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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. Muneef

    Joe Blow...
    Quotes from the Quran...
    [11:114] You shall observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) at both ends of the day, and during the night. The righteous works wipe out the evil works. This is a reminder for those who would take heed.

    [11:115] You shall steadfastly persevere, for GOD never fails to recompense the righteous.

    [11:116] If only some of those among the previous generations possessed enough intelligence to forbid evil! Only a few of them deserved to be saved by us. As for the transgressors, they were preoccupied with their material luxuries; they were guilty.

    [11:117] Your Lord never annihilates any community unjustly, while its people are righteous.

    July 5, 2011 at 8:47 am |
  2. Richard Eisenman

    Get the state out of the marriage business. If you want to get married, go to the church of your choice. You want to marry your dog, fine, go to the Church of Dog. The state has nothing to do with it. And get the state out of the social engineering business. No more tax breaks benefiting couples over singles. And that goes for Health care too. Treat people equally. Don't give some people more money and benefits just because they are married. Its a joke.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • Steven

      When the Pilgrams and other English Puritan Congregationists first came to this country they had the exact opposite view in that they said get the Church out of the Civil affair of marriage. Thus the author of this opinion piece is correct in that the ideas current promoted as traditional Christian family values are in fact not traditional. That said, whether we say marriage is a sacrament and can only be preformed by a minister of a Church or a Civil contract that should only be preformed by a Justice of the Peace, etc. doesn't help with the issue that the gay community needs some sort of national recognized right to marry for no other reason than to have the benefits of piece of mind when it comes to it being their spouse who will be making medical decsions for them should they become imcapacitated.

      July 5, 2011 at 6:08 am |
    • Maine Liberal

      Marriage is for the church of what combination it chooses to sanctify.
      Civil Union is for the state for what combination it chooses, each is independent of the other.

      July 5, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • sassypants

      The Church of Dog wouldn't be a church. It would be something else but not a church. Christ is the head of the church and when you are in Christ you are free from sin. If you are living a life of sin then it is cheap grace because the gift of grace sets us free from sin. Jesus said "Go and sin no more". He didn't say "Go and make excuses to continue in your sin" Marriage is a covenant between God, Man and Woman. The state has an interest in ensuring that the foundations of the family remain in tact. I wouldn't raise them in any state that supports Gay marriage.

      July 5, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Ryan

      If civil unions are equal in the eyes of so many straight people then why do so many lackluster 'christians' marry within the church? Why not just get a civil union if it's considered equal? I mean who doesn't want to keep paying their taxes separately?

      July 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  3. Joe Blow from Idaho

    From a completely secular point of view, why shouldn't an amendment be passed banning sodomite marriage and re-criminalizing sodomy? We can do anything if society wants to, and the majority don't want to accept sodomy. Even if we wanted to ban eating chocolate ice cream on the third Sunday of every month, we could do it. I just don't get where sodomites think that society just has to accept them and their filthy lifestyle.

    July 5, 2011 at 1:06 am |
    • Observer

      Since many heteros engage in anal intercourse, should they be sent to prison too?

      July 5, 2011 at 1:44 am |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      @Observer

      I'm open to criminalizing all sodomy including hetero. But don't we, as a society, have a right to limit it to buggery?

      July 5, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • Muneef

      Joe Blow from Idaho.

      Quotes from the Quran.

      [11:114] You shall observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) at both ends of the day, and during the night. The righteous works wipe out the evil works. This is a reminder for those who would take heed.

      [11:115] You shall steadfastly persevere, for GOD never fails to recompense the righteous.

      [11:116] If only some of those among the previous generations possessed enough intelligence to forbid evil! Only a few of them deserved to be saved by us. As for the transgressors, they were preoccupied with their material luxuries; they were guilty.

      [11:117] Your Lord never annihilates any community unjustly, while its people are righteous.

