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My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’
The author argues that there are many meanings of the adjective 'biblical.'
November 17th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’

Editor's Note: Rachel Held Evans is a popular blogger from Dayton, Tennessee, and author of “A Year of Biblical Womanhood.”

By Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

On "The Daily Show" recently, Jon Stewart grilled Mike Huckabee about a TV ad in which Huckabee urged voters to support “biblical values” at the voting box.

When Huckabee said that he supported the “biblical model of marriage,” Stewart shot back that “the biblical model of marriage is polygamy.”

And there’s a big problem, Stewart went on, with reducing “biblical values” to one or two social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, while ignoring issues such as poverty and immigration reform.

It may come as some surprise that as an evangelical Christian, I cheered Stewart on from my living room couch.

As someone who loves the Bible and believes it to be the inspired word of God, I hate seeing it reduced to an adjective like Huckabee did. I hate seeing my sacred text flattened out, edited down and used as a prop to support a select few political positions and platforms.

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And yet evangelicals have grown so accustomed to talking about the Bible this way that we hardly realize we’re doing it anymore. We talk about “biblical families,” “biblical marriage,” “biblical economics,” “biblical politics,” “biblical values,” “biblical stewardship,” “biblical voting,” “biblical manhood,” “biblical womanhood,” even “biblical dating” to create the impression that the Bible has just one thing to say on each of these topics - that it offers a single prescriptive formula for how people of faith ought to respond to them.

But the Bible is not a position paper. The Bible is an ancient collection of letters, laws, poetry, proverbs, histories, prophecies, philosophy and stories spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own.

When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word, we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t quite fit our preferences and presuppositions. In an attempt to simplify, we force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone and turn a complicated, beautiful, and diverse holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says.

Nowhere is this more evident than in conversations surrounding “biblical womanhood.”

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Growing up in the Bible Belt, I received a lot of mixed messages about the appropriate roles of women in the home, the church and society, each punctuated with the claim that this or that lifestyle represented true “biblical womanhood.”

In my faith community, popular women pastors such as Joyce Meyer were considered unbiblical for preaching from the pulpit in violation of the apostle Paul's restriction in 1 Timothy 2:12 ("I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent"), while Amish women were considered legalistic for covering their heads in compliance with his instructions in 1 Corinthians 11:5 ("Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head").

Pastors told wives to submit to their husbands as the apostle Peter instructed in 1 Peter 3:1, but rarely told them to avoid wearing nice jewelry as the apostle instructs them just one sentence later in 1 Peter 3:3. Despite the fact that being single was praised by both Jesus and Paul, I learned early on that marriage and motherhood were my highest callings, and that Proverbs 31 required I keep a home as tidy as June Cleaver's.

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This didn’t really trouble me until adulthood, when I found myself in a childless egalitarian marriage with a blossoming career and an interest in church leadership and biblical studies. As I wrestled with what it meant to be a woman of faith, I realized that, despite insistent claims that we don’t “pick and choose” from the Bible, any claim to a “biblical” lifestyle requires some serious selectivity.

After all, technically speaking, it is “biblical” for a woman to be sold by her father to pay off debt, “biblical” for a woman to be required to marry her rapist, “biblical” for her to be one of many wives.

So why are some Bible passages lifted out and declared “biblical,” while others are explained away or simply ignored? Does the Bible really present a single prescriptive lifestyle for all women?

These were the questions that inspired me to take a page from A.J. Jacobs, author of "The Year of Living Biblically", and try true biblical womanhood on for size—literally, no “picking and choosing."

This meant, among other things, growing out my hair, making my own clothes, covering my head whenever I prayed, abstaining from gossip, remaining silent in church (unless I was “prophesying,” of course), calling my husband "master,” even camping out in my front yard during my period to observe the Levitical purity laws that rendered me unclean.

