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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. REDFIREBALL

    All scriptures - from Genesis to Revelation - were written by the God-inspired hands of righteous men. Jehovah works in mysterious and sometimes comical ways (yes, Jehovah does have a sense of humor as given to men - though He sees very little to laugh about these days). Remember when he made the Baal mule talk back? Remember Jonah in the fish belly? Funny right? 🙂 Jehovah accomplishes His will in ways man least expects. Congress and the media have no clue wht Divine assistnce to expect - but rest assured that they can expect it. Meanwhile, let's not "pick and choose" what we want or don't want between genesis and Revelations. The angry vengeful God of the Hebrew (OT) scriptures transformed into a more-loving and merciful God of the Greek (NT) scriptures after Jesus Christ passed the test and sacraficed his human perfection as atonement for the sins of the first originally-perfect human pair Adam and Eve. Jesus Christ came to earth to atone for all of us - and so now all have the opportunity to seek everlasting blessings where before we did not. Because of Jesus death on earth, we no longer have to sacrafice lambs on the altar. Abraham's willingness to sacrafice his only son Isaac symbolized Jehovah's love for us by sacraficing HIS only begotten Son. Jesus is now alive and well again up in Heaven. Jehovah and Jesus see everything going on the earth - they know each and every one of the 7 billion humans here, even the number of hair on our heads. They know all our hearts - they will help righteous man judge and punish in the appropriate time and appropriate manner. Satan mocks us, but Jehovah God and His Son Jesus cannot be mocked.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • tom LI

      Ah the old cliche that the OT God got warm and fuzzy when he had little boy. How cute and how very human of him. Again. Yet again you prove that this God like most of them are invented by Men to look like men, and behave and perform "tricks" just like men.

      Kudos. Leave it to a pontificating Xtian to say the truth about the scam and sham Xtianity really is!

      And you too, try a paragraph once in awhile...helps the reader...

      November 18, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  2. Peter Bishop

    Wow, two Christian stories two days in a row on CNN...Oh that's right, it is moving toward the holidays... it is time to start bashing the religion that won't cut your head off.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  3. Mark 10:15

    The Enemy uses political correctness to undermine a believer's Biblical worldview. Yet, the Holy Spirit enables those who "receive the kingdom of God as a child" to successfully live in the world, without being of the world.

    Here's what the Holy Spirit said through Peter about those who twist the scriptures:

    1 Peter 3:16 "...Some things in these letters are hard to understand, things the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they also do to the rest of the scriptures. 3:17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard that you do not get led astray by the error of these unprincipled men and fall from your firm grasp on the truth."

    The Holy Spirit also said this through John:

    1 John 2:14: "I have written to you, children, that you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young people, that you are strong, and the word of God resides in you, and you have conquered the evil one."

    November 18, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • sybaris

      You do realize that quoting your bible accomplishes absolutely nothing.

      It's not like we're all going to smack ourselves in the forehead and say, "Aw crap! Mark is quoting the bible. We should all be christians!!"

      It's just a classic circular logic fail, "It's true because it says it is, because it says it is, because it says it is.........."

      November 18, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  4. Simon

    You can't reason with an anthiest or cafeteria style Christian. It's impossible. Let them deal with God.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • == o ==

      What's an anthiest?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • sybaris

      Wow.

      An atheist bases their position on reason so let's start over.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Graystone

      There is a day coming when all atheists will have a change of heart. When they splash into the lake. Unfortunately, it will be too late for them by that time...

      November 18, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  5. sybaris

    people need to stop practicing religion and the worshiping of god(s) in biblical proportions

    November 18, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • kendrick1

      That is already happening. We have defined down depravity so much that right and wrong are synonymous!

      November 18, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  6. Love

    Amen. Exactly. Bravo. Couldn't have said it better. Perfect. You got it.

    Just a few expressions to describe a thorough and thoughtful perspective.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  7. twrightstl

    Cool article. She does leave out the fact that Jesus fulfilled Mosaic therefore no longer binding us to it. As Christians we are called to follow Jesus example, not the law of Moses, which only exposes our sin. Now to atheist and other religions, I choose to be a Christian just as you choose not to. I do wish you saw things or way as I think it would give order to your lives, but since you don't,I hold no disdain for you. I will always be respectful of your choices, and pay you respect mine. That being said, my faith calls that I always and will continue to convert non-believers to believers.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • sybaris

      " Now to atheist and other religions, I choose to be a Christian just as you choose not to."

