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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. maggie

    What are you people are debating about, the reason that we are in the state that we are, it is because that we do not follow God's word? if we were to follow God's divine words, we would have a society free from VD, war, murder, fornicators, adulterers, liars, famine, child molesters, unwanted pregnacy, broken families, wife beaters, abusers, greedy people, slanders and the list goes on and on. God 's word is true and beneficial.

    June 22, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      maggie, I cannot respond to your post about your choice in religion, except to say that it proves that people go with what they agree with.

      As for followings Gods teaching we do have a bit of a problem. Which form of Gods teaching should we follow, using you as an example, we should only follow the forms that we agree with (we are the judge of what is moral, ethical and right), that is after what you did.

      I also disagree with your premise, Your God (Christ) has been in the hearts and minds of people for over two thousand years. In all that time (and thousands of years before him) we have always had all of those negative things you listed.

      My your own words, no one that follows and believe in your Christ should have any of those ailments, but they do, what does that tell you about the efficacy of your belief system? It tells me that believers are no different than non believer, so what's the point, did your God fail at his mission (according to you, rid the world of those ailments you listed)?

      June 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Catholic against fundamentalism

      I have to agree with JohnQuest about the choice thing. One can't choose to have faith, you either have it or not. That's where all these ramifications come from, from picking and choosing. Let's say you're a socker fan: You may prefer one team or another, but it is still socker you love; you may enjoy one service/mass/ritual more than another, but if a single bad experience makes you abandon your whole set of beliefs...

      June 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Tom

      Which words are you following exactly. Jesus wasn't this completely kind and gentle fellow. To wit:

      Jesus advocates child abuse:

      When Jesus is criticized by the Pharisees for not washing his hands before eating. He defends himself by attacking them for not killing disobedient children according to the commandment: “He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.” Matthew 15:4-7 That's not an isolated event. Jesus criticizes the Jews for not killing their disobedient children according to Old Testament law. Mark 7:9

      How about in Luke 12:47 when Jesus okays the beating of slaves. So, slavery and beating other humans is okay?

      If those don't work for you, how about that peaceful time Jesus condemned entire cities to dreadful deaths and to the eternal torment of hell because they didn’t care for his preaching. Matthew 11:20

      The Christian god is still Yahweh and that god is a real jerk. I mean, have you read the book of Judges? I don't think human sacrifice is what I would want out of my god.

      I think I'll pass on your (and all) gods and stick to reason.

      June 22, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • scott

      Are you kidding? Have you actualy read the first few books? God's chosen people go on a rampage of death and destruction at God's command. Killing entire citys, men, women, children and even animals!

      June 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  2. Angry Hillbilly

    (Have to post this twice, apologies)

    "I will concede that I don't know the nature of their family lives prior to committing the crimes."

    Then your statement "If marriage isn't in a decline (i.e. divorce on in incline) and children aren't impacted by the family, why are our children in so much heartache?" was just speculation. Which is fine, there's nothing wrong with speculation, it's just when you use it as clear evidence (as you did) that tends to ruffle my jimmies.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Angry Hillbilly

      I give up. 😦

      June 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  3. Angry Hillbilly

    "I will concede that I don't know the nature of their family lives prior to committing the crimes."

    Then your statement "If marriage isn't in a decline (i.e. divorce on in incline) and children aren't impacted by the family, why are our children in so much heartache?" was just speculation.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  4. IMHO

    I love this guy.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  5. JohnQuest

    Texan, the most convincing thing I have read the debunks the Bible is the Bible.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • fred

      You will find exactly what you look for when you read the Bible. Suggest you start with what Jesus said first. Get a red letter addition New International Version and start in the back with Matthew.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      fred, I read from left to right, no skipping around one chapter at a time. When you read this way (the way we actual read text) the Bible doesn't make much sense.

      The only way for it to make sense is to jump around, pick out what we want interpret the way we want and discard the rest.

      How do you read your Bible?

      June 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Fred

      JohnQuest basically asked this question but I want to make sure you get it in direct form. Do you read a bible or interpret it? I can read Harry Potter and then I can interperet harry potter to be an allegory of Jesus who died and rose from the dead to save everyone, and since he was teh savior his values are the true values and so I should stick with those. The first part was me enjoying the story, I read it, loved the book, put it down and didn't think anything more, however if I examined HP like you examine and interpret the bible I would reach the second conclusion.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • fred

      I can only tell you what worked for me. The things Jesus said came clear. Once I had that I read the rest of the New Testament. Now I did not tackle the Old Testament until much latter and needed help because much of it was from a picture language that was common for that period of time.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      fred, I think if a person is looking for a change, (a new way of looking at life) they can find motivation from any source the Bible is what you picked up, My daughter picked up a Law book. I just think sources other than the Bible are better moral, ethical guides.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • fred