During my yearlong experiment, I interviewed a variety of women practicing biblical womanhood in different ways — an Orthodox Jew, an Amish housewife, even a polygamist family - and I combed through every commentary I could find, reexamining the stories of biblical women such as Deborah, Ruth, Hagar, Tamar, Mary Magdalene, Priscilla and Junia.

My goal was to playfully challenge this idea that the Bible prescribes a single lifestyle for how to be a woman of faith, and in so doing, playfully challenge our overuse of the term “biblical.” I did this not out of disdain for Scripture, but out of love for it, out of respect for the fact that interpreting and applying the Bible is a messy, imperfect and - at times - frustrating process that requires humility and grace as we wrestle the text together.

The fact of the matter is, we all pick and choose. We’re all selective in our interpretation and application of the biblical text. The better question to ask one another is why we pick and choose the way that we do, why we emphasis some passages and not others. This, I believe, will elevate the conversation so that we’re using the Bible, not as a blunt weapon, but as a starting point for dialogue.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (4,657 Responses)
  1. Rob

    Why won't CNN STOP with the bible and Christian BASHING! Enough is enough!
    How about running something like... "The Dangers of being too Islam"? Or, how about "The Danger of Being too Atheist"?
    Why are editors at CNN so fixated on bashing Christianity? Is it possible they have a hidden agenda?

    November 18, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • skytag

      If you consider reality "bashing" then may the problem is your distaste for reality.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • Kate

      The dangers of being too aethist? what are the dangers? The dangers of being too Muslim in the USA? really, seems you can get shot but a 'person' who hates Muslims? (although you are Sikh not a muslim but hey everyone who has something on their head is a Muslim right?) This woman is saying that taking the bible literally can be hard.. my take is that 'christians' like huckabee are throwing THEIR version of their Interpretation! of the bible and beward.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Where on Earth did you get the idea that they were bashing Christianity? Did you even READ the article?
       
      And besides, it's not as if it's an editorial expressing CNN's official position. If you had bothered to read all the way to the bottom, you would have encountered the disclaimer "The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rachel Held Evans."

      November 18, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • jeff

      Come on now, you know their agenda allows for no religion. Religion and the Church of state have never been able to coexist.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Johnny

      If you had the time to type your comment, then you should have had the time to read the article. Or did you just have problems comprehending it?

      November 18, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • Urban Chronotis

      I understand what you are saying, but don't confuse "bashing" with ignorance of the Word of God. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. "Head knowlege" does not equate to a relationship with God. It's obvious, that like me, the author of this piece has a lot to learn about the true nature of God.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • nixliberals

      Its more than probable. "The World" is trying to shame us for being Christian. This will never work for anyone that is truly "reborn", an experience they are simply unaware of, the reality of it, the meaning of it, the responsibility of it, the ramifications of it. It can be overwhelming at times, as we must continue to walk in the world showing who Christ is, even at our frail best, problematic. But WOE to you who ridicule us, you will one day meet your maker, as we will, and you will tremble and shake, like us, but we have the promise of Hope and Redemption. Lets assume you are right, there is no God, when this world is over, we come to nothing, my fate the same as yours. Now lets assume we are right, buddy, you are in BIG TROUBLE. Until the end of your time on earth there is still hope for you and we will be praying for you all.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • Waassabee

      Rob, If CNN didnt run HOT BUTTON issues like this then we wouldnt click on them. And you know we as Americans can only pick on Christains,,, We could NEVER talk bad about ISLAM ... LOL

      November 18, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • prilyam

      Because, as Christians are so fond of pointing out over and over again, this is predominantly a Christian nation. If you can't hack another Christian publicly mulling the belief system, maybe you're the one with the problem.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Mike Doyle

      Wonderful article. As a Christian myself, I wince at the narrow mindedness of many who prescribe lifestyles as right and wrong, virtuous or bound for hell. Such individuals judge others with hate in their hearts. This is not the path of Jesus or Christianity.

