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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. Raz Mor

    Thank you for sharing your story. I just want to let you know Christian came from the root name Christ. All the commandments now for Christian are on the New Testament.

    Heb 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

    The Law and the Prophet are just until John.

    Luke 16:16
    The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

    After John, Christian will be Judge by the Gospel which is the New Testament only. Paul said "MY GOSPEL"

    Romans 2:16
    In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

    esoriano.wordpress.com
    theoldpath.tv

    November 18, 2012 at 8:25 am | Report abuse | Reply
    gager
    There is no god so all is b s.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
    ElmerGantry
    Matthew 5:17
    Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    truth be told
    @gager
    Ignorance and vulgarity is not an argument.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    Raz Mor
    Elmer, you are right. To fulfill. But fulfill what? Do you know what will be fulfill when he said that?

    November 18, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    ElmerGantry
    @Raz Mor,

    You are the bible "expert"! Please enlighten everyone.

    November 18, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    Raz Mor
    actually God does not want Christian to follow the Old Testament.

    Acts 13:39
    And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could NOT be justified by the law of Moses.

    Matthew 5:17
    17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

    Is Jesus under by Moses law?

    1 Timothy 1:8-9
    But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

    Is Jesus is righteous? He is, then the law of Moses is not for Jesus.

    And what about that Jesus need to fulfill?

    Luke 24:44
    Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything WRITTEN ABOUT "ME" in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

    esoriano.wordpress.com
    http://www.theoldpath.tv

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

      this is true. Jesus came and replaced the word. I forget, I think its in romans but basically Christ says don't worry about the old testament, God's new covenant with man is through Christ his son.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • MeAtheist

      There is no god, there is only Zuul!

      November 18, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      @Raz Mor,

      Still waiting for your biblical expertise on,

      ElmerGantry
      Earlier,
      _________________________________________________________________
      ElmerGantry
      Matthew 5:17
      Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |

      Raz Mor
      Elmer, you are right. To fulfill. But fulfill what? Do you know what will be fulfill when he said that?

      November 18, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
      _______________________________________________________________

      Okay Raz Mor

      @Raz Mor,

      You are the bible "expert"! Please enlighten everyone.

      November 18, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse | Reply

      November 18, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Raz Mor

      Hebrews 8:13
      In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Dana

      It's always funny when people quote books of fiction.

      "I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am." – Dr. Suess

      November 18, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      @Raz Mor,

      Cool, quoting one passage of an Iron Age tribal writing to contradict a different passage of the same Iron Age tribal writing.

      LOL

      November 18, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Raz Mor

      Hebrews 10:7
      Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is WRITTEN OF ME,) to do thy will, O God.

      To prove more to you:

      Hebrews 10:9
      Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Repeat

      @Raz Mor,

      Cool! Quoting one passage of an Iron Age tribal writing to contradict a different passage of the same Iron Age tribal writing.

      LOL

      November 18, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Raz Mor

      God bless.

      esoriano.wordpress.com
      http://www.theoldpath.tv

      November 18, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  2. theorycraft

    imo there is a difference between what the bible commands and what the people in the bible did. The bible has never commanded people to take second wives. There is the canon aspect of a religion and there is also the cultural aspect. And interpretations of the bible should never be taken as the word of the lord, but only as far as advice from a fellow believer. The bible commands we make our riches in heaven and that we love our neighbor – it does not command us to share our wealth or to help our neighbor. From dust we will return and no amount of feeding the hungry will save them so. Better it would be to let their bodies starve but guide them to eternal life and save their soul.

    This is what one who believes in the word of the lord should do. Remember Jesus did not come to help the world, he came to split families and turn brother against brother. For one's heart cannot serve two masters and a follower of christ by definition will be hunted by those who follow temptation.

    Personally I'm not a practicing Christian but if you are to believe the word of god, that is what it says.