      Laughing, Harry Potter is fiction concerning the life of Harry. The bible is a story covering 5,000 years of God redeeming a people for Himself. It is not fiction as much as some would like to beleive. I can go to the New Testament because that covers the period of time from Christ to now. Jesus was a Jew and spoke the Old Testament with authority as no other can

      June 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Fred

      I'm going to refrain from pointing out to you how The life of Harry Potter and the Life of Jesus are similar and both are fiction, I want to discuss the main point of your post, primarily a) the new testement covers about..... oh 100+ years? The canon is closed my friend which means the new testment only covers the life and death of jesus as well as some anecdotes afterwards. B) you say Jesus preached the old testement, he actually didn't he preached that he was the messiah and fulfilled the old testement, this is why he was viewed as such a rebel and was harangued by the pharisees. You ask me to read the bible but you keep stateing fallacy after fallacy

      June 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • ummmm

      "can go to the New Testament because that covers the period of time from Christ to now. Jesus was a Jew and spoke the Old Testament with authority as no other can"

      Ummmm... the whole story was based on other pagan religions of that time period it's wasn't really true.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • fred

      JohnQuest, until recent times the 10 commandments and Hebrew legal structure was the basis and plaques regarding the Laws origin even hung in our court rooms and universities. Certainly inspirition comes from many sources. Justice and Righteousness are attributes of God. The ultimate standard of what is good can only be found in Jesus. That was a gift for us an example or model on how one should live. Today we seem to be lost as to what is good and what is truth because we threw away the reference guide.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • dwordisclear

      Laughing– Based on your post, I should stop reading the Gospels and listen to you instead. Where you there? It sounds to me like you were there with the Pharisees discussing the reasons why they should kill Jesus.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • fred

      Ummmm, From start to finish you can see the pagan religions all around and how Gods people would get caught up in them and suffer the consequences. This is why they were to remain separate from those influences. We get a clear picture of the pagan ways and the way of God. One theme throughout shows how the pagan Gods are manmade vs. the God of Abraham / Jesus

      June 22, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Laughing

      @dwordisclear

      Don't give me a jesus complex, I don't want you to write down my teachings and make a book out of it. That aside, ignoring the question of if I was there, Jesus clearly states in many passages that he's fulfilled the old testment, don't beleive me? Read John and Matthew and you'll find your answer. I can tell you right now, any Jew who goes around saying they know the word of god and that it's now void because he says so isn't looked too well upon by the community, in the story of jesus, not only was he saying that, but he was making the Romans crack down on all jews. You should also probably reread your bible

      June 22, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Ummm

      "Ummmm, From start to finish you can see the pagan religions all around and how Gods people would get caught up in them and suffer the consequences. This is why they were to remain separate from those influences. We get a clear picture of the pagan ways and the way of God. One theme throughout shows how the pagan Gods are manmade vs. the God of Abraham / Jesus"

      The story of Jesus is a copy of other stories during that time. You seriously need to do some research. Where do you think Christmas comes from it's a pagan holiday, where do you think decorating the tree comes from it's a pagan holiday. All of Christianity was copied from other pagan religions it's not real.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Ummm

      Fred...

      lets see....

      1st: Horus
      2nd: Jesus
      Father:
      Only begotten son of the God Osiris.
      Only begotten son of Yehovah (in the form of the Holy Spirit).

      Mother:
      Isis-Meri. 4
      Miriam (now often referred to as Mary).

      Foster father's ancestry:
      Of royal descent.
      Of royal descent.

      Birth location:
      In a cave.
      In a cave or stable.

      Annunciation:
      By an angel to Isis, his mother.
      By an angel to Miriam, his mother.

      Birth heralded by:
      The star Sirius, the morning star.
      An unidentified "star in the East."

      Birth announcement:
      By angels.
      By angels.

      Birth witnesses:
      Shepherds.
      Shepherds.

      Birth witnesses:
      Shepherds.
      Shepherds.

      Baptism location:
      In the river Eridan-us.
      In the river Jordan.

      etc..etc...etc...

      June 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • fred

      Laughing, As to only 100 years of Jesus you are correct from a time line point of view but, Jesus covered all we need to know about prior scripture and used such when addressing the Jews as a teacher and the Christ. Jesus not only told of his death and resurrection but of the last days reaching out to the millennium. Jesus further spoke very clearly concerning the apostles and those who thru the end times believe in him because of them. Jesus did not die on the cross he rose again on the third day and because he lives we live. That is why death has lost its sting. It is a continious journey
      Regarding the old testament yes he fulfilled it but also put the old testament into perspective and explained how we are use it and understand it.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • fred

      Ummmmm, Moses staff turned into a snake and ate all the other snakes. If that wasn't enough each of the plagues set upon Egypt was targeted against one of their Gods. Even Pharaohs heir to be the great Son God was consumed. I have been told only Jesus rose from the dead. Did any of these you mentioned rise from the dead?

