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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. Get Real

    Hi Think:

    Here is more proof Jesus is a jerk and should not be listened to (plus the fact he is imaginary):

    Here is another emotional outburst from Mark 11:15-16:

    On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.
    Is this a smart thing to do? Is this the kind of behavior you expect from a thoughtful, rational adult? No, it is the behavior of a child. Surely the all-powerful son of God could come up with a better plan than knocking over tables in a one-time outburst.
    In Mark 11:12-14 we find another emotional reaction:

    The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.
    Later we learn that the tree is dead.
    Let's see. The son of God is hungry. He approaches a fig tree. The tree is out of season and has no fruit. Jesus wants fruit. So he kills the tree. What a total jerk! Why didn't he wave his all-powerful hand and cause figs to appear? Or how about borrowing a raisin from someone and turning it into a 5,000 baskets of figs? Only a true jerk would kill something out of spite.

    November 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      agreed jesus mercilessly killed that fig tree

      in my book he has murdered that life and he is guilty of the sin of murder

      also Jesus hates families [fact]

      Luke 14: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.

      also he was a wino v@gr@nt

      would you take advice from a wino living on the street

      oh and being drunk is a sin

      November 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  2. Sam Yaza

    and now a personal message to Rachel

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hb7UUuXve5c&w=640&h=360]

    November 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  3. Rubens

    In reality, we have to "pick and choose" because otherwise the Bible do not makes any sense. Page after page, the contradictions appear all over. As Albert Einstein wrote: "God is nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."

    November 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  4. Sam Yaza

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkeKKszXTw&w=640&h=360]

    November 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Brilliant!

      November 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  5. Tony

    Where is the "original" Bible? It does not exist. What we have are over 6,000 hand copies of what we think is an "original" Bible, yet none of the 6,000 copies say the exact same thing. There are critical differences amongst these copies, such as the divinity of Christ and even the crucifixion.... no small matters. So somehow God inspired the writings of this holly book, but could not somehow leave a single original copy that everyone could understand. It is so tragic that people to this day cling to what has been shown again and again to be nothing more than a man made story.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Think

      Tony, first you need to stop being lazy and read the Bible for yourself and not rely on what other people think it is. Second, if you can't understand the lessons Jesus teaches in the Bible, you have issues you need to admit and learn to resolve them by what Jesus teaches us on any and all issues.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      The bible is not the word of god. How do I know this? The bible is not perfect.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • tallulah13

      "Think"? Did you actually read what Tony said? Because your reply makes absolutely no sense in the context of the original post.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Dick Izinya

      Yeh, verily, let us peruse the words of Jesus:
      Matthew 10:34 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Dick Izinya

      More words of peace and wisdom from Jesus Christ:
      Matthew 13:49-50 49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Dick Izinya

      Jesus take on Family Values:
      Luke 14:26 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Dick Izinya

      The tolerance of other's beliefs, as taught by Jesus:
      John 3:36 36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      Dude don't go there, there are more secondary manuscripts of both old and new testament then there are of all ancient text put together. There are also no primary manuscripts of Plato's writing, or Homer, or ANY literature from back then. Ask any archeologist.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      Yo Dick, lol. You are reading from a 16th century translation from latin. Go pick up a real bible tha is translated from the original languages the New Testament was written (Aramaic and Greek). Then you can tell me what Jesus said. I have little patience for Christian who throw out bible verse to suit their agenda and little patience for non-Christians who do it. Try reading the whole thing and putting into context.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Tony

      Bob The Tomato: That is precisely my point. There is no original Bible manuscript and all thousands of copies that come afterwards say different things because of errors in transmissions, difficulty with translations and scriveners took liberties and added passages. So know one can claim that what they read is the actual word of God. In my opinion such historical blunder demonstrates, amongst thousands of other reasons, the non-existence of a Super natural being.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • End Religion

      bob, don't you think the all-knowing all-powerful god might've had someone write this stuff down on something more durable than paper? Maybe chisel it into rock like Hammurabi? Or maybe it was just more folly of men making up some rules the best they knew how without any inspiration from a god who would've known better?

      November 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Tony

      Let's embrace science and knowledge and end religion that only keeps mankind divided.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      considering that the bible is viewed to be more accurate that any other ancient text by historian. Over the thousands of secondary sources there is like 98% accuracy, I'll take that as being accurate. It blows any other ancient text out of the water. You can challenge whether it is true, but you can't challenge its accuracy, that has already been proven.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Tom

      What a wonderfull time to be alive ,,,,,,,,,,that we can see many of the prophecies unfold ,,,,,,those that have no faith or belive in God and Christ can express their feellings ......and do so without fear of retaliation.....
      Can science prove that there is no life after death. I once read a story of a scientist tried to prove that a soul had weight.
      In his experiment he would weigh a terminaly ill patient and stay with him untill he passed away. watching the indiviual at the time off death noted a change in body weight.......His experiment provocked anger amongst his colleagues and so he stopped his experiment........with so many on death row these days should be easy to get one to try this experiment again

      November 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Bob the Tomato,

      The fact that places mentioned in the Bible have been verified archeologically has no bearing on the veracity of the supernatural stories put forth in that book.