      The Bible is here for us to learn about the nature of God, our relation to Him and to others. Jesus lived that life, which was about love, caring, understanding and tolerance. This article is not Christian bashing to any extent at all! It is how the Bible should be viewed, through self reflection of how best to live life as Jesus did (to the best we can do) and as an example and inspiration to others.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • adh1729

      Rob: good comment (and most of the responses you have gotten have been dumber than rocks). Of course there is a hidden agenda - it is known as the destruction of the USA, via the destruction of the family and the church. It is known as the New World Order conspiracy, and there is more evidence for it than there is for the theory of evolution. America underwent a hostile takeover in the late 1800s. Our system of democracy quickly became a joke. Our education has become a joke. Every war in which we have fought, for the last 115 years, has been fought on false and lying pretexts.

      For abundant further details, read "The Naked Capitalist", W Cleon Skousen, 1970; "Freedom Betrayed", Herbert Hoover; "Foundations: their Power and Influence", Rene Wormser, 1958; any of several books written by John Taylor Gatto. If you do this, as I have done, you will see why this is the best kept secret in America.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • Rob_Dredd

      This article isn't bashing, it brings up an essential point, keep your religion to yourself, and the world will be a better place.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • babbo natale

      Because they know that the Bible is true and the other beliefs aren't worth arguing about because they are false. They are only fulfilling prophecy that "deceivers will get worse and worse".

      November 21, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • babbo natale

      @boob-Dred... How about you keep your liberal ignorant atheists beliefs to yourself since they can't help humanity in the least and then the rest of us can try to live a decent life without your ignorance and primitive lifestyle.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • heres the deal

      Soon as you texass fundamentalist's git yer sniffing noses outta our private parts and yer dark-ages dogma outta our children's science text books and your religious-litmus-tests outta our elections, I promise I'll stop...

      December 6, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  2. Jt_flyer

    Statics show that about 20% of American attend religious services at least once a week.
    Minority to say the least. If it feels good, do it.

    But keep your useless, divisive, prehistoric fairy tales to out of my life. The last election I voted against religious extremism . As an educated man, believe in the separation of church and state I feel its my obligation to maintain it. It's what separates us from our enemies.

    November 18, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • Jt_flyer

      *statistics

      November 18, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • nope

      @jt...

      nope 80%

      November 18, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • Jt_flyer

      LOL... 80%. Wow I really feel so sorry for you. It's not your fault. You just know any better.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • Rob

      I'm well educated too. What does that have to do with your opinion? I hardly think anyone is forcing you to attend a church service so it's a stretch for you to say it's being forced on you in any form.
      "If it feels good, do it." Pedophiles live by that code – I think that's not a good motto to live by, but I'm probably not as well educated as you are.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • Jt_flyer

      Ask your savior Rick Santorum why education makes a difference. He said college was bad because people are less religious when the graduate then what they began. I know why. You don't.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Chuck

      If everybody is attending church on Sundays, why is it so hard to get a tee time?

      November 18, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • nixliberals

      Well said, man of the world. Let us practice our religion, as we see fit. Freedom of Religion in the Land, not freedom from religion in the land!! Sorry you feel so threatened by the Religious Right that you see us as your enemy. Ultimately this plays into the Bible, too. Scorners will come, crying in the end, "Where is this Christ and when is He coming?". Then our enemies will come to cut off our heads. See you there, with your weapon.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • adh1729

      "Ask your savior Rick Santorum why education makes a difference. He said college was bad because people are less religious when the (sic) graduate then what they began. I know why. You don't."

      Jt Flyer, you educated ignoramus, fail to understand that "education" in America is a system of brainwashing. You are a brainwashed victim yourself. America spends astronomical sums on "education" to get a pitiful end product. You need to read John Taylor Gatto, an award-winning educator, and actually learn the facts.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Jt_flyer

      The man who worships a book made from collection of stragicaly selected fairy tales is telling me "American education brainwashes". It's a lost cause. Have a nice day.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • adh1729

      "The man who worships a book made from collection of stragicaly selected fairy tales is telling me 'American education brainwashes'. It's a lost cause. Have a nice day."