      July 5, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  4. kd5757

    People can, and do, interpret the Bible in different ways. There is no commonly agreed upon objective standard to determine who is right and who is wrong so everybody feels that they are right in their understanding of the Bible. Of course, there is also no objective standard to determine what religion (if any) has the market cornered on being the "right" belief system. Given this lack of objectivity coupled with having a wide range of choices, I think it is telling when people choose a religion, or stay if they are raised in a particular religion, that denigrates other people. They could have chosen, for example, a belief system that focuses on acceptance, kindness, and service to others like some have. Throughout history the Bible has been used as a hammer against groups of people. We look back now and wonder how these things could have happened. The current vendetta against gays and lesbians will prove to be no different. Those that show their righteous indignation against our fellow citizens are, at the end of the day, no different than any other intolerant person. “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” Anne Lamott

    July 5, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      There's not a whole lot of different interpretations on the issue of sod.omites. Almost all denominations except the most liberal sects within a few denominations roundly condemn sodomy.

      July 5, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • Platypus

      Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force ever conceived for atheism . -Isaac Asimov
      ...
      "The interpretation of the Bible depends upon the ignorance of the person who reads it." -Robert Green Ingersoll

      July 5, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • kd5757

      The fact remains that there are different interpretations on this issue with no objective standard to determine who is correct. Everyone feels that their belief represents God’s intent and will argue their position to the bitter end. I think it’s human nature to then gravitate to those organizations with belief systems consistent with one’s own belief system (unless one was raised in a particular religion, in which case, they may uncritically accept what they were taught as a child). We don’t join groups that are not consistent with our beliefs. For example, most people would not join the Ku Klux Klan because they find the KKK’s message about African Americans, Jews, gays, etc. to be offensive and harmful. Yet there are some who gravitate towards the KKK because it makes sense to them given their prior beliefs and/or personality traits. While people have the right to believe whatever they want, they should also be held accountable for whatever intended or unintended consequences that result. So, in the end, we need to be careful what we believe.

      July 5, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Justice

      “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” Anne Lamott <– I love whomever found this quote, because God was supposed to create man in his own image, not the other way around.

      I love the religious articles on this website, I find the writers are always well versed and this article is no different. I love it.

      And to the people who can disagree with what the article says but still pay attention to the message – You all are beautiful!

      I have always thought that people who missed some of the main messages of the Bible "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” – Matthew 7:1-5" and the commandments “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you." and “You shall not murder." (It doesn't pardon murder for ANY reason).

      I believe the message of the Bible is love and acceptance, it doesn't make me right. However I don't believe anyone else has the right to tell me I'm going to hell without looking in the mirror first.

      July 5, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  5. Joe Blow from Idaho

    We need a const-itutional marriage amendment specifying that marriage is between one man and one woman and end this debate once and for all. As part of that amendment we should re-criminalize sodomy. Maybe then God will turn his favor on this America once again.

    July 4, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • Observer

      Yes. We need to criminalize all abominations from the Bible.

      Prison for people eating shellfish! Right?

      July 5, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      Observer, you are just a troll who repeats the same tired old things instead of discussing serious issues that will define what we want our nation to be.

      July 5, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • Observer

      Serious issues:

      How many times have condemned the Three Wise Men for bringing incense to baby Jesus? Number please.
      How many times have you told Christians who ate shellfish that they would burn in hell? Number please.

      July 5, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • gaeboi

      You remind me of the guy the Westboro Church and trust me...that's not a compliment. It seems you don't know God, It's love, or how the bible was written; however, you do know how to judge, yet you do so incorrectly. I can't wait until people like you learn the err of their ways and see how much you've hurt others and how you past that same act of hurt to your children, but over time it will stop. Trust that. Peace.

      July 5, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Observer

      gaeboi,

      That's an interesting comparison to Westboro. I don't agree with anything Westboro does, but Joe does agree with their policy on gays.
      I don't hurt or condemn anyone, but Joe hurts and condemns gays.
      As far as love goes, I entirely endorse the Golden Rule rather than condemn people like Joe does.
      You might want to re-think your statements.

