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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.”

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

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.

Opinion: What all those Jesus jokes tell us

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)
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      November 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Apple Bush

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      November 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
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    • End Religion

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      November 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
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  3. Apple Bush

    Christians, Mormons, Islam, etc., cling to religion and continue to endorse it as reality and insist that it somehow should govern morality and law-making. One can lay out all the evidence and build (and have built) an airtight case against every single religion on Earth past and present, but still believers will not budge from their point of view, even when presented with the lies and contradictions in the very scriptures they base their beliefs on.

    Understand, I am not talking about a belief in God. I do understand that. I am talking about religion. Every one of which has been empirically proven false but yet clings like moss to ancient rocks.

    I believe the single most important factor in this inability to see through the foolishness of religion is fear. Children’s stories of heaven and hell. The initial indoctrination for many, simply cannot be undone.

    Secondly, there is a feeling of community that comes with any “club” Naturally this is not relegated to religion so it does not qualify as an excuse.

    Lastly some minds are unable to think creatively enough to imagine the more plausible alternatives. What are those alternatives? Well we have to turn to science, but also we have to accept what we don’t know and keep looking. And in truth, we don’t really know anything about how the universe came to be, what came before and where it is going. If there are multiple universes and time lines through which we move, these would be marvelous discoveries. There was a wonderful article in Scientific American a few months ago regarding a new spin on the Quantum theory. That being the quantum universe could have foamlike fluctuations that rule spacetime, not unlike the 0’s and 1’s that are the foundation of computing and storing information.

    If we wish to believe in the supernatural, we have to make things up. Hence religion. It doesn’t mean there is no god, or gods, or aliens, but it does mean that we don’t have the answers and most likely never will.

    Now we arrive back at fear. What will happen to me when I die? For me, I look forward to an eternity of nothing. Others fear this prospect and prefer to believe in fairies and fantasies and are not even ashamed that their mental description of an after life is akin to that of a 5-year-old’s picture book.

    I believe the Universe and the “everything” are FAR more bizarre than we could ever imagine with the faculties we have thus far obtained via evolution on this planet. And I wonder how many millions of civilizations across the vastness of space and time have pondered likewise.

    Finally, the entire planet is affected by the irrational belief systems of the various mainstream religions. It affects the global economy, it affects world peace, it affects our secular life style in the United States. These ancient belief systems are based on superst.ition and mythology. One would think humans would have moved forward by now but instead we as a species behave in the same self-destructive manner now as we did thousands of years ago with more at stake then at any other time in history.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  4. B.

    As long as people continue to allow Mythology to control Human behavior we will continue to perpetuate Hate,War, and discontent in the World.

    Humans are still Tribal and we may never rid ourselves of Myth which will, more than likely, be our ultimate downfall..

    Morality and intelligent behavior is not dependent on Religion to succeed.

    Most War now persisting in the middle east is based on religious hatred.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • iminim

      While religion is often used as a catalyst to rally the masses into supporting a war, the root cause of the vast majority of wars is the desire to gain control of the resources of another people/country/etc. For example: Indonesia has an enormous Muslim population, but we went to war with Iraq. Why? Because Iraq has much more accessible oil. When it comes to war, religion is more often a tool than a root cause of the conflict

      November 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      Considering the theory of evolution led to eugenics and Hitler's excuse to kill millions of jews.....

      November 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      And lets not forget the crimes of the communist regime, or oppression in China, which has nothing to with religion and everything to do with a belief system.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Sue

      BobThe Tomato
      Europeans, or should we say Christian Europeans, were killing Jews in great numbers centuries before Darwin was even born, so you are so off base you're playing hockey.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • centeredpiece

      And pray tell under what theory of science is war a bad thing? The Romans thought themselves quite moral and had no qualms about crushing their enemies and selling survivors into slavery. The Greeks were also no strangers to war and aggression. What morality would you choose to run our culture? I laugh when people blame all that is bad on Judeo-Christian beliefs. As if never in the past have people been nasty, mean and brutish. As if war was not a continual way of life in those "good old" pre-Christian days. What is the most amusing is how deeply ingrained is the Judeo-Christian morality that those who feel themselves somehow above it nevertheless espouse ideas and beliefs that have no other genesis than that philosophy/religion that they claim to eschew.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Think