      I was homeschooled until college. My parents spent roughly $100 on my entire education. I then went to state university and discovered that I could out-perform anybody there on any math, physics, chemistry, or biology test. (Pretty good for a loony anti-science Christian, I know.) No, I don't have any respect for the brainwashing American education system.

      Just one question for you: does there exist a countably infinite set with an uncountable collection of non-empty subsets, such that the intersection of any two of them is finite? I know the answer; do you?

      November 18, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • mfmaine

      @adh1729...does there exist a countably infinite set with an uncountable collection of non-empty subsets, such that the intersection of any two of them is finite? The answer is yes

      November 18, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Darrell

      "Jt Flyer, you educated ignoramus, fail to understand that "education" in America is a system of brainwashing."

      Hey! Exactly what the Taliban says! You two have a lot in common!

      November 19, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Darrell

      "Just one question for you: does there exist a countably infinite set with an uncountable collection of non-empty subsets, such that the intersection of any two of them is finite? I know the answer; do you?"

      LOL!!! There you have it! He claims to know something worthless to the conversation (and real life, pretty much) ergo he is an authority on all matters relating to the conversation and everyone else's opinion is worthless.

      Hey, I know what "Non sequitur" means–do you?

      November 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  3. FloydZepp

    When Evangelical "Christians" finally came out and legitimized the Worship of Mammon through Propserity Gospel Christianity put the last nail in its coffin. American Christians now only worship Mammon and themselves. Jesus and His Message are mere props.

    November 18, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • Christian7

      You sound like you are against Jesus to me. Jesus was, is, and always will be.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Kat

      "Sounds like" you say. You read what the poster said, but it didn't sink in very well. Try it again, then comment.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Christian7

      Kat, I think I understood well the first time. Let me explain. The idea that SOME Christians preached the wrong idea of he prosperity doctrine is valid. But the logical error of over generalizing and saying "American Christians now only worship Mammon " is wrong and discouraging hard working Christians that are trying to spread the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope this clears it up.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • D Russell

      Cults believe in very bizarre things. When cults become large enough, they are called religions.

      Christianity – the belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree...by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree...

      November 18, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Miss Demeanor

      That's where the big money is now, Prosperity Christianity and a welcoming place for all those Patriotic Christians needing a new home now that the religious right-wing has seen its last days. Just bring money and you're good to go until the end of time. It's easy to find a legitimate Prosperity pastor...just look at what he drives. The flashier the better. Repeat after me All that flash comes from your cash... all that flash comes from your cash. But if you are stooooopid enough to believe that by joining his church and forking just ten percent of what you earn, your new pastor will show you how to get rich just like him, ask for a money back guarantee... and not a "trust me" promise.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  4. 200 TON HAMMER

    Too understand The Bible is too Understand that Hebrew Isrealite woman inside the Bible or Torah is way Different from what a English speaking woman in any country understands.the. Hebrew Isrealite woman of today are some of the biggest names in buisness and entertainment in the USA England central and south American.

    November 18, 2012 at 6:55 am |
  5. swin - Pittsburgh

    What Bible is she reading?

    November 18, 2012 at 6:51 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Who knows? There are only a few hundred versions.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  6. Nicholas

    I really enjoyed this article. The bible can be really confusing. I often am at a crossroads of how I'm supposed to live my life "biblically" when everyone seems to have their own opinion, often based on where you live. I'll be spending the day with my uncle in law who is from Ohio. His church service last 2.5 hours and my church service is in my living room watching it on an iPad. I could see the concern and disappointment in his face when he heard this.

    November 18, 2012 at 6:44 am |
    • achepotle

      Should have told him you were Wiccan just to blow his mind.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  7. Al

    Stewart shot back that “the biblical model of marriage is polygamy.”....There is your basic problem. Stewart is either a liar or doesn't know the Bible. Nothing more to say.

    November 18, 2012 at 6:44 am |
    • Brian B

      Solomon....David....Jacob... One wife?