      June 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Ummmm

      "Jesus rose from the dead. Did any of these you mentioned rise from the dead?"

      You do get it's a copy of other pagan religions it's not an exact match otherwise it people would become too suspi-cious. It just shows the books are a fake. All the Christian holidays are based on other pagan religions except good Friday.

      Other pagan god did raise from the dead. Chris-hna, the cruc-ified Hin-du savior, rose from the dead and as-cended into heaven.

      How about Osir-is

      "Once, as the sacred infant she surveyed,
      The god was kindled in the raving maid;
      And thus she uttered her prophetic tale:
      Hail, great Physician of the world! all hail!
      Hail, mighty infant, who in years to come
      Shall heal the nations, and defraud the tomb!
      Swift be thy growth, thy triumphs unconfined,
      Make kingdoms thicker, and increase mankind,
      Thy daring art shall animate the dead,
      And draw the thunder on thy guilty head;
      Then shalt thou die, but from the dark abode
      Shalt rise victorious, and be twice a god.

      The resurrection of gods was a fundamental idea in the religions of all the nations by which the Je-ws were surrounded.

      June 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Fred

      You are sort of right, but keep in mind, a) when Jesus fulfilled the old testament he made it null and void, christians do not believe (or rather shouldn't) in any of it other than purely an historical book (which is why christians do not have to follow Leviticus....)
      b) You say that Jesus foretold his own death and resurrection, ignoring any evidence that was found that's the gospel according to Judas (which says that Jesus made Judas betray him and kill him) then there's also the little matter where Jesus was supposed to come back very soon after his resurrection for the revelation. Since we're standing here, we both know that didn't happen. Sorry Fred, but Jesus didn't keep his promise to come back to Earth, how do you know he can keep any of the other promises that he said he would (you know, like dying for our sins and what not)

      June 22, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  6. maggie

    Just like i said let these people be. It is not up to us to tell people what they should or should not do. However, I know for a fact, there will no gay marriage perform in my religion as a whole, even if the government make it a universal law.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Maggie, if your religious leader (your church) started to recognize, accept, preform gay marriages, would you quit and find another church, more in keeping with your personal religious views?

      June 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • fred

      Leaders are held accountable to what the Bible says. Leaders in church step down when they violate the basic foundations If they fail to do so then you must get up and walk out. When Obamas pastor began to rip on white folk in a condesending way he should have left that church but he did not until it was a political necessity. Hopefully, most people will do what is right not to get votes but to honor God. Do not forget God is Holy. The bible says Holy Holy Holy is the name of the Lord. So do what is right before a Holy God

      June 22, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      fred, I suppose that is the reason why we have so many different denominations of Christianity (Islam, Judaism etc...).

      My question then is, if the Word of God is so clear and without ambiguity why so many different interptations?

      June 22, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • dwordisclear

      JohnQuest– Please, allow me to answer that for you. Because people's self interests, like clearly shown here by the author of this article, interfere with its truth. In other words, our sinful tendency is an obstacle of interpretation. We, who are born again, are called to live by the Spirit, yet is not something we can naturally do. The reason the Bible exalts us to live by Him and through Him, is because with our constant fleshly resistance is impossible for the Spirit to do His part within our souls and hearts. Thus, whenever you have this conflict of flesh and Spirit, by default, different interpretations will surface.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      dwordisclear, Okay, then how do you know which interpretation (if any) are correct? Or does a person just goes with what feels right for them?

      June 22, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • dwordisclear

      JohnQuest– Man, that's a good question. I, personally, struggle with that question sometimes, yet I know that in the mist of all that confusion and misinterpretations the truth is there somewhere within God's word. In my case, what I do is, between His word and the conviction's of His Spirit, I try to honor both as much as I can possibly do as away to glorify Him, and I leave the rest of the non-sense for Him to handle.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  7. Ramona

    The most significant point in Jonathan Dudley's story is in the last sentence. My own experiences with the evangelical Christian church have taught me that the people who fill the church aisles are no different, or of any higher character, than the average person on the street. As well as being respected members of their communities, both blue and white collar, they are also egotistical, controlling, gossips, liars, adulterers, addicts, abusers, thieves, etc. Unfortunately, you'll find very few people in the church who are willing to shine the gritty spotlight of judgement on their own sinful behavior. Many of them hide behind the label of "Christian" like a baby playing peek-a-boo; they believe that as long as they hold that blanket over their head, no one can see who they really are. I love many people, both inside and outside the church, but I realize I'll never become the person my God wants me to be by draping myself with a label that finds so much to condemn and judge in others.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  8. JohnQuest

    Texan, I agree, if a church does not want to preform a gay marriage it should never be forced. The state should not be in the business of discriminating against any citizen.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • maggie

      Yes. If they start doing gay marriages, I will disassociate myself with them.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  9. Stevie7

