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Your Take: Rebuttals to rethinking the Bible on homosexuality
What does the Bible really say about homosexuality? Readers responded to a professor's views on the issue.
May 17th, 2012
02:10 PM ET

Your Take: Rebuttals to rethinking the Bible on homosexuality

The Bible clearly condemns homosexuality - and, by extension, same-sex marriage - right?

A guest "My Take" post we ran this week from a college psychology professor who has a background in religion (he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest, for instance) challenged that conventional wisdom.

The professor, Daniel A. Helminiak, argues that foes of same-sex marriage have assigned modern, ethics-laden meanings to biblical passages on homosexuality to make it seem like the Bible unequivocally condemns it. In fact, Helminiak proposes, the original meanings of such passages about gays are at the very least ambiguous.

The piece has generated an avalanche of response: 10,000 Facebook shares, 6,000 comments, 200 tweets and a couple of blog posts.  Giving the other side its say, here's a rebuttal roundup of critical reactions from across the Internet:

Kevin DeYoung, a conservative Christian blogger, calls Helminiak's piece "amazing for including so many bad arguments in so little space." DeYoung, who leads a Reformed Church in Michigan, challenges Helminiak's argument that the biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah doesn't condemn homosexuality per se.

"Jude 7 states that Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities 'indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,' " DeYoung writes.

"Even the NRSV, translation of choice for the mainline (and the version Helminiak seems to be using), says 'pursued unnatural lust,' ” he continues, referring to the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

"Clearly, the sins of Sodom lived in infamy not simply because of violent aggression or the lack of hospitality, but because men pursued sex with other men."

DeYoung also takes issue with our guest blogger's argument that the Greek term the New Testament writer Paul uses when describing homosexuality, para physin, has been misconstrued by modern translators to mean "unnatural." Helminiak says that the original term does not contain ethical judgment and should be translated instead as "atypical" or "unusual."

Absurd, says DeYoung. "We know Paul considered same-sex intercourse an ethical violation, and not simply something uncommon. ... (N)otice what Paul goes on to say: 'Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error' (NRSV)."

DeYoung writes, "When you read the whole verse, Helminiak’s 'nonethical' argument becomes implausible. Paul thought homosexuality not just unusual, but wrong, a sinful error deserving of a 'due penalty.' '"

On Facebook, Helminiak’s piece, "My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality," provoked a mix of positive and negative response. Some of the latter was very, very negative.

"The following article appeared on the front page of CNN. ... I was so grieved and troubled, I had to respond to the writer," Vince Smith wrote on his Facebook page Thursday. "This is what is most tragic and terrifying about beliefs on homosexuality in this nation.

"When you take Scripture and twist it to 'reinterpet' what it means, and then teach others, you are literally playing with fire ... eternal fire," Smith continued. "I pray that The Lord has mercy on Mr. Helminiak."

Readers' comments on the piece included much criticism, too (although there was plenty of support for Helminiak’s argument).

"Daniel's argument misses the glaringly obvious condemnation of gay sex in the Bible," writes a commenter named Mike Blackadder. "Catholics believe it is a mortal sin when it is premarital, masturbatory, and when we deny the possibility of conceiving children (i.e., through the use of contraceptives).

"Unfortunately, the faith suggests that gay sex falls under the same category as these others and if we interpret differently for gays, then we must accept a new interpretation of these other acts for the same reason," Blackadder writes. "The corollary is that if your faith accepts hetero impurities (such as contraceptives or [masturbation]) but condemns gays, then you may be rightfully accused of hypocrisy."

Many commenters avoided quibbling with Helminiak’s logic, instead taking aim at the piece's very existence.

"Why can't gays leave other people's sacred things alone?" asks a commenter named iqueue120. "Instead of redefining 'marriage,' just call your pervert juncture 'pirripipirripi.' We will grant you and your 'pirripipirripi-other' all the 'rights' that you want.

"You can write your own sacred book, call it, for instance, 'Pirripipirripible,' and make it teach how awesome is 'pirripipirripi,'" this commenter continues. "... All we ask in exchange is that you leave 'marriage' and 'Holy Bible' as they are."

On Twitter, most RTs, or retweets, endorsed the piece, but not all. "Another pastor,"  tweeted @BarbRoyal "trying to pretend the ugly parts out of the Xtian (Christian) bible. ..."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Comments • Gay marriage

soundoff (3,580 Responses)
  1. postedbygeo

    Those anti-gay bashers, are bashing a 33yr old men, no wife, no children, no girl friend, who happily had 12 male friends.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      yeah, jesus was definitely g.ay.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  2. Insanity

    America is a Christian nation. If you want to live in a country that is not, then go to Europe, there are plenty of nations there where you can be gay...