      November 18, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • Yon

      We're men...Not God

      November 18, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • chyrd

      It seems that the problem here is that you never read the book or know its historicity. Do you realize that up until Deuteronomy the bible is talking about a pantheon of gods?

      November 18, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • Yon

      Chyrd, you are wrong and arrogant as heck, so don't expect me to show you were you are wrong. Learn Hebrew before you speak arrogantly again.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • the AnViL

      yon, only people who remain ignorant about the history of biblical text fail to understand that the old testament did indeed reference the plurality of imaginary gods. i would recommend the older works much of the earliest parts of the old testament were taken from – the enuma-elish and the atra-hasis.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • LanguagesDiversity

      Stewart forgot the very beginning of humanity, if he believes so. Let's go back to Adam and Eve... Does the Bible says there was another woman for Adam? That marriage wasn't polygamist. Move on to Abraham case, he had Sarah, but in their lack of faith thinking they would not have time to have a son on their own, Abraham took Hagar. Was God please with that action? The Bible doesn't state further on condemnation or approval of the other patriarchs, as it isn't our duty to go beyond what it is not written there. Ephesians 5:31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” [Or should it say 'a man be joined to his wives'?]

      November 18, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • fay ruujin

      your just a liar and Joh is funny and your not

      November 18, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • Steve

      Languages and Ali. Al., He is either a Liar or delusional simply because it does not square with YOUR interpretation of the bible. Languages came up with an interesting rationalization but again it is basically weak because even if languages assumption holds it implies that YWHW at the very least condoned polygamy. When we take into context things such as condemning to death someone who picked up sticks (likely to keep his family warm or for cooking purposes) on the sabbath really puts things in perspective. At best, from your perspective, God was slightly annoyed by polygamy (though that is not exactly explicity stated, it is just implied based on your interpretation which is debatable) but damnit don't work on the Sabbath or it is the death penalty. Bizarre.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  8. the AnViL

    leiftard wrote: "The GOP should wake up and invest a few dollars in science education."

    as long as todd akin and paul broun sit on the house committee for science, space and technology – science education is in jeopardy. tolerance of religious idiocy has gone too far.

    tolerance isn't always a sign of maturity – often it's a sure sign of abject ignorance.

    as for logic – yours seems skewed... simmer down, princess.

    hike up your skirt and deal with it.

    November 18, 2012 at 6:43 am |
  9. realist512

    This is a wonderful piece. I too praised Jon Stewart's interview with Huckabee. Religious folk who use the bible for politics really need to THINK. Religious pundits should really stop trying to manipulate people with selected "biblical" values.

    November 18, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • Al

      Your words speak much more about how lost you are friend. You know nothing about your creator. When you do and I pray you do you will not act like Stewart or any other of the lost.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • David S

      @Al. By "lost" you mean people who don't believe exactly as you do, I assume? Correct me if I am wrong on that point.

      As a Christian, I absolutely do NOT want my politics and religion mixed together for exactly that reason.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  10. UncleBenny

    " The Bible is an ancient collection of letters, laws, poetry, proverbs, histories, prophecies, philosophy and stories spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own."

    Well said. Thank you.

    November 18, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • Al

      Wish I could be there to see your face and hear your screams when your heart stops one day. You will be shocked!!

      November 18, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • Steve

      Al, i always find if hilarious (black comedy) where Christians always say "Jesus loves you", "God is all about love" but as soon as any criticism arrives out come the brutal threats. Would you not be shocked when you have a heart attack? Or do you mean (of course) that the author will be shocked because your all loving god is going to send him/her to eternal hellfire. Oh feel the love. Christianity is so desperate for followers that is will use any method whatsoever, from love and poetry, to outright threats of torture, guilt etc etc. What an evil ideology that demands philosophical unity OR ELSE. What could be more intolerant than that?

      November 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  11. observer

    I love jumping into these religious discussions and see all the wonderful, cordial, respectful people offer their friendly opinions to one and other.