      Mount Olympus (and many other places mentioned in their legends and myths) really exists in Greece. Does that mean that 12 gods really live there? Dickens' "The Christmas Carol" fairly accurately portrays the places and conditions of 19th century England. Does that mean that the supernatural visits of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come were real? All sorts of fiction and fantasy stories are set in real places.

      The Bible is a book which includes *some* history of primitive Hebrew culture, and *some* good advice for practical, beneficial human behavior, but mostly it is a compilation of ancient Middle Eastern historical fiction, myth, legend, superst.ition and fantasy.

      There is not a whit of verified evidence for any of the supernatural beings or supernatural events in that book.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • End Religion

      bob, define the difference between bible accuracy and bible truth. Why do you seem to think we can challenge its truth but not its accuracy, not that we're going to limit our challenge no matter what you think? You're talking about archaeological references, right? The whole schtick about referring to places therefore the events must be true? I'm sure you also know anyone who's "verified the accuracy of the bible" is just a shill for some religious establishment?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Dick Izinya

      "Try reading the whole thing and putting into context."? Seriously, Tomato Bob? Please, do enlighten me on the "proper context" for talking snakes, angels, giants, demons, slavery, child murder and genocide. Do tell, what "context" will make that all make sense?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  6. BobThe Tomato

    Find a belief system that has harmed someone along the way and you would make me a believer, lol

    November 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      lol that has not harmed someone along the way. Sorry bout that

      November 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      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.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      Apple everybody seems to like to think their belief system is based on empirical data, but we are all in the same boat. We are all limited in understanding and whether God is in the picture or not, and nobody seems to be willing to admit just how limited their understanding is. Instead they just go out and attack anything they perceive as a threat to their beliefs. I'm just tired of people who say there is no God saying I am stupid for my beliefs when they act in moronic things and do things just as bad as Christians do in the name of what they believe.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • End Religion

      and we get tired of pointing out the same answers over and over to have christian folks ignore it. There is substantial evidence the bible is a fraud, meaning jesus and the abrahamic god are frauds. Combine the fact that we know the bible is a fraud with the fact that the christian pantheon is eerily similar to many of the "other" imaginary gods before it, all whom were once regarded as real. Combine that with not one shred of positive proof god exists. Combine this with the fact prayer has been proven false. Combine this with the many other reasons christianity must be false, such as its mere existence depending on the region of the world one lives in, and on and on and on.

      You want us to feel bad for pointing out your willing ignorance and denial of reality? Religious people are deluded. It may feel like an insult but its the truth. You willingly choose to live in ignorance.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  7. Belief Blog Bistro

    Trolls get 10% off! If you haven't picked up your discount card yet please apply here. Today's lunch special is a delicious Asparagus and Ham Panini, served with Peperoncini and your choice of chips. $6.99.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Get Real

      Troll unto others as you would have others troll unto you. Amen.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • End Religion

      Sounds like a good deal but I just ate a Christian for lunch. I should be hungry again in 15 minutes though, as they're not very intellectually filling.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  8. Tom

    Simply amazing how so many people can exsplain how God does not exsiste in the our world....have all these people not
    felt Love,,,,,,,peace from within...the nature of caring for another......How about all they have been blessed with so far in life.
    do they think science can explain why you feel so alone and others are at peace with themselves. Personaly ...the power to recieve Gods Love is within all souls.......yet the power to accept it ....and use it remain the individules choice.....Thats your God given right........So when you leave this mortal body behind as we all must at some point,,,,,your soul will have a chance to explain why you chose not to believe in God.....and then again many were sent here with blinders on because they could not handle the truth

    November 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Get Real

      Of course both are imaginary beings, but the true story is Satan is GOOD and God is EVIL. Satan tapped God on the shoulder and asked God please don't flood the earth and kill all those innocent children. God answered and said "Bra ha ha ha! I am allmighty god and can do what I want. It would please me to see those babies drown in agony! Bra ha ha ha!". Satan said "that's wack, dude! You are one cruel, sick, evil monster". So Satan left heaven and promised to help mankind against the evil imaginary God. Then one day all the people grew up and realized God and Satan are both imaginary so they went away hand in hand as boyfriends forever. That is after God asked Satan's forgiveness for all of the mean spiteful things he did. The End.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      "do they think science can explain why you feel so alone and others are at peace with themselves"

      YES

      If God was all powerful and wanted me to believe in him then I would.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Tom, an emotional experience is not proof of god.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  9. Dr. D. Johnson

    I have spent a great deal of my professional life in the study of the Gnostic Gospels. As it turns out, the majority of “prophets” contributing to these scriptures was quite illiterate and most likely drew pictures to explain their wisdom.

