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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. Larry S

    Christianity:
    The belief that a certain cosmic Jewish zombie, whose mother was a virgin and whose father was himself, can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. Makes perfect sense really. That is why the Evangelicals oppose gays & gay marriage.

    June 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • SJ

      You are right. Lets look at the other option :
      Millions of years ago, some crazy explosion happens and out of nothing something is created instantly. The perfect environment along with gravity, water, air come into being on Earth. And due to some abnormal ..correction – normal behavior, certain elements that were created out of nothing become single celled organisms. They grow bigger and better and somehow develop this idea that they have to SURVIVE. They naturally create enemies and of course learn how to swim, walk, fly and so on. They grow a brain and post messages on CNN. That is why you can never understand what the connection is between the body, soul and GOD.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • steve

      you might need to examine the Bible more, jjust saying. It isn't just everything has a meaning and an answer of why it's important.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • LetsThink123

      @SJ
      Abiogenesis is not explained yet. Evolution is an observed fact that goes against the biblical myths. Eg, adam and eve. Evolution offers evidence to back up its theories. The bible offers 'magical' answers (magic answers r basically non-explanations) to how this earth and its inhabitants came into being.
      you said, "That is why you can never understand what the connection is between the body, soul and GOD."
      Body is real. I can test it and see it. Soul and god are non-testable concepts that only exist in your imagination. Show me that they are real.

      July 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Again

      @letsthing123-What evidence does evolution have?

      July 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  2. J

    Yale "Divinity" isn't really a theological seminary.

    June 21, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Eric G

      You are correct. There is no "divinity" because there is no god(s).

      Out of all the classes at your theological seminaries around the world, which one provides the verifiable evidence that your god even exists? I would think that you would want students to take that one first, because without proof that your god exists, all the rest is crap, right?

      June 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Ken

      I love how you are quick to discredit the "school" but have said nothing about the substance of the message.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • knowledge2power

      Eric G, tell me, what proof is there that he does not exist? There is no tangible evidence, for the sake of those who just like to see and touch things, that proves that he is real or isn't real. I tell you what though, nothing in the cycle of life was created accidentally or coincidentally. You just keep ignoring that power inside of you that tells you what's right and lets you know that everything is going to be alright even in your darkest hour. You deny him and his kingdom all you want. I rather be a believer and be wrong than be a non believer and be wrong. May the Lord have mercy on your soul.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • kenney

      Yeah, but Bob Jones and Liberty U are, huh? lol

      June 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • LetsThink123

      @knowledge2power
      you said, "Eric G, tell me, what proof is there that he does not exist?"
      what proof is there that leprechauns do not exist? that santa claus does not exist? u cannot show that something does not exist, haven't u figured that out yet?
      you said, "I tell you what though, nothing in the cycle of life was created accidentally or coincidentally."
      evolution comes about by mutations. there's a ton of evidence for this. Tell me this, if ur god created u perfect and in his image, why do u have vestigial organs? example vestigial organ is the appendix that has no use. Is it more likely that a god created our useless appendix or it was formed by evolution which shows through a ton of evidence that the appendix lost it's use in the early human species (way before ur christian god created adam and eve) and remains as a vestigial organ. there are many other points i can bring up to show u that we got here through evolution, accidentally. Again i ask u, if god created u, he gave u a useless appendix and made u vulnerable to disease. is god really a good designer?
      Human emotion to get by the darkest hour is part of our survival. not because of some god that u worship, whether it be krishna, jesus, ganeesha, allah. This kingdom u talk about is imaginary too. show me that it is real.
      u'd rather be a believer and believe in christ. if allah is the true god, u lose. believing for the sake of believing 'just to be safe' is disingenuous at best.

      July 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  3. Juno

    Christianity isn't the only religions opposed to gay marriage. Most Orthodox Jewish leaders are opposed and so are Muslims. Try having a gay wedding in Islamabad or Saudi Arabia.

    June 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • John Richardson

      It's not the only thing I wouldn't try there!

      June 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Ken

      This article was specific to one religion. Stick the point – can you defend your position based upon the scriptures and interpretation he quotes. We can have the same conversation on the other religions when someone does equal labor and presents those findings.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      What does what they do in other countries have to do with what we do here? Just because your neighbor's family jumped off a bridge does that mean you have to as well?