    November 18, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • Joe

      Me too! I also like how well thought out and logical all sides are in their friendliness!

      November 18, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • tincansonstring

      I'm especially impressed at how open everyone is to new ideas! It's so refreshing.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  12. edwards

    Valuable point of view

    November 18, 2012 at 6:30 am |
  13. midwest rail

    The problem for Ms. Evans is that she overestimates her fellow contemporary Christians. They are only too happy to wield the Bible as a blunt weapon. It is what they live for. As a result, they long ago ceased resembling the very ideals they purport to follow.

    November 18, 2012 at 6:21 am |
    • Leif

      She has faith in her fellow human beings. We are the ones who underestimate ourselves.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:27 am |
    • midwest rail

      I don't believe contemporary Christians will ever be accused of "underestimating" themselves.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • the AnViL

      leiftard wrote: "She has faith in her fellow human beings. We are the ones who underestimate ourselves."

      delusional contemporary evangelicals are the epitome of the dunning-kruger effect, much like leiftard.

      these sorts always overestimate their skill-set and underestimate the skill-sets of those around them. they are driven by imagined divinity. there's very little difference between them and the ignorant islamic fundamentalists.

      tolerance of religious idiocy has to end – enough is enough.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:49 am |
  14. Leif

    People like TheAnvil should stay away from public education. They should stay away from any form of education.

    November 18, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • Leif

      Except self-education.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • Leif

      Try it some time. Pick up a book and read it.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:19 am |
  15. the AnViL

    rachel evans is delusional – like all people who believe in imaginary men in the sky. none of them should be allowed to vote, let alone hold public office. the mentally delusional people like this should be allowed to believe whatever religious twaddle they choose – but they should never be allowed to teach public school or purchase/own firearms.

    tolerance of this religious idiocy has to end.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • Leif

      Militant atheism is just as obnoxious as militant religion.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • the AnViL

      leiftard: tolerance of religious idiocy is far more obnoxious, offensive, injurious, and destructive.

      deal with it, princess.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:44 am |
    • Leif

      When any person uses cute words like "leftard", you know that you are dealing with someone who should take a class in logic.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:52 am |
    • Leif

      Tolerance, by the way, is a sign of maturity. I

      November 18, 2012 at 5:54 am |
    • Leif

      The GOP should wake up and invest a few dollars in science education.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:59 am |
    • sam stone

      i have no problem with people having faith. i have a big problem with people claiming theirs is the only "correct " faith

      November 18, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • MJ

      So only people who believe as you do should be allowed to vote? Denying someone the vote for what they believe does not seem consistent with our freedom of expression values in this country. Might fit well in a third world dictatorship, but not a democracy.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • Patricia Mueller

      I think this "living biblical" experiment is amazing. I find a literal interpretation of the bible is perposterous. I also find picking and choosing which parts to take serious absurd, since we all pick our own issues we see to be important.
      I was raised christian (RC), but I am now a nonbeliever. Reading the bible was part of my journey away from religion and belief in God.
      I hope one day we can set aside biblical thinking, and use critical thinking and civil discourse to determine our social values. We can serve our communities with sincere interest in caring in others – without outdated, authoritarian scripture. or without the threat of eternal damnation.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:51 am |
    • the AnViL

      MJ: "So only people who believe as you do should be allowed to vote? "

      xian moralists openly seek to deprive those who do not believe as they do of their freedoms, liberties, rights, and equality. they should be prohibited from being able to have any effect in regards to our laws and public education. those who seek to limit the rights, liberty, and equality of other americans should be stripped of those very things they attempt to deprive others from.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • ForReal

      Religious people's sacrifice 200 years ago gave American citizens the right to express opposing opinions.

      Back then you would have been locked safely away from sane people.