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

      Better to let them starve? You. You are what's wrong with religion. You and your willingness to disregard reality for some sick notion that people will be better off after they're dead. So disgusting.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • theorycraft

      dude, my entire point is that you can't pick and choose. There is a concrete message on how to live in the bible and it isn't supposed to conform to your beliefs or your comfort. A Christian is supposed to be the one conforming. You can believe the bible you can think its a bunch of * expletive* but if you are picking and choosing what message you hear, then you are simply twisting it to suit your own cause.

      Alright? Again, I'm not a practicing Christian but I do believe that is the message of the bible. You can argue whether some hypothetical book is good or not but there is a clear and definite storyline regardless.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Rick

      You forgot one. If a man ask you for something he needs, give him also your coat. Not an exact quote but close enough.

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

      well rick ive heard a different interpretation of that. apparently jesus was saying if a man steals your cloak, give him your shirt too which means that man is a jerk who basically left you in your underwear. If a man slaps your right cheek, show him your left because he would either have to backhand you with the same hand *which is a wuss move* or use his other hand which.... was the unclean hand in those days if you get my drift.

      But either way, he was saying to love each man as jesus does as what you do to the least of these, you do to him. When we sin against god, he responds in love. When someone hates us, we are commanded to respond in love. Has nothing to do with charity. It's about our duty when life is unfair to us.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Carlos Rico

      the TRUE biblical model of marriage is monogamy.
      GENESIS 2:24
      MALAQUIAS 2 :14

      November 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  3. Dan

    If we came from dust, then why is there still dust?

    November 18, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Colin

      Ok, that was funny......

      November 18, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini, D.D. (h.c.) ©™

      @ Dan:
      There is still dust because God hasn't come yet with his vacuum cleaner.
      We worked out most of the rational objections about three hundred years after the Ascension.
      Google "Constantine."

      November 18, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • godlike

      My furniture is covered with unborn people.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Raz Mor

      Genesis 2:7
      And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

      Because it did not say the all dust converted to man.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  4. LiberalismRequiresTyranny

    This woman is intentionally dishonest. With herself and others. She intentionally handles God's words in an insincere manner.

    She does one thing over and over again, as liberals are prone to do. She obfuscates. She refuses to use God's words as they are, preferring her own (paraphrase), instead of His words.

    She did not make one single logical point. Not one.

    I'm sure she's proud of herself.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Dan

      She's being dishonest by pointing out that many cherry-pick what they choose to believe from The Bible? Wow, are you ignoring the elephant in the room? Who's being dishonest here? I suspect you're simply upset because she hasn't conformed to YOUR version of Christianity.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • mama k

      Everyone thinks everyone else handles the Bible differently or insincerely – that conflict is a primary built-in trait of Christianity right from its very beginnings. You didn't get the memo?

      I do know some early Christians who well realized this about themselves. Let's see Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson – you know, just people who happened to be involved in writing the U.S. Const itution.

      During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

      (James Madison – A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, 1785)

      November 18, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Jane

      II see. So now Liberals are the current version of Satan and heretics and the like eh? Hmm. Did God and Jesus send you that message?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • tom LI

      2K+ years of Xtians obfuscating all over the place and youre worried about yet another...? Like pi$$ing in the ocean.

      But of course YOU have the right decoder ring and of course YOU know the true and exact meanings of every word, in every context and of course as it was written, and/or translated in every language.

      Have to ask, when did lying get dropped off the list of sins?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      Wow Dan,
      You respond with (only) personal attacks without any facts (chapter and verse) or logic? What a surprise.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      Mama K,
      Not a single chapter and verse. Your response is the (recently become) classic response of liberals.

      You argue by citing the opinions of other people who agree with you. You think that qualifies as "evidence" to support your position. Talk about your terminal loop!

      November 18, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      Jane,
      The foundation of current liberal thought is pride, jealousy, greed, and envy.
      Liberals embrace those sins and build their lives around them.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      Tom LI,

      You think that is a reasonable or logical response?
      You ask about lying. Fair enough. Lying is a sin. Absolutely. Always. No exceptions.
      What lie would you like to talk about?