      June 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  4. fred

    Dudley did what everyone does; he identified with his community and then twisted everything including the Bible of his youth to fit his new life style. Not much different than joining a gang you either fit the pattern or take a beating.
    This is why Jesus said I am the way the truth and life. We all like to turn things or pick and choose what favors us rather than take the facts given to us. Jesus made the same points as Dudley did when it came to false religious leaders. C n n likes Dudley’s take on things as it fits with the anti Christian position they beat out all day long through all their outlets. We cannot change C n n but maybe Dudley can do right again.
    Regarding the long hair and short hair bit Dudley says the New Testament author Paul only used nature once. Unfortunately, Paul made many references to nature and what is natural. Dudley’s entire argument is flawed and twisted based on this alone. Specifically regarding the long hair quote, Dudley pulled this from Corinthians where Paul was addressing the people of Corinth (in that day male pros ti tutes wore long hair and female pros ti tutes had short hair.) who were familiar with this obvious example. Paul was talking about how you present yourself before God and before others relationally and it should be obvious. This principle has not changed in 5,000 years. Even though they rode camel’s back then and we ride electric cars the principle remains. To the contrary of what Dudley says his own referenced scripture says it should be obvious to everyone male male relationships do not fit the pattern of nature or the local community. The appearance jumps out at you “that’s not right”. This is what Paul said in both examples Dudley used.
    As to divorce Jesus made it clear that since the time of Moses divorce was granted because of the hardness in the peoples heart. This too has not changed in 5,000 years.
    So Dudley do right and stop twisting the Bible to fit your new found community.

    June 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Yo!

      You are the one fred who is twisting the scriptures to justify your personal prejudice toward gays. God created them to show people like you that Satan has your heart. Get over yourself and come to the light.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Tim

      Cute fred how you do an ad hominem attack with your childish Dudley Do Right comments throughout. This is an obvious indication that you have no rebuttal of substance. The author is correct in that Xtians feel free to pick and choose what they want to use against their fellow human beings. But you all have been doing that since the book got cut and pasted together from the existing writings of the times.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Amber

      Re @fred
      "Dudley did what everyone does; he identified with his community and then twisted everything including the Bible of his youth to fit his new life style."

      ================================================
      LOL! The main point of the essay is about evangelicals twisting Scriptures to only hear what they want to hear and your reply is...twisting the essay to read only what you want to read.

      "Oh no, we're not the one's twisting anything! This Dudley fellow is!"

      Of course, no proof or anything from the essay gets pointed out to back up your opinion but hey. Par for the course.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • fred

      Yo, Tim I do not recall saying anything against gay. I cleared up Dudley misquote of Paul as he was speaking to Corinth. You may not like the example Paul used but if you were to look at Corinth in that day you would agree he picked the most obvious to make his point. Paul makes 13 direct references to nature and natural not one as Dudley stated. In addition there are many more indirect references to nature and natural from Paul. These are facts and cannot be debated with exception to translation which one could argue there are 9 to 17 direct references. Dudley is wrong period. If you want to debate gay that is another issue

      June 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • fred

      Amber, read the article Dudley said there was but one other argument by Paul on nature . There are many check it out yourself. He picked one that gave the opposite result of what Dudley intened.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • kenney

      Fred Flintstone...you are in a cult. Get help.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Doesn't matter

      @Yo!

      "You are the one fred who is twisting the scriptures to justify your personal prejudice toward gays. God created them to show people like you that Satan has your heart. Get over yourself and come to the light."

      You seem to have read something in fred's post that wasn't there...he never said anything about being gay, what post did you read? He never said anything about gay people at all in his post. I think you need to examine your personal prejudice against christians, for it appears that satan has your heart...

      @Tim

      "Cute fred how you do an ad hominem attack with your childish Dudley Do Right comments throughout. This is an obvious indication that you have no rebuttal of substance. The author is correct in that Xtians feel free to pick and choose what they want to use against their fellow human beings. But you all have been doing that since the book got cut and pasted together from the existing writings of the times."

      In this particular post you just did to fred what you accused him of doing to the author of the column. Can we therefore assume as you did that you have nothing of substance to say? I'm not trying to be mean, I'm just trying to make you think before you speak. As for the last part of your column, it would seem that you don't really understand how biblical correction of individuals should occur...it is mentioned in the bible the proper way to correct someone who is sinning, maybe if you were actually familiar with the book you are so quick to condemn you might know that...

      @Amber

      "LOL! The main point of the essay is about evangelicals twisting Scriptures to only hear what they want to hear and your reply is...twisting the essay to read only what you want to read.

      "Oh no, we're not the one's twisting anything! This Dudley fellow is!"

      Of course, no proof or anything from the essay gets pointed out to back up your opinion but hey. Par for the course."

      I'll ask you the same question I asked Yo!, what post did you read? Fred did use proof from the scriptures, perhaps you should go back and read his post again...You clearly missed something...

      @kenney

      "Fred Flintstone...you are in a cult. Get help."

      kenney...you are lost in sin. Get help, seek Christ!