      How things change. ;-)

      November 18, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • the AnViL

      ForReal wrote: "Religious people's sacrifice 200 years ago gave American citizens the right to express opposing opinions."

      the war of independence wasn't a war over theology. i'd suggest you read some history books. not everyone who fought to gain liberty and freedom were xian.

      no matter what delusional people who believe in imaginary men in the sky do, discover, or create that is good – they're still delusional.

      tolerance of religious idiocy is repugnant – and it has to end.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • A Frayed Knot

      ForReal,

      The AnViL is correct. King George and the British were religious Christians too, you know. Those Revolutionary heroes were great, but the war was not a religious one.

      If you are talking about the Pilgrims & Puritans who came over here in the 1600s, you might have a more religious angle (although this was not the reason many of them came). Many of those original settlers were fleeing British religious rules, but they were somewhat similar to the Mormons who fled to Mexico in the late 1800s to freely practice their religions when the U.S. tightened the laws against them. Many of the communities that the Pilgrims & Puritans set up were quite religiously restrictive and exclusive in their own ways. Thank goodness that the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Plymouth Colony did not prevail!

      November 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Texan5555

      You said (in part)
      "xian moralists openly seek to deprive those who do not believe as they do of their freedoms, liberties, rights, and equality. they should be prohibited from being able to have any effect in regards to our laws and public education. those who seek to limit the rights, liberty, and equality of other americans should be stripped of those very things they attempt to deprive others from."

      I am not a Christian myself but it appears from your statements that you wish to deny them the freedoms you claim they want to deny you. Sounds just a bit hypocritical to me

      November 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  16. Mohammad A Dar

    Hey Hindu-bot, if what you post here, day in day out, is the "truth absolute GOD" , please keep it to yourself, please spare us from your nonsense.

    November 18, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      lol cursing and calling self (MAD) a Hindu, ID thief. I love it. Get off this page moron.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  17. Reality

    Keeping the OT in 21st century perspective:

    Use the scroll bar if you have seen this before:

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

    The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

    The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

    November 17, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      @Reality – Garbage In Garbage Out

      and the same goes for you too Hindu-bot.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Jay

      Maybe you should do a little research before you make such claims..
      http://www.christiananswers.net/q-abr/abr-a028.html

      November 18, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • Reality

      Jay,

      Read the commentary again. You will note that the New Torah for Modern Minds is published by the Conservative Jews (1.5 million) and their rabbis.

      November 18, 2012 at 7:35 am |
  18. bryantripp

    The problem is that people do pick and choose. There is on basic principles understanding to the text that Rachel Held Evans fails to take into account. The Bible is the living Word of God that does guid and direct how to live and is more than an ancient collection of letters. The Bible tells of God's plan of redemption because He love and cares or us. Read Romans 1 in the Bible and see how the culture is going against what He desires and it ignore God and what is best in life.

    November 17, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Baloney.
      Paul made up the salvation paradigm. It's absent in Q, and Mark. the resurrection is omitted in the first version of the first gospel. James, (supposedly Jesus' brother), says nothing about it. If YOUR brother was raised from the dead, would YOU forget to mention it. Jesus nave said a word about dying for anyone's sins. The OT messiah was not about someone saving from sin. The messiah was a political figure.

      And BTW Rachel dear, all the patriarchs had more than one wife. Solomon had 300, + many concubines. Supposedly, Yahweh was ok with that. So yeah, let live "Biblically", and kill our children when they are disobedient, and if you ate shell-fish or pork, or kept the 10 commandments, YOU were not living "biblically". And spare me, the Jesus freed you from the law crap. YOU still preach the 10 commandments, and Paul could not make up his mind, and said women were STILL subject to the law, as did James.

      November 17, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Gadflie

      Bucky, Q is hypothetical. We have no idea if it is absent there or not.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Leif

      The Bible is a collection of texts written by people.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:20 am |
    • Snard

      There is no god.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:27 am |
    • noodles doodles and toodles

      There is no other satisfactory explanation of the Synoptic problem. Have you a batter one ?