      July 5, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      @gaeboi

      Yeah, well, at least I pass something constructive on to children. What do gay pedophiles pass on to children? Aids?

      July 5, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • Observer

      Joe Blow from Idaho,
      Thanks. You have answered the questions.

      Bottom line: no one believes every word of the Bible. They just pick and choose whatever agrees with their own feelings. That's why you see people get hyper about gays and yet ignor people commiting other abominations like eating shellfish. That's why they ignor, for instance, that the Three Wise Men, who are widely praised every year, should actually be condemned for bringing Jesus incense, which is an ABOMINATION. It's all hypocrisy. People should be honest with themselves.

      July 5, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • Observer

      Here's what we all can agree on:

      Matthew 7:12 "Treat others as you want them to treat you."

      Too many Christians are too busy selectively trashing gays and others to read the rest of the passage: "This is what the Law and the Prophets are all about.”

      July 5, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      @Observer

      Bottom Line: Ignoring other sins does not give a free pass to buggery. You still don't get that.

      July 5, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • Observer

      Who is ignoring other sins? Me or you? Do you tell fellow Christians who eat shellfish that they deserve to go to hell for it? Do you condemn the Three Wise Men for bringing incense to Jesus? Or do you just pick the sins you want to make a major issue of like gays, and ignor FAR FAR BIGGER problems?

      Don't bother answering. We know the answer.

      July 5, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      Let me lay it out logically for you. Suppose A, B, C, and D are all illegal activities, Suppose further that we choose to ignore or not enforce A, B, and C. Does that mean we MUST ignore D also?

      July 5, 2011 at 1:20 am |
    • Observer

      Suppose A, B, C, and D are all illegal activities in the Bible and we claim that we believe and support everything in the Bible, Suppose further that we choose to ignore or not enforce A, B, and C. Does that mean we MUST ignore D also?

      First of all, by claiming that we TRULY BELIEVE everything is wrong, we must prove that we mean it by equally condemning all of them and ACTUALLY do it. By ignoring some of them, we show that we are just using the Bible as an EXCUSE to further our own prejudices.

      If someone is to condemn gays because the Bible said it is an abomination, then they had better equally condemn ALL abominations or else we are just dealing with hypocrisy.

      Why not quote the Golden Rule instead of quoting to foster hatred? If you REALLY care about people going to hell, you need to spend more time protesting in front of seafood restaurants and trashing the Three Wise Men instead of ranting about gays.

      Can't we all just agree on the Golden Rule and leave hatred out? It's your choice from the Bible.

      July 5, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      OK. Suppose that in my example A,B,C,D are embedded in a society that really BELIEVES in it's laws and yet A,B, and C are ignored. So what? We can't enforce D. I mean, how many times isn't stated that we are a nation of laws, but how many times aren't the laws against jaywalking enforced? Isn't that hypocritical? Maybe to the guy that got a ticket while swerving to miss the pedestrian?

      No, it is not logical that because A,B,C are ignored then D has to be ignored.

      You talking about picketing Red Lobster, etc. is just you going back to your old argument that, somehow, because Christians may pick and choose what sins they focus on, it doesn't make the sins focused on any less sinful.

      July 5, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      Sorry, it's late, and I've made a number of mistakes. There should be a "?" and not a peroid after "D."

      And the last line should be ".... your old argument, and my argument is ..."

      July 5, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • Tom

      Observer, the "problem" (yes, I said problem) with people like you is that you have such a superficial knowledge of the Bible that it's nearly impossible to discuss it intelligently with you. You latch on to snippets that you've picked up from other unbelievers, and then attempt to trot them out as valid arguments that prove something. The Bible was written by about 40 authors over a time span of thousands of years. Countless historians and scholars have dedicated their lives to studying and ensuring the accuracy of the translations. It is what it is. You can not selectively pick and choose single statements to bolster any argument; you need to understand the entirety of the Bible to grasp its significance. Now you prance onto the scene with your barely literate pop-culture Johnny-come-lately trendy arguments and comments. Now let me see, in matters of eternity, who am I going to listen to, you or the experts? Let me think about that........

