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Is the black church guilty of spiritual hypocrisy in same-sex marriage debate?
Delman Coates at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church is among a minority of black ministers in Maryland who have endorsed gay rights.
May 12th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Is the black church guilty of spiritual hypocrisy in same-sex marriage debate?

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Some people wonder if the black church will punish President Barack Obama for announcing support for same-sex marriage.

Here’s another question:

Why would the black church cite scripture to exclude gays when a similar approach to the Bible was used to enslave their ancestors?

“It’s so unfortunate,” says James Cone, one the nation’s most influential black theologians and author of “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.”

“The literal approach to scripture was used to enslave black people,” he says. “I’ve said many times in black churches that the black church is on the wrong side of history on this. It’s so sad because they were on the right side of history in their own struggle.”

Call it historical irony: Black church leaders arguing against same-sex marriage are making some of the same arguments that supporters of slavery made in the 18th and 19th centuries, some historians say. Both groups adopted a literal reading of the Bible to justify withholding basic rights from a particular group.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Opposition to gay rights is not the standard position of all black churches. Still, while several predominately white mainline denominations have officially accepted gays and lesbians in various forms, the vast majority of black churches still consider homosexuality a sin.

Black church leaders recently helped lead a successful drive to amend North Carolina’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The Rev. Fred Robinson, a black pastor in Charlotte, says most black churchgoers aren’t hypocrites. They take scripture, and sin, seriously.

“Black people are not confused,” Robinson says. “If you look at the scriptures that oppose homosexuality, Old and New Testament, they are clearer cut than the ones people used to justify slavery.”

Yet there are other factors beyond the Bible that shape the black church’s resistance to same-sex marriage.

“It’s more than scripture – it’s history, culture, how we were raised,” says the Rev. Tim McDonald, founder of the African American Ministers Leadership Council.

Some black church leaders are still fighting hard just to persuade straight black couples to marry. Accepting same-sex marriage when so many black households lack a husband and wife makes McDonald uneasy.

“I am not comfortable performing a wedding ceremony of the same sex,” says McDonald, an Obama supporter. “That’s just where I am.”

Some black pastors, however, embrace a literal approach to the Bible not just to exclude gays but to get rid of competition, says Edward Blum, a San Diego State University historian.

Some black pastors cite New Testament passages such as Paul’s demand that women keep silent in churches to argue against black women in the pulpit.

That argument is harder to make when black women’s energy and donations form the backbone of the black church, Blum says, but some still get away with it.

“The biblical literalist reading has kept male leadership in power in a church that is hugely female,” Blum says. “It keeps power in men’s hands.”

The one book that mattered

Black churches also embrace a literal reading of the scripture because of its unique history, says Blum, author of “W.E.B. DuBois, American Prophet.”

During slavery and segregation, many blacks saw the Bible as the one document they could trust. The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, state and local laws – all found some way to ignore their humanity, Blum says.

The Bible, though, was one book that told them that they weren’t slaves or three-fifths of a person, Blum says.

It said they were children of God.

“Throughout the 18th and 19th century, what document could they trust?” Blum says. “When the Bible says it’s so, it’s something that black people believed they could trust.”

Their enemies, though, used that same veneration of the Bible against them. Slaveholders had a simple but powerful argument when critics challenged them: Trust the Bible.

They cited scriptures such as Ephesians 6:5. (“Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling. ...”) And they said Jesus preached against many sins, but never against slavery.

Since the Bible is infallible, and scripture sanctions slavery, it must be part of God’s order, slaveholders concluded.

“Slavery is everywhere in the Bible,” Blum says. “When Americans who were in favor of slavery defended it with the Bible, they had a treasure trove of clear biblical passages that accepted enslavement.”

Blum says abolitionists found it difficult to mount an effective counterargument. They couldn’t just say trust the Bible. They preached another approach to scriptures.

They said you couldn’t enslave people based on the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do to you. (Obama cited the Golden Rule and his Christian faith in supporting same-sex marriage).