    Needless to say, transcribing pictographs to verse was a tough task for the monks in those early centuries.

    Moreover, Jesus was the worst of the lot. This poor man could not even draw stick figures in the sand and apparently could not be trusted with anything sharp enough to draw with. As the story goes, Jesus would have to play a primitive form of "charades" while his scribes tried to guess his meaning.

    Most scholars agree that this is why these books were omitted from the Holy Bible.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Frank Bonora

      The reality is we are outgrowing religion. It can not stand up to undisputed science, logic and reason. The invisable man in the sky belongs with our out grown myths with Santa Clause. We were dead for billions of years before we were born and we will be dead after we die. Get over it.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Dr. D. Johnson

      The evidence would suggest that Judas, Mary, Jesus and others spent a great deal of their down time reflecting on the spiritual dichotomy of the soul vs. the physical and how that relates to the teachings of God.

      Why did they do this? Jesus was attracted to Buddhism and often rested his decisions on the non-bias imaginings of one who would make sacrifice in this life only to be reborn in the next.

      In short, Jesus was a Jew by birth, but not by practice. He taught his own flavor of Buddhism and his closest disciples, Judas and Mary for example, were quite sure he was a snake in a previous life.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Think

      Johnson, the day you get a doctoral degree is the day that I am short.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Dr. D. Johnson

      Jesus was quite real, and quite human. Even Timothy and Philip knew the true nature of Christ, as evidenced in this passage from the Gospel of Philip, "...and our Lord came unto me and witnessed as I behaved without intimidation."

      Scholars believe this is evidence of group sexual activity, common place at this time in history among men afield.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • End Religion

      I automatically discount anything written by someone who thinks "Dr." in his name lends him credibility..... lol

      November 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  10. 4spdstick

    all these comments are spot on. seems our educated society has outgrown the unsupportable notions espoused in the bible. it is only useful as a history of the hebrews, (old testament) when taken in context with the writings of the other early civilizations in the middle east some of which have only recently been deciphered. the new testament is useless,

    November 18, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      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.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Think

      Think about it. The masses of people during Biblical times had no formal education and no means of employment. Being a slave by a nobleman or a trades man was a blessing because the person now had a roof over their head, and food in their bellies.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • tallulah13

      "Think"? Did you actually read what 4spdstick said? Because your reply makes absolutely no sense in the context of the original post.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  11. centeredpiece

    What people so fail to understand is that Jesus set cultural rules for women on their head (as he did in so many areas). We think nothing of the fact that he had women followers or that he spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well or the Canaanite woman pleading for her daughter's healing. But in his day and culture, Jewish men spoke only to their mothers, wives, and sisters (and other female relatives). The fact that Jesus spoke to women outside that group was astounding to the people of his time – to his own disciples in fact. Martha went to Jesus asking him to remind her sister, Mary of her proper place – in the kitchen instead of with the male disciples learning at Jesus' feet. But Jesus refused to tell Mary to "get into that kitchen and rattle them pots and pans." Instead he tried to calm Martha's many anxieties and told her that Mary had chosen the better part "and it shall not be taken from her." (oh, would that this were true!!!). The pericope about the woman with a hemorrhage is the apex of Jesus' view of women. In her time and culture, a woman with a hemorrhage was a pariah – according to the Levitical laws she was "unclean" and could not be in public. For twelve years, this woman had been isolated from all but her family. Yet she ventured out to Jesus, perhaps because she had heard that he welcomed women. So she touched him and was immediately cured of her flow. She thought to melt back into the crowd, but the cure was not enough for Jesus. He had felt the power go out of him and he sought to do more than cure this woman – he wanted to heal her as well. Although she risked punishment for even being in public, he called on her to come forward and with a word "daughter" he showed God's love for one who was considered the lowest of the low, and re-integrated her into her own village as a person beloved of God. So whenever people quote NT scripture to argue that women are "less than" I have to shake my head because surely they know nothing about scripture.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Get Real

      God is imaginary and so is Jesus. Deep down yo know this to be true. You know the bible is a book of myths and lies. One day you will awake to logic and reason, and grow up and realize religion is make believe.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • HoS wa'