      June 22, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • cynthia allen

      Great response fred....and accurate.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Larry

      Fred, Paul specifically mentions in 1 Corinthians 11why he thinks men should not have long hair. He says it is against nature.

      June 22, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • Tom Jacobs

      I believe dudley said Paul only makes one other MORAL argument from nature, not only one other argument in general. read the article more carefully before you start criticizing it.

      July 2, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Again

      @Fred–Amen, obviously if dudley would have done some studying he would understand what Paul was talking about. So you are correct when you state that the whole argument is void, he didn't do his homework.

      July 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  5. Joe Taylor

    Jesus was the only being to walk in perfection. Its impossible for us to be perfect. So sure, guys have long hair and Christians divorce, but we shouldn't judge Christianity based on its abuses. If your argument is that some laws, commands, creeds, etc. are broken so why not gay marriage? I ask why not murder? Why not stealing? Since people eat too much (gluttony) which is a sin that's not particularly frowned upon, should we allow all things? See Sodom and Gomorrah and Romans...

    June 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Murder and stealing cause harm. They're two totally different things. We've set up social constructs because we have found we have to live in societies. If you don't feel your person and things are safe you won't be part of society, so we've come to the mutual agreement not to kill each other or take each others things. A relationship between two consenting adults is not causing harm to the parties involved.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Bruce V

      I find it disheartening that you pitch that "sure humans aren't perfect" and that men can have long hair or people can divorce, but you abhor gay marriage linking it to creeds and laws when the author factually comments on no such law or creed on the matter.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Joe Taylor

      Point being picking and choosing what we want to follow out of the Bible isn't what we're supposed to do pro or anti gay.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Bruce V

      Got it. Understood. I think that's what the author is trying to convey. I guess they way you posed it seemed like an angry comment.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • rachel

      Do not compare love to taking a life of stealing. That's just ridiculous!! If I decide I want to marry a woman, who are you to tell me I'm wrong? I'm not Christian, so don't shove your beliefs my way. We've had enough of you, live and let live. First, if god did exist which there is absolutely NO proof, he's supposed to be all about love, right? Secondly, like I said, not all of us are religious so to us, you're forcing your belief upon us...it has to stop, it will stop.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Joe Taylor: No, the point of the article is why aren't we making a fuss about all the other things that are supposedly as great a sin or as unnatural? Not "Why don't we let all the laws go?" But "Why did we let any go?" You can't minimize the sins you agree with or find less egregious while maximizing your focus on the ones you find more disturbing because then you are not truly following the bible but your own personal preference. It's all or nothing.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  6. steve

    ANd you went to seminary......ha ha ha ha ha ha ha .....Did you even study ?.....did you even show up for the classes...wow

    June 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Larry

      Well, Steve, it is obvious that you did not go to seminary or you would be a little more humble.

      June 22, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  7. William Demuth

    You may bugger whomever you please as long as they are consenting adults because the Bible is a fairy tale.

    But do NOT use your imaginary sky friend as justification for abusing boys.

    June 21, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "because the Bible is a fairy tale......your imaginary sky friend as justification for abusing boys."

      HAHa, I am afriad you might be better off using such concepts of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". That actually helps your position better than calling the Bible a fairy tale or that crazy thing you made up: "sky friend". What is that anyway? And no where in the Bible does it supprot abusing boys.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Exactly.

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

      Not a fairy tail simply Gods truth through time as to how He has redeemed His people. If you choose not to benefit from 5,000 years of written truths that is your choice. Facts throughout have been proven by modern science and as always those parts that rely on faith are not subject to rules of science.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      If they're not subject to rules of science and observation how do you choose which ones to believe and which to dismiss? I can say god has spoken to me and gave me a message that every religion is wrong and he's really mad about that because he's not actually all powerful and can only make contact with humans once in awhile. But you're not going to believe me. Why not? Because you don't have any good reason to. Why not? because there's no proof that god actually spoke with me. Why not? because there's no proof that god has spoken to anyone.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Swain only gays get to go to heaven.

      It is right in the bible

      14:3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
      14:4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @William Demuth- Cute quoting, you could cite that it was Revelation. You could have also cited that the 144,000 was from the tribes of Israel. But hey, why be accurate when you are trying and failing to prove a point.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  8. Tim Jordan

    Religion equals bigotry, ignorance, and slavery.