“The abolitionist turned to the ethics and spirit of the Bible,” Blum says. “They were theological modernists before modernism.”

And what are black clergy and churchgoers today when they cite the Bible to oppose same-sex marriage?

Robinson, the North Carolina pastor, says they’re not homophobes.

“It says in the Bible that homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God,” he says. “How do you explain that one away? A lot of honest Christians are not trying to hate homosexuals. They’re saying that if I take the Bible seriously, I’m not sure I can say it’s right.”

Robinson says that some opposition to homosexuality is actually based in compassion:

“If I’m concerned about your soul, I have to tell you the truth in love.”

Cone, who teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, says black churchgoers opposed to same-sex marriage are instead mimicking their ancestors’ oppressors.

“I tell some people, ‘These people were against you.’ They would have lynched you. How are you going to now join them and help them lynch somebody else?’”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Barack Obama • Christianity • Culture wars • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Politics

soundoff (4,348 Responses)
  1. Tony

    Yes, any church who preaches one thing to others and then personally acts in another is hypocrisy no matter the color of the preacher or lfollower. It matter not if this is a white or black or any other group. If one preaches one belief but finds the color of the offender requires an action that does not practice that belief then this would be racism. I have no problem with racism, however. So long as it does not intefere with treating individuals with respect and being able to put asdie the generalities in order to see the individual for who they are. Certainly, these reports, articles abut producing interest for producing money. The ill of the world almost always go back to money and we live in a world where we measure all things by the revenue we produce and hold and have taken or given. Like every family, we argue over money more than anything else. Then, when it comes to spiritual belief and growth, we belittle that as if it is practiced by the ignorant when, in fact, it is the ignorant chasing the money that are the ignorant. The age old balance of living a life of the flesh or spirit will never go away and that is not a bad thing. It is a thoughtful thing and a balance that offers us more than what is and gives us value beyond what we hold in our wallet or in the plastic we carry. We are better than we givwe ourselves credit and there will be someone who will ne day help us to see and understand that. Today we do not have that individual and that is too bad and costly in ways money cannot remedy.

    May 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  2. edwardo

    is taken for granted by Christians, as well as many atheists, that a universal negative cannot be proven. In this case, that universal negative is the statement that the Christian God does not exist. One would have to have omniscience, they say, in order to prove that anything does not exist. I disagree with this position, however, because omniscience is not needed in order to prove that a thing whose nature is a self-contradiction cannot, and therefore does not exist.
    I do not need a complete knowledge of the universe to prove to you that cubic spheres do not exist. Such objects have mutually-exclusive attributes which would render their existence impossible. For example, a cube, by definition, has 8 corners, while a sphere has none. These properties are completely incompatible: they cannot be held simultaneously by the same object. It is my intent to show that the supposed properties of the Christian God Yahweh, like those of a cubic sphere, are incompatible, and by so doing, to show Yahweh's existence to be an impossibility.

    May 12, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Sockifyable

      Omg, are you the time cube dude? ...wait, no, wrong cube...

      May 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Tony

      to eduardo: nothing exists until we grow the capacity to understand it. Cubic spheres do exist but we haven't the ability nor means to understand how and so we do not look and so we will not see. Science proves this to be the case over and over again. A true scientists who knows scientific history would never deny anything as absolute. We simply haven't the capacity just as our ancesters did not have the capacity to allow our world to go from flat to round or to allow our earth to move around the sun. Be careful the intelligence that allows you to put faith in ignorance. That said, yes, right now they do not exist...but I believe they do and someday we will find our knowldege has been flawed. History is on my side.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Jamie

      @Tony

      You go ahead and keep waiting or a cubical sphere to show up at your house. Make sure to take a picture for us. Meanwhile, we're going to move on with our lives.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  3. n8362

    Imposing your religious superstition on others is immoral.

    You do not believe in religion because you honestly think it is true, you believe in it because you fear mortality or are seeking meaning in your life. It does not take a genius to figure out all religion is man made, so for humanity's sake, please stop lying to yourself.