      November 18, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  19. John T

    Man, it is so sad that CNN keeps posting this stuff. Just because the author claims to be a Christian, or a Bible "Scholar" doesn't mean that they have a clue about the Bible. Case in point. The author states many claims about the Bible that are just not true. "The Biblical stance of marriage is polygamy". What a joke.... Name one place in the Bible where God directly said for someone to marry two people. You can't because it doesn't exist. You are also taking several other verses out of context. I know we have horribly pastors now that don't understand the Bible themselves. But please try to look deeper into things before stating what the Bible "claims"...

    November 17, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • roy

      Well John what you quoted was something the Jon Stewart said, not the author of the article. In case you didn't know, Stewart is the host of a program on a comedic cable channel. And he's not that far off base with those words, since polygamy was common during times covered by both OT & NT, and since the God of Abraham never said anything against it in the OT. And it seems to be only in the NT where we start to see recommendations on limiting the number of wives for a man and only men in certain positions of authority. With all of that one doesn't need much in the way of words from God that to say he condoned it. It was the norm back then, for Pete's sake.

      November 17, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • CTed

      Who said God? BIBLICAL... means from the bible, not from God. the BIBLICAL stance marriage is polygamy, it is never sanctioned in the bible as far as I can recall, perhaps it is somewhere but it is certainly tolerated without question in most instances. If you want to talk about what god said in the Bible the answer is a resounding NOTHING... god never set pen to paper and wrote anything. It is all said by man... saying god wants' X or Y. Well John, when all those people speaking for god say polygamy is just fine what do you do?

      Lets take a look though....

      Deuteronomy 21:15 If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated:

      Wow look at that... if a man has two wives... seems pretty acceptable to me.Now this book of the bible is taken from 3 sermons given by MOSES. Are you going to stand there and admit that what MOSES says is NOT from god? Are you going to say what Moses says doesn't matter....... I dare you.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • Gadflie

      John, it actually gave a situation where a man would be required to marry his brothers widow, there is no exception for a current wife given. See Deuteronomy 25:5 for details.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • Leif

      The old testament also tolerates slavery. Like many Christians, you equate the Bible with the New Testament.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • Leif

      You "claim" to be a Christian. I think your claims is far more dubious.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:25 am |
    • the AnViL

      leiftard: the new testament of the bible tolerates slavery, stupid.

      November 18, 2012 at 5:46 am |
    • SixNard

      You left out the best parts. Like the one where Adam and Eve populated the world – though incest. Or when Noah and his family re-populated after God had a huge sh it fit – through incest. And the rampant pedophilia engaged in by so many of the book's characters delight in.

      By the way – how many wives did Solomon have again? How about David? Abraham? Moses?

      Sorry, but you lost this argument before you got through your first sentence.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • Andrew Harris

      On the tolerance of slavery, one of the letters to the corintheans talks about how you should make yourself a slave to no man, and it says if you have a slave to treat him with respect and dignity and the same to the slave. People who work in fast food could be considered slaves, and most of the time they are not given 40 hours a week and get fired, even over legitimate medical problems. Its good thing there's more than one burger king in town. This is not always the case, but it goes on a good bit. I'm not exactly a liberal, but I'm not ignorant to a number of things that go on.

      November 18, 2012 at 6:46 am |
  20. thecollegeadmissionsguru

    I agree with the author, and I don't agree much with religious people. The whole idea of Religion in politics is absurd, the whole idea of there being some great christian morality is disingenuous. Just saying.

    November 17, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • champ

      right, cuz america rose from puritan values.

      our descent into ruin is occurring as we abandon and revile those values.

      common values (whether good or bad) is essential for a nation to excel. its that common standard that improves communication, alliance, expectation, removes doubt, gets everythign moving in same direction.

      what i think is funny is that liberals hijack a "puritanical christian nation" instead of a europian nation who has latent catholic hate.

      why hijack the most christian nation in the modern world, when you have so many other options?

      america became great from common puritan values, since they moderated. what we have now is erasing them.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.