    June 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Christianity equals freedom from slavery and sin.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • USA401

      Christians have enslaved and murdered more people than it has 'saved'. Read a history book.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • MrHanson

      And Darwinsm equals meaningless of human life and survival of the fittest. "Natural Selection" as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold would have put it.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Just because there is no god doesn't mean we have to be mean to each other. We do all agree that we have experiences and that some are enjoyable and some are not. Why don't we try to cause the least amount of suffering. "Survival of the fittest" is a drastically simplified implication of how natural selection works.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Amber

      ORGANIZED religion (including the Christian church)=bigotry, ignorance, and slavery.

      Personal faith and relationship with Christ=freedom from sin and salvation

      June 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • MrHanson

      Communists leaders were motivated by a strong desire to impose an ideological "package" over the whole world. The package included the eradication of Religion, defined by arch-atheist, Karl Marx, as “The opium of the people.” According to Marx, religion helped keep the masses passive before the abuse of the wealthy and powerful, and the only way to free them from the “stupor," God and religion had to be eradicated. Lenin embraced Marx's views and so did Stalin up to the Second World war. The enforcement of Atheism was a “critical” requirement for Communism’s success, and thus it had to be implemented at all costs. This meant oppressive measures, such as brainwashing in state schools, the closing of houses of worship and arresting countless religious leaders.

      Maybe you should read a history book.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Atheist does not equal communist. Those guys may have been atheists but they did those things for their own gains. There is no pope or holy book of atheists. We having nothing to point to to justify hideous acts and say "look here, it's ok, it says so right here." Bad people will do bad things.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @USA401- I've read many books. They have taught me that the bad behavior of followers does not make the religion bad by as*sociation.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Tim Jordan

      @MrHanson

      Are you saying because I dare question the validity of religious bigotry and ignorance I'm a communist? So just because Hitler was a christian and you're an christian am I calling you a fascist? Um, no. What I am calling you is an idiot. The only brainwashing I see here is from bible thumpers trying to enforce their antiquated morals on the public.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  9. luke

    If you don't like how someone else lives, leave them alone, let them deal with the results of their action. want your beliefs, thats fine. keep them to yourself. thats simple! christianity seems to have a problem with letting that happen.

    June 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Not all Christians have that problem. It's not difficult to allow ppl to live as they want as long as it doesn't bother others. It's only when the state makes it a requirement to accept that which directly goes against your religious freedoms is there a problem.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • USA401

      It is also a problem when the state does not allow the same rights for all Citizens. Remember there should be a separation of Church and State. Religion can be used as a biased and repressive mechanism and has no business in a Democracy.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Eric G

      " It's only when the state makes it a requirement to accept that which directly goes against your religious freedoms is there a problem."

      Why is it a problem to not allow you to discriminate against others because of your beliefs? Your "religious freedoms" are fine as long as they never infringe upon the liberties of any other citizen.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • MrHanson

      Atheists seem to have that same problem.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Uncouth Swain

      And the problem is that those that do not agree with the duly enacted laws can't "live and let live."

      June 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • f

      Hey great speech. Tell that to the Muslims and Al Quaeda.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Are you going for the Newt Gingrich explanation that somehow atheists embrace Islamic terrorists?

      Where do we draw the line when it comes to religion. What if it was someone's religion that they're to remove the eyes of every third child or else everyone in the family will be burned alive for eternity. Do you allow them to remove the child's eyes? I would hope you say no. You can't infringe other people's lives. Their lives are not of your concern unless they are actually causing you harm.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "Why is it a problem to not allow you to disc*riminate against others because of your beliefs? Your "religious freedoms" are fine as long as they never infringe upon the liberties of any other citizen."

      I think that is what I said. But I also added that a se*cular ent*ity does not have the right to force personal ac*cept*ance of what it de*ems right or wrong.

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

      @Uncouth Swain: I guess I don't understand what you mean. What acceptance of right or wrong is being forced on the religious by secular ent!ties? I'm not sure what this has to do with accepting gays or gay marriage.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Uncouth Swain

      You said: "Not all Christians have that problem. It's not difficult to allow ppl to live as they want as long as it doesn't bother others. It's only when the state makes it a requirement to accept that which directly goes against your religious freedoms is there a problem."

      How can what two consenting adults do to each other have any affect on your life, other than what you let it? Nobody is asking you to have sex with anybody you don't want to have sex with. Nobody is requiring you to marry someone of your own gender. Nobody is even asking you to like it. Nobody is forcing you to do anything.

      By extending the same rights that you have to everyone else, no rights are taken away from you.

      You seem to think that your religious freedom gives you the right to make decisions about anything anybody else does. It doesn't. The US constitution affords everyone in the US the same right to freedom of religion. That means, by definition, that your religion does not extend into anyone else's life. Your religious freedom ends where that of anyone else begins.

      You never had the right to restrict anyone from doing anything, solely based on your religion. Claiming that someone should be prohibited from doing anything based on your religion is bigoted.