    May 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • MidwestBoy72

      It's not a christian nation. Saying it is, is part of the problem.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      american is definitely not a chrsitian nation.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Insanity is an appropriate name. This is a SECULAR NATION with a majority christian population.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Revolutionary

      Think again Insanity...did you actually learn about ANY of our founding fathers and where they borrowed the ideas of creating this nation?!

      May 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      This is not a christian nation. Take the bible out of your rectum

      May 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • ByDesign

      I bet if there were people in non-Christian countries who wished to be Christian, you wouldn't condemn them. You would probably applaud them, and then feel sorry for them if their home country cast them out for their beliefs. Let people be who they are and keep your "insanity" to yourself.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  3. answerman28

    If you care about what the bible says you have no chance for intelligence in this life time.. And if any of that crap was true you'd be lost even in reincarnation.. come on people its 2012...

    May 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • coloradom

      answerman28: how about a little respect for people that believe, regardless of their religion.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Momof3

      @coloradom

      What goes around, comes around...karma's a mean mistress!

      May 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • sleepytime

      @ coloradom: Why should crazy beliefs be respected? Do you respect every bizarre notion you come across?

      May 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  4. Hodge

    Yes, lets base modern day policy on a book that is based on plagarized bronze age myths......

    May 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  5. It is all good and God is at the end

    The bible was written by 40 different authors over 1500 years in three different languages on three different continents.The central message ...love God and love humankind.Anyone using it to preach hate is wrong.It does have its rules.
    Been a great guide for many years.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      yeah, it's a guide for selling your own daughter into slavery. real nice!

      May 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • sleepytime

      lol. I don't see a lot of "love humankind" message in the bible.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  6. stevensb

    It shouldn't matter except as a matter of how one interprets the book .... what does matter is that a certain segment of the population is very , very hard at work to codify into law their religious beliefs and force them on to everyone else . Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion . This is a civil rights issue .

    May 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • MidwestBoy72

      Exactly. Couldn't agree more.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  7. jc

    The bible was not written by any god, it was written by men. Women were not allowed to contribute. These men collected previous texts or gospels which they refined and edited to their liking, while rejecting other texts they deemed unsuitable. They had their own agenda’s and were subject to all the prejudices of their time. It is a book that contains much wisdom but it is fallible.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  8. Palmetto 1977

    This discussion is sad. -for the non-believers.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Huebert

      How so?

      May 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      You mean for those not addicted to self-delusion.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Revolutionary

      based on what thinking Palmetto? Then I guess I could say it's sad that you don't follow Buddhism...very, very sad. Or maybe Hinduism! Hmmm I'm sad that you limit yourself to only one religion

      May 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • I am I

      Palmetto, i agree, this is terrible for all people who don't believe in Islam, may all the infidels burn for their non-belief.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  9. HamsterDancer

    hello

    May 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  10. FrayedJeff

    The humans who wrote the bible didn't even know how to make something as simple as soft absorbent bathroom tissue on a cardboard roller, and I'm supposed to believe they unlocked the secrets of the universe? Yeah, lol, right! :-/

    May 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • FrayedKnot

      Hey now, Jesus used the traditional ass cleaning implement of the time, the right hand of God...

      May 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Frayed... ur an idiot

      .

      May 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • FrayedKnot

      @Frayed... ur an idiot – So what did Jesus wipe the feces out of his ass with? Or did Christ not poop?

      May 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • FrayedJeff

      LOL jesus peeps, a hand? Understanding isn't your best thing is it? Oh wait... lol! "Soft absorbent bathroom tissue on a cardboard roller". Get it? They didn't know how to make simple everyday things, yet you're giving them credit for unlocking the secrets of the universe. Ha! the hilarity!

      May 17, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  11. Glorifundel

    The bible: Where reason goes to die.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  12. Sao

    Roman 1:27-28
    26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

    27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Gregg

      Deuteronomy 17:2-5: "If there be found among you...[a] man or woman...[who] hath gone and served other gods and worshipped them...then shalt though bring forth that man or that woman...and shalt stone them with stones, till they die."