      Doq choltaH wa' DIchDaq taH vo' vaD Hoch vo' SoH vam DIchDaq taH vaD Hoch DaH vetlh 'oH ghaH Sov Daq taH bIng vo'. moj vaD neH maH tlhap vaD ghotpu.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      centeredpiece,

      Apparently you haven't read much of Paul of Tarsus' stuff then. His writings make up almost 1/2 of the NT. His writings are quite misogynistic.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • HoS wa'

      teH, A Frayed Knot.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • raforrester

      Great post. Thanks. The founders of the great religions push the people into more freedom from the injustice of the previous religions (like the Pharisees) and more responsibility for themselves (Love your neighbor). Regardless of what you think of the existence of God or the divinity of Jesus, he brought a vision of a more loving and just society, and that vision took off. It is also true that later people used (and still use) his teachings to oppress others, but many (perhaps most) Christians today look to the example of Jesus for guidance in how to treat others, not to the Old Testament. "What Would Jesus Do" is a valid question no matter what your theology says about him.

      Buddha and Muhammad also had visions of more peace, love and justice in the world. Unfortunately, all religions can be hijacked by the violent, unloving, and unjust. Buddhism has survived that better than most, and Islam worse than most. Our responsibility is to see the vision, and follow that, whether we are religious or not.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  12. Glenn clabough

    the bible is nor was never meant to be used to measure,justify or judge mankind. that is the problem. it's was given as a way for all generations to be able to learn to walk with God and our lord Jesus Christ. when someone tries to use this or that passage to justify themselves or their acts, it is a spirit of antichrist within them that compels them to justify them selves before men. your justification and judgement comes from God alone not man. A preachers job is not to tell you right and wrong or to point a finger at any man, that is Satan's job! the preacher is to spread the word and eliminate ignorance of it only. it is a father's job to correct his children and a mothers is to council.. peace be unto you Amen.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  13. Get Real

    Is the bible really the literal word of god and to be followed to the letter? Well, the more I read it the more of an atheist I become. And this Jesus fellow sounds like a stupid jerk.

    Have you noticed that in many cases Jesus is childish and emotional, rather than thoughtful? People who act like this are jerks. Here's an example from Matthew 18:7-9:

    "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
    This statement is totally ridiculous on several different levels. First, something like a hand cannot "cause you to sin" - your brain causes "sin." Every intelligent person knows that. Therefore, gouging your eye out or cutting your hand off is useless. If you have a problem with "sin" and you are going to amputate something to solve it, you would need to amputate your brain, since that is where all "sin" originates.
    But if you think about it further, you realize that Jesus has completely missed the actual remedy. If you are having a problem with unproductive behaviors, what you need to do is either educate or rehabilitate yourself. You would do that by talking with a counselor or seeing a therapist. Amputation is an absurd prescription, as every intelligent person knows. Jesus is not only a jerk - he is an idiot. He dispenses advice that is completely useless, and recklessly dangerous as well.

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

      You obviously are unschooled in the rhetorical devices common in 1st century Jewish culture. Hyperbole was commonly used to emphasize a point. None of Jesus' listeners would have thought for a moment that he actually was telling them to gouge out their eyes or cut off their hands. What they did understand was that it was better for suffer deprivation of one degree to avoid a wrong of a greater degree. Seriously, Get Real, if you are going to engage in scriptural interpretation you might want to do some reading about the historical-critical method of interpretation. It might save you from making more untutored remarks.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Derangedcowbrain

      Spot on.

      He's advocating self-mutilation. So kids who "cut" themselves are now officially biblical and following the word of Jesus.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      centeredpiece
      "You obviously are unschooled in the rhetorical devices common in 1st century Jewish culture."

      This was supposed to be "the word for the ages". A real smart "God" would know that they could so easily be misinterpreted.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  14. 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 1:40 pm |
    • Sue

      We don't all act in the same way though. There is no "atheist creed" that guides us. All we do is discount the idea that there is some deity out there with all the right answers for every single human, and that some writings or leaders here on earth somehow convey those answers.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Eric1334

      Christians are the ones who have this superiority complex you're describing.To say someone is going to hell because they don't believe in your religion is the height of arrogant. They automatically believe this ,so to say athiests have some sort of "superior role" is so hypocritical its beyond belief. Oh yea its also beyond belief because it's simply not true. Athiesm is NOT a certain set of beliefs , athiests do NOT all think alike and to suggest this is completely ignorant. There is no offical doctrine that athiests subscribe to so it's completely ridiculous to say this is a form a religion ,same goes with darwinism . You don't get to say "oh well its also a system of belief ,so its a wash " No, we have actual things to back up our argument whereas christians have only a book with a lot of stories that have no truth to them whatesoever. Show me a god ,if not stop trying to marginalize our lack of belief as some sort of common belief system that doesn't match up to yours because of lack of numbers. To say we're basically the same is completely ridiculous,you're the only one believing in fairy tales here.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  15. Corner Cafe