      The only problem is that you seem to want to force your religion on everyone else.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @LinCA- You must have misunderstood what I wrote. NEVER did I state that any religion should di*ctate what others do in their private lives here in the US.
      One aspect I did talk on was about the govt trying to say any disagreement with hom*ose*xuality is wrong.
      If ppl want to have a hom*ose*xual relationship, that's on them. I don't really care. But if I am asked if I agree with it, I'll say no. That is my right just as it is theirs to do what they do.

      June 21, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Uncouth Swain: "One aspect I did talk on was about the govt trying to say any disagreement with hom*ose*xuality is wrong."

      How is our government trying to say any disagreement with hom-ose-xuality is wrong?

      June 21, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "How is our government trying to say any disagreement with hom-ose-xuality is wrong?"

      I never said it was...I was speaking of a possiblity of it trying to. It's just as theoretical as churches making ho*mose*xuality illegal. It doesn't exist but it could.

      June 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Uncouth Swain

      I think I understood you OK. As near as I can tell, the government isn't telling anyone that they have to agree that homosexuality isn't wrong. But by using your religion as an argument to deny anyone equal rights is clearly wrong. Which was the point of my post.

      Even if you disapprove of homosexuality based on your religion, you should support equal rights for gays and lesbians based on the US constitution. I find it very hard to fathom that anyone, who has any knowledge of the US constitution can oppose same sex marriages.

      No church should be required to perform same sex marriages. I don't know anyone who is advocating otherwise. I don't agree with the practice of shunning gays or same sex marriages by religious organization, but I will defend their right to do so.

      June 23, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @LinCA- "But by using your religion as an argument to deny anyone equal rights is clearly wrong."

      Thank goodness I've never used my religion in this argument to deny anyone their rights.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      i wish I could remember the citation, but there was a group ( I'm pretty sure they were a fri_nge group) that wanted to label religious org_anizations that spoke out against same-se_x marriages as hate groups. You have to a_dmit, there are those out there that would try and probably find supporters from some anti-religious groups.

      June 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  10. Randy

    Man made bible schools can be made to twist God's Word anyway it wants and you have apparently fed into it. God help you soul.

    June 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Randy

      You said: "Man made bible schools can be made to twist God's Word anyway it wants and you have apparently fed into it. God help you soul."

      There are ~ 34,000 different denominations of Christianity. No matter how you twist "God's word", you are bound to in tune with one of them.

      Cheers!

      June 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Yo!

      God created gays to show people like you that hate and prejudice has no place in heaven. Get over yourself and listen to the truth.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Guess the perfect god didn't make us in his image after all because if that's the cause god is really messed up.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Bruce V

      God help YOUR soul since God created people to love one another and love God. If you cannot accept others for their differences, you might as well go back to hating people of other races and enslaving them. I wouldn't want to believe in or follow a God who asks of me to hate others and cast shame and doubt and hatred on them.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  11. Joel

    Very good story about the topic indeed. Interesting factoids to consider, while saying what we often are unable to say in the angst of the moment under the pointing fingers of our self-proclaimed rivals.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  12. Sarah S.

    Well said, sir. Of course, it is always risky to take a rational stance in regards to matters of faith, but if we allow our interpretations of the code we accept to be influenced by prejudice and emotion, we do all of ourselves a disservice. Your clear exposition is very illuminating. Thank you.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  13. Rainer Braendlein

    No gayness within the Christian Church! Everybody, who wants to repent, is welcome in the House of God. The Christian Church doesn't hate gay people, but offers the gospel: Jesus died for us and has borne our sins on the cross of Calvary.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Jimbo

      Cookoo for coco puffs

      June 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Rainer Braendlein
      "No gayness within the Christian Church! Everybody, who wants to repent, is welcome in the House of God. The Christian Church doesn't hate gay people, but offers the gospel: Jesus died for us and has borne our sins on the cross of Calvary."

      Some people don't think Jesus even existed. He may of just been a composite of gods that preceded Jesus: Krishna, Mithra, Attis and Horus.

      Cheers!

      June 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Don't forget Dionysus. Son of Zeus (god) born to a mortal.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Larry

      You are wrong. There are lots of gay people in the Christian Church.

      June 22, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  14. Ron B

    The bible says:
    If a woman is not a virgin on her wedding night she shall be put to death.
    The bible says:
    If your children do not respect their parents they must be put to death.
    The bible says:
    Slavery is OK
    The bible says:
    Beating your slave is OK
    The bible says:
    Man should be ruled by a King
    The bible says:
    Eating ANYTHING that crawls on the ocen floor is an ABOMINATION
    The bible says:
    If you collect wood on the sabbath you must be put to death
    The bible says:
    If your neighbor commits adultry you are to put them to death
    The bible says:
    A whole lot of things that "christians???????" pick and choose from.