      May 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  13. Insanity

    I want to start a bestiality church, cause the bible doesn't really say that beastiality is wrong. And I love my penguin very much. Penguin lovers unite with me and we will rewrite the bible together!

    May 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i feel sorry for the penguins. luckily, since you have such a tiny p.enis, they likely won't feel it.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Gregg

      Actually there are a number of verses in the bible against bestiality, so you're SOL

      Leviticus 18:23 ESV / 26 helpful votes
      And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.

      Exodus 22:19 ESV / 10 helpful votes
      “Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • ME II

      ... but a slavery church

      May 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Gregg, Amen. I suspect the non-believers will change those scriptures too to serve their selfish selves.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Insanity

      That isn't what it says in the gay version of the bible...

      May 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • ts

      That argument is sooo old and totally lame.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Momof3

      Well, Gregg...that's interesting, since humans are part of the Animalia family...guess we're all screwed! (No pun intended!)

      May 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      Gee, Heaven Sent, you are sooooooo right. Non believers are selfish....not like the bootlicking posters here.

      May 17, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  14. voradtralundir

    Who cares what it says about anything? If you're that reliant on something like this, I pity you. Please don't breed.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  15. joe cunliffe

    The bible was not written by any god, it was written by men. Women were not allowed to contribute. These men collected previous texts or gospels which they refined and edited to their liking, while rejecting other texts they deemed unsuitable. They had their own addenda’s and were subject to all the prejudices of their time. It is a book that contains much wisdom but it is fallible.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  16. Johnh77

    real simple solution. Let's give gays not only the right to marry but also their own island they can and have to live on. After one generation we can go back to the island and see how successful their lifestyle has been. It would seem to be a win win solution. They leave us alone now and they leave us alone then! case solved. Next.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Too Much

      And you're an idiot

      May 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i'd rather you went to an island and were never heard from again.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Insanity

      Wow, that makes too much sense!

      May 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Katie Morris

      John,
      I agree!!!! Then everyone will be happy!!!

      May 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Duh

      Right!! Because an island full of gay men and women would never be able to figure out how to have children!! It's so simple!

      May 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Johnh77

      to Katie Morris,

      Katie unfortunately, they and those like them, will never be happy until they deny us the right to breath the very air we breath. Evil knows no happiness, it only celebrates in it's sharing of the misery it creates for itself. Look at how no matter what you give them, it is never enough.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      since when has marriage meant procreation? you can have kids without being married, and you can be married and never have kids. Poor argument.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Sal

      I am sure the island would include lesbians too – I am sure that we would need more than one island to support the next generation. Besides, I am willing to bet that that island would be a pretty one.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "Katie unfortunately, they and those like them, will never be happy until they deny us the right to breath the very air we breath. Evil knows no happiness, it only celebrates in it's sharing of the misery it creates for itself. "

      oh dear, bearing false witness and being judgemental, two big no-nos that will stop you getting into heaven, ah well.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • JamesW

      Isn't it funny how your only and idiot when you don't agree with the other side. not like any of them are idiots because they feel different than you do. Never really understood how them calling me an idiot was supposed to make me feel bad or prove their case? I am an idiot because i don't agree with them? Are not they an idiot to me because they do not agree with me? Either way,,,,they are still WRONG, telling me over and over again your right does not make it so.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Momof3

      @JamesW – just like calling someone immoral when they don't follow your moral belief system, right?

      May 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • JamesW

      @momof3, actually yes. I could call anyone immoral all day long if i was so inclined. And that would be according to my beliefs, whether i am correct or incorrect. I personally do not blieve the issue is that one of us beliefs the other is wrong, problem is when it becomes personal and we do not respect the others right to disagree and we can not let it go and leave it alone.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Momof3

      @JamesW – I would argue with you, but you seem to do a great job arguing with youself! At least that way, you're right at lest 50% of the time...good luck!

      May 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  17. Dave F.

    none of this nonsense against gay marriage makes any sense. this shouldn't be a political issue. human equality in the year 2012 should not have to be debated. we as a human race are equals.

    and what happened to the separation of church and state? the bible is not the law of the land. again, it's 2012, we as a people need to move past these ancient writings as fact. they are not facts

    these debates just make religious people look fascist. believe what i believe or else. get over it. let people marry who they want. government and religion shouldn't have a say in love.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Haskeli

      If you really want to seperate church and state then states should stop recording marriages altogether. The registraion of marriage is a vestige from a time when the church controlled the state. So lets get government out of our bedrooms entirely (gay community you are with me on this, right?) and abolish secular marriage. You want to stand in a church, synagogue, mosque, natural habitat, whatever and declare your notion of commmitment to another– good for you. Why does the government need to be involved?

