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My Take: Stop sugarcoating the Bible
The 17th century painting Judith Beheading Holofernes, by Artemisia Gentileschi, depicts a biblical scene.
February 25th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: Stop sugarcoating the Bible

Editor's note: Steven James is the author of more than 30 books, including "Flirting with the Forbidden," which explores forgiveness.

By Steven James, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The Bible is a gritty book. Very raw. Very real. It deals with people just like us, just as needy and screwed up as we are, encountering a God who would rather die than spend eternity without them.

Yet despite that, it seems like Christians are uncomfortable with how earthy the Bible really is. They feel the need to tidy up God.

For example, look in any modern translation of Isaiah 64:6, and you’ll find that, to a holy God, even our most righteous acts are like “filthy rags.” The original language doesn’t say “filthy rags”; it says “menstrual rags.” But that sounds a little too crass, so let’s just call them filthy instead.

And let’s not talk so much about Jesus being naked on the cross, and let’s pretend Paul said that he considered his good deeds “a pile of garbage” in Philippians 3:8 rather than a pile of crap, as the Greek would more accurately be translated.

And let’s definitely not mention the six times in the Old Testament that the Jewish writers referred to Gentile men as those who “pisseth against the wall.” (At least the King James Version got that one right.)

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The point?

God’s message was not meant to be run through some arbitrary, holier-than-thou politeness filter. He intended the Bible to speak to people where they’re at, caught up in the stark reality of life on a fractured planet.

Dozens of Psalms are complaints and heart-wrenching cries of despair to God, not holy-sounding, reverently worded soliloquies. Take Psalm 77:1-3: “I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help” (New Living Translation).

And rather than shy away from difficult and painful topics, the Old Testament includes vivid descriptions of murder, cannibalism, witchcraft, dismemberment, torture, rape, idolatry, erotic sex and animal sacrifice. According to St. Paul, those stories were written as examples and warnings for us (1 Corinthians 10:11). So obviously they were meant to be retold without editing out all the things we don’t consider nice or agreeable.

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I believe that Scripture includes such graphic material to show how far we, as a race, have fallen and how far God was willing to come to rescue us from ourselves.

God is much more interested in honesty than pietism.

And that’s what he gives us throughout Scripture, telling the stories of people who struggled with the same issues, questions and temptations we face today.

Peter struggled with doubt, and we hear all about it.

Elijah dealt with depression; Naomi raged with bitterness against God; Hannah struggled for years under the burden of her unanswered prayers.

David had an affair and then arranged to have his lover’s husband killed. Noah was a drunk, Abraham a liar, Moses a murderer. Job came to a place where he found it necessary to make a covenant with his eyes not to lust after young girls (Job 31:1).

It’s easy to make “Bible heroes” (as Protestants might say) or “saints” (as Catholics might refer to them) out to be bigger than life, immune from the temptations that everyone faces.

I find it encouraging that Jesus never came across as pietistic. In fact, he was never accused of being too religious; instead he partied so much that he was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton (Matthew 11:19).

Jesus never said, “The Kingdom of God is like a church service that goes on and on forever and never ends.” He said the kingdom was like a homecoming celebration, a wedding, a party, a feast to which all are invited.

This idea was too radical for the religious leaders of his day. They were more concerned about etiquette, manners, traditions and religious rituals than about partying with Jesus. And that’s why they missed out.

That’s why we miss out.

According to Jesus, the truly spiritual life is one marked by freedom rather than compulsion (John 8:36), love rather than ritual (Mark 12:30-33) and peace rather than guilt (John 14:27). Jesus saves us from the dry, dusty duties of religion and frees us to cut loose and celebrate.

I don’t believe we’ll ever recognize our need for the light until we’ve seen the depth of the darkness. So God wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty with us about life and temptation and forgiveness. And grace.

Only when the Bible seems relevant to us (which it is), only when the characters seem real to us (which they were), only then will the message of redemption become personal for us (which it was always meant to be).

We don’t need to edit God. We need to let him be the author of our new lives.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Steven James.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (5,744 Responses)
  1. Jesucrisco

    The Bible says that the Sun and planets revolve around the Earth. Shall I smite the scientists who say different or lobby for my local schools to teach creationism?

    February 26, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Dan

      ROFL – Show me where. The Bible is on of the first books to mention that the constellations and that the earth is round. You just kill me.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Sick and...

      It says nothing of the sort. It says that God created beings and life on this planet, and that was after he created other astral bodies.