      Good post centeredpiece.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • pithy me

      So Bob,science led to Hitler?Perhaps it would be more convenient if we were to ignore science and pray a lot more.Her Hitler was a strong believer in divine providence.He was insane.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Eric1334

      It's ridiculous to suggest that the lack of religion leads to wars as ,again ,the ridiculous centeredpiece suggests. I've failed to see anyone more off base than yourself. Communists rules and all you mentioned didn't go "oh hey,i dont believe in god so lets go kill and enslave people" IT probably wasn't even on their minds at all ,so theres no reason to assume this. The wars and hate and whatnot the original poster was referencing were ACTUAL incidents religion directly leads to war , hate,killings, slavery etc. He in no way was suggesting that hate and killing and blah blah ONLY comes from religion. People can be bad and do bad things based on no religious affiliation whatsoever. I think everyone can agree on that ,but again ,thats not what the poster was saying.Who here is suggesting we base our morality off the romans or greeks from thousands of years ago? No one is,and its silly that you're suggesting we base it off something also thousands of years old. Another comment, another ridiculous waste of e-time, kudos centeredpiece

      November 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Eric1334

      I must confess i read those posts and got mixed up as to who said them i nthis thread. My apologies ,i see you didnt say all the things i reference centeredpiece ,but my point remains valid to you and BobtheTomato,another off base poster on here.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  5. Scott

    You do realize that your faith, like most religions was designed to control and subjugate women right?

    November 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      Right means limits and a woman has no more right than to be a woman, crossing line is hinduism, illegality.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Missy Bankmunster

      Well I nevuh!

      November 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      You mean like your belief system is designed to control and subjugate religion? Ya I have seen cultural conventions that formed the basis of my religion, but I have dismissed them as being culturally irrelevant to how I express my faith. Do you understand how your beliefs are being designed to do the same thing to religion?

      November 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Dale Lature (@dlature)

      No, Scott. Not "designed" to do that. "Enlisted" or "used" to do that. Precisely the subject of this article.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      Dump, try to actually make sense instead of spouting the first thing that comes to your mind.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • End Religion

      Bob, atheism answers 'no' to the one question, "do you believe in any gods?" It is not a set or system of beliefs. You've been misled, which is not unusual for the religious.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      Hmm I wasn't enlisted and I haven't been used to do anything of the sort. I haven't met a Christian that does that, so stop spouting rhetoric. It might have been true 30 years ago, but it certainly isn't the norm any more

      November 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      But it is a system of belief. You guide your everyday decisions from your belief in no gods and you act in a certain way because of your beliefs. You may not believe in God, but you ascribe to a line of thought that influences your actions. such as the need to disprove Christians. You act like other atheist act, and you assume a superior state of enlightenment as other atheist do. Just because you base that on human nature rather than a God, you aren't as different from me as you perceive yourself to be

      November 18, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • End Religion

      My lack of belief in any god does not equate to a system shared by other atheists. It's a question with an answer. You're stretching your argument thin instead of admitting you are wrong. Either that or you don't realize you're wrong.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  6. Kristin

    Where in the bible does it say polygamy is ok? Last I heard in church it was a sin to have relations with more than one person.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      It is hinduism, absurdity of hindu's, ignorant s.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      There are numerous examples of polygamy in the Old Testament.

      If you are Christian, you are lucky enough to get to cherry pick only those things in the bible you agree with and ignore the rest.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Colin

      Ever heard of Solomon's 700 wives, of Lott sleeping with his own daughters (both) of Moses giving up his wife to be one of the Pharoh's concubines, all with apparent smiles from the hokey Yahweh sky-fairy?

      November 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • End Religion

      Once again atheists know more about your book of rules than you.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I think it's very telling that Kristin has no idea what is in her own bible, but lets her pastor/priest tell her what she should believe.

      Just google biblical polygamy, Kristin. There are sites dedicated to the topic.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • HoS wa'

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      November 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  7. marcustoussaint

    I would say Evans, and many of the commenters, are missing the point that several hundred years of scholarship in the fields of literary and textual criticism enable us to arrive at at-least reasonable interpretations of religious texts driven by context, the literary genre, etc. Consequently, it is possible to have more informed interpretations of texts than others, whether or not you believe some religious text is divinely inspired or not.