      So if you had been born and raised in Thailand you'd be Buddhist. Got it.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Love

      Nice comment.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Troy

      Christians do a good job talking down with authority to atheists.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Graystone

      Twrightstl… Keep up the faith, but also keep in mind that not all unbelievers will be saved. So don't waste your time running around trying to save everybody. You should only focus on saving the sheep, on those few people who seek God and truly want to be saved. They are the only ones who will be saved anyway. All the rest will continue on to hell…

      As my pastor once said, "He's not trying to save the world. He's only trying to save the sheep out of the world." All the rest will continue on to hell…

      That is why the scripture says…

      1 John 2:15 – Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Aldewacs

      "That being said, my faith calls that I always and will continue to convert non-believers to believers."

      .. and therein lies the problem: you bible whackers always want to take others down your path. It's annoying and unwelcome to people who have thought very carefully about religion, and have rejected it as they do not see that there is any proof. So unless you have some new facts (after 2100 years you'd think SOMEONE has found some solid proof) kindly leave nonbelievers alone. PS bible verses or "I seen the light" exhortations do not qualify as proof.

      January 27, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
  8. 'Nother-Son-'O-Ursus

    You can be as talmudic, biblical and/or quiranic as you want to be, but...

    I'm Neo-Pagan!
    So...
    NEVER tell me I must do something or refrain from doing something on talmudic, biblical and/or quiranic grounds because there is 'ZERO' relevency!

    November 18, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • kendrick1

      It makes no difference to most people what you do or don't do, so don't flatter yourself. Atheism, evolution, independent party, conservative, gay, and many other attention-getting names are used by many of you who have an inferiority complex. You have now gotten your one minute of fame!

      November 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  9. Graystone

    The above article states... "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."...

    People quote the bible out of context and distort the meaning of the scriptures. Those laws and rules does not apply to us in the New Testament. And they never did. Those laws were meant only for Israel at a certain time in the Old Testament. Even the Ten Commandments does not apply to us. They were written for and meant only for Israel. To be saved, we must follow the commandments of the New Testament, not the Old. In the Old Testament, only righteousness was required to be saved (righteousness only deals with physical acts, it does not deal with the mind or what you are thinking). In this age, God requires holiness (holiness is perfection and deals with both physical acts and with what you are thinking). Today, if you do only what was written in the Old Testament, you will go to hell. To be saved in this age, you must follow the commandments of the New Testament, which are a lot more detailed and are designed to bring man up to perfection...

    Matthew 5:20 – (Jesus speaking) For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (those of the Old Testament), ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    Matthew 5:48 – Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    1 Peter 1:16 – Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

    Note, it is not possible to live holy or perfect without the Holy Ghost. To receive the Holy Ghost you must follow the scripture of Acts 2:38. If you fail to do so, you will not be saved...

    November 18, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Martin Not Luther

      Your interpetation of the passages that relate to teh holy spirit is misguided. For one, the theif next to Jesus who was promised he would enter paradise did not recieve the holy spirit.

      Nice try, but read the bible again instead of listening to your pastor rattle off the first thing that comes to his head.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Graystone

      Martin Not Luther… It is your understanding that is misguided. First, I noticed you used the word "Holy Spirit" and not "Holy Ghost". They are not the same. That tells me right there you have no clue what you are talking about…

      Secondly, the thief on the cross still died and went to hell. He did not go to heaven. That "paradise" you refer to was not "heaven". When Jesus told him, you shall be with me in paradise, he was not referring to heaven. Every person who descends down into hell will feel the sting of death going down. The sting of death is a terrible pain and is worse than anything you have ever felt before. Thus, when Jesus said you shall be with me in paradise, he took the thief inside of himself as he descended down to hell (since he was headed that way himself for 3 days) thus the thief did not feel any pain or agony going down. Understand, where ever Jesus is, there is heaven. Even if you're standing on the earth, if you've got Jesus, then you're in heaven. Thus, when Jesus took the thief inside of himself, the thief was in paradise going down. Nonetheless, he still went to hell. And he had to go because he was not saved. To be saved, you must receive the Holy Ghost (see Acts 2:38). And the Holy Ghost did not come to earth until Jesus had rose from the dead 3 days later, had ascended far above all heavens, and then sent the Holy Ghost back on the day of Pentecost. The apostles were the first to receive it. Only then could men be truly saved…

      November 18, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • kendrick1

      W.C. Fields, great actor and well-known atheist, shortly before he died was found in the hospital by a friend. Fields was readhing the Bible. Knowing Fields was an atheist, the friend asked why he was reading the Bible. Fields replied, "I'm looking for some loopholes"!

      Is that you, too?