      I submit that you do not know what it is that makes a person a Christian.
      I challenge you now...What makes a person a Christian?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Colin

      The President who came the colsest to calling the Bible a pile of bulls.hit was Thomas Jeffesron, In his letter to John Adams dated October 13, 1813, Jefferson explained his act of taking the supernatural out of the bible and creating the Jefferson Bible as follows:

      "I have performed this operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill."

      November 18, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      Tom,
      That's better (less lazy).

      Jefferson intentionally rejected God's instructions to keep His words. Jefferson created hiis own little god out of his own deceitful imagination. He's certainly allowed to do that. We all are.

      I'll try to keep God's words.
      That is the difference between intentional sincerity and intentional insincerity.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  5. Colin

    One point I though she should have made to answer at least some of her critics, is that the Letter of Paul cited, II Timothy, is a forgery. It was written after Paul died by an unknown pseudonomous author. So was I Timothy and T.itus. These three Letters of Paul are widely regarded by biblical scholars as being forgeries. Biblical scholars are equally divided on whether Ephesians, Colossians and II Thessalonians are also forgeries.

    That is to say of the 13 Letters of Paul, 6 are actual or likely forgeries!!

    November 18, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      Says you.

      By the way....'It's true because so and so says so' is not a logical or reasonable argument.

      Liberals love that argument because arguing your case with facts requires thought, logic and reason. It's much easier to say 'Politifact says so'.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Colin

      No, quite the opposite. It is the style that the so called Pastoral Letters are written in, the development of the early Christian church that they speak of and the theological positions they take that lead the majority of biblical scholas to say they are forged. For e.g. the point in the article from I Timothy about women being quiet in church, is inconsistent with other Pauline positions on woman. Paul fully accepted women's role in the ealry church.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      Colin,
      Thanks for making an effort.

      What chapter and verse do you cite as evidence that Paul accepted a woman in the role of being his teacher about God and His words?

      November 18, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Colin

      Thessolonians where he accpets the role of women as "beispos" or church leaders.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  6. Patrick

    If this subject was on Muslims, CNN would be bombed by tomorrow. Easy pickins.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  7. Lewis Black on the OT, Evolution

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGrlWOhtj3g&w=640&h=390]

    "Was the earth created in seven days? No. The jews understand that it did take place in seven days and that's because we know what we're good at. What we're really good at is bullshit. This is a wonderful story told to the people in the desert in order to distract them from the fact that they did not have air-conditioning."

    November 18, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  8. Mark Yelka

    What I really don't understand is how anyone in the first place these days can believe in gods. In every other way in our lives, we demand details and proof. We check references for gardeners and repair service companies. We examine critically much of everything around us... except for the notion that there are gods. Now, if people could do that and NOT try to impose their beliefs, however crazy they may seem to the rest of us, then I would be happy. But, alas, they typically do want to impose their beliefs on others.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      The proof is everywhere around you at all times. You reject the clear evidence, in favor of your own pride.

      I do love the irony and justice of it all. God went out of His way to set it up just so.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  9. csalee

    Very well written, great insight. My thoughts are that much of the actions in the stories of the Bible are not actually "condoned" by God. For example, there is polygamy in the BIble, which God considers a sin. The whole point of the Bible is that God saves messy sinful people. And the Bible shows us those people in all of their sin.

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

      Here you go picking and choosing in the way the author warns against. Where does God say polygamy is a sin? And why would that part of the Bible be more considered the "right part" than the part that does have virtuous, faithful and polygamous families?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "csalee", 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 9:29 am |
    • csalee

      Good question. From my perspective, if the Bible consistently mentions polygamy as a sin, yet it has some characters that are practicing polygamy, the way I interpret that is that it is a sin and some of the characters are disobeying. Just like when David murdered someone. The Bible is condoning murder, it actually consistently considers murder a sin.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      Notice how neither Jane nor Hal 9001 have a single scrap of evidence (chapter and verse) to support their positions. Classic.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  10. Perry

    And frankly i wish my wife would camp on the lawn during her monthly visit from aunt flo. Not because i believe she is unclean but because she is a crabby, scarey monster!