    The definition of "biblical" ought to be the best explanation of what the text is explicitly teaching "ought" to be the case. Confusion happens when we say that the Bible, Koran or any other religious text prescribes what it is actually only describing.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      "Biblical " is a synonym for uneducated. They even try to make things "biblical" which distinctly are not. Like the "god " particle".

      Peter Higgs, the physicist who first deduced and proposed the existence of the theoretical field now known as the Higgs boson, does not believe in God. After Leon Lederman, another nonbelieving physicist, had jokingly referred to the mysterious boson as the “God particle,” Higgs was not happy: “I wish he hadn’t done it. I have to explain to people it was a joke. I’m an atheist.”

      November 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      A very sensible post.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  8. bea

    It is false to say that the biblical version of marriage is polygamy. If that is true, why does the bible state that Adam was given one wife, Eve? Why did God punish Solomon for, among other things, his many wives and concubines? Why did Abraham's two wives idea result in the turmoil, some of which is still evident in the world today? If anything, any thinking person who reads the Holy Bible, will come to the conclusion that the best version of marriage is the original one that God created in the Garden of Eden, one man has one wife. As for silly people who spend a year or any amount of time trying to live exactly as the ancients lived, by re-enacting practices found in the Bible, they do a great disservice to God's Word and His people.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      From book of hinduism, corruption of truth absolute. Greek Torah, reject of son of blessed Mary.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I love the way Christians just cherry pick the parts of the bible they want to believe. lol

      November 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Andy

      No. Different Christians always come up with different parts they like and adhere to. And polygamy – the whole Bible is just filled with polygamy. It only begins to address that issue for people of certain professions in the NT.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • End Religion

      any *thinking* person who reads the bible will become an atheist if he is not already

      November 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      Because they have no knowledge of truth absolute, bunch of hind's, ignorant s.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • bea

      Andy, the Bible is filled with stories about murder, adultery, wars, etc. I guess Christians should start to murder at will by your reasoning then right?

      November 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • TJ

      You're still picking and choosing though. There are many more examples of polygamy than you pointed out, and many that did not face consequences.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Bea has access to the internet. She has access to google. There are websites dedicated to the topic of biblical polygamy, complete with verses to back their claims. I would post a link to one, but CNN doesn't seem to want to cooperate today.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  9. GAW

    Let's face it the CNN Belief Blog Comments section is more a therapy board than anything else. If you have a word of God to give to the masses it's all here. If you're and atheist seeking to insult the religious it's here as well. So far nobody is conceding to someones else point of view. Believers are not becoming atheists because they were called morons, idiots or delusional nor are atheists 'Getting right with God' because they were threatened with the fires of hell or given pleas to turn to Him. The world goes on as it always has. Believers believe non-believers don't and the vast majority of Americans never even know what the CNN Belief Blog is.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Sushi Kanji

      GAW, you try our fresh Octopus Salad ok?

      November 18, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      No, his faverit is GOBER salad, freshly discharged from hind of his mama Gae. Cow.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • pithy me

      ..if you put it like that..

      November 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • GAW

      And not to mention numerous trolls that aren't worth responding to.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • End Religion

      except that religion is in decline. I like to think it's all due to the wonderful non-believers on this blog. We post facts and make atheists. Religious folks post lies and create atheists. It's a wonderful mechanism for churning out atheists. Thanks to all the nutters who help!

      November 18, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • HamsterDancer

      GAW

      You have said one of the most sensible things I've ever read in these commentaries . At the most people are getting the opportunity to say their piece on the subject or throw their threat or insult. But I think almost none of them are changing anybody's mind.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • End Religion

      hamsterdancer, why would any religion proselytize if it wasn't because it sometimes converts? posting on here very likely does help someone see one way or another. Sometimes the deluded ravings of the church seems logical to someone and you gain a possible convert. Apparently, most of the time, simple logic wins through and you lose another nutter back over to the side of sanity.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Sec 8

      Agreed

      November 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Sec 8

      Your wrong end religeon, if your whole goal was to actually inform anyone of athiesism you've failed miserably. I have been struggling with the existence of a God and all you've managed to show me was that athiests are most Do$ch3 Bags.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • HamsterDancer

      End Religion,

      Yes, you make a good point. But I don't think the most common practice either side takes which is to insult or threaten the opponent is the best route. In the anonymous world of article comments alot of remarks drop to the cruel jab at the other side just to show how clever an insult they can throw. It makes them feel good to lash out her somebody who if they actually spoke face to face with they could just have a reasonable discussion of the topic that could change minds.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • End Religion

      @sec8: "Your wrong end religeon"

      Nothing new there.

