more accustomed to deeper and deeper levels of perversion. In case you have not noticed Hollywood has been pushing their liberal perversions on us for 50 years. Today divorce is no big deal, se xual perversion of all sorts are very acceptable, God is a fairy tale and Lady Ga Ga is our moral compass. Seems the only thing that stands in the way of total freedom is that Bible. Thus the push from C n n to discredit and make it appear foolish and backward while gay marriage and total freedom of se xual desires are progressive. All of you that want to be rid of the bible will need to replace it with some other standard of good. That standard of good will of course need to include all your lusts being raised high and applauded by those around you. It is not about gay marriage it is about removing the road block that keeps you from experiencing anything you want. It’s been tried and the end result is emptiness. So you think the C n n “bible” will make for a better world, or the atheist bible of nothingness , etc. ? well society always has a standard so someone will be summarizing these new commandments into some form of law book call it what you may. At the end of the day we find out that no one has been able to do what the Bible has done. We are 5,000 years into the evolution of a peoples chosen by God to worship Him as revealed in the Bible. The Law is simply love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Only Divine Goodness could so summarize a pathway to a better world. All standards contrived by man must be put up against this to see if it is true.

    June 22, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      Ethics do NOT come from the bible. Please research about how numerous peoples around the world had codes of ethics that were not based on anything that came out of Israel (Native Americans for example). And what about Hammurabi's Code? Ever heard of that? No one needs fairy tale to teach them morality.

      And, BTW, Hollywood has been doing their thing for longer than 50 years. 😉

      June 22, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      "God is a fairy tale and Lady Ga Ga is our moral compass" You need heavy medication and fast. Lady GaGa is a singer, not the freakin antichrist. Lots of people still believe in God, although they think He hates gay people and has a favorite political party. "Freedom comes when you no longer need to be liberated." You mean, it begins when you are free? How long did it take you to figure that one out? Or did you mean, you are free when you decide you like it in prison?

      June 22, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • fred

      Religionis4dolts, you will find these codes have a lot in common with the 10 commandments. Hence the Divine nature of the Bible. All major religions took their base from the original truth and put their own C n n spin of their culture on it. Only one has made it through 5,000 years. Only one Nation has made it through 5,000 years………….yeah Israel is still here and in the thick of it.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      "It is not about gay marriage it is about removing the road block that keeps you from experiencing anything you want. It’s been tried and the end result is emptiness."

      -- So you're saying you WANT to try it, and without your old book would get involved ?
      -- No really straight guy cares,or thinks about, or is worried about gay anything, or needs an old book to tell himself he's not interested in whatever.

      "As with abortion there are those that want the freedom to kill a child up to age 3 and others say life begins at conception. Some say 40 year old men should be able to marry 13 year old boys"

      -- Reductio ad absurdum (Latin: "reduction to the absurd") is a form of argument in which a proposition is disproven by following its implications logically to an absurd consequence.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Stevie7

      @fred,

      You might want to go back and study some history. 10 commandment-esque ethics have been around a lot longer than the actual 10 commandments, whenever they happened to have been written. They are also found in cultures not influenced by judaism. Also, Isreal has been a nation for the past few decades – it was formed after WW2. Its not like it's survived for 5000 continual years. That would be awfully hard anyway, considering its only been around for the last 3000 or so.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • fred

      BusterBloodvessel, when one feels they need to be liberated from something they are not free. When you no longer feel the need to be liberated then you are free.

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

      buckyball, you have a form of bible in your head or heart. It is who you are. The only way can know right or wrong is by compairson to a standard. I suspect 90% of what is in your code book conforms with the written word the bible. You also are aware of the 10% that is off standard. So like it or not you are a product of this Christian world

      June 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      FRED: You are a freaking IDIOT! How did the Native Americans develop a code of ethics when they had NO INFLUENCE from any Jews or Christians until the Europeans landed here? That's thousands of years, dude! Jeezus didn't fly over here and learn them any ethics (especially since Jeezus, like everyone else in his part of the world at that time) knew NOTHING about what would become the Americas. What about the Native Americans BEFORE Jeezus was even born? What about all the humans that have lived for the TENS OF THOUSANDS of years BEFORE Jeezus was born, or before Judaism even existed? You are a DOLT!