      July 5, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Yo!

      "We need a const-itutional marriage amendment specifying that marriage is between one man and one woman and end this debate once and for all."

      Won't happen since the challenges in the appeals courts are loosing this debate, it's going to end up in the Supreme Court.

      July 5, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • teddy

      !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ONE NATION UNDER GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 5, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • LOL

      "ONE NATION UNDER GOD"

      <<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>YeeHAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • LOL

      """"""""""""""""""""SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE""""""""""""""""""""""""

      YEEHAW

      It got cut off.

      July 5, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  6. Tim

    I did not have time to read the whole article, but I think that the argument at the beginning of the article regarding Rom 1 and 1 Cor is flawed. You are basing this on the greek word "phusis", which can be translated "natural." And, although I haven't checked you may be right that those are the only two times Paul makes a moral argument using that noun. Problem #1 – there are other authors in the New Testament (not to mention the Old Testament) and they need to be taken into account as well, in my judgment. Problem #2 – One can make an argument regarding our created nature without using the word "phusis." For instance, in 1 Tim 4:1-5, Paul makes a moral argument for marriage and eating all sorts of food based on the fact that all things are good because they are created by God. There he uses the noun "ktisis"

    July 4, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  7. Elijah

    The word of God states in Leviticus 18v22 also in 20v13, that man shall not lie with another man because it is an abomination. It is also stated in Romans the first chapter about men and women. I hear a lot of people talking but not saying anything. The word of God says do not answer a fool according to his folly. The thing that all you people are missing is that sin is sin to God. All those that are not saved by the Blood Of Jesus Christ will perish. You will burn in Hell Forever. It is appointed unto man to die once then comes the judgement. The last quote you will find it in the book of Hebrews 9v27.

    July 4, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • Observer

      Leviticus also says “If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death” (Lev. 20:9).

      So what is your point?

      July 4, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      @Observer

      Maybe indeed if we brought back some of the old punishments the world would be a better place in which to live. Sin is sin.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Tom

      Observer, you're good at excerpting verses, but do you have any idea of their context? The verse you cited was part of the commands given to the nation of Israel after it had been delivered from slavery in Egypt. It, and dozens (if not hundreds) of others, comprised the body of law that was supposed to govern them once they began living in their new land. This was "the Law" of the Old Testament. But your argument completely neglects the "Age of Grace" ushered in by the New Testament.

      July 5, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Yo!

      Stop taking the bible so literally and pick up a history book, it's about pagan rituals using s-ex, male prost-itution and idolatry. Part of reading comprehension 101 is putting the text into historical context too. Duh!

      July 5, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  8. John

    Because it is a perpetual sin that people are claiming is Not a sin
    If there was a group touting that lying was great and they practiced it daily and called people bigots for thinking it was not wrong–they would be condemned
    But thats not what happens..good people who lie dont believe its good. They dont teach others it right.
    Im actually hysterical even writing this because its so obvious.

    July 4, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      Well put! Another thing that they like to say is that they were born that way so we should just accept them as they are. They may be born with a predisposition towards a ho.mo.se.xual orientation but they CHOOSE to act on it. They CHOOSE the behavior. And it's the behavior that is the sin.

      Should we say that adultery is not a sin because me are born with a predisposition to b.ang as many women as possible? No, absolutely not! Adultery occurs, but we do not say that it's ok, nor do we celebrate it as the sodo.mites celebrate their sin.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Observer

      The Bible says that people who divorce and remarry are guilty of adultery. There are FAR FAR more Christians guilty of adultery than there are people "guilty" of being gay? Since it is obviously a MUCH BIGGER problem, why do so many Christians trash gays when they should be trashing their fellow adulterous Christians? Any answer other than "hypocrisy"?