      November 18, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • jeshuey

      You forgot the one about "I have not come to abolish the law..." Jesus was a Jew, speaking to Jews. If you studied any religion at all you would know you are a Paulist, not a Christian.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  10. rodboy

    Sleeping in a garage , does not make one a car – nor does going to church on Sunday make one evangelical. The B ible has many examples of life , like David was a murderer but the B ible does not advocate murder, but provides forgiveness for s ins.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • sybaris

      You might want to go over those parts where your god drowns almost every living thing on earth and commands his followers to slaughter entire villages.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • David S

      Sleeping in the garage would not make me a car, true. However, I can park my car outside and never take it in a garage and it is still a car.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • kendrick1

      Dear God in heaven, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I
      acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins
      and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness.

      I believe that your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious
      blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now
      willing to turn from my sin.

      You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the
      Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from
      the dead, we shall be saved.

      Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I
      believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I
      accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His
      Word, right now I am saved.

      Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from
      my sins. I thank you Jesus that your grace never leads to license,
      but rather it always leads to repentance. Therefore Lord Jesus
      transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to you alone
      and not to myself.

      Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life.
      Amen.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  11. Peter Bishop

    How can people live 80% of the life using logic and deductive reasoning, and also understand that something does not come from nothing, that chaos is the natural order of things not life and that a higher "being" may very well have orchestrated this universe?

    November 18, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Dan

      Seems like you've bought into some of these reduced arguments that apologists use to dupe the people that buy their books. We still don't know much about the origins of the universe, and to assume that something must have come from nothing is a presupposition. Have you considered that there may be other possibilities outside of any current hypothesis and/or theories, and assuming that God did it? Have you considered that the only honest answer is "I don't know"?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  12. Name*penguin

    Most evangelical christians are biblists who have more faith in the bible than in God. It's as if there were no God before the bible was written. It condones slavery. It makes women second class persons who are commanded to be subserviant to men. The biblical God is a vengfull God and would dash the children of one nationality against the rock cliffs for their transgressions against the Isrealites. I believe in God but not the bible

    November 18, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • fortruth47

      Your God must be your own opinion.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Graystone

      Name*penguin... In short, there is nothing wrong with God or the bible. The bible is perfect. The only thing wrong is your misguided and false interpretation of it…

      For example, regarding the issues you mentioned, the Old Testament scriptures were written for and were talking to Israel. They applied to Israel only. Those scriptures do not apply to us today. To be saved in this age, we must follow the scriptures of the New Testament. And the New Testament does not condone any such thing…

      November 18, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  13. Colin

    There are some pretty fundamental objections to the bible and Christianity that are hard to get around. Now before some believer rants back at me that I am evil, an “angry atheist”, or going to burn for all eternity in hell, please take the time to actually read and cogitate the objections.

    If you have a disagreement with a point I make, post it. However, if you only object to the fact that I said it, please understand that I do not buy into the whole “it is immoral to be skeptical of the Christian religion” nonsense.

    1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.

    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.

    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.

    2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.

    3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.

    4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze and Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages.

    5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Horus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).

    6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

    7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.

    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.

    8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.

    9. When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.

    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Helga

      If you believe a human being living on one of these tiny planets amongst the vast and infinite universe can know the nature of everything you may have an ego problem...

      November 18, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • What belief??

      Kinda hard to respond to your book in a post, but I still believe and I have my own views that answer your questions. Sorry, no atheist made here. Atheism is not immoral. Is that what you preferred to hear? For the atheist, there is no such thing as good or evil, except of course for personal preferences.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Colin

      But that is exactly what Christians claim, the ycall the answer to every unknown question "god" and convince themselves they will survive their own physical deaths. Now THAT is an ego problem.

      But, my apparent personality defects aside, do you have an objection to a point I made or not?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Doug

      Colin, 4-8 are absurd. You ought to do some reading, not to disprove, but to learn, regards, doug

      November 18, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • twrightstl

      Colin, all I can say is that you have many misinterpretations in your statement, but more that can be answered in text. The one thing you are right about is that it takes faith, belief in what is unseen. I understand that is for nonbelievers to digest, but that is the premise for our beliefs. I pay the best for you and hope one day that you can with someone who can accurately speak to your questions so you can make an accurate judgment

      November 18, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • a dose of reality

      Good luck Colin. You want to discuss with logic and sound reasoning, and they want to argue with emotion. I wish you luck. But, as always, GREAT POST!