    November 18, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    Religion is, and has always been, irregardless of religion, nothing but a control device for human behavior, conceived by humans and used by humans, to control others.

    That is really what religion IS!

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

      no your the one whos trying to control people to believe what you believe!

      November 18, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • LiberalismRequiresTyranny

      Rich,
      Carol schooled you.

      By the way, you've just stated your religion (religious beliefs). I disagree with your religion. I think it's evil and would prefer that your evil religion not be forced on me or others.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Postage Paid

      Actually I think you both have misunderstood the meaning of religious oppression and don't know much about the history of religion. Good thing we live in a secular nation! Where we are all free to practice our OWN beliefs. AMEN TO THAT!

      November 18, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  12. MeAtheist

    There is no god, there is only Zuul!

    November 18, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • ACTS 2 38

      LOL...if there is no god, how do you get Zuul?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  13. mellie smith

    Mark 12:30-32
    Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.

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

      Love thy neighbour as thyself is a wonderful sentiment ... until you recognize and acknowledge that there are alot of people out there who treat themselves very badly. And alot of people who do not like themselves at all. This is exactly what the author of this article is warning against - don't pick and choose the one or two statements in the bible that suit you and ignore the true complexity of both the work and life in general.

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

      Mellie, that might be the quote, but good little xstians GET ON THEIR KNEES and love "the lord" with tongue, lips, and throat,
      That's why getting on your knees is the symbol for "serving" the "lord". The hands that are held up there "in prayer" are really up there for added fondling and stroking. Have you prayed today?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  14. J

    Why does CNN post articles that are critical of Christianity, yet has never posted ones that critically examine Islam?

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

      I wouldn't call one uneducated xstian giving her "attempt to sound educated" opinion on the bible "critical?" All religious people are basically mentally ill. It's why our test scores are lower than other nations. Religion = ignorance and religion is against education and growth. It always has been. When we eliminate religion we might have a shot at saving our planet.

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

      I love your comment.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • DalcassianKnight

      CNN is constantly "stirring the pot" and trying to incite or these arguments and spurn the hatred. CNN is so anti-Christian, it's sickening. I have said this many times and will continue to say it. They seem to enjoy provoking these anti-Christian hordes of haters. Then the angry, hateful atheists come out in their minions. I pray for all of them.

      Whenever there's an article about Judaism, Hinduism, Islam or any other faith, there's not a peep from the masses attacking their faith. They're all afraid of "offending" them. But Christians are fair game. And CNN loves to provoke it. I'm slowly turning away from CNN and seek my news from other sources. CNN hates Christians.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • blessedgeek

      The articles are not critical of Christianity. But critical of people who misuse and abuse Christianity.

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

      Perhaps because most of their readers are Christian? And it doesn't seem like Islam is very open to such dialog, just interested in beheading people that disagree with them.

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

      Because to do so would invite charges of "racism". It would also invite death threats.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • James

      It's not critical of Christianity, it's critical of ignorant Christians. People that make Christianity look foolish. I think this is brilliant!

      November 18, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Kita

      Probably because they're aware that Islam takes enough heat as it is.

      Furthermore, if they posted stuff critical of Islam, you'd probably still complain that they were repeating an old tired idea you could read anywhere else and that it was a slow news day.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  15. Chedar

    Here one biblical for you;
    http://www.parami.org/buddhistanswers/what_about_god.htm'