      ***
      "if your whole goal was to actually inform anyone of athiesism you've failed miserably."

      "Informing people of atheism" isn't a goal of mine.

      ***
      "I have been struggling with the existence of a God and all you've managed to show me was that athiests are most Do$ch3 Bags."

      We can be jerks. You've never known a religious person to be a jerk? *People* can be jerks or not whether one is religious or not.

      If you're truly grappling with the existence of god there is only one decision to make: do you choose to live your life based on fact and reason, or do you live it based on fantasy? There is more than substantial evidence that the bible and therefore the biblical jesus and his daddy were man-made frauds based on the other imaginary gods that came before. You do not need a god or religion to tell you to be a nice person – you can do that all on your own.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • End Religion

      @hamster: you're probably right that face to face conversations might be more civil.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  10. jacob meixner

    evangelicals pick and choose whatever serves their personal prejudice. the bible is all outdated nonsense and should be taken with a grain of salt.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      A tool fits all hinduism, illegality, a universal book of hinduism, Mafia ism called bible.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
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      November 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
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      November 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • bea

      If the Bible is outdated, then many Christians will cease to turn the other cheek to people like you, and we would not give lying, cheating, etc a second thought before we do these things. The Bible is not outdated, because truth is never outdated and the Bible is truth. Just because you think it's outdated, does not erase its thousands years of truth and light. And just so you know, the fact that more and more people like you feel the need to speak up with your hatred of all things biblical or Christian, makes people like me very happy because it tells us that the very book, the Bible, that you diss, is absolutely right because it has been warning us for hundreds of years that thoughts like yours will increase. Christ is coming soon. The Holy Bible says so. If you don't believe that, I feel sorry for you.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • TJ

      Agreed. People use it to justify hatred toward other people. Sure, it has some important lessons of morality in it, but so does Harry Potter.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  11. Apple Bush

    God has you in his book. He has a plan for each of us. He knows when you will be born and when you will die. He is therefore responsible for all death, murder and destruction for all of history including every abortion ever performed, every r.a.p.e, every murder, every miscarriage, every atrocity. He is perfect. He is omniscient. He is omnipotent. So how could this not be so? It is God’s will.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • pithy me

      If I believed in god,which I don't,taking your point of view,I would consider him/it a murdering ,hideous monster.Therefore,I am quite content not believing such tripe.You might want to re-consider your faith.Have a nice day!

      November 18, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Tony

      In other words God and Satan are one? You sound like you believe in Persian Dualism, not Christianity. When did Jesus hurt anyone? When did he kill anyone? When did he make anyone blind or crippled? Your God is actually Harvey the invisible rabbit, only meaner. Who could find comfort in such a sadistic monster? Charles Manson? Please jump off a tall building.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Tony,
      " When did Jesus hurt anyone? When did he kill anyone?"

      - If "Jesus" is "God", as is claimed, then he did every single atrocity that the OT "God" did.

      - Anyway, he is supposedly coming back with a sword in his mouth to kill everyone on Earth.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Tony

      Hey Frayed knot, can you read? My point was that God does not cause all human suffering described in that post. If Jesus is God, or even like God, then God does NOT cause suffering. God is innocent. God created a world where stuff happens because the opposite would be a padded cell, Your logic is inverted. God is more like the ground of being itself, not some invisible version of Adolph Hitler that has people killed etc. Are you an Atheist being sarcastic or some Fundamentalst ditto head?

      November 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Tony

      Oh p.s. Frayed Knot, stop reading comic books and read some theology. Try Paul Tillich. BTW: the Bible doesn't say that Jesus is coming back to "Kill everybody".