      Read anything part of the bible, and you will not find what you are claiming. Bloody bots... Dan, shall we smite him some more?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Dan

      Yupper! Maybe he should read the Book of Job...

      February 26, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Observer

      Dan,

      The Bible says God sits above the circle of the earth. Apparently God doesn't know the difference between a circle and a sphere.

      The Bible also says the earth doesn't move. Ooops.

      February 27, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Dan

      Where does it say the Earth doesn't move???

      February 27, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Dan

      Observer???

      February 27, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • Observer

      Dan,

      – Psalm 93:1 “The world is firmly set in place. It can't be moved.”
      – Psalm 96:10 “The world is firmly set in place. It can't be moved.”
      – Psalm 104:5 “He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.”
      – Isaiah 45:18 “The Lord created the heavens. He is God. He formed the earth and made it. He set it firmly in
      place.”

      February 27, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Dan

      The word used in the Hebrew means the Earth is established. Not that it can't rotate...

      February 27, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • Dan

      Better questions would be, Did God stop time for Joshua in Joshua 10:3?
      Or how did he move King Hezekiah's shadow backwards in II Kings 20:9-11

      February 27, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Observer

      Dan,

      Please tell all the biblical scholars who worked for years to translate the Bible.

      It's good to know that a blogger knows more than these scholars.

      February 27, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Dan

      LOL, that is from the "Bible Scholars". You kill me man!

      February 27, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Observer

      Dan,

      "The word used in the Hebrew means the Earth is established. Not that it can't rotate..."

      Just as you have problems with the difference between a "circle" and a "sphere", you seem to be having problems with the difference between "move" and "rotate". The Bible says MOVE not ROTATE.

      February 27, 2012 at 12:52 am |
  2. Super-D

    That's Christianity for you: revised, updated, edited for the audience to tell them what they want to hear. It's has nothing to do with a way of living or a set of rules. It's a social in-club for people who want to feel good and pretend they're all holy and better than others. What I find particularly funny is people bashing the Qur'an for being so violent when the Bible is the exact same thing! You've just never read it!

    February 26, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Dan

      Oh yeah, the Bible is horrible violent – Love your neighbors, Christ came to give life and that more abundantly, give and it will be given unto you. Horrible evil commands they are...

      February 26, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Super-D

      Thank you Dan for showing the typical "pick and choose" buffet-style Christianity of America. Ignore all the bad parts and just pretend the 2-3 lines that you like are the only thing in there.

      February 27, 2012 at 1:38 am |
  3. Jesucrisco

    Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law and for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

    My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? – Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

    I know that you fellow Christians have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Sick and...

      Do you read what people respond with, or are you just trolling man? We have answered with things like, "Use the current version" and "You no longer deserve your fridge you bloody spambot." Don't you understand that you aren't using the right part of the bible? New testament, look it up.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Dan

      Nice spam bot, try saying something original.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  4. Jesucrisco

    Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

    I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Sick and...

      *Decides to follow his just invented religion's teaching*

      So sir, I'm going to have to ask for your name, address and house keys. You have lost the rights to your fridge, and I'm taking it away.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Dan

      Okay, basic bible 101, for you who learned theology from the "I hate christians" atheists sites, and are to lazy to open it up and read it for yourselves.

      The Levitical law was created for the Jewish people coming out of hundreds of years of captivity in a demon worshiping nation. The majority of laws were based on preventing communicable diseases and teaching them some level or morality after centuries of being enslaved to the most unmoral of people.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Observer

      Dan,

      Basic Bible:
      (1) The New Testament supports slavery.
      (2) The New Testament supports the inferiority of women.
      (3) The Bible NEVER mentions abortion.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • SciGuy

      You find it that difficult to talk with your wife?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Dan

      New Testament supports slavery – Show me where
      " " " " " " " " treating women inferior – show me where
      Abortion?? – How about tho shall not kill?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Observer, it's inaccurate to say the NT "supports" slavery. But you are correct that it doesn't condemn it as inherently morally evil. From this we know that slavery is not inherently a sin. Capital punishment is similar in this regard.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:59 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”
      – Exodus 21:7-8 “If a man sells his daughter as a slave, the rules for setting her free are different from the rules for setting the male slaves free. If the master wanted to marry her but then decided he was not pleased with her, he must let one of her close relatives buy her back.”

      February 27, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Observer

      Dan,

      You need to read the Bible. Your questions show you probably havne't done much reading of it.