      July 4, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      It is adultery and you are right. There will be a lot of people burning in hell because of it. But you cannot excuse one sin by pointing out another.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Observer

      So why are you picking on gays when there is a FAR FAR BIGGER problem with Christians? How many times have you told fellow Christians who divorced and remarried that they will burn in hell forever? Number please.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      In my church we throw out anyone who divorces AND remarries. It has happened numerous times. As far as I am concerned, I do marriage counseling, and I have perhaps pointed this out no less than 100 times.

      Again, you don't seem to get that because people commit one type of sin, and even if they get a free pass, it in no way excuses buggery.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Observer

      Joe Blow from Idaho,
      You get bonus points for kicking out remarried Christians. What about other abominations? Do you trash the 3 Wise Men for bringing incense to baby Jesus?

      July 4, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Mike

      @John – "If there was a group touting that lying was great and they practiced it daily and called people bigots for thinking it was not wrong–they would be condemned" How about a group of Christians who work on the Sabbath? This is one of the Ten Commandments. There is a large group of Christians who work on the Sabbath and or don't attend church or even take any time to pray on the Sabbath. Yet I have never seen people protesting at the funeral of "Sabbath workers". These people Perpetually skip services and work on the sabbath. They a guilty of sining in the same way as someone who is gay and yet you could care less. Why is that? Why are they too not condemned?

      July 5, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • Yo!

      What you are forgetting John is what we now know about gays has nothing to do with the bible scriptures. It's been proven gays are born this way, a creation from God. Being gay is not a choice and it can't be voluntarily changed. The scriptures are talking about pagan rituals using s-ex worshiping a pagan god, male prost-itution. It's one of the reasons there are now churches, pastors, priests and rabbi's going on record saying that what we now know about being gay it's not a sin.

      July 5, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  9. Joe Blow from Idaho

    I would suggest that instead of listening to this sodo.mite, open your bible and read it for yourselves. All you who say that it is open to interpretation, open your bible and read it for yourselves. Those who think that God is all about love and being touchy-feely, open your bible and learn just how wrathful God can be. The Truth can be a bitter pill to swallow, but we are talking about your soul and where you will be spending eternity.

    July 4, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Observer

      Could you please explain why commandments against judging others and the Golden Rule do not apply to you?

      July 4, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      As someone earlier so elegantly put it, I do not judge you. The word of God judges you.

      As for the golden rule, if I were committing an abominable sin and about to spend eternity in the depths of he.ll where there will be wailing and the gnashing of teeth, I would hope that someone would point that out to me in order to get saved.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • Observer

      – Leviticus 19:18 “Stop being angry and don't try to take revenge. I am the Lord, and I command you to love others
      as much as you love yourself.”

      Another exemption for you?

      July 4, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Observer

      "Those who think that God is all about love and being touchy-feely, open your bible and learn just how wrathful God can be."
      - Joe Blow from Idaho

      July 4, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      You seriously think that I have any interest in taking revenge on you? That's laughable. God will take revenge. You have been warned.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      Oh, and warning someone that they are going to spend an eternity in hell is love.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • Observer

      – Matthew 7:3-5 "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in
      your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log
      is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to
      take the speck out of your brother's eye.”

      Something else that doesn't apply to you?

      July 4, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • Observer

      Joe Blow,

      Who is talking about revenge? I just pointed out your false statement about God's love.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      Everything in the bible applies to me as it does to you. Do you honestly think that what you are saying excuses buggery?

      July 4, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      I made no false statement. God is loving. I said he is merciful. But he is also wrathful. He even destroyed the entire world once because of its sin.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • Muneef

      Thought that many are convinced that they can do all wrong doings and will be held accounted for because the Christ has paid the price in advance so they would go to heavens unjudge ?? Wasn't that the basic idea of Jesus being crucified ?

      July 5, 2011 at 6:04 am |
    • Yo!