    Texan
    " see Loving v. Virginia. " See the Missouri Compromise where blacks were said to be 3/5ths of a person. A law is not moral simply because it's a l;aw.
    ____________________
    Holy Non-sequitur batman! I never said or implied anything remotely like that. You asked if marriage is a civil right. This was answered back when we overturned laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

    That wasn't the statement. Gay Marriage hurts no one. The whole 'decline of the family' argument is nonsensical. My marriage, and my life, will in absolutely no way be affected if two guys are allowed to get married. How would it?" If the state of marriage affects no one, why is the family (and therefore our country) breaking down because it's in decline?
    What does divorce have to do with gay marriage? How will divorce increase is gay marriage is passed. Once again, you completely miss the point. I never said marriage wasn't in a decline – not that I care. But no one's marriage is going to be affected by gay marriage – if it is, then the marriage was doomed to begin with.

    "well, loosely based on a Christian foundation. Certainly the 1st amendment would suggest we keep religion at arms reach. One could easily argue they're more based on the humanist philosophies of the enlightenment. And as for the second point, we should not allow religion to influence civil rights. Or would you not have repealed slavery or interracial marriages and similar claims were made in support of those positions." If you read your bible with wisdom and understanding, you'll find truth and love, not man's traditions which are not always moral.
    _______________
    I've read the bible. I see very little love, and even less truth. not sure how that comment even remotely related to mine, though.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  10. N

    I don't even look at marriage as a religious or legal issues anymore. Marriage an American cultural tradition. Denying someone the opportunity to participate in this shared tradition is akin to telling an immigrant (legal or otherwise) that he can't have a birthday party because he wasn't born in the US. It is the very definition of ostracism, and it is what tears our country apart.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • fred

      Without God at the center of your marriage you are correct it is nothing more than a cultural tradition. Put God into focus and everything changes.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • N

      @fred You say "nothing more than" as if a cultural tradition isn't in and of itself valuable. Take a moment to think about all the traditions you participate in from day-to-day that are not religious, and what it would mean if someone were to deny you the opportunity to uphold them.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  11. maggie

    We have been living in the last days since Jesus time and all the things that he said should happen before the end comes only but two things have not happened. As a bible student, i hope these two things happen in my life time.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Peace2All

      Are you even aware of the ramifications of what you are 'hoping' for exactly, and what it means to people that don't believe like you do...?

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 22, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Peter F

      The end will be both great and terrible.

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

      Peace2all, not to worry God generally only gives us exactly what we have been seeking. Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and that is what you will find. Dont care about God but your still a good person never drove anyone away from God you may just find yourself eternally without God. Spend a lifetime crushing innocent people and spitting on God you may just find yourself being crushed eternally. Fire is reserved for some. Either way the question is do you sense there may just be something more than just this short existance? Then now is the time now is the hour to clear that up. Jesus said things are not as they appear.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Peter F

      "The end will be both great and terrible."

      Well, I hope that you are most definitely wrong in your 'beliefs.' However... If you do happen to be right, please say a few good words to St. Peter @ The Pearlies for me, will ya'...? 😀

      Regards,

      Peace...

      @fred

      Hey -fred...

      I see... once again, the old "believe -or- burn" argument.

      Well, I hope that you are wrong too. But, thanks for your attempt to save my soul. I appreciate it.

      And BTW-When Jesus allegedly said..."things are not as they appear" that could be interpreted in many different ways. Maybe even something for 'you' to think about, yes...?

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 22, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Peter F

      @Peace2all

      There is no law-breaking without judgment. It is central to God's character... and we as humans try to operate justly too (police, courts, jails, etc). The difference is that God's justice is perfect while ours is flawed and often unjust. The irony!

      June 22, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Seriously....

      "the difference is that God's justice is perfect while ours is flawed and often unjust. "

      That's why he supposedly created a great flood and killed everyone, including babies and innocent animals. That's really just, NOT! That's why he creates tornadoes' to tear peoples lives apart, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc..etc....etc..

      June 22, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "including babies and innocent animals. "

      I am confused, does being young or being innocent make you free from being God's? Being good does not get you off from belonging to God's creation and theoutcomes of this existence.

      June 22, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Seriously....

      ""including babies and innocent animals. "

      I am confused, does being young or being innocent make you free from being God's? Being good does not get you off from belonging to God's creation and theoutcomes of this existence."

      Yeah you are confused since we were talking about being just, and killing innocent people is still just that unjust. LOL!

      June 22, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Mary

      "I am confused, does being young or being innocent make you free from being God's? Being good does not get you off from belonging to God's creation and theoutcomes of this existence."

      Ok I am confused so when God kills the parents of children and leaves them without a mother or father that's a good thing? How about you were to loose your spouse in a flash flood is that just to you?

      June 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Peter F

      Fallen people have no concept of true justice – nor do we have any idea just how perverse things were when God sent the flood. But his mercy shines through too, as he saves Noah and his family!!!

      June 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • So

      "But his mercy shines through too, as he saves Noah and his family!!!"