    November 18, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  16. jkshumate

    Only CNN would give a platform to someone whose understanding of Scripture and basic principles of reading are so poor that she wouldn't pass a high school English class. Stop trying to mask idiocy with coolness. While the politicization of "biblical" values is debatable, the fact that there is an agreed upon system of doctrine and ethics by all corners of the Christian church is not because a few white men got in a room and decided they were going to tell everyone else what to do. It's because honest men and women have read the Bible for centuries and as a Church have engaged in conversations over and over about theological and ethical issues. There is certainly some cultural attachments any Christian has that will color their interpretation of Scripture, but those attachments and the freedom we have to express our faith in unique ways is limited by the clear will of God shown forth in Scripture. There are lots of good, interesting, and challenging books out there about the Christian faith, like The Reason For God by Tim Keller. Read those, don't waste your time on this girl's deceptive and misleading attempt to try and say the Christian faith has no clear teachings in it. It has been given awful reviews by just about every reliable book reviewer out there. It is shameless marketing by her publishing company that is trying to be provocative and shocking as a means to convince you to buy her book.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Jane

      A very important piece of context that was left out of the article. Indeed the current practices within various sects of Christianity were formed or agreed upon through centuries of examination and study and discussion. It does though make you think about a few questions. Who wee all these theologians? Would those same theologians looking at the work with fresh eyes today with today's knowledge and experiences come to the same conclusions? Why are Catholics practicing in a different manner than, say, Jehovah's Witnesses? The whole process raises many questions and I find it more fascinating as an anthropological and political discussion than anything else.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Postage Paid

      Actually – the doctrine set by the church is EXACTLY because a few white guys sat in a room and decided what to tell people. Learn the history of the Church – and stop being so nasty about another's desire to explore the meaning of Biblical in her own way.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Kita

      Actually I believe it was a few brown men. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and likely Paul and other "post-Jesus" types.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  17. Perry

    Included in your plethera if misuses of Bibilical text should be the misuse for political purposes which is no doubt why CNN is even bothering publishing your article. While i agree that there are many selective interpretations among Christians they are only fooling themselves. What is perverse and calculatingly deceptive is the Lefts use of the Bible to promote Marxist ideology under the guise of social justice or its use to promote climate change propagada which is simply a vehicle for global Marxism as well.

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

      Are you suggesting we should continue polluting the world, causing smog to obscure our views of mountains and scenery and blackening our lungs?

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

      Ladies and gentlemen, we have yet another interpretation of what it all means!

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

      xX.., you also seem to be forgetting that, in yet another interpretation of The Bible and how it relates to current times, that we're near the end. There is no need to take care of the planet anymore because God will either pass judgment soon, or will ultimately provide (just like he's doing in Africa). Liberals don't have enough faith in God and want to burden us humans to quit our gluttonous ways, just in case it isn't real.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • tom LI

      And the Right uses it correctly ??? I dont often do this but, ROFLMAO. None of you use the Bible correctly...if there is even such a usage.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  18. Colin

    Dear Christians:

    God here.

    First, I do not exist. The concept of a 13,700,00,000 year old being, capable of creating the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, monitoring simultaneously the thoughts and actions of the 7 billion human beings on this planet is ludicrous.

    Second, if I did exist, I would have left you a book a little more consistent, timeless and independently verifiable than the collection of Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology you call the Bible. Hell, I bet you cannot tell me one thing about any of its authors or how and why it was compiled with certain writings included and others excluded, nor how it has been edited over the centuries, yet you cite it for the most extraordinary of supernatural claims.

    Thirdly, when I sent my “son” (whatever that means, given that I am god and do not mate) to Earth, he would have visited the Chinese, Ja.panese, Europeans, Russians, sub-Saharan Africans, Australian Aboriginals, Mongolians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Indonesians and native Americans, not just a few Jews. He would also have exhibited a knowledge of something outside of the Iron Age Middle East.

    Fourthly, I would not spend my time hiding, refusing to give any tangible evidence of my existence, and then punish those who are smart enough to draw the natural conclusion that I do not exist by burning them forever. That would make no sense to me, given that I am the one who elected to withhold all evidence of my existence in the first place.