    Try our Lionly Lamb Chops! Braised Lamb Chops with Risotto and Buttermilk Rye Bread. Your choice of vegetable. $12.99. (Dinner Only)

    November 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Chow Lee Sushi

      Corner Cafe
      You put lipstick on pig, still pig, no jewish or moslem customers, they come here because no shell fish unless ask , eel not shell fish, Ok. We get OK to re-open soon, guano not right thing. We offer free sake everyone in sit down customer soon.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  16. Marine57

    "But the Bible is not a position paper.... " WRONG, Ms. Evans – Jesus said, "For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law."

    "The Bible is an ancient collection of ..." WRONG, Ms. Evans – The Bible is the Word of God.

    If you want to KNOW the Word of God and be qualified to USE it, FIRST you must be saved. Secondly, you must "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, (then you can be) a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

    A medical doctor who, unqualified, practices medicine is called a "quack" or "charlatan".
    An attorney, unqualified, practices law is called a "shyster".
    Any person claiming to be a Christian (especially a preacher) who, unqualified, tries to badly interpret the Word of God to you or to the world is calld a "false prophet". "These speak evil of those things which they know not".

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

      A Christian is called an "Idiot"

      November 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • awasis

      So who made you qualified? You? And don't give me some bullschit that you and your flavor of Christianity has the right interpretation based on your own opinion. How do you know that you are not a false prophet? Who certificated you correct? Oh yea, you did and the people who interpret the Bible the same way you do. Pretty convenient, wouldn't you say? I say you're full of krap.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Sue

      Who would be more "qualified" to read scripture than a biblical scholar like John Dominic Crossan, a major player in the Jesus Seminar? The "quacks" in biblical interpretation are those who think they can just "feel" their way through what the bible "means" because they were "saved". Take any dozen of these people and put them in separate rooms with a biblical passage to interpret for themselves and you'll get twelve different answers. Those who come close to the same answer will most likely have gotten it from having read the same book once. They are all deluded if they think some "spirit" is feeding them the correct answers. It's all coming from what their minds want to believe in the first place.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Marine57 writes with the same ardor and certainty felt by every True Believer™ of every god that humanity has ever worshiped. Another thing he shares with all those other True Believers™: Not one of them has a single shred of evidence to support the existence of their god.

      All those gods, and no proof for any of them. Kind of makes you wonder.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Marine57

      @ awasis...
      I am qualified as a Mechanical Engineer because I studied at Purdue and have 25 years experience.
      I am qualified as a Marksmanship Training Instructor because I studied marksmanship and have 9 years experience on 4 rifle teams.
      I am qualified as a Layout Inspector (card-carrying UAW skilled labor) because I have 18 years experience in an automotive factory.
      I am qualified as a Computer Programmer because I have 18 years experience in BPDS and Fortran.
      I am qualified as a Christian Education Evangelist because I have studied the Word of God for 40 years.
      I am qualified as an Auto Mechanic because I have personally maintained my own vehicles for 56 years.
      I am not qualified as a cook, but I can make stuffed eggs, pancakes, and tea really well!
      I am not qualified as a husband because I have had 2 wives and neither of them liked me.
      I am not qualified as a father because none of my 4 children and none of her 3 children liked me.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • isolate

      "Faith," according to the author of Epistle to the Hebrews 11:1 (KJV), "is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." In your opinion the Bible is the word of God, yet the Bible itself in the statement I quoted says that faith is based on hope and illusion, not on tangible evidence, a statement I wholly agree with.

      That's why I enjoy reading the Bible (especially Tanakh, or the "old testament") as one of the greatest works of human literature, yet my life is completely secular, based on observable reality and the evidence of things provable. That's why I don't believe in UFOs or Bigfoot, and why I refuse to let my life be governed by ancient hearsay about an Edomite/Hebrew storm god.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Marine, you can study the bible from the cradle to the grave and still have no proof to support the existence of your god. That is the single greatest problem with all religions: There is no factual, rational reason to believe that ANY god exists.

      Religions have used the power of wishful thinking and fear to shape societies for millenia, but science is (too slowly) taking it's place. Personally, I would rather live in a culture based on reason than one based on supersti.tion.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • OTOH

      Marine57,
      "I am qualified as a Christian Education Evangelist because I have studied the Word of God for 40 years."