      So, he kills everyone but these people and you thing that's merciful. That's f* ck'd up.

      June 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  12. Bryan

    Christianity was pushed on me as a child. I was able to learn about morality and ethics in and outside of church and I am grateful for what I learned in the church. However, being forced into a relationship with God as a child and seeing the hypocrisy rampant in the church all burned me to extent that I stopped going to church. I realized I only believed in God because I was told to and out of fear for the repercussions of going against the grain, not out of a true love for God. The church can be a great place for some kids, but it can be hell for others. Is it possible that a place that preaches love and kindness could produce friction and make situations for some even worse? Yeah. it did for me, but I'm stronger now that I have learned to do something I wasn't taught in church: think for myself.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • maggie

      It is a parent's job to teach their kids about the creator, however, when the child comes to the age of reason, he has to choose. Some people do it the wrong way and when the child grows up, he rebels.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Stevie7

      "Some people do it the wrong way and when the child grows up, he rebels."

      I didn't rebel – I thought for myself. Or do you think teaching your child independence and critical thinking is the wrong way?

      June 22, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Bryan

      I didn't rebel, either. I just made the decision to stop going to church especially because I wanted time to air out my angst. As the Bible says, no man knows the hour that God will return for those that have accepted him... I always saw that as fear tactic to make people side with God pronto. It seemed to steal time from the process of critical thinking if not deflating it all together. I think of it like a contract. A lot of people sign over contracts without reading the fine print. A contract with God is not something I would rush someone else into.

      The Bible also says there is life and death in the tongue. A lot of believers freely call others out for sin and talk up their future in hell. Whether they know it or not, that kind of criticism is fear-mongering and can have a negative impact on the person.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • LinCA

      @maggie

      All children are born atheist. It is the indoctrination by their parents that fills their heads with the nonsense that you are so fluent in. Those that manage to think for themselves have a chance of ridding themselves from the bronze age nonsense.

      That isn't rebelling. That's growing up and using your head.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  13. maggie

    I love the bible because it stays constant. It never changes and it is always relevant. The bible was written for human nature and human has not changed. Therefore, the bible will always be relevant or until we change our nature.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      maggie, Good Point, Consider this though, we have already changed our nature. We no longer believe that slavery is moral, we no longer believe that sin causes earthquakes, we no longer live in caves. I think our nature has changed in many ways. My your own logic we no longer need the Bible.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Texan

      John, I believe the bible is the inerrant word of God. Our understanding of the bible evolves and hopefully grows more truthful, but the Word does not change simply because we don't understand it at the time.

      I believe truth exists and is like an onion. We are always peeling back layers of the truth.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Stevie7

      If the bible is inerrant, how do Matthew and Luke differ on something as straight-forward as to who Jesus' grandfather was? And why are there three different accounts of who found the empty tomb? How can something with such obvious contradictions be inerrant?

      June 22, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • N

      You would think the bible was the first an only book written on human nature and morality. (Hint: it's not.)
      Also, if you read the entire thing through, you'll find inconsistencies on every page. Try it some time.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Texan

      Are we not all full of inconsistencies? Does that mean we don't exist? Or can't speak truthfully?

      The things I don't understand about the bible, I pray about and ask for enlightenment.

      Can I ask you a question? Have any of you ever read anything that tried to debunk the bible, but ended up proving it? Like Lee Strobel, A Case for Christ. Or at least read anything about that addresses the so-called inconsistencies from a biblical perspective?

      June 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Texan, are you comparing humans to Gods?

      June 22, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Stevie7

      So, you're acknowledging inconsistencies. That is the complete opposite of your earlier statement, that the bible is inerrant. Both cannot be true.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  14. Disgusted American

    bottom line...athiest don't need NO stickin buybull to get married...a Justice of the Peace at City Hall will do just fine......and 1000's upon 1000's of Gay cpls ARE ALREADY MARRIED / many with families & children.......keep your voodoo OUT of our secular law,and lives.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Peter F

      We're talking about the definition of marriage here. That is independent of religious convictions. We are living in the same country, the same society, and we adhere to the same laws. We just need to agree on what those laws are.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Peter F

      Hey Pete ! Long time, brother... How's the seminary treatin' ya'...?

      Anyway... to your point about the definition of marriage. I'm guessing here, you being an evangelical, that you 'don't' think that gays should be allowed to marry, yes...? (feel free to correct me in there if I'm wrong in any way about my assumptions about you based on many past conversations).

      If my assumptions were/are correct concerning you, please list your reasons as to 'why' gays should not be allowed to marry, if you wouldn't mind.

      I can always count on you to respond and have a discussion, as unfortunately a lot of the other believers tend to shy away from my pointed questions.