      November 18, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Colin

      twrightstl – such as....? Give me one and let's discuss it.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Anil

      Don't you know that space and time are relative , as discovered by Einstein. There is no watch for the almighty. His clock can travel negatively into the X axis and also positively towards the X axis. He can place his inventions at any point of his time. There is no time concept their. If you can understand this much you won'tbe silly enogh to think that God waited millions of years to cool down.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • crashcarlson

      We aren't supposed to understand it...if we did understand it then we would be the "higher being" that created it all, keeps it all running, determines when it ends, makes sure the earth tilts so we don't die with the heat of the sun, allows the stars to shine at night, and works the tide with the moon. Those are the understandable parts, but why are we still here? Why haven't we evolved more to get to a better earth? If there is no God how do you explain life, death, mourning, joy, peace, conflict, war, love, emotion, the human eye, our brain?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Graystone

      Colin...

      Regarding #1… It seems like you're confusing man's nonsense with what God has said. No where in the bible has it ever stated God created the universe billions of years ago. That's man's nonsense. So where are you getting your info from? Obviously, not from the right source…

      Regarding #2… Why would God need to spy on anyone when he has billions of angels to do it for him and is recording your every evil thought. And will be played back on Judgment Day by the way…

      Regarding #3… People like you are liars. How can you accuse God of "withholding evidence of his existence" when he has sent his only begotten son to earth, even in the flesh and not in the spirit, to declare his existence? It seems you are misguided and misinformed…

      Regarding #4… All your above statements are false, so what beliefs are you talking about?…

      Regarding #5… I think you've been depending on Google too much, instead of getting your info from a sent man of God…

      Regarding $6… The only "contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for barbarous acts of cruelty" I see are the twisted thoughts of your own mind… Is it not cruel to speak evil of a perfect and a holy God you have never even seen and have never even known? Which only proves you are misguided…

      Regarding #7… There is no morality outside of God. If you think so, you are deceived…

      Regarding #8… If you don't know those four gospels, then you're ignorant. Don't blame your ignorance on others. We who are saved have always known exactly who wrote every book of the bible…

      Regarding #9… Christianity does not require faith. It is Jesus who requires faith. How can you even believe in a Jesus you have not seen, or heard, or known? Faith is nothing more than believing in things you have not seen. It you have already seen something, then faith is not required. Without faith, you will not be saved…

      It seems all your arguments have been defeated...

      November 18, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Jenna

      undeniably Christianity is limited by its scandal of particularity, but it does not follow that there is no God at all, or that no other organized religion makes more sense or gets closer to the essence of what God is.

      in my experience, most thinking people have all the same questions about Christianity at some point. if one pores over the books of the Bible and actually reads them without interference and interpretation from pastors and priests, the Jesus-God is clearly not the God that the wandering Jewish rabbi himself worshipped.

      as a result of Paul and his followers, Christianity has become splintered into countless factions (who themselves have little in common with each other, let alone with people who are non-Christian). but it appears to me that many Christians struggle their whole lives not to allow their brain to go to these dark corners. for obvious reasons, they want to believe in a litmus test, and that true salvation has only been available for the last two thousand years. perhaps the world is far too nuanced and confusing otherwise. but it strikes me as profoundly sad that those who can't (won't?) ponder these questions are under the mistaken impression that the God who created their brain expects them to forego its use. :/

      atheism isn't the only possible road out. God has been around far longer than the King James Bible. most doubtful Christians I've known tended to wind up atheist/agnostic, involved in eastern spirituality, or converted to Judaism or Islam, fellow Abrahamic religions that are more simple and sublime at their core.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  14. dogmandg

    The Bible says eating shrimp is an abomination. I wonder how many evangelicals eat shrimp.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • What belief??

      There are so many, including this author, who don't bother to read the Bible or understand theology! I love shrimp, but I have also read Acts.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  15. What belief?

    The author is a young heretic who knows little to nothing about theology and yet presumes to teach others what she believes it means to be a Biblical woman. She would've saved herself time and pain by consulting a theologian before writing her best seller for the popular masses who will swallow anything.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Edward

      Hey, thats what Christians were to Jews, and still are. Heretics who just dont understand Jewish Theology.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Careful where you jump

      Interestingly enough, nowhere in the article does it outline what her educational background is – ergo – you do not really know what her knowledge of theology is. Instead, you assume that, because her views do not agree with you, that she is wholly ignorant and, apparently, heretical in her views. Who is the ignorant one, really?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • Graystone

      The one thing God hates more than any other is "theology" and "theologians", simply because they're responsible for deceiving so many others. If you want to know the truth about God, get it from a true sent preacher...

      If you need a specialist in the dental field, you go see a "dentist"...
      If you need a specialist in the scientific field, you go see a "scientist"...
      If you need a specialist in the medical field, you go see a "doctor"...
      If you need a specialist in the automotive field, you go see a "mechanic"...
      If you need a specialist in the criminal defense field, you go see a "lawyer"...