    Unless you are willing to follow ALL of what the bible says you have no right to attack anyone you hypocrite ...

    June 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "If your children do not respect their parents they must be put to death."

      Let's just take this one out the long list shall we?
      What you are implying is wrong and not in the Bible. First off, the "children" involved in this are adults and not little kids that ppl who just love to bring this up neglects to mention. Also, it is not up to the parents but the elders as to what punishment is to be given out. How about YOU read the scripture before you comment on it eh?

      June 21, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Sarah S.

      No, actually, it does not say those things. Once again, non-Jews arrogate unto themselves a code of laws meant for Jews, and not for outsiders. And once again, you ignore the fact that Jewish tradition, considered EQUALLY VALID as the Torah itself, contains interpretations that mitigate these laws. There is no evidence that these "death sentences" you list were ever carried out, because Jewish law requires such stringent evidence/witnesses in a capital case as to make it nearly impossible to assess the death penalty. For example, in a case of murder there must be two eyewitnesses, and other evidence, in order to bring in a death sentence. For lesser crimes, the bar is much higher. Moreover, the Bible does not say slavery is OK. What it does is lay out rules for treating them humanely, because God does not dictate every nuance of human life. God does not dictate an economic system, not to the Hebrews of 1500 BCE or the Americans of today. So if the ancients held slaves, or wanted a king, or whatever, God did not forbid it (which would interfere with human free will), but rather gave rules to the ancient tribespeople to encourage them to treat one another with humanity and dignity.

      You cannot read, understand or interpret the Bible without an extensive background in history and biblical scholarship. To read it with 'faith' only is like reading an advanced physics textbook when you can't even do basic arithmetic.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Rose

      God condemns all SIN, Man lusting after man, and woman lusting after woman is one SIN. Not accepting JESUS CHRIST as LORD and SAVIOR will cause you to be lost forever in the lake of fire. GOD will save and forgive all SIN,
      Ask God to save you today, in the name of JESUS and enjoy heaven, I pray you do, GOD loves you.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Baby Blue

      Lots of things can look crazy when you don't understand the reasoning behind it, or even read the rest of the story around it. If you understood the whole story maybe it would start to make sense to you.

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

      Throughout the Bible it is shown that having faith is the only way to gain salvation. The laws of the Old Testament were given to the children of Israel as a way to show faith. Because they began to follow the laws, not through faith but through tradition, God sent his son so that all men may once again have a way to show faith. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3:16. We show our faith in Christ, not just by word of mouth, but by following his commandments.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Artifex

      Pretty clear and unambiguous: Mark 7:10, Matthew 15:4, Exodus 21:17 – "Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.'

      June 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Artifex

      Lots of picking and choosing and 'interpretations' going on in these replies. Either it is the immutable Word or it isn't – can't be the infallible Word of God one sentence then subject to context, tradition, and only perceptible through scholarship and interpretation the next. There is a phrase for that: "Cafeteria Christians".

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

      Re @Uncouth Swain

      "If your children do not respect their parents they must be put to death."

      Let's just take this one out the long list shall we?
      What you are implying is wrong and not in the Bible. First off, the "children" involved in this are adults and not little kids that ppl who just love to bring this up neglects to mention.

      =========================================

      Neither the original Hebrew nor Greek and Latin translation of versus such as Exodus 21:17 make the "adult children" versus "juvenile" distinction.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      I thought denying the holy ghost was unforgivable. Well I deny god, i deny jesus was god's son (and probably never existed at all) and I deny the holy spirit, i think that the holy spirit it's actually the crow outside my window. Guess i'm SOL now.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Sheila

      I like you

      June 21, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Amber- "Neither the original Hebrew nor Greek and Latin translation of versus such as Exodus 21:17 make the "adult children" versus "juvenile" distinction."