      Thanks... again... Hope that all is well with you.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Peter F

      @Peace2All

      Seminary is great! I'm actually in class right now... shhhhhhh! 😉

      I believe the Bible takes a clear stance about marriage – meaning that the God-prescribed covenant of marriage was meant between a man and a woman. He created us that way, biologically, physiologically, spiritually, etc. And it is our job to live within the ordered universe that God has created.

      Now... I am not one who argues through this issue politically. Laws will not change the spiritual condition of marriage, so I don't "fight" for or against gay right legislation. Those who sleep together and live together are as good as married anyway... but when it goes against God's plan it is tragic.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Texan

      It's my understanding that gays don't just want civil unions (which would seem to be secular) by defiinition. They want gay marriage, too, which is not necessarily secular. If marriage is not a religious state, then at the very least it "can be" religious.

      If gay marriage were allowed it would have to be in a form that allows Christians to follow their own beliefs.

      While you may believe that living the gay lifestyle is genetic, I don't entirely believe that. Otherwise, people would not come out of the gay lifestyle which is fact. It's happened.

      Traditionally society has said who can get married. It's a cultural state. Change the culture; you change the state.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Jeff

      I'll say it again.. If you don't support gay marriage, don't have one.. Beyond that, while you may find it "tragic" that people don't follow "God's plan".. it's not your place to dictate how those others live their lives. If god existed, she may well find your behavior tragic that you are not affording other people what you demand: The right to make your own choices when they do not in fact harm anyone else.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Angry Hillbilly

      So Peter, if I'm understanding you correctly, you feel that marriage is between a man and a woman but aren't necessarily against gay marriage? Or did I miss something with your explanation.

      If that is indeed how you feel, I think that it's a very logical statement.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Peter F

      @AngryHillbilly

      I assume you meant a very illogical statement. I am saying government and laws is irrelevant in my opinion because what really counts is what is physically and spiritually going on anyway. Gays who are se-xu-ally involved are already married in God's eyes, so the legislation makes no difference. That is not my fight. I am fighting a spiritual fight against the deceptive forces that try to skew God's plan into something entirely different...

      @Jeff

      I didn't dictate anything. If you were paying attention, I just said I am not going to get involved in legislation. They are free to make their own choices...

      June 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Angry Hillbilly

      So clarify something for me real quick: Do you think gay people should be allowed to get married and share the same benefits as straight couples do?

      June 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Laughing

      Texan,

      Honestly, I still can't seem to grasp how you keep demanding equal rights and the rights to express yourself freely without anyone hindering you, and then in the same breath deny those rights to other people because your religion tells you to. To really back up your claim you're going to need to either a) be against gay marriage but also the denial of equal rights to everyone or b) for equality in which gay marriage must be allowed.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Texan

      Laughing, I'm asking you to consider things from my perspective as I am trying to think of things from the gay perspective. Otherwise I wouldn't bother posting on this blog. I just stay in my Christian "ghetto."

      For me personally, as a Christian, I don't believe I can marry or perhaps should marry anyone I want. I am being true to my personal beliefs. Now, when you tell me that I have to conduct your gay marriage or tell my children something different than what I believe, that's where we have the problem. It's no longer either your personal beliefs or mine, we're trying to get laws passed.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Laughing

      phuck the moderator! Here's what I tried to post

      Whoa whoa whoa, when did I ever say you should con.duct a gay w.edding? He.ck, if you a.re agai.nst it so mu.ch you can pic.ket the wedding for all I care. You'll be in good com.pany with the west.boro church (the people who picket de.ad soldiers funerals and h.ate ga.y peo.ple). You also have ev.ery right to teach your ch.ild all the ha.te you wa.nt. You kee.p thu.mping the ta.ble about how unfair it is that people are forc.ing you to be quiet and let ga.y people married, but that's just not true, most pe.ople ask you to open your mi.nd and acc.ept gay people just as you would acce.pt a brother, or a je.wish person, or a wo.man. Like I said, it's utt.erly conf.using how you keep dem.anding equ.al rights to let yourself be he.ard and then tu.rn aro.und and try and acti.vely stop other p.eople from enjoyi.ng that right. Equa.lity dude.....equa.lity is all gay people, among others. are asking for.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Peter F

      @Angry Hillbilly

      In all honesty, I haven't thought much about it. I don't think I'd strongly oppose it or anything...

      June 22, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  15. maggie

    Texan,
    But who is your brother?

    June 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Texan

      The gay person is my brother or sister...just as anyone else is. I'm asking my self on this issue is there a compromise that allows me to follow my beliefs to love God and love my neighbor as my self. I might be for civil unions but not marriage at this point.

      If I were a gay person, I would want to be treated "well", but I don't believe that means everyone has to agree with me.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Texan, Why can you marry whom ever you want but your gay neighbor can not? Seems you are using your religious views to deny your neighbor a basic right that you would fight (and die) for. That's not what I call love, but alas I am not a Christian.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Texan

      You know, I might compromise on gay marriage if you will not force me to conduct your gay marriage, tell my children that gay marriage is okay (what they believe when they get older is up to them), or in hinder the expression of my religion.