    Deluding yourself in religion does not change reality. Lying to yourself is probably the worst possible way to try to find meaning.

    May 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Jamie

      They don't need to lie to themselves. They have a church that does it for them. To "Lie" would give them the benefit of the doubt in assuming they actually came up with the hateful rhetoric they're spewing, or that they even understand the motive behind why their pastor told them spread the word. No, these people are far beyond liars. These people are so deep in denial and pseudo-mysticism that no logic could possibly penetrate.

      Believe me I know, former Christian of 18 years.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • tom

      AMEN

      May 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Big B

      What the hell?!? If we are going to tell gay people that they cannot get married because of the bible, then why the hell did we free the slaves?!? Yo Leroy, mow my lawn or I'm going to whip your ass with a whip...

      May 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • tom

      Anyone who believes in a talking snake should not be voting on MY rights

      May 12, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  4. PAUL

    church... KEEP RELIGOUS BULL OUT OF OUR GOVERMENT THOSE WHO DONT AGREE SHOULD NOT BE LIVVING IN AMERICA PERIOD ITS NOT YOUR JOB TO JUDGE PEOPLE THATS GODS JOB AND THOSE WHO DO WILL SUFFER BIG TIME IN THE END GWHO KNOWS GOD MAY MAKE YOU GAY FOR YOUR SINS FOR JUDGEING OTHERS,......

    May 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Jamie

      ahahahaha

      I'm terrified, my boy. Absolutely terrified of your scary god your ancestors made up.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  5. MuskegonCritic

    Folks take this Bible business way too seriously.

    Book. Paper. Ink. Old books some random dudes over the ages picked and choosed their ways through and compiled into one book.

    Whole lotta silliness.

    May 12, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  6. Bible just a theory

    WHY? As Archie said to Meathead, "Of course it don't make no sense. Dat's why dey call it faith!" BTW, no where in the Bible will you find scriptures that state 1) "Marriage is only between one man and one woman." 2) Polygamy is prohibited 3) Monogamy is required for all Christians. HOWEVER, Jesus does PROHIBIT DIVORCE except in the case of marital unfaithfulness (by the woman of course!). Notice how many fundie churches OBEY THAT PROHIBITION! Ha, ha!

    May 12, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  7. Rainer Braendlein

    Gayness should not be promoted and legalized by permission of gay marriage. Yet, I don't hate gays of hinder them in any way. It is only that they have to stay outside Church, because inside Church are delivered people. A delivered man cannot be gay or at least should be on a way of healing.

    Every sin is an act against the principle of love towards God and the neighbour. Actually God has predetermined a certain wife for nearly every man. A single pious man should wait for his predetermined wife in abstinence up to the day, when he encounters his wife and marries her. A gay man is a man, which has totally lost the control of his body. A gay man is a man, which is totally controlled by the lust of his body to this extent that he even desires men. This is the total denial of the love to his future wife, which God actually wanted to give him and the total denial of the belief in God's love, who wanted to support him with a wife. If we answer God's love with total lechery, we sin. Sin is the opposite of love towards God and the neighbour. Yet, dear gay, exactly for such a sinner like you God delivered his beloved Son. Should not this convince you of God's love, who wants to take care of you and to give you a wife and everthing else, which you need?

    The verses of the Bible against ho-mos-exuality are meant verbatim. Yet today in the concrete handling of certain cases patience must be applied.

    We can imply that yet at Moses' time a gay man was not stoned immediately, but exhorted several times, before he was punished. If someone repented, he was forgiven and admitted again into the community of God's Chosen People.

    The equivalent of stoning at Moses' time is the exclusion from the Church (the Church is the successor of God's Chosen People) today, if a church member is not ready to repent from a heavy sin. The exclusion takes place first after at least three attempts of rebuke (by a singel church member, by several church members and by the whole congregation). Like stoning the exclusion from the Church can lead to the total destruction of the body of the church member in the worst case. A church member outside the Church has got no protection against evil powers.