      June 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      Fred: What about Neanderthals who lived BEFORE modern humans? Were they allegedly bound to any code of ethics that wouldn't have magically existed in their time because Judaism was TENS of THOUSANDS of years yet to come? Did they count as humans? Or were they just "soulless" animals that didn't have to worry about morality? Choose one or the other. Then I would like to hear how you explain that Neanderthal DNA has been found in some humans like Ozzy Osbourne. And don't go spouting that Internet BS about how human DNA can be shown to share 50% of DNA with a banana.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      "When you no longer feel the need to be liberated then you are free." So if you are doing seven to ten at hard labor and actually like it, you are free, right?"

      June 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • fred

      Stevie7, you are correct it goes back to 2166 BC the father of the great nation Israel. God made a covenant with the nation of Israel and in the journey as written about in the Bible is where we are today with the Nation of Israel still in the promised land. Point being some 4,200 years ago God made a covenant and it remains true to this day. This is not a fairy tale.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @Fred
      While I disagree with you on almost every point, I do respect your ability to remain civil in our discussions.
      You are right, I was raised in a very religious atmosphere, and there is a lot of that that informs many of my "unspoken" att'itudes, (even though I try to examine them all, along the way).
      "The only way can know right or wrong is by compairson to a standard. I suspect 90% of what is in your code book conforms with the written word the bible. You also are aware of the 10% that is off standard"
      - I have to think about that, but the fact that the "comparison" is a necessity to enable the "knowing" is the problem.
      First there are so many things in the old book that are simply ludicrous, (slavery, child murder etc., etc.), we all agree that you pick and chose which parts to take as authentically authoritative, (or not) during the comparison. Secondly, the process of "comparison" is open to so many, (and in my opinion ultimately, as many) opinions as there are readers, invalidates your as'sumption that there is only one standard, both "objectively" and secondary to the "process", (neurological), by which it, in every case, plays out.

      "So like it or not you are a product of this Christian world."
      - No doubt about that.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • fred

      Rligionis4dolts, I clearly said every society has a standard and you say wait a minute Native Americans were around long ago……….well you prove me correct they had a standard of behavior and that was enforced through their tribal system. So there is always a standard that we are held accountable too. The Bible records the Hebrew law and fulfillment of that through Christ. As I said the 5,000 year journey of a people chosen by God to worship Him. You reject Jesus and the Bible yet you are part of that journey. The Bible made a provision for you long before you read it. So what standard do you use that todays society should measure itself up against ?

      June 22, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      fred: Nice way to NOT answer the Neanderthal question. Your intransigent Creationist mind can't comprehend any time lines that go back further than 5 or 6 thousand years, apparently.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • fred

      Bucky Ball, true none of us see things the same way. We have individual standards, family standards, community standards and even global standards. I could not mug someone and run off with their wallet yet, in counseling someone who has I am always surprised at the different standards in different people. Are there right and wrong standards sure, can there be absolute good and bad? Jesus I would say is absolute good. That is the standard I compare myself to and fall significantly short of. The peoples of the bible evolved over the generations but what stayed the same was that some sought out good and others did not. Jesus said seek and you shall find. Time and time again I see this come true. In a short 3 years of his ministry Jesus told us all we really need to know and gave us a standard. The old testament stuff can be hard to put in its place unless you first go to Jesus. The Kingdom of God is in Jesus look close, get a red letter addition bible and just see what he had to say about things.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • fred

      ReligionIs4Dolts no one knows about the Neanderthals code of ethics much of their social structure is pure speculation. I can tell you that “soul” or “life” was given by God to the first human beings (yes I got that from the bible). One of the characters in the early part of the Bible (Esau) had the hairy skin of a goat. Neanderthals evolving, who knows it was not important enough to pass down. All we know with or without the bible is that at some point man began to ponder existence at a level no other known animals do. At some point man became the only animal to cry tears of emotion. God only holds us accountable for what we do with what we are given.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      Fred doesn't know the difference between EDition and ADDition and yet he wants us to consider him an authority on the bible. Ha! Ha! Ha!

      June 22, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • scott

      So you can only be truly free when you welcome the chains of your oppressors?

      June 25, 2011 at 11:01 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.