    Fifthly, in the same vein, I would not make about 5% of the human population gay, then punish them for being that way. In fact, I wouldn’t care about how humans have $ex at all, given that I created all of the millions of millions of species on the planet, all of whom are furiously reproducing all the time. Human $ex would be of no interest to me, given that I can create Universes. Has it ever occurred to you that your obsession with making rules around human $ex is an entirely human affair?

    Sixth, I would have smitten all you Christian activists, and all evangelicals and fundamentalists long before this. You people drive me nuts. You are so small minded and speak with such false authority. Many of you still believe in the talking snake nonsense from Genesis. I would kill all of you for that alone and burn you for an afternoon (burning forever is way too barbaric even for a sick, sadistic bast.ard like me to contemplate).

    Seventh, the whole idea of members of one species on one planet surviving their own physical deaths to “be with me” is utter, mind-numbing nonsense. Grow up. You will die. Get over it. I did. Hell, at least you had a life. I never even existed in the first place.

    Eighth, I do not read your minds, or “hear your prayers” as you euphemistically call it. There are 7 billion of you. Even if only 10% prayed once a day, that is 700,000,000 prayers. This works out at 8,000 prayers a second – every second of every day. Meanwhile I have to process the 100,000 of you who die every day between heaven and hell. Dwell on the sheer absurdity of that for a moment.

    Finally, the only reason you even consider believing in me is because of where you were born. Had you been born in India, you would likely believe in the Hindu gods, if born in Tibet, you would be a Buddhist. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. What, do you think we all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Look, let’s be honest with ourselves. There is no god. Believing in me was fine when you cringed in fear during the Dark Ages and thought the World was young, flat and simple. Now we know how enormous, old and complex the Universe is.

    Move on – get over me. I did.

    God

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

      News Flash! You are NOT God – so give it up!

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

      Irony not your strong point, hey Zavoot?

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

      News flash! There is no god zavoot, so give it up

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

      Absolutely genius! Love it! But you know, the brainwashed masses will still fail to understand.. They are too far gone...Its a shame.. for them, and the whole species really.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • Chedar

      http://www.parami.org/buddhistanswers/what_about_god.htm

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

      Sounds along the same lines as Bill Maher's speeches. Very good writing, my hat's off to you.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Jiang Ziya

      Colin,... You implicitly accept the existence of God everyday, yet you explicitly deny the existence of God.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Jimmy Jack

      @Colin It's always nice to read an an article, that makes sense.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Jiang Ziya

      All atheist implicitly accept the existence of God every day, yet every day they explicitly deny the existence of God.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Jane

      Common sense is not the strong suit of "people of faith". Faith in itself is about believing in something even when there is little to no proof of it. A truly religious person reading this would say that you are limited in your understanding and reasoning because you haven't opened yourself up to God's word or something like that. In the end there are too many people who NEED faith because its the only way they can sort out the fact that they have no control over anything. Its a method of abdicating control and power to some higher consciousness so that they can sleep at night rather than worrying about how anything can happen at any time to completely turn their lives upside down. Its fine with me that people need this sort of crutch, I get it. But I wish that they didn't force their crutches on to ME.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Neale

      Let's keep things consistent and organize MY list Sesame Street style with a series of numbers prefacing each conscious thought.
      Number 1 – You don't know everything regardless of what any professor, coffee house buddy, or your mommy and daddy tell you.
      Number 2 – What makes you think you are anything more than a fart in the wind relative to the development of the universe?
      Number 3 – You got some pretty big stones to challenge the authority, God or not, that could possibly be responsible for the creation of the universe.
      Number 4 – Wouldn't that be crazy if some deity could respond to multiple prayers at once? Or maybe ride a bike and talk at the same time? How does YOUR understanding of secular principles justify or deny the existence of a creator?

      Lose the ego and wrap your little pea head around this. You don't know if God exists or not.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Pete

      Neale, it doesn't take any stones at all to challenge something that doesn't exist.