      Hmm, you are sort of right yet still wrong. I would suggest you quit cherry picking verses and look at the whole chapter. Adults are referenced all through that chapter and never juveniles.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      Even IF it only applied to adult offspring I still don't see people actually following through. There are plenty of adults that disrespect their parents.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE- And as I stated before, punishments were not to be given out without approval of the elders first. Ppl need to read the whole book and not just ntpick it. This goes for atheists as well.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  15. Abiodun

    I am surprised nobody has mentioned The law of morality in the Old Testament (Leviticus 18), this is where God manifest His moral requirement for His people. It is a shame that with all the theologians proclaiming what the Bible say or interpreting the word of God, none can come forward and simply stand tall and let the people know that all this is wrong. It is time to take a stand for Christ sake or shut up on this issue.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Matt. 7:3-4

      June 21, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      I think it's about time for god to come down here and clarify his ambiguous messages directly to all of us.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Larry

      "clarify his ambiguous messages directly to all of us." Ambiguity is a good thing. There is a reason for it. There has to be room for change and growth. Why does everyone have to be so certain of everything? We don't know all the answers. When you have to have certainty, then you just close off your mind. Perhaps God deliberately wants ambiguity. Maybe something that was right yesterday will be wrong tomorrow. If all was revealed in the Bible with certainty, then it could have been written all at once for all time. The Word of God is dynamic and living. The nature of life itself shows us that what is static dies.

      June 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  16. Uncouth Swain

    Why focus on hom*ose*xuality? Because it's something easy for certain ppl to grasp hold of. It's like saying "no new taxes" at a political rally. It's something most that would be listening like to hear and don't need to think hard on. Same with hom*ose*xuality...those against it don't have to think about it very deeply. They nod their heads and ignore more co*mplex spiritual issues at hand.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  17. Eric G

    As an atheist, I would like to take this opportunity to address the many claims by Christians on this blog that atheists are "Bible bashers".

    The Bible is a book. No more, no less.
    I do question those who accept what is in any book as fact without verifiable evidencial support.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "verifiable evidencial support"

      It all depends a great deal on what a person considers verifiable evidencial support. That's a funny thing about faith. What counts as evidence to the believer doesn't to a non-believer.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Scott

      Atheist sure do spend a whole lot of time reading "Belief" and "Faith" blogs... Aaaand they take even further effort in commenting on such blogs faithfully (Pun intended)

      Could they be seeking?

      June 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Yo!

      "Could they be seeking?"

      No, they are trying to show people like you that YOU have no right to infringe on other peoples civil rights. People are born gay, God created them. There are saved loving gay partners that deserve the same rights as you!

      June 21, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Uncouth Swain:

      No, it does not. Verifiable evidence is just that. What if a believer told me that his evidence to prove that his God exists is because when his God cries, his tears fall to the earth as rain? That evidence is not verifiable.

      Your statement implies ignorance on the part of the believer.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Eric G

      You said: "Verifiable evidence is just that. What if a believer told me that his evidence to prove that his God exists is because when his God cries, his tears fall to the earth as rain? That evidence is not verifiable."

      Great example.

      Cheers!

      June 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Eric- "Your statement implies ignorance on the part of the believer."

      Not really. Most evidence that believers have comes from first hand accounts. That faith is backed up by other believers accounts, scripture study and thinking it all through. No ignorace involved there.
      As for the rain, one can counter that with science. Not everything is at such an extreme though is it in religion?

      June 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Kacy

      Do you accept things you read on the internet, in newspapers, and in books without verification? How do you verify these things?

      Verification of what the Bible says is natural and spiritual. Chrisitans study the Bible and its historical background; Christians even study what non-Christians have written about the Bible. Another elment of verification is from the spirit. The spirit concept may be difficult for non-Christians to understand because it requires an openness to believe that God does exist and that He does want to be in relationship with you (and everyone else).

      June 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • f

      "Verifiable evidencial support"?? It is called FAITH. You either have it or you don't. And some are fortunate enough to find it in their lifetimes. Others wallow in the misery and hatred found in the Godless world of modern society. Any book is just a book (no more no less) unless you find the true meaning of the book.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Eric G

      @f: "Others wallow in the misery and hatred found in the Godless world of modern society."

      Why do you find it necessary to trash others? I do not "hate", and I am far from miserable. If you choose to use your "faith" to justify your hatred of others, I have to ask you for verifiable evidence to explain your faith. If you cannot provide this evidence, you must admit that it is you that hates, and it is you that is misserable.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 Billion BCE

      If eternity is hanging in the balance why isn't all this more clear? You can't just take a mob mentality. Just because I would really like there to be an afterlife and all that jazz doesn't make it so. I see no evidence that god or anything like god actually exists. If it's "just a feeling" or something ridiculous like that it means nothing because other people will not be able to reproduce your purely subjective "feeling". I want evidence. If you have to have faith then what's the point? How have you dismissed all the other religions that say you just have to have faith. It's ridiculous.