      So why is it so difficult for people to understand that to know about God and to learn about God, that you should get your info from a "true sent preacher". He's the only one who know about the things of God. That is precisely why Jesus came to earth, chose out 12 apostles, and left sent preachers on earth. It's so they'd be here to tell you what you need to know about God and about how to be saved...

      November 18, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • kendrick1

      Dear God in heaven, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I
      acknowledge to You that I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins
      and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness.

      I believe that your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious
      blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now
      willing to turn from my sin.

      You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the
      Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from
      the dead, we shall be saved.

      Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I
      believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I
      accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His
      Word, right now I am saved.

      Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from
      my sins. I thank you Jesus that your grace never leads to license,
      but rather it always leads to repentance. Therefore Lord Jesus
      transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to you alone
      and not to myself.

      Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life.
      Amen.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • jeshuey

      Theology (n) – The study of the non-existent by the non-thinking.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  16. Atheism is healthy for everyone. Pets too!

    November 18, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • Duh

      Don"t know about yours, but my pets are going to heaven. Atheism is evil anarchy.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Duh", but your assertions regarding atheism are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      November 18, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Duh

      Check your meter then, Hal, because last I checked atheists have no coherent set of morality to which all atheists must subscribe. Not only that, but an atheist is free from the concepts of good and evil and may freely choose to take part in either. Are you an atheist leader surrounded by a few strong and powerful like minded people? Then, feel free to murder your people into submission like other atheistic dictators, because there's no sky-daddy to see what you do and punish you.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Dan

      My dog doesn't understand The Bible, yet she prefers petting and licking over fighting and biting.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  17. Kristina N.

    Thank you Rachel for articulating what I have often struggled with. I'm tired of one group or another usurping my faith for any reason, be it political, shaming me or my children into certain behaviors, or for any other reason. I feel she is spot on with how we realistically live in the world and for those of us who follow one faith or another, we ALL do so according to modern interpretations of our faith (which are likely to change with the times as they have done for hundreds of years), hence I'm okay with a man shaving his face, and let no one silence me in church as long as there is my God to praise, and no, I will not put my children or any others to death for running off at the mouth and cursing their parents. Now let me grab a ham sandwich for lunch while I go off to console my divorced friend whose husband left her for a younger woman instead of marrying the both of them.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  18. Michael

    Jon Stewart is in error (as well as millions of unbelievers) in thinking that the "biblical form of marriage" is or WAS polygamy. In the over arching message of the bible beginning with creation, it is crystal clear that the bible does not "support" polygamy...nor slavery. I wish Rachel would mention that as opposed to simply saying "I was cheering him on".

    November 18, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, Michael, but your assertions regarding polygamy in the Bible are falsehoods. The Bible supports polygamy in both the New and Old Testaments. It is only in the New Testament that we start to see decrees calling for fewer number of wives, and only for certain positions of authority.

      Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      November 18, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Fabian

      Tell that to Solomon, who has 700 wives and 300 concubines.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Graystone

      hal 9001… And your assertions are also false. Please show me anywhere in the New Testament where it condones or supports "polygamy". It does not…

      As for the Old Testament, there were a lot of things that God allowed back then because he was trying to populate the earth. When Adam and Eve had children, there was no choice but for the brother to marry his sister, simply because there was no one else. The same applied to the 8 souls who were saved in the Ark. In fact, that same concept still applies today in the church. We who are saved are all the children of God, and in reality, we are spiritual sisters and brothers. And we marry our spiritual sisters and bothers all the time. Technically, everybody on earth is related. So what happened back then long ago, was merely a type of what still happens in the spiritual church. There is nothing wrong with a brother marrying his sister if God has sanctioned it. But obviously, the earth has now been populated, and God has no need to allow that any more…

      November 18, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  19. reg31322

    Once again, Christians are under attack from the media. Now that the election is over its back to business. Its interesting how all the OT verses were used, when the OT lifestyle was only meant for the Israelites of that time. Particular rules for a particular people. The OT makes it clear of on going commandments and which ones are only for the children of Israel of that time.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Careful where you jump

      And here we go again – if someone is not providing you with a blanket acceptance of everything you say, then they are CLEARLY "attacking you." Did you read the article? It was one person's thoughts on the use of the word "biblical" within our society – this whole section of CNN is a blog...you know...a person's thoughts and reflections. This is not some attack on you or your family or your church or your religion...in fact, this is not about YOU at all. So, take a deep breath, step down from the "All about me train" and relax.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  20. Willow

    There are many reasons why people do not believe. The whole cherry-picking issue is one of them.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:59 am |
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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.