home
RSS
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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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 • My Take • Opinion

soundoff (4,657 Responses)
  1. lionlylamb

    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 nothingness is one's finality, then, so be they, however if one faithfully believes in a hereafter, they may well be faithfully rewarded no matter how small their faith is bequeathed upon them. The Great Sea of Nothingness does not come about without perilless underpinnings whereupon the common atheist concerns are afforded them. Freezing Cold is this Great Sea of Nothingness and colder still may well become of the atheists who declare upon nothingness to be their finalities. Like hell's fury does Nothingness's cold strike out! Only the very devoted atheists might garner the freezingbitter cold of Nothingness for Christ was never of them even though words were said to them being those ungodly and godless souls of deniabilities aggressions!

    November 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      That's beautiful man.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • jobseeker

      Hey, lionlylamb, (or should I say Shakespeare). Yo, this is a CNN comment section, not an audition for a play! "Christ will never come back?" And you're a Bible Expert? What, did you ask Him and he said he ain't coming? What Bible are you reading, Sir William? "A bigger buffoon is he who saith he understandeth and doth not, than the swine of atheism who truly forever reapeth the harvest of ignorance whilst examining the only thing they undeastandeth, their a*holes!!" Touche'!

      November 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  2. Apple Bush

    @Yessarie

    I am not miserable, quite the contrary. I rejoice in being free. You are a slave to mythology. Sad.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  3. Bootyfunk

    the bible says to kill g.ays, non-virgin brides, disobedient children and anyone working the weekend. the bible is disgusting. anyone who actually read and followed the bible word for word would be among the worst serial killers/murderers the world has ever known.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I am pretty sure you are supposed to hire strangers to rape your daughters so they can get married.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Doomed

      @Bootyfunk

      How will you raise your children with atheist ways? What will you replace Santa Claus with at Christmas? Because you atheists don't believe in anything will you show them g a y pride parades instead of bringing them to Disney Land? Will you tell them scary stories about God being a cruel and a murderer and you dark and ugly version of the what you believe about the Bible to put them to sleep instead of telling them a fairytale story. Will you show them half naked g a y people walking down the street and say look this is good? Nothing from the mouth of an atheist is clean, it's all negativity and dark. It's all about judging others because they are not like you are. Oh you will tell me that religious people are the same too. Of course they are, it's an imperfect world made of imperfect people. But removing all those little fairytale to children when they're young is not a good thing either. There is nothing wrong with Christmas and giving those kids a little joy and gifts. You don't have to teach those kids your ugly interpretation of the Bible and tell them look God says kill these people. Just teach them about loving each others and the good things Jesus have thought us to do. Teach them about love and give them hopes, don't give them the dark and sinister world views of atheism.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      Dude just because something was mentioned in the bible 3800 years ago, doesn't mean that we still live by that. I still don't support that gay people aren't sinful, but I do support that everyone is sinful. Do I go out and kill gays because of what the Old Testament said 3800 years ago? no. I go out for lunch with them and would hang with them just as I would anyone else.
      Find a valid argument and stop trying to say that a cultural law written millennia ago is how Christians think they should live now.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Doomed

      @Bob

      Then go out and bring your kids at a g a y pride parade where half naked men dressed in spandex where their parts shows. If you think that's better for kids to see go ahead. Bring them to their Spa's where men are taking anything that walks on two feet to have s e x with each others. Teach them about taking drugs. Because that's what g a y life is all about. And don't tell me it's not, you can't imagine how many young men i pulled out and helped them out of that life style. Today they are married and living a normal life, these people are now my friends and they forever thanking me for what i gave them. You would think they are born g a y, don't get me wrong some are yes, but others are put and brainwashed into this lifestyle and because of their youth and innocence they don't know better. They just need a helping hand to put them on the right track. Brainwashing them at their young ages and exposing them into believing that g a y are normal is just ruining their lives. you have no idea how many young men i've help out on that lifestyle. Let those who are born that way be what they are, but don't force kids into accepting it as a normal thing to do. You will only increase the chances to turn them into someone they were not meant to be because of their youth and innocence. If you think atheism have all the answers well you're wrong, they sure don't when it comes to certain values.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  4. cindy lou who

    you took the bait too....guess i didnt fail LOL

    November 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  5. Doomed

    Oh Lord, here is another CNN Troll for Atheists to annoy people again.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      cult members are generally annoyed by facts and truth.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Doomed

      You're right, atheism is one good example, it is a Cult.lol

      November 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • and as always

      footybunk is wrong

      November 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  6. was blind, but now I see

    "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"),

    Paul was speaking to a very specific audience. An audience in which the women were not allowed to participate in the "Bible studies". That is why they were to remain silent. Because they were unlearned. Not of their own fault, mind you. This is why Paul used the story of Adam and Eve. He wasn't saying that Eve was stupid. He was saying that Adam had not done his duty of teaching her.

    “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").”

    They are being legalistic. Paul is talking about covering your head with Christ (not a piece of cloth).

    “Pastors told wives to submit to their husbands as the apostle Peter instructed in 1 Peter 3:1,”

    Yea. But only if their husband loved them as Christ loved the church. If their husband started beating them (for example) they would no longer have to submit.

    “but rarely told them to avoid wearing nice jewelry as the apostle instructs them just one sentence later in 1 Peter 3:3.”

    Once again, read the context. He did not say not to wear jewelry. He said not to wear it like a wh0re. For God does not judge by outward appearance as a man, but instead He judges the heart (motive).

    By God, people. It’s not that difficult to figure out if you just take the time to read it.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Surthurfurd

      It is so simple that it took paragraphs to "justify" something.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • sybaris

      Regardless, it matters not.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Dr. D. Johnson

      In the Gnostic Gospels, Peter and