    Basically a ho-mose-xual person can not remain in the Church. If he or she wants to remain in the Church, he or she has to repent. The Church is a place, where sinners can be cured from their maladies or where are people, which are already cured.

    Every true Christian is always aware of his own sinfulness and knows that he overcomes his sinful body only by God's Grace in Jesus. Hence, a Christian will not judge sinners, but offer the gospel of restoration towards them. In the Church there are people (sinners), which have accepted God's salutary Grace. If someone rejects God's offer of healing, he should stay outside the Church.

    If my workmate, classmate, neighbour, etc. outside the Church is a gay, I don't have to judge him, but treat him friendly offering the gospel by word and practical love.

    The only problem is, when gays want to be church members, without abandoning their sin by the releasing Grace of Jesus. This cannot be accepted, because the Church is the proper place, where are people, which are reconciled with God. Someone, who keeps on sinning, is not reconciled with God and doesn't belong to the Church.

    May 12, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Sockifyable

      "Gayness should not be promoted and legalized by permission of gay marriage."

      ...it's actually already totally legal to be gay. This isn't Pakistan!

      (It's just not South Africa or Brazil, either. You know, where gay couples have full and equal civil rights.)

      May 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Kandric

      If the Christian bible is to be taken literally, please let me know when you stone your next adulterer. You're free to believe whatever you want, however. The issue that arises here is that you are using your religion to take away a person's freedom. It is my right to sin and be judged by your god. So let me sin and worry about it on "Judgment Day." Give me the same basic human rights as you have, to marry the person I love. Then, if your god damns me to hell you can smile down on me from heaven.

      I suppose you still support slavery, as the Christian bible says it should be allowed. Does seeing an interracial couple make you vomit? You know the argument against interracial marriage was largely a religious one. Fortunately people eventually realised it was an issue of basic human rights, not religion.

      Religion and state are separate for a reason. Religion in general, not just Christianity, has a history of oppressing the minority. Denying them basic human rights such as access to freedom, food, water, medicine, marriage, etc. So your church can exclude whoever you want. Your Pastor/Priest/Preacher can refuse to marry two men or two women because that is their right.

      Do not deny me my right to marry. You are just as hypocritical as the religious blacks mentioned in this article for denying rights to the minority. Just because you believe something different from me does not mean you should have more rights.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  8. Sheepsnot

    "Why would the black church cite scripture to exclude gays when a similar approach to the Bible was used to enslave their ancestors?" Why would the misuse of scripture 150 years ago preclude anyone from properly using it today?

    May 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  9. Ed

    Slavery was a part of the culture and the times 2000+ years ago. But EVEN then, slaves were considered EQUAL to their masters in the eyes of God. So the mere definition of slavery is not at all how we view it. It is more of a means to pay back a debt owed, than anything we view it as. Remember what Paul said "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus"- Galations 3:28. All are one in Christ Jesus, no one is excluded. All you must do, is repent of your sins and confess with all your heart that Christ is the Lord and you shall be saved (and you will be freed from death and have eternal life with the Father, the creator, the maker of the universe, the almighty God- pretty good deal if you ask me!

    May 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Ronin

      That sure doesn't sound like God is against slavery at all. Christianity just uses the convenient line of saying anyone can get into Heaven if you follow obediently. Why else would people join Christianity?

      May 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • seyedibar

      your definition of slaves with equal values is a contrived notion used only to justify how slavery could exist in a book of "good intentions". It is not representative of reality, as is made obvious by anyone who has read the Bible thoroughly.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • PAUL

      good call ed in the 40's and 50's baptist churches told us that blacks were lno better tyhan roaches and should be killed they were not allowed in most churches in the south and were made out to be satans minions....

      May 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Leslie B.

      Christianity explicitly says that we *can't* get to heaven by anything we do, only through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  10. sam

    I'm a gay woman. Many blacks and hispanics don't see me as having equal rights. Perhaps we should renegotiate their humanity and ask them how it feels. We gays don't have the same civil rights as straights. Those groupd that are against us we will stop supporting–that simple.