      May 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Dave F.

      i agree 100% with you on that. government should get out of marriage altogether.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Momof3

      States have to record 'marriages' so that the persons participating will have the right to be the next of kin, benificiary, etc...

      The Church can refuse to marry whoever they want, but the State should not be able to! That's the problem with this issue...too many churches are running the State!

      May 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  18. Too Much

    All things are used by humans to hate other humans.....even capitalism, socialism, communism...whatever ideology you believe in. All of these have been used for evil by humans.....humans are the issue...not the divine.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      humans exist. god does not.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Too Much

      Booty....your arrogance reeks.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  19. Insanity

    I agree, stop trying to twist the bible to accomodate the gay lifestyle. Some have justified "Gay" Churches, but what about "Murderer Churches, Pedophile Churches, Luster Churches, Thief Churches, etc... The Bible is clear about the gay lifestyle. Go be gay if you want, leave the Bible alone. Can we please move on?

    May 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "Go be gay if you want, leave the Bible alone. Can we please move on?"

      if only it was that simple. the bible says to kill g.ays. kind of hard to move on from that kind of prejudice.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Leslie

      The Bible is a novel written by men, get over it!

      May 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Steve

      Yeah, you sound like you're insane. Too small of a brain to figure it out? Understand the differences that make up the human population? Then keep your thoughts to yourself. Your ignorance is showing and it's not looking good.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • derp

      "Murderer Churches, Pedophile Churches, Luster Churches, Thief Churches"

      Note to dumb a ss, those things are called crimes. Hom ose xuality is not a crime, it is innate se xua l orientation.

      Just because your 2000 fairy tale tells you it's icky, that does not mean it is a crime, or should not be recognized by our government.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Insanity

      Why do you care what the Bible says? You obviously want to change it. Most people misquote it and take it WAAAY out of context anyways... Go be jolly and gay and leave christianity alone...

      May 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "Go be jolly and gay and leave christianity alone..."

      take your own advice, moron. leave g.ays alone and they'll ignore you.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Insanity

      Why? You keep attacking the church, why should we roll over and play dead for you?

      May 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Huebert

      @ Insanity

      The church isn't being attacked. Your nonsensical, indefeasible beliefs, however, are being battered within an inch of their lives.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Insanity

      No, not really. You are just fighting a war that will not be won...

      May 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • MidwestBoy72

      The crazy christians started this fight. Don't act like they don't try and force their beliefs on everyone. I was Roman Catholic growing up, and that mindset is why I am not anymore. So yeah, take your own advice. Live and let live.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Momof3

      What's a 'Luster Church'? Is that for really shiny things? If I lose my luster for life, can I go to a Luster Church to get it back? Will it bring back the luster to my car finish? Sorry, too funny to pass up...

      May 17, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Momof3

      Why do you care what the Bible says? You obviously want to change it. Most people misquote it and take it WAAAY out of context anyways

      Christians pretty much re-write the bible every 100 years, or so, to suit the needs of the new flock. Try reading a little bit on the actual history of the book you revere so much.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Huebert

      @ Insanity

      We are winning right now. non-religious is the fastest growing demographic group in the U.S.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  20. Jay

    So Haskeli – you live by all of those? so you have slaves? really?

    May 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Haskeli

      No you are misreading the verse. There is nothing that requires one to own slaves - but if one did then the rule applies.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      you don't HAVE to own slaves, but god approves of it if you do.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Haskeli

      Bootyfunk - So did Western culture for centuies. It should be no surprise that the Bible talks about slavery when it is was written in a time of slavery.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Bootyfunk, slavery back in biblical times was to pay off a debt the person owed.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Huebert

      Yes the bible was written in a time of slavery, and at no point did it condemn slavery. The fact that the bible, proclaimed to be the word of a loving god, did not condemn this egregious breach of human rights, but instead tacitly supported it, indicates that it is not the work of a divine being. It is the work of MEN living in a time when slavery was acceptable.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "Bootyfunk, slavery back in biblical times was to pay off a debt the person owed."

      that was the only type of slavery was it? i mean i ask because that was that whole exodus and set my people free thing. Are you suggesting they were in fact trying to escape from an obligation to pay back a debt owed? that puts a whole new spin on things.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:27 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.