      "Thou shall not kill" is the hypocritical command from God that is followed by a long list of commands from God to kill people. It applies to a person, not a fetus. In the only reference to the intentional death of a fetus, the punishment is a FINE (like a parking ticket?), but for a PERSON the punuishment is "an eye for an eye"

      February 27, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • Dan

      Actually I have studied the Bible in English, Hebrew and Greek. You are choosing verses from law given to the Hebrew people coming out of hundreds of years of slavery to a completely messed up country. I know you don't understand this, so you may do better trying discussion points out of the New Testament. Which a little more accurately address more current life. Being the NT is only 2,000 years old that is.

      February 27, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Observer

      Dan,

      So if we are throwing out the Old Testament, we can ignor the Ten Commandments. Right?

      Or is it pick-and-choose what you WANT to believe?

      February 27, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  5. Dan

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q5T9RYLiG4&w=640&h=390]

    February 26, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  6. donald bendabut

    i kind of agree with most of what you say,but not all.alot of people dont realize the failures of some great men of god.when you read the bible,like king david a man after gods own heart.but later on failed in murder an adultery.but his sins found him out an you never find were he done it again.proven that were all human an subject to temptation.but sometimes we learn through our failures.i personaly like the KJV,never heard of judith.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • TR6

      “but his sins found him out an you never find were he done it again.”

      He kept the murdered man’s wife and had children with her. What part of that is not “doing it” again?

      February 27, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  7. Jesucrisco

    Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

    I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

    February 26, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Dan

      Gosh you really hate Hasidic Jews don't you? Good thing that Christians don't follow this, or you might almost have a point.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Sick and...

      *Kick in shins* New Testament you bumpkuss!

      So no! I'm enventing a new religion right now, and in the outdated version (one second ago) I am morally obligated to kill spambots who repeatedly ask pointless questions. In my new version I am commanded to put up with them.

      Should I kill you, you spambot you?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. {18} For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. {19} Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. {20} For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
      Matt. 5:17-20 NRSV

      Paul taught people, even fellow Jews, to stop observing the commandments right? Let me guess, you don't see this as a contradiction, right?

      February 27, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Dan

      Did you read the part where it said that Jesus fulfills the law? Kinda clear to me...

      February 27, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  8. Anon

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUVXEmJRGns&w=640&h=390]

    February 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • william

      adam and eve

      February 26, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Anon

      ^ are myths of other ancient myths.

      February 27, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  9. Jesucrisco

    Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

    Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

    February 26, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • Dan

      Ahh, you are a Hasidic Jew! Well then you must be fully behind the rebuilding of the Temple, you love the old law so much. I know you don't understand it anyways, but you are entertaining if nothing else.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • Sick and...

      The same as the rest of us. Completely randomly when a terribly unfortunate even occurs.

      I'm sorry for your loss.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
  10. Sick and...

    Do you know what this forum needs? Kittens. It's hard to get mad when there are kittens.

    Please don't hurt me.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  11. Jesucrisco

    Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

    y uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

    February 26, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Dan

      Clueless atheist...

      February 26, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • william

      this is cnn not fox....anything goes on this page

      February 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Observer

      Dan,

      So nothing but an insult? Not very good. Try again.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Dan
      Why, these things are in the Bible after all. Part of the Old Covenant, you say? Well, so are the 10 Commandments, but I don't see too many Christians dismissing them. Pick and choose, eh?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Dan

      Old Covenant and New Covenant. As was God's plan from the beginning, Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the Law.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Dan
      Then why make such a big deal about posting the Commandments in courthouses? Shouldn't it be the Jesus version of the Golden Rule instead?

      February 27, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Dan

      What is it about the Ten Commandments you don't like? Are they that evil?
      Honor your Father and Mother, don't kill, don't steal, are they that bad?

      Oh, I know, you have a problem with the Love your God and serve him only part?

      February 27, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  12. Dan

    WOW! I am stunned, actually and totally stunned. As I was reading this, I had to keep reminding myself that this was on CNN's site. This is so far away from the articles and view points that CNN usually posts and so dead on that I am utterly speechless. Exceptional article!

    February 26, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Shawn

      Your post gave me a good chuckle – spot on.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  13. Jesucrisco

    Christians,

    I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    February 26, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • Sick and...

      None. I'm sorry for your loss.