      Ok, so you are an "expert" on that old book.

      There are 40-year experts on the Quran
      There are 40-year experts on the Hindu Vedas
      There are 40-year experts on Buddha's teachings
      There are 40-year experts on Scientology.
      There are 40-year experts on New Age Spiritualism.
      There are 40- year experts on Voodoo.

      There is NOT a scintilla of verified evidence that you have the "Word of God" anymore than they do.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Frank Bonora

      Do you think that if I don't accept your god as my savior that I deserve to be tortured after I die? God sent his son to be tortured and executed as a scape goat so others can be forgiven of their supposed original sin? He is omnipotent but he couldn't think of a better way to accomplish this? How come he always needs money? He is powerful knows all sees all but just can never seem to manage his money. LOL.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  17. Brian

    You can find just about anything in the "Bible." Isaiah 31 says the world is flat. Timothy II supports slavery. Evangelicals tend to ignore Christ's Sermon On The Mount in Matthew because it sounds like a blue print for socialism.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • centeredpiece

      You mistake fact for truth. They are not exactly the same. It matters not so much HOW the universe was created (although the first version creation in Genesis is interestingly similar in some ways to the modern scientific view, going from light – the big bang – to simple then more increasingly complex life, but I digress) what matter is that it was created by a loving God. It doesn't so much matter when the first people were named Adam and Eve; what matters is that all humans are children of one God and ought to treat each other well. Under your approach, one could look at previous eras of scientific thought (which, by the way at one time also believed that the earth was flat) and, finding mistakes, decide that all of science was no more than a bunch of hooey! Remember spontaneous generation? Remember bleeding ill people? There are many more examples.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Eric1334

      @centered piece
      But that is the scientific method! That's exactly what seperates science from religion. Science is willing to take in new information and change based on evidence. Religion does not do this and to suggest the bible has any sort fo science in it is a futile attempt to distort what it says to fit your argument, somthing you must be getting pretty good at . It does matter ,as far as dates, because you're the one spouting all this nonsense off as truth. Well truth has to be supported by some sort of facts, and the bible just isn;t . What a ridiculous statement , go grasp at some more straws.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  18. lionlylamb

    My Word Lays Upon Truth's Opening Doors

    Mathew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God!"

    Luke 17:21, "The kingdom of God is inside you!"

    John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world!"

    1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!"

    The troubles with trinitarians, those who belly-up to one god times three is, they read but only into it and get very little out of what they make 'go-spellingly' in amplifications of unblessed pleasings. Their preaching in devilish tongues beatifies only the dumb-hearted relics of their christiandumbness's idiosyncratic marmoset-like redundancies. Their godly moralisms are but self-centered and self-censored upon redundant principles that are archaic in cultured relics being those old fuddy duddies who fumble ever for their next glass worth of wine! Drunk and in tempormental stupors are the emotionally fallen in christiandumbs folds becoming sciatic pragmatisms unworthy of even one toasting for, but rather against!

    Godless and the ungodly, for these are the choices from which commonwealth atheists do make felt upon their habitual senses denying the goodly of ever moving ways of Godly intent. Many young-bucks of godlessness and the ungodly tender to avail themselves with the nailed doldrums' sciatica and do abound with much societal unpleasantries toward the abaters of wanton deniabilities against them, those ungodly and godless beings of smirked vials of randomized intention-abilities. Their deniabilities are not without compromising or so they do entail and also do weave upon the where-with-alls laments.

    The mockeries of these godless and ungodly against the goodly who do themselves believe upon Godly importance may well live on past all and onto every garden's Aged endings. How else could Life Truly End and Real Living thusly Begin? To believe or not believe for these are Life's choices. Christ Jesus came to this world to condemn it and yet did He come here to also show how tenderly His mercies upon those being most merciful to others who did so to deserve mercy to be freely given by Him! To believe or not believe for these are Life's choices. Still yet are found mercies, for the mercifilled are one of Life's greatest treasures and livings' sweetest unending rewards.

    God does never change His spiritualism for His Holy Spirit is the Great Sea of Absolute Nothingness! Always was and is and will ever be no matter what matters of materialized shapes do tend to seemingly clutter up His spiritual abundancy It is truth that God has troubles within the fractal paradigms of inter-cellular cosmologies as protruding 'activists' are sometimes revolting against the grains of our embodied sanctifications creating many undulations of travesties not uncommonly being viewed by us celestial beings as being viral and bacteriological in the way we understand things to be and become. What was first made can never again become that which was made first for only in varying differential constructs can another thing be made to be outdone against that which was firstly made. The pillars of one's DNA, the spirals of all celestial life forms and formations is where God's Sons and their given wives are taken in as residents there abouts.