      November 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  19. Christian7

    Watching this video might be the most important thing you do in this life time. I believe this guy is telling the truth about actually going to hell.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysqXNRdZ4V8&w=640&h=390]

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

      If I am worried that my children, who I love very much, will not believe something I tell them, such as "smoking is bad for you," I should:

      (a) have our family doctor explain to them the various ill effects of smoking.

      (b) show them a film produced by the National Inst.itute for Health on the topic.

      (c) set a good example for them by not smoking; or

      (d) refuse to give them any evidence of the ill effects of smoking, insist they rely on faith and then take them out into the backyard and burn them to death if I ever catch them smoking.

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

      Then you are a complete idiot.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Christian7

      "If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell." - Matthew 5:22

      November 18, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Christian7

      "I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily."– Issac Newton

      Hebrews 9:27, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."

      November 18, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Gawd

      Being with you for 23 minutes would be like being in hell.

      It amuses me when people quote a book of fiction as if it were true.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • tom LI

      Geesus...what a load of nonsense. Its just so...so desperate...

      November 18, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Dan

      Go give 10% of your income to the child molesters at your church so you won't go to hell.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Thomas

      Whatever it takes to get the weak-minded people to come back next Sunday.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Christian7

      Colin, You don't need to punish your kids for smoking, it will cause the punishment by the result. It is more analogous to the child refusing to listen to your warning about the consequences of smoking and causing himself to get cancer by his actions not your warning of his actions. You can avoid hell and are being told right now how to avoid what you have brought on to yourself by your defiance against God who actually exists. You can avoid hell by repenting your sins through Jesus Christ. You have not yet been punished. IF you die, then it is too late to repent. Period.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  20. ACTS 2 38

    Boy...It must sure be nice to "playfully challenge" God's word! That's why Rachel Held Evans herself picks and chooses what is best for her and uses her popular blogger influence to do just that "influence" others to do the same. If Rachel knew that a lot of OT laws continue today and yet there are other others that were "fulfilled" by Jesus Christ then she would have a clear understanding of how the true word of God is to be applied in our lives today. For example, a woman's long hair is used as a covering (1Corinthians 11:15) . In 1 Corinthians 11:5 Paul speaking to those women with short hair to use a covering until her hair grows out, then she will have her own covering that is pleasing unto God. To add, the reason most Christians do not have discernment to the Word of God is that they do not have the Holy Ghost. The bible clearly teaches the Holy Ghost in which is found "90 times" in the NT. In (Mat 3:11) John said Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Ghost and in (Luk 12:12) the Holy Ghost will teach us...in fact, (Joh 14:26) states that the Holy Ghost will teach us all things. Now, how do you know if someone has the Holy Ghost? There is an evidence (Act 2:4) states they "began to speak with other tongues," (Act 8:19) states the Holy Ghost is "power," (Act 10:46) they "heard" them speak with tongues. In fact, (John 3:1-13) Jesus told Nicodemus one night that "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." That Spirit is the Holy Ghost period. I have the Holy Ghost "today" and I've seen people walk off the streets get it without anyone telling them about it. I've experienced powerful healings and devils cast out of people in this day and age. I've never in all my life until I received the free gift of the Holy Ghost experienced these things. In short, people read you bibles and believe the word of God. I pray one day that Rachel Held Evans and anyone else who believes the bible will receive the Holy Ghost as the bible states as evidence in speaking in tongues.

    November 18, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • tom LI

      No, no, no. But a nice run-on sentence. Did you breath at all while typing...?

      November 18, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • sybaris

      You do realize that glossolalia is just a local influence brought on by peer pressure.

      Regardless you're trying to justify your position with circular logic, "It's true because it says it is, because it says it is, because it says it is.........."

      November 18, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • ACTS 2 38

      sybaris – you can "playfully challenge" God's word after all, the Holy Ghost is found "90 times" in the NT. I guess God was joking and he made a bunch of mistakes.

      November 18, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Michael Longfellow

      The fact of the matter is, we all pick and choose. Focusing on tongues blew the whole validity of your Message. :(

      November 18, 2012 at 9:30 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.