      Now shoo.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Dan

      Gee, I dunno. Seems that Christians don't live by the old testament, or old covenant, but the New Testament I have no clue. Maybe asks some Hasidic Jews?

      You know, you should actually read the Bible, especially the NEW Testament.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      I'd love to make a joke about buying a foreigner as a slave, but so many people hire illegal Mexicans for next to nothing that it just isn't very funny.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Dan

      How many Chinese as used as slave laborers to make your iPads?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • Observer

      Dan,

      Try reading the NEW Testament some time. It supports slavery and the inferiority of women. Ooops.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Bill

      OK, we'll try to go slow here .... Again, Christians do not believe that anyone should do all the things donde in the Old Testament .... in fact, Jesus' life, death and resurection eliminated the need for much, if not all of the old testament laws and rituals ..... so Leviticus and its 600-plus rules .... out the door.
      Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law ... he led a sinless life so that we are not required to.
      If you want to know what Christianity is about .... read the New Testament and in particular the Sermon on the Mount.
      Christianity is about love, peace, humility, forgiveness, mercy and most importantly Grace.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Observer

      Bill,

      With the Old Testament thrown out, why do we keep hearing that the world is going to pot because the Ten Commandments are not in schools anymore?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
  14. IDoBelieve

    I find it very sad that so many people on this forum don't believe in God and love to come here and talk about it. Why talk about it if you don't care?? What point are you trying make? I'm sorry that you all don't believe in something/someone higher than yourselves and that you have to come here to reassure yourself of that opinion. I really am sorry. Think about this though.....honestly, who would you be without a Creator? Nothing. You wouldn't exist. I don't understand how people can look at this world everyday (trees, sky, nature...life...love) and not believe in a higher being. The proof is all around you. You just don't look in the right places for it...even when it's right in front of your face. Anyways, please stop bashing on this article...if you didn't care in the first, then you had no reason to read the whole thing and make the effort to write some meaningless and insensitive thought.

    God is #1..always and forever

    February 26, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Jesucrisco

      IDoBelieve

      Leviticus 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Observer

      "Why talk about it if you don't care?? What point are you trying make?"

      People do care. They care about other people having equal rights. They care about not having someone else force their religion on them. They care about respect and not being told they deserve to go to hell.

      Understand?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Jesucrisco

      IDoBelieve

      Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Observer

      Jesucrisco

      "Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging."

      So why do so many Christians claim that Jesus got so many ridiculous rules from God completely changed from the Old Testament?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Emanuel

      It is strange to us when the atheist says there is no God. It's like denying the presence of someone who is standing right in front of you.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Emanuel
      I'm looking right in front of me right now, and guess what?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Bill

      Again ... from the top .... Jesus fulfilled the law ...He lived a perfect and sinless life so that we are no longer required to do it.
      Now, if you want to call this God's word changing then fine .... given that the Old Testament predicted the arrival of a saviour that would free the world from the bondage of sin and then Jesus did exactly that by making us no longer bound to the law .... I would disagree with you.
      Jesus didnt change the law ... he fulfilled it once and for all of us.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • IDoBelieve

      To Observer: so equal rights is to force Christians to be quiet? It's the same thing but in reverse. Aren't you doing the same thing by forcing atheism down my throat. Yeah, think about it. But still..I know what I believe in and my faith is strong...that's all I need in life. I hope you find what you're looking for someday..

      February 26, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Syman Pons

      The simple secret to developing a relationship with the Creator is to ask that a relationship come into being. The Creator always honors and answers that request in the affirmative. And quickly!

      February 26, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • guest

      Kinda like you and many others go to church every week to reassure yourselves that your god exists... i see no difference...

      February 26, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Elwood P. Dowd

      Syman Pons
      "The Creator always honors and answers that request in the affirmative. And quickly."

      So does my 6'3" invisible rabbit friend, named Harvey. Believe.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Observer

      IDoBElieve,

      "Aren't you doing the same thing by forcing atheism down my throat"

      Excellent example of part of the problem with Christians. When the Ten Commandments are removed from governement buildings, Christians ignorantly claim that atheists are forcing their way. WRONG. Atheists are saying that NEITHER side should have their beliefs on government buildings. If they were ACTUALLY forcing their way, they'd demand that school walls have posters saying "God is Dead". Bet you never thought of looking at things FAIRLY.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • IDoBelieve

      Guest,
      God exists regardless of whether I'm in church or not. He is always and forever.