    It is truth that God has troubles within the fractal paradigms of inter-cellular cosmological wherein 'activists' sometimes revolt against the grains of our embodied sanctifications creating many undulations of travesties not uncommonly viewed by us celestial beings as being viral and bacteriological in the way we understand things to be and become. What was first made can never again become that which was made first for only in varying differential constructs can another thing be made to be outdone against that which was firstly made.

    The Kingdoms of God lay where the inner structures of celestial Life do share in the abundancies of Living Fractals in Inter-Cellular Cosmological Paradigms. As mankinds' continual hunting for the Codifying of Life's laws in Cellularized Confinements continues onwards, many folks will ever become unendingly complacent upon our societal grandeurs for wanting sakes, trying valiantly never to be outdone by those who tend to be in broadest simplifications' adjuring. May we be merciful upon those who deservidely aspire to be merciful toward others.

    A scattering is upon us in these trying days and Age. Leave your wantings behind and never take wind of one's longings for the weightiness of one's longings will smite even the most influential. Carry away nothing and leave. Head to the places inside one's being and do not keep ajar your door for many will want to enter in and should not. Your loving this Life is for the world to have needs of and you should not heed the rumors from others as to just what is truly right. It is therefore best for mankind to simmer in their yet unfinished juvenile pottages never rationalizingly 'assaying' one's diffuse detriments, the very smallest of life's grains. As smitten breeds, our splendors reveal one's characters to be traitorous to one's analogous fold. Where then does True Life end and Real Living begin?

    Who before this day's Age is found worthy of Goodly praises? Who after us will find peace set before them? Who in today;s timeline is this "son of man" that many should fear him for his worthiness stance? Who above can see the below? Who that is below can see what be above? From the very smallest crevice to the most high chasms, the Sea of Nothingness is the Holy Spirit. May the elemental Gods find favor in this found son of man that he may not be afflicted with this world's power but rather he should carry upon him the angst from his manhood till his natural death.

    What I spiritually believe in is that the Families of God including God Himself lives upon the very first created Cosmos which is the inner Cosmos. Our being but upon this celestial cosmos is due our being cast out of the Inner Cosmos for many reasons. Some were cast out of this Inner Cosmos for faultering and some for continuing to do the Lord's Will here upon this celestial realm of gigantic life forms whereupon their insides are living many families of God's members. We live upon this realm doing what we want while many of us unify ourselves in the communal. My way is not your way and yet when we cross paths we receive each other and after a spell do walk on and are parted.Therefore, walk placidly amid the noise and waste ever being mindful of the peace one finds in finding peace there about.

    Is God to be made a mockery by those who tend to instill anti-leveraged pragmatisms? Are we to believe in the godless and the ungodly who care little about the piecemeal subjectives' ordinates?

    Jesus, was the very first of many immeasurable 'elemental beings' and was in the Beginning an elemental king of all the elemental Gods. Jesus, in His cunning, did thru Chaos' manueverings, established the gravimetrical waves for the elementals to gather in broods thusly was formed the beginnings of celestial nebulas.

    As time did force the nebulas to progressively surround the gravimetric oscillations where from did come about galactic formations of the elementals' soundness. As systems of photonic elementals, the infinitesimal finite elemental Gods did shower the solarized systems with their embodied beings. And in the Now, we are but made from the photonic elementals' stillnesses, the stardusts of the Ages.

    My "Physicist" knows very well the quantum physicalities of natured atomic stimulations. I call this "Physicist" God. He has strewn His Sea of Nothingness with 'photogenitisms' or the stillness of the photons creating all manner of the first materials needed to become thru timeliness all the elementals' members of our declared Periodic Table of Materialized Photogenitis.

    Microbiologists are today's inner-seeking astrophysicists for they are searching among our embodied core-roots to find answers regarding biological fractals of inner cosmological paradigms. We truly are God's buildings! Some of our bodies are condominiums and some are for storage purposes and some are the temples where God's family members and His servants do pay homages in. 1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!"

    Sciences are but the dreams dreamt and are atheists' treasure troves of good books they hardly ever do read, for many atheists aren't too bright yet they stand by these scientists without one iota of deniability to question science books that even the commoner seldom reads nor truly understands. Who among us knows about that 'Self-Similar Cosmological Paradigm' lays open the doors to Cosmologies of the Fractal kinds? Who among us truly understands that energy equals mass times light squared and its' true potential? What is the point in adoring scientific reasoning when one's IQ level can be counted on ten fingers?

    1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!"