    May 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Sockifyable

      There are also many gay blacks and hispanics. I'm neither black nor hispanic but I am gay (and atheist) and I definitely don't agree with you. There is nothing that would make me okay with another groups' rights being trampled on even if they don't support mine!

      It's time to get over this nasty, childish, minority versus minority business that only works out for the best for the folks already in power.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Eric G

      Interesting question....

      Do you think the black church would grant you more rights if you were a gay black woman?

      All of this fighting, and still no evidence of any kind that their god even exists. I weep for humanity.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Rob

      One questions.
      Were you ever owned as a peice of personal property for being a gay women?

      May 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  11. Joe

    You christians will one day have to stand before the Lord, His Noodliness, and ask forgiveness for worshipping your false christian god.

    He will decided how to deal with your idolatrous christians. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the one true God!

    May 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • PAUL

      well if they read the dead sea scrolls they would know there are only 2 religions left in the end of days hebrews and lutherans .. the rest god kills off and sends to hell ........

      May 12, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  12. calvin

    The Only Hypocrisy is that thi person does not know God nor what his word says. To all those who Blaspheme God, I pray that He will open your blinded eyes/minds to spiritual truth in Jesus name

    May 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Jamie

      Really, because my dictionary has a different definition of hypocrisy.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Adam

      Look up the word hypocrisy.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  13. Sockifyable

    Question for the Christians out there...

    What about the rights of churches who have no problem sanctifying a union between two men or two women? Of which there are many in the United States. By acting "to protect marriage" aren't you abrogating their right to exercise their free conscience?

    No one is going to make churches that do not wish to recognize a given marriage as sanctified declare that it is so. However, by forcing laws like Amendment One one group of Christians is telling other, differently minded Christians that there is only one way to interpret, practice and preach the Bible.

    I thought the idea of a state church is exactly what the Christians among the Founding Fathers took a vocal stand against (and granted they weren't all Christians)?

    May 12, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • MADD MAXX

      I believe in God, I don't believe in organized religion which can push the various beliefs on their members.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Sockifyable

      Even so, organized religion is completely legal in this country.

      Do you want to live in a country where some interpretations of the Bible are illegal? There's no guarantee your interpretation will make it into the law.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • WrshipWarior

      "differently minded Christians..." that is the problem right there. Most Christians, unfortunately, base their lives on their own personal beliefs in the natural world rather than on the mind of Christ in the spiritual world. 1 Cor. 2:16, 1 Cor. 1:10, Romans 12:2, Romans 15:6. But God will not force anyone to do anything they don't want to do. He allows us to make wrong decisions even though He has set the standard for our lives and exhorts us to make the right decisions.Wake up Church!

      May 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  14. Lofter

    Of course they will still vote for Obama. Race trumps all. The only people in the U.S. who don't see this are stupid white people. Every other race looks out for their own.

    May 12, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • MADD MAXX

      I am white and agree with you, we understand and look out for our own.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • JM

      Every 'other' race looks out for their own?

      The entire history of white people in America is them looking out for their own: massacre the Native Americans (check), bring enslaved Africans to America to treat like animals/do the work (check)...

      If African-Americans only looked out for their own, they would have all voted for Jesse Jackson or Alan Keyes (for IL Senate).

      egad...think

      May 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • MADD MAXX

      Stronger civilizations always prevail over the weaker ones, it's nature.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  15. MADD MAXX

    All violence is caused by man, regardless of what banner it flies under. Even a world without religion will be violent, greed and power are just traits of human personality. Religion just gives others an excuse to do what they want. Ridding the world of Religion will not fix the world.