      Observer, so you think equality is taking away religion from public space? God was here first and will always be around. Regardless of if religion is taken out of the foundations of this country and gov. buildings, God still exists and that will always be true. Anyways, I'm done with this conversation. God bless you

      February 27, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Billy

      Bill
      Jesus fails at fulfilling messianic prophesy.

      http://www.evilbible.com/jesus_false.htm

      February 27, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Shawn

      Jesucrisco, you really are an idiot. Run along and annoy someone else.

      February 27, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Observer

      IDoBelieve,

      I don't blame you for leaving.

      February 27, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  15. Joe Tognetti

    I like the article, but whoever found the picture should've fact-checked a little more. Judith is a great read, but it's not in the Bible most Americans read. Why? Not because it's violent, but for complicated historical reasons, it's not in the Hebrew Bible, and thus is not in the Bible that Protestants accept as their canon (it's different for Catholics and Orthodox). Maybe a picture of Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac would've been more appropriate, or something in the undisputed canon that's just as violent or disturbing.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
  16. Syman Pons

    The whole of real and effective religion, is to shape one’s spiritual character during life on planet Earth, so as not to give offense to the Creator, when we eventually find our self in the Creator’s presence. Every human body is a vessel designed by the Creator to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is why a human body is called a temple of the Holy Spirit. We have all been commanded to practice loving all other spiritual beings, starting with the Creator and then extending this consideration to all other spiritual beings. The goal is to be able to reside in true spiritual communion for eternity in one another’s presence without giving offense to others.

    All other spiritual endeavors, which lead toward a goal other than attaining true spiritual communion for eternity, are fruitless in the eyes of the Creator.

    All religious endeavors other than a person’s personal effort to love (be considerate of), the Creator and to also love (be considerate of), all the other people in this world are fruitless in the eyes of the Creator.

    This is the only true religious effort that is acceptable in our Creator’s sight, regardless of person’s creed or denomination..

    Love the Creator. Love your fellow humans beings, all of them! Nothing else is acceptable. Nothing else is asked or expected.

    This is the only reason you exist, to practice loving others. Most people never figure this out or accept this, their one and only responsibility to the Creator.

    The only true worship is loving (being considerate of), one another.

    The only thing that will help planet Earth is that people truly love (be considerate of), one another.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Observer

      Can you stress your message to the hypocritical Christians who trash gays or trash those who are pro-choice?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • Kiljoy616

      Sorry to break you delusion but life on earth is all we have.

      Nothing in the bible even makes sense, talking snakes, walking on water preachers, ignorance of nature all over it. The burning bush is one of my favorite, of course the whole Jews built the pyramids is so full of make believe.

      This God(s) don't seem to impressive. But humans killing each other and coming up with ways to subjugate each other at the same time that well is totally believable.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Syman Pons

      Every life the Creator brings into being is meant to develop into a holy spiritual being. A baby that is conceived and then disavowed through an abortion looses it's chance to develop into a new holy spiritual being. This runs at cross purposes with the desire of the Creator. He allows us to initiate the bringing forth of a new spiritual being and makes us responsible for that new spirit(a baby human being) and the baby's initial development, both physically and spiritually as parents. When we terminate the life of a new spiritual being, it is done in accordance with our will. This is not in accordance with the will of the Creator. He would expect us to be responsible for our actions and raise up a new holy spiritual being.

      People who do not understand this are at odds with the Creator. They do not like being told they should take responsibility for bringing forth a new spiritual being. They wish to hurt those spiritual beings who remind them of their first responsibility to their Creator

      February 26, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Observer

      Syman Pons,

      The Bible NEVER mentions abortion and actually offers more to support it than to oppose it. You are using your WISHFUL THINKING to pretend the Bible says something it doesn't. Same for child molesters, apparently.

      Read the Bible sometime.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  17. Shelly

    I couldn't agree with you more. I'm a Christian, and my father (a Pastor) taught us the same thing. People sugarcoat the bible way too much and it's such a shame. Speak the truth for forever hold your peace! I love this article.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Anon

      You're fcked up in the head.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      What if you read the Bible without the sugar coating and are actually appalled by it? Isn't it valid to just reject it as being too gross and bloody to be instructive of proper morals today?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  18. Sarah

    " Jesus saves us from the dry, dusty duties of religion and frees us to cut loose and celebrate." – Wow. That was a mouth full of crap! Enjoyed the article until that! So you mean, we are free to sin and party until we drop, do whatever, don't go to church, because religion is dusty duties? Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die, and God will forgive, so who cares? Party on. Carp, and more crap. You need to go to church brother. I think you need a little religion, and to read your Bible a little closer.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Can't you celebrate without sinking into debauchery? Honestly, dance a little, drink a couple of beers, have a great meal. Not every party has to become The Hangover if you have some self-restraint. Jesus went to a wedding party where there was excessive drinking (they drank all the wine very quickly, yes?) and what did he do? Chastise them? No, he made MORE wine, and better stuff to boot. Does that sound like a prude to you?