      Joe Blow did you even pick up a dictionary or did you simply just listen to your prejudice pastor. The definition is an-al or or-al copu-lation with a member of the opposite se-x. Oh...that's right the word ho-mo-se-xual hadn't been invented yet when those scriptures were written so let's guess it was really about what??? Come on now use that brain of yours....here's a hint...ra-pe.

      July 5, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  10. Rolanda Jackson

    Does this mean it's okay to be gay????

    July 4, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • Joe Blow from Idaho

      It's NEVER okay to be gay. Sodomy is an abominable sin, and used to be against the law. Let's be clear on that: it's NEVER okay.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Jagged

      It is not. Ok.
      Sorry if that's not what you want to hear.
      I believe you have a right to CHOOSE.
      So, choose, how you gonna act?
      Don't give me that crap, I was born that way.
      That is the difference, I am ashamed of my sin, they(???) are not.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Observer

      Yep. Sodomy is an abomination. You know, like eating shellfish. Do you protest at Red Lobster? Do you know Christians who eat shellfish?

      July 4, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • Yo!

      Yes, science has proven gays are born this way and the scriptures that these prejudice people are using to justify their own bigotry has nothing to do with what we now know about being gay. There are churches, priests, pastors that will accept you into their churches. What ever you do don't fall into having the corrupt hearts of the people posting here.

      July 5, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  11. BRAD

    It seems that the atheists on this blog unwittingly think women are inferior. We"ve learned that religious believers are ignorant bronze age simpletons who woship sky fairies. And of course Reason, apparently anyone's Reason, is alway superior. If the atheist went into numerous churches and conducted a survey, s/he would discover that the significant majority of worshipers are women. Since more males are at home thinking great thoughts, doesn't it follow that men are superior to women? What?! That's not what the atheists mean? But even Darwin thought men are superior. On the other hand, maybe the more spiritually alert female knows something the rational male doesn't.

    July 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • frank

      Your thoughts are not very sound. Keep trying.

      July 4, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • BRAD

      frank, you need to be more aware of the sublties and implications of your beliefs.

      July 4, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Travis Stevenson

      Yeah, I couldn't really follow you, Brad.

      July 4, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • Observer

      It's not atheists, but the Bible that talks about the inferiority of women.

      July 4, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • LinCA

      @BRAD

      You said "It seems that the atheists on this blog unwittingly think women are inferior."
      No, we don't. Gender has nothing to do with rational thought.

      You said "We"ve learned that religious believers are ignorant bronze age simpletons who woship sky fairies."
      I'm glad to see that your are learning.

      You said "If the atheist went into numerous churches and conducted a survey, s/he would discover that the significant majority of worshipers are women. Since more males are at home thinking great thoughts"
      Let's assume for a second that your statistics are correct, what makes you believe that the men that stay home are "thinking great thoughts"? That's quite the leap, isn't it? My bet is that they're just having a beer.

      You said "doesn't it follow that men are superior to women?"
      No.

      July 4, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Raul

      very well put Brad!

      July 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • Raul

      It's like every one who's replying back is not talking about the article but tossing around a bunch of junk.
      @ linca
      The whole sky fairies thing would fall under pagan Greco roman beliefs not Christianity or Jewish beliefs. That includes all the so called great philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle etc... who believed in "sky fairies."
      @ brad atheism is a fairly new religion, seeking it's own disciples I've met a few trying to convert me. I'm just confused cause their moral beliefs are all base on the bible? Lol, what a world!

      July 4, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Observer

      Raul
      "Atheists moral beliefs are all base on the bible"

      This is a common fallacy for believers. They are under the delusion that only they have morals. Reality is that morality like the Golden Rule existed LONG before the Bible. All societies have their morality and much of it is like ours regardless of whether they were believers or not. Do some research.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • Mike

      Brad, your ignorance is of the most common type. Lets just count the many women who are ministers in the catholic church. Compare that against the men. Compare all woman clergy to men across all religions. Now defend that against this idiotic claim of yours. Secondly, being secular means that we weight evidence and observation to come to conclusions. We don't look a Darwin and drop to our knees and give him adulation by insisting that he is TRUTH. He was mistaken on some of his conclusions. That is certainly true, however evidence and testing have proven over the past 150+ years that his theory of evolution on the whole was correct.