    May 12, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Ronin

      True. But it's a good start. There will always be good people doing good and evil people doing evil. But with religion good people do evil things.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • MADD MAXX

      Then destroying things like nationalism or any other thing that brings together people has to happen. Basically become a passive world. An easy target for a powerful nations tic country like China.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Ronin

      Madd, I don't know about that one. Nationalism is essential to keeping an economy going. There will always be differences in people. Race, Gender, Nationality. But none of those have ever experienced the same kind of violence that religion has brought about in the last 2500 years.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • MADD MAXX

      Religion did not bring us WW1 or 2, and In history perhaps 98% of all people throughout time have been religious, so of course wars are overwhelmingly religious.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  16. joe800

    ..why would the black church cite the same bible nonsense that was used to justify slavery to discriminate against LGBT people??...'cause religion is all about hypocrisy....and has nothing to do with right/wrong – just/unjust- or the truth...

    May 12, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  17. IronDitka

    Nobody cares what some imaginary voice in your head aka 'God' says. Basic human decency says its wrong to discriminate against people. Stop this bigotry.

    May 12, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • sa

      wait till you meet your creator you will wish you never uttered those words....

      May 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  18. John Paul

    Jon Blake does not understand Bible. He is reading it as any other book. Bible did not endorse slavery. In many cultures there is a concept of servants they are call domestic help in the USA and in Biblical times they were called slaves. The meaning is slavery is broad spectrum. Windowing it and writing an article like this shows your lack of quality in your journalism.

    May 12, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • IronDitka

      You are a liar. There were real slaves in Roman times. Do you think all those gladiators fought with lions and got butchered by other humans willingly?

      May 12, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Mike p

      This is why the Bible, and region in general, appeals to so many people: because they don't conform to the Bible–the Bible conforms to them. Religions people throughout history just make things up and say things are not in their holy scriptures when they most certainly are, and they'll tell others' that, "you must be reading the wrong book" or some solipsistic garbage of the sort. I think YOU are reading the wrong Bible, if you have even picked it up to look at it at all! (Leviticus 25:44-45) " However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners," (Ephesians 6:5) " Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. There are SO many justifications for slavery in the Bible. Christians are such jerks-off because so many of them have no Idea what the hell they are talking about.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Aaron

      wow.

      May 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  19. Walter

    The slavery mentioned in the bible was a bit different than the African slave trade. It was much more of a reciprocal thing. Consider, an Eye for an Eye is the Golden Rule in practice. Rather than a theory, i.e. "Do unto others as you WOULD have them do unto you", it is fact, "Do unto others as they HAVE done unto you". Therefore, if one were to follow that teaching of the bible, one could easily justify the taking of slaves (i.e. these barbarians keep raiding our villages and taking our people, so it's about time we show them the same courtesy).

    Besides, ancient peoples had a very different concept of honor than we do now. If you lost your honor, you were expected to kill yourself (even if you were a rich Roman general). And if you didn't, you were the lowest of the low, and therefore a candidate for slavery. Many gamblers willingly gambled themselves into slavery, for example. In other words, most slaves in ancient times were slaves either because they had waged war against a nation stronger than their own, committed some sort of crime, or broken some kind of social taboo. Take Spartacus for example. He was enslaved after he betrayed the same Roman army that he had pledged allegiance to. In those days, you didn't say one thing and do another (unless you wanted to be a slave or a corpse).

    Consider, we do much the same now, but the State takes possession over criminals rather than individuals. If you lose your honor (i.e. commit a crime), and do not kill yourself first, the State will take ownership over you. From that point on, they can command your life; tell you when to sleep, when to eat, when to do your business, etc.. Not much of a difference from the old ways (it's similar to the idea of human sacrifice. In ancient times, human sacrifice largely pertained to the execution of criminals. We still execute criminals today, except we don't dedicate their deaths to the Gods).

    May 12, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  20. InMyHumbleOpinion

    I do not believe that marriage is owned by church and religion.
    I can get married in a church or park but I do not think any church provides divorce ceremonies.
    Marriage is a contact controlled by the state. Religions can have an opinion on what they believe marriage to be but have no ownership of the concept and practice.
    Therefore It is up to the populous and democratic process to define marriage and not any book.

    May 12, 2012 at 11:55 am |
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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.