      No wonder you guys get so upset on this board, you are way too uptight!

      February 26, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Kiljoy616

      Just make sure you stay away from this way to free and sane Atheist because I have found next to the madness of Islamic craziness the Christian religion is as dangerous and crazy. One life no heaven or hell ROFLMAO to be afraid of.

      Not been afraid of the monster in the cloud does not mean you will do what ever you want. We humans do just fine without it, but we sure do go crazy when you add dogma into the fray.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Bill

      Sarah ... Paul explains this clearly ... yes, as a matter of fact as long as we have accepted Jesus we are, literally free to do just that .... However, because we have accepted Christ, we no longer have the desire to snub God. The times we din, we feel guilty and seek to reconnect with God again.
      Paul says this of Grace ..."So should we sin more to obtain more Grace? Heaven forbid!"
      The point is, we do not need to be "good people" to get into heaven ... because we can never be "good enough" to earn our way in ...
      We try to act in a Gody way to honor Him, not to curry his favor.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  19. Mike R

    Does one really need Santa Claus to understand the true meaning of the gift of giving. Jesus represents Love because his story displayed the biggest act of Love that a person can express: giving up your life for the life of another. So, as someone who was raised a christian, I believe that to "Find Jesus" is to find the power of love within your own heart. Jesus was an examplary human on this and his life is immortalized to this day. Do you really need somekind of reward system to get you to do good deeds? If there was proof of an afterlife, don't you think a lot of people would off themselves to get there? In some cases, ignorance is bliss...

    February 26, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  20. Rev-Henry Bates

    "God’s message was not meant to be run through some arbitrary, holier-than-thou politeness filter. He intended the Bible to speak to people where they’re at, caught up in the stark reality of life on a fractured planet."
    Does this writer really see God as some big guy in the sky? What we need to do to understand the Bible is to forget the fairy tales and understand that Jesus was telling us God is Intelligence, not some god made in man's image!

    February 26, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Nitrogen

      Or, you know, we could just forget the fairy tales altogether.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Rev
      Man is also intelligent. Imagining a super intelligent god is no different than imaging a super king god (Jupiter), or super soldier god (Mars), or super wise god (Minerva). Intelligence is a human quality that you want anthropomorphized into God.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Bill

      Sooooooooo, ignore the fact that God made man in His image? Ohhhh wait, I understand..... you believe some of the Bible but not all of it .... soooo, which parts do you believe ..... which parts do you trust .... sounds like you trust the parts that make sense to your sensibilities. As long as you agree with them, they must be true .,.. but if you have a problem with some parts, they must be crap....... what a hypocrite.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Syman Pons

      The whole of real and effective religion, is to shape one’s spiritual character during life on planet Earth, so as not to give offense to the Creator, when we eventually find our self in the Creator’s presence. Every human body is a vessel designed by the Creator to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is why a human body is called a temple of the Holy Spirit. We have all been commanded to practice loving all other spiritual beings, starting with the Creator and then extending this consideration to all other spiritual beings. The goal is to be able to reside in true spiritual communion for eternity in one another’s presence without giving offense to others.
      All other spiritual endeavors, which lead toward a goal other than attaining true spiritual communion for eternity, are fruitless in the eyes of the Creator.
      All religious endeavors other than a person’s personal effort to love (be considerate of), the Creator and to also love (be considerate of), all the other people in this world are fruitless in the eyes of the Creator.
      This is the only true religious effort that is acceptable in our Creator’s sight, regardless of a person’s creed, denomination, or religion.
      Love the Creator. Love your fellow humans beings, all of them! Nothing else is acceptable. Nothing else is asked or expected.
      This is the only reason you exist, to practice loving others. Most people never figure this out or accept this, their one and only responsibility to the Creator.
      The only true worship is loving (being considerate of), one another.
      The only thing that will help planet Earth is that people truly love (be considerate of), one another.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:52 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.