      July 5, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Raul

      @ observer.
      My point on morality is that it is founded on religious beliefs. Also most of our if not all western culture and society is founded on the biblical moral standards. Do not murder, do not steal, honor your parents, love your neighbor as yourself, even divorce. As for your golden rule the oldest living known written text is the bible. As far as any other sources it is not clear on when the notion came about or how it was understood. I was once atheist myself, until i decided to open my self to all views, I went as far as to study classics and ancient languages like Greek and Latin, to studying world religions and philosophy. Now I find myself a Christian, not base on religion but base on the knowledge and living out the bible. The living it out part is the biggest difference as now I can understand it better. And we can spit out knowledge all day but that is not who we are. We don't live our lives as we think it, there is the big difference. I found it funny that when I was atheist like yourself, i was the biggest opponent against the very thing I claim doesn't exist? I thought at one point why I'm I so mad about something that I don't believe? Lol, why? After all it wasn't like I had to answer to the atheist god for having thought of the possibility of a Christian God, right? I realized as and atheist that I had all this guilt built up inside me yet why did I have these feelings? And why did I feel the need to deal with it? That's when my search started. We all have guilt and the Christian God is the only one who calls us out on it. That is why you are here expressing your anger about something you don't even believe and claim to care about. If we do away with the bible we think our guilt will go with it.

      July 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Mike from Maine

      @Raul – A couple of things, first, Atheism is not a religion. It is the belief that gods do not exist. Do you believe in the god Thor? no probably not. Is there a word to use to show that you don't believe in Thor? Not really, but your sentiment is the same as mine. The difference is I don't believe in the long haired Carpenter either. You and I have more in common than you think. Imagine all the gods out there that you reject.... Now add one more & that's what it means to be an atheist. Secondly, Atheism is not a religion since the whole concept of being an Atheist is to reject religion and imaginary sky fairies on the whole. In some ways maybe we should be then we could set up a tax free organization charge dues raise money become more powerful.... No, no that's what you do, not us. Nice try though......

      July 6, 2011 at 6:57 am |
  12. Travis Stevenson

    Terrific article. I'm going to forward it to the listserve at my work.

    July 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  13. Al Anon

    What's ironic is that often those trained in seminaries by so-called religious scholars often end up more faithless and less godly than before they went in.

    July 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Travis Stevenson

      Education has a way of disabusing one of false beliefs, does it not?

      July 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • Raul

      No, what really happens is that no one reads the bible, especially those who attend seminary, and when they learn it, they compare it to the hypocritical lives of those around them claiming to be Christians and end up turning away from it.

      July 4, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  14. Roland

    Brilliant!

    July 4, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  15. Rolanda Jackson

    Bravo, Mr. Dudley. You've succeeded in proving that sin isn't sin!

    July 4, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
    • Rolanda Jackson

      JESUS CHRIST IS MY PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      July 4, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • Raul

      No he didn't.

      July 4, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  16. Observer

    The Bible supports slavery, the inferiority of women, discrimination against the handicapped, and God used incest to populate the world twice. It's not surprising that believers want to deny gays equal rights, too.

    July 4, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Jathin Stevens

      You almost wonder how much better off the world would be without "believers." Or is the problem not so much faith in general but stupid forms of faith. I have a hard time believing that the faith of someone like Barack Obama or the more sophisticated faith of many of my college professors has a negative impact on the world.

      Perhaps the problem is not so much faith but dumb faith.

      July 4, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Oren

      No, actually it appears he used cloning.