      We can have a debate, but if one forces the other then force is being used by someone. So, a gay person can go where there marriage is recognized or teach their children what they want as can I. Equal rights.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Ummmm

      "If I were a gay person, I would want to be treated "well", but I don't believe that means everyone has to agree with me"

      "well" seriously how would you like to be treated "well" but not equal. That is the most ridiculous statement I have seen on here and there are plenty but that takes the cake.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Texan

      I as a woman like to be treated "well", but I don't necessarily want to be called up for active combat duty in the military. I perfectly fine with that "unequal" treatment. As a woman I have other gifts to bring that a man can't.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Ryan

      Texan, the gay marriage debate is about civil marriage. The state issues a marriage certificate to people of all faiths. Muslims and Atheists get married all the time and you don't seem to have a problem with it. Gay people are just asking for the same thing. For the state to issue them marriage licenses. No church would or should be forced to perform a marriage that goes against their beliefs. The gay marriage debate is about civil marriage – not religious marriage. We shouldn't have to create a different label for gay civil marriage licenses because then you should also not be allowing Atheists to call their civil marriage the same thing.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Wow

      "I as a woman like to be treated "well", but I don't necessarily want to be called up for active combat duty in the military. I perfectly fine with that "unequal" treatment. As a woman I have other gifts to bring that a man can't."

      Yeah, keep saying that when you are not being paid equally. Wow, what a lazy mind set, people like you are disgusting.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  16. Muneef

    Very hard writing about the subject with such tough moderations that is even not allowing words that were used in the subject.... Although had written some thing to post but will have to pass posting it since I couldn't tell which word of all that is not allowing my post be posted...

    June 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  17. Texan

    Jeff said: "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)."

    Are you sure gay people are hurting no one? Is marriage a civil right? Does the law hurt everyone who doesn't subscribe to its dogma?

    Our American laws are based primarily on a Judeo-Christian foundation. Are you suggesting we get rid of all our laws...or just the ones you don't like or subscribe to?

    Having said that, as a Christian I am evolviing or I should be. I should always ask myself am I obeying God's law of love, which is to love God and to love my neighbor as myself. On this issue, we disagree. I have yet to believe that in order for me to love you I must be silent and allow gay marriage.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • .....

      "Are you sure gay people are hurting no one? "

      What is your proof they are?

      June 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Stevie7

      " Is marriage a civil right?" – Umm ... yes – see Loving v. Virginia.

      "Are you sure gay people are hurting no one?" – that wasn't the statement. Gay Marriage hurts no one. The whole 'decline of the family' argument is nonsensical. My marriage, and my life, will in absolutely no way be affected if two guys are allowed to get married. How would it?

      "Our American laws are based primarily on a Judeo-Christian foundation. Are you suggesting we get rid of all our laws...or just the ones you don't like or subscribe to?" – well, loosely based on a Christian foundation. Certainly the 1st amendment would suggest we keep religion at arms reach. One could easily argue they're more based on the humanist philosophies of the enlightenment. And as for the second point, we should not allow religion to influence civil rights. Or would you not have repealed slavery or interracial marriages and similar claims were made in support of those positions.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Ummmm

      "Are you sure gay people are hurting no one? "

      There are countries where gay marriage is legal and they are just fine. What is not okay is the people who are so full of hate they think it's their right to beat-up and bully gays.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • JohnR

      There are a LOT of "sources" for our law. Ancient Greek and Roman law, centuries of British common law and Celtic and Germanic law that preceded it, philosophies of the rights of humans from enlightenment philosophers on. When Christians try to co-opt the foundations of this country's legal system as theirs and theirs alone, it's exactly that: attempted co-optation. A form of fraud and theft. So much for all morality springing from any god these people hang with.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Texan

      " see Loving v. Virginia. " See the Missouri Compromise where blacks were said to be 3/5ths of a person. A law is not moral simply because it's a l;aw.

      That wasn't the statement. Gay Marriage hurts no one. The whole 'decline of the family' argument is nonsensical. My marriage, and my life, will in absolutely no way be affected if two guys are allowed to get married. How would it?" If the state of marriage affects no one, why is the family (and therefore our country) breaking down because it's in decline?

      "well, loosely based on a Christian foundation. Certainly the 1st amendment would suggest we keep religion at arms reach. One could easily argue they're more based on the humanist philosophies of the enlightenment. And as for the second point, we should not allow religion to influence civil rights. Or would you not have repealed slavery or interracial marriages and similar claims were made in support of those positions." If you read your bible with wisdom and understanding, you'll find truth and love, not man's traditions which are not always moral.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Texan,

      Excuse me while I pick my jaw up from the floor. you said "If the state of marriage affects no one, why is the family (and therefore our country) breaking down because it's in decline?" How has the family in anyway dictated what state our country is in? You say we're in decline, ok how exactly? Are you discussing the current economy, infrastructure, military threats? That could work, but saying that marriage is what makes our country strong is a silly statement. The state of marriage affects individuals, not the collective. My friends marriage has nothing to do with mine or yours and yet you insist that since my friend is getting a divorce (a greater threat to marriage by the way than gay people getting married) then how does his divorce hurt you or this country?