      November 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  12. Robert

    Biblical interpretation is and always has been a matter of individual belief, most often referred to as faith. Individuals with similar interpretations come together and form the different faiths, denominations, sects and cults. These organizations believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong. The problem is when these organizations decide that YOU are required to follow their beliefs.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  13. Cathy B

    Dear Ms. Evans, Very well-put. A beautiful, insightful article. As an evangelical Christian and a believer in the truth of God's word, I have had these same thoughts but could not articulate them half as well. We do often limit ourselves to traditional stereotypes and consider them "biblical" or sanctioned by God. I'd like to say though, that just because the bible mentions polygamy, murder, sodomy or incest in a matter of fact way, does not mean that it condones those things. Learning to love what God loves and hate what he hates is a life-long process. He hates pride. He hates unforgiveness - let's not forget those. I will keep looking to the bible for a vision of God's character. And I hope you continue to be faithful to your calling as a writer.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • GAW

      I realize that your beliefs are very important to you but the Bible does contain some portrayals of God that don't fit the image of the loving God that is portrayed by many Evangelicals. What are we to say about the flood (If it happened) which killed every man, woman and child on the earth. The the numerous commands given by God himself to wipe out all the Canaanites. If you are honest you have to wrestle with these issues or be subjected to the same form of proof texting and selective reading of the Bible discussed in the article above.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
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    The fish was still fresh when we had to cook it, honestly.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Sushi Kanji

      You open Sunday??

      November 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Sushi Kanji

      Konnichiwa! Ok, we open now. You no eat Chow's nasty fish. Try this:

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      Or

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      Kirin Large $4.99

      November 18, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  15. Paul

    I think this scripture by Peter explains everything::

    20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
    21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (New Testament, 2 Peter, Chapter 1)

    Scripture was given to the prophets by God and it was meant that those scriptures should be interpreted by prophets of God.
    Furthermore, things and time change. We have situations and challenges today that the ancient prophets and people never had to deal with. Never have we needed a living, modern prophet more in the history of man than we need one today! Well, we have a living prophet on the earth. I invite all to "come and see" at lds.org.

    7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Old Testament, Amos, Chapter 3)

    November 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  16. SuZieCoyote

    People know when they are behaving badly. They don't need a two-thousand year old book written by dessert nomads. Having grown up Baptist, all I have ever seen Christians do is use that book to judge others. There has never been a Christian sect to honor, value and treat women as anything other than pieces of property, however nice they claim themselves. Their whole history is one of controlling, minimizing, criticizing, and in many cases, burning women to death, which they would be doing now if only they could get by with it. I'm not talking about the sheep in the pews. People are people, not all men hate women. I'm talking about the church fathers who have always hated and feared women. These "fathers" have one and only one responsibility, to keep women under control for purposes of breeding. This, apparently, takes a lot of money.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Stan

      Actually, you'll notice that people often don't know exactly how or when they're behaving badly. Yours is quite a naively optimistic and simplistic view of humanity (and politics, legal and social reality, etc.).

      November 18, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Stan

      Also, your view of history is condescending and quite against the current grain of studying history contextually. The Judeo-Christian tradition, like all others, got some things really wrong, but compared other systems the Judeo-Christian tradition was "ahead of its time" wrt to women's right issues (and slavery, property, poverty issues). To see this you need to look past your incredibly uncharitable and blanket understandings of history by commandeering a few poached historical incidences.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  17. Marc

    My father ran a store that sold Christian books and gifts while I was growing up. Often, he'd get people from various denominations who wanted to argue points of theology with him. He simply answered, "The word of God is there to be believed, not argued." As an adult, his words ring true. We are not on a journey together- we are individuals, pilgrims in our lifelong spiritual quest. It is not for me to tell anyone how to interpret God's word. It is not for me to manipulate God's word to disallow two people from loving one another. It is not for me to interpret God's word as carte blanche to kill other human beings. It is also not for me to stand idly by while people starve, need clothing, shelter, or healing.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  18. Blue

    Honestly, you didn't have to do that for a year...you could have just said it was crazy and we would have agreed with you...

    November 18, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  19. Mopery

    They say that ignorance is bliss, which sure would explain all those joyous believers.

    November 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  20. Jason Calbos

    THE SOONER THE BIBLE IS LEFT OUT OF POLITICS AND POLITICAL DECISIONS THE BETTER.

    November 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
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About this blog

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