      Gays have the same rights as everyone else. Give up pursuing another man, find a good woman and make her your wife but they don't want that kind of equality. No, they want the kind that everyone else doesn't see as equal anything. When you have redefine things make your particular proclivity OK, then you're in deep trouble. Then it's not equal, it's different and that doesn't spell a good argument.

      July 4, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • Observer

      Oren,

      Cloning? That's a good one.

      Sure looks like you have a problem understanding the concept of EQUAL RIGHTS. "Do things my way" is not EQUAL.

      July 4, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • Raul

      Where does it support slavery and all those other things you mention? Show those scriptures. Or did you just read, listen to someone say that?

      July 4, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • Observer

      Here's one of several Biblical statements on slaves:
      – Leviticus 25:44-46 “As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from
      among the nations that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their
      clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. You may bequeath them
      to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers
      the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.”

      July 4, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Yirmiahu

      So those social ills have had the most progress in the Western world where the Bible has had the greatest impact, yet we are to believe that it has increased them?

      July 4, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Raul

      First off notice that scripture is only relative to it's time! It say you can buy from the aliens that live around you, the clans no longer exist. 2nd did you read the whole thing? No! Because if you did you we see that the israelites could sll themselves over as slaves to the aliens? Leviticus 25:47-48 (NIV)
      " `If an alien or a temporary resident among you becomes rich and one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells himself to the alien living among you or to a member of the alien's clan, [48] he retains the right of redemption after he has sold himself. One of his relatives may redeem him:
      Now why would he do that? Because that is what the times were like! This is not the same type of slavery as the African slave trade! This was a poor man working another man's field for money and yes the boss was harsh if you didn't product! Today we call that a job!

      July 4, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Observer

      "First off notice that scripture is only relative to it's time"

      Of course! God makes a point to be POLITICALLY CORRECT so he didn't say it was wrong.

      That doesn't hack it at all.

      July 4, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • Observer

      – Exodus 21:20-21 “If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property”

      July 4, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Raul

      In the African slave trade if a white master killed his slave there was no punishment. Again relative to it's time. I don't know any Christians, true bible following Christians putting slavery into practice? However, atheist communist china has it own modern slave trade as well as parts of non Christian Africa. Again let's make a note that the bible did not invent slavery, but it introduce a way to deal with during it's time. We all want to hear what our itchy ears like to hear, but the truth can be found with a little research.

      July 5, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  17. Miles

    This was a very good story Jonathan Dudley! It was nice to see the facts laid out to prove that we can take anything and make it out to be what we want. It might be interesting to focus on how fear of people that are different is the driver for using the Bible to support values. Thank you for your great writing. It was clear, factual, and had a point.

    July 4, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  18. Asklepios417

    “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).

    No sir. Nature does not.

    In fact Nature gives many examples of species where the male is much more colorful and decorative than the female.

    July 4, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • Jathin Stevens

      Amen!

      July 4, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Asklepios417

      The Bible is a very poor source of scientific knowledge. For example, telling us that Noah took a male and female of every species aboard the Ark.

      Even in the days that was written, it should have been known that some species don't reproduce in such a neat monogamous manner. Bees and ants, for example, don't reproduce when a "boy" meets a "girl" and settles down to raise a family. They need organized colonies with individuals of specific types and functions.

      July 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • Jathin Stevens

      That's a good point.

      July 4, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Oren

      So gays should have long hair, it's their only glory? Got that right

      July 4, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Asklepios417

      Thanks, Jathin.

      And lions, too, those animals frequently mentioned in the Bible...

      The male lion has a large impressive mane. The female has short hair.

      I don't know what "nature" Paul was referring to, but Nature does things differently.

      July 5, 2011 at 3:56 am |
  19. Jathin Stevens

    You mean Jesus is going to give me AIDS...? Lol

    July 4, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  20. Oleg

    Jathin your joking againts Jesus like that can lead you to have AIDS your self.

    July 4, 2011 at 7:32 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.