      June 22, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Texan

      Come on now. 🙂 If marriage isn't in a decline (i.e. divorce on in incline) and children aren't impacted by the family, why are our children in so much heartache? (i.e. Colombine, depression, hunger, illiteracy)

      The state of marriage and the family does impact our nation especially the children.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Texan

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but the problems you stated didn't just spring into existance and aren't exponentially growing. They've been there for a while its only been until recently that there's such a big spotlight on it. I wonder how much worse it would be for a kid to live in a house with both parents at each others throats all the time or even worse. You are implying both a an effect and its cause when that's just plain ridiculous. To base any nation's decline purely on the strength of marriages just doesn't make sense.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Hermes

      "Colombine"

      You are retarded. The Colombine shootings happened because Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold wanted to do something that was considered "bigger" than the Oklahoma City Bombings. Had the propane bombs they wired actually went off, it would have been.

      "so much heartache?"

      Glad to know you can measure how kids all over the nation are feeling on something that can't be measured. Again, you are retarded. And don't pull that "Dur, Christianity is under attack" card just because you said something painfully stupid and was called on it. That's not your religious beliefs coming under attack, that's people not wanting to put up with your stupid shit.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Texan

      I don't think I said that the problems in today's family are recent. And I totally agree that they are getting spotlighted more now, but the point is the state of the family has always been important and is important to any country.

      Nor, am I making my own case for or against divorce. If as a Christian (and I am speaking as a Christian), I have to ask my self is that the best thing and then be prepared to live with whateve consequences be they good or bad.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Texan

      Hermes, so you're telling me that Harris and Klebold would have murdered people at Columbine had they been mentally, emotionally and spirtually stable?

      I will concede that I don't know the nature of their family lives prior to committing the crimes.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Jeff

      Texan.. have you ever considered that gay marriage might make the country BETTER?

      1) More loving people are allowed to build a strong family (with chidren via adoption, foster, or surrogate)..
      2) Prejudice and hate vs. gay people will end, resulting in better lives for everyone.
      3) Straight people, who divorce at a national rate around 50%, will see strong gay marriages and feel pathetic - prompting them to stay in their relationships longer. (Or are you suggesting that if gay people are allowed to get married, that somehow straights will divorce at a HIGHER rate?)

      And.. didn't this whole "decline" start and accelerate when straights were the only people who could get married? But now it's the fault of gay marriage? .. and I suppose lesbianism caused the power outages in Chicago this morning, as a testament to God's wrath?

      Admit it - you hate gay people and don't believe they should have the same rights as you.. and you'll repeat any tired old, invalid rhetoric you can find (god, moral decline, unnatural, what about the children, butt babies never live, etc) to make it seem like this hate is not your choice.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Texan

      "Texan.. have you ever considered that gay marriage might make the country BETTER? "

      I dont' know. Allowing gay marriage might make the country better if only to get rid of this incessant argueing and division...which is not godly.

      "Admit it – you hate gay people and don't believe they should have the same rights as you.. and you'll repeat any tired old, invalid rhetoric you can find (god, moral decline, unnatural, what about the children, butt babies never live, etc) to make it seem like this hate is not your choice."

      And this is what makes the debate difficult...if I don't believe in gay marriage I'm a hater. Little do you know...

      June 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Jeff,

      Don't hate on Texan, he's just incredibly misinformed. So far I'm mainly hung up on Texan wanting equal rights for himself but inferior rights for gay people. However on this specific thread, specifically for columbine. They actually had a good life at home, their parents you see, bought them the weapons they needed and showed them how to use it. Their rationale was because of the intense bullying they were being subjected to. With this specific example your point backfires because this is the case of a good family background leading to evil actions. Bad things happen Texan, and sometimes its because of mommy issues, or daddy issues or neither, but to heap all the blame of every problem based on the strength of the family is ignorant. You must be able to understand that gay marriage really doesn't effect you in the horrible ways you envision, at most you'll have to teach your kid extra hard to hate the people around him or her, but I'm assuming its YOUR job to teach your kid values (however hateful they might be) and not the governments job to enforce laws so it'll make it easier for you to spread hate onto the next generation.

      June 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  18. Laughing

    Darn! @.... made the same argument I was about to make (more succinctly I might add) but my comment god moderated

    June 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  19. Liberal - but still an American too

    Hmmm, self-serving inconsistencies – wonder if that's why the Southern Baptists are aging and not holding on to the youth....

    June 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  20. Miguel

    Bravo!

    June 22, 2011 at 2:25 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.