    Inside of the Fractals within Bio-Cosmological Paradigms lays all inter-cellular activities only just recently becoming known by mankinds' Sciences. All religions have been left in the dustiness sideroads where Truth does prevail upon many of mankind's teachers students of Bio-Technicalities wanting to willingly know about the kingdoms of God which lay upon the insides of all celestially nomenclatured biological life forms and life formations.

    As this Age of Great Enlightenments upon the Kingdoms of God does progressively teach one is taught from its outward creviced distances toward almost absolute finiteness or the very very smallest of distinguishable degrees, God will allow our students and teachers of such studies to meaningfully create biologic mechanisms for the better welfare of all our physical needs and trade orientated desires.

    What I believe is; "The Cosmos is immeasurably full of ever unkowable to us universes." The 'analogous' variabilities of moving universes is so slow in their plights that trillions upon trillions times triliions of our years will pass by before any other universe will gain entrances onto any other universe. As our Ages of tenureships figuratively coalesce in the extemities ponderances, the forlorn and the 'un-abled' will ever need others to carry them along and alongside the tapestries of Life and its garnered adaptabilities. Love therefore and do never 'not' love for one would be wasting away their love for living and the need for loving is tantamount and above reproach.

    I feel a compelling want to tell you about some verses in Gospel scripture. Is it not written to above all things to seek firstly the "Kingdom of God". This said, have you ascribed to doing so? Where does one look to or towards in order to find that which we are told to seek as scripture does declare one to do?

    Mathew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God."

    I've searched the Gospel writings and have found a single verse telling all who have found it as to the true and literal location of God's Kingdomly Domains!

    Luk 17:21 "The kingdom of God is inside you."

    I take Luke 17:21 quite literally and so should all who believe in One God and His One Son of perhaps oodles upon oodles of otherly Sons and Daughters too numerous to really expound upon! Christ is special because he was born to take upon his being the sins of those who were and then were also and of times yet to come! God's Kingdoms being inside us and within our ownliness bodies can also be associated with another verse of scripture ,,,,

    ,
    1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

    The just above verse does tell much more than just glimpsing over it could proclude! Our being labourers with God may well seem to give us all an equal footing with God and his aspirations for our betterment's sakes! His being our husbandry may well regard God as having a firm footing in our conceptions of childbirthing beyond mere genetic understandings!

    But in the aboveness verse, the very understanding that we or our bodies are God's buildings may well inspire one to disavow such a claim due one's foresightedness sakes and lacking of rationalisms' of credible resources. Yet, as I see things, we, our bodies are not only God established and God created buildings for the benefits of the Godly who reside inside of us, but are for our benefits for learning and understanding the precepts of "Fractal Cosmologies"!

    We have seen that which our bodies are made up of and they are of cellularized structures not "unlike" nebula structures in outer space places! These celestial nebula structures are yet a work-in-progress and our body-like buildings are a progress in the works!

    These words are revelations of my Faith as to my Godly understandings regarding the Kingdom Domains of God, his Sons and his Daughters-in-law and all forms and mannerisms of Life-ever-lasting principles and principalities of ever living progressives!
    While the charge is truthful that Christ will never come back, our problems regarding life after death does ever remain. If one does so believe that nothing is one's finality, the, so be they, however if one faithfully believes in a hereafter, the will be faithfully rewarded no matter how small their faith is bequeathed upon them. The Great Sea of Nothingness does not come about with perilless underpinning whereupon the common atheist concerns are afforded. Cold is this great sea of Nothingness and colder still are the atheists who declare upon nothing to be their finalities. Like hell's fury does Nothingness's cold strike out! Only the very devoted atheists will garner the cold of Nothingness for Christ was never of them even though words were said to them!

    Written by God's Oldest Dreamer

    November 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      That was fantastic. So good I read it twice.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Marine57

      @ lionlylamb...
      You do brazenly break the rules of argumentation and debate, that one side has 60 seconds to present their case.

      Go through the posts and observe their sizes, and make no post that is any longer than the others – this is the first principle of civilized living in society.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      A.B. See,

      Dare I say you are a wonderful liar! 🙂

      I am making attempts to read my soon to become someday book online for I have no program I can use to edit what I write. 😦

      November 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Dick Izinya

      Would you care to elaborate on that statement?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  19. Rubens

    We "pick and choose" because otherwise the Bible do not makes any sense. Page after page, the contradictions appear all over. As Albert Einstein wrote: "God is nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."

    November 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  20. blf83

    Virtually all those who bandy about the word "biblical" cherry-pick verses to substantiate a preconceived notion instead of dealing with it in context. Then, they ignore the surrounding "difficult" verses.

    November 18, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.