      June 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Scott

      @Yo!
      Are YOU infringing your lifestyle on me... If you choose (and yes you do choose because when it benefits you, you go right back "into the closet": which is another reason why it's not similar to civil rights for blacks... They have no closet to run into.) But I digress, If you choose this lifestyle, why must you force those who don't to not only tolerate it, but you're not satisfied unless we're promoting and cheerleading this "unnatural" lifestyle. Turn on the cartoon network and my 8 year old son thinks, "Hey... Why not act like a girl..." before he ever has a chance to evaluate what that means... So Yo!, stop infringing on my right to raise my son in a world without ho-mo-se-xuality being engrained in even a child's environment. And, you don't have to be a religeous zealot to find the alternative lifestyle disgusting.... I'm jus say'n...

      June 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Yo!

      Scott, your clueless on the subject of gays. It's not a choice, it can't be voluntarily changed and it's not a mental disorder. I feel sorry for your son since he shouldn't be around your bigotry and hatred. It's people like you that are a menace to our society.

      "Hey... Why not act like a girl.."
      It's not a choice so your son won't act like a girl, he will act gay. I pray Jesus will remove Satan from your prejudice and hateful heart.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Again

      @Yo–You obviously have some religous convictions, but believe that being gay is ok. Just wandering what bible, koran or any other religous book do you claim as your own.

      July 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  18. HotAirAce

    @Doesn't matter

    Why should the book of tribal mythology you subscribe to be the standard for all things right and wrong?

    June 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Kacy

      If God does not give the ultimate knowledge on what is right and wrong, who do we get it from? If you rely on people for absolute truth, you'll be in trouble. Imagine saying Hitler had the truth; some people will agree with you. But is that really the world we want. People go back and forth on what is wrong or right, not God. God is same today, yesterday, and tomorrow. God knows we are not perfect; that 's why He forgives us. He just wants everyone to accept His love, love Him, and love each other. This can be hard at times (especially if someone has hurt you). Don't disrespect God and the Bible becuase you don't understand them or because you don't want to.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Kacy

      You said: "If God does not give the ultimate knowledge on what is right and wrong, who do we get it from? If you rely on people for absolute truth, you'll be in trouble. Imagine saying Hitler had the truth; some people will agree with you. But is that really the world we want. People go back and forth on what is wrong or right, not God. "

      There is no absolute truth. All morality is relative.

      Cheers!

      June 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Kacy

      Are you assumming that I was referring to your god – sometimes spelled with a capital "G"? My question was much more generic than that – by what authority does any book of tribal magic get to set the standard? I'm actually being quite kind to believers – I could have asked for proof that a god (pick one, any one!) exists as this surely must be a prerequisite for taking the alledged god's book as fact.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Lily

      Kasey – there is absolutely a source for morality besides religious faith. It's called working out what's prosocial – what promotes human well being and happiness. I don't need God to tell me adultery is wrong; I know it's wrong because deceit causes us distress, the cheated-on partner will fill betrayed if he or she ever finds out, there 's the risk of unplanned pregnncies and STDs...

      June 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Kacy: That is the heart of the article. The absolute truths in the Bible, like men having long hair being unnatural, is not really absolute. It is relative and dependent on culture. If the Bible's was a purveyor of absolute truth that was the same and never changed, then why is it now acceptable for men to wear their hair long? Or women their hair short? Besides which, everyone has their own interpretation of the Bible anyway, so how do you know that the Bible/God's truths are actually God's and not just yours or someone else's bias that you are confirming by looking for what you want to see? It's not as simple as saying God's rules are absolute. The practical truth is more complicated.

      June 21, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  19. Rainer Braendlein

    Dr. Martin Luther interpreted the Bible rightly, also Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

    The theologians of today sophisticate the Bible. Rightly used, the Bible could be a tool to cure the mankind. Abused, it is a weapon to harm the people.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Jon

      And with those words, you have proven what every one has been trying to say to you all morning. "Abused, it is a weapon to harm the people." think about it, I know you can figure it out.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  20. Scott

    if you're going to try to find somethign in the bible giving you permission for gay marriage, you're not going to find it. if you look in the bible to find how sinful man is hypocritical, you will find it on every page. God hates divorce. because sinful man has allowed it to be so pervasive in society doesn't mean it's not okay with God. the argument here is pretty weak. "but, but, look at all the things that those people are doing!" If you simply wish to compare yourself to others, then you will always be able to find someone to make yourself feel superior. that's why you must compare yourself to the one man who walked this earth who was perfect. Jesus Christ. compare yourself to Him and Him alone to get a true picture of yourself.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Scott

      and i meant to say "doesn't mean it is okay with God"

      June 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Okay, so where are the fervent cries to make divorce illegal again and make men wear hair short and women wear it long?

      June 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Hortense and Her Enormous Cat

      Why would I need permission from some moldy book written by people who believed in sorcery and zombies? Just because you do, doesn't mean the rest of us need that kind of help. Kindly keep your silly mythology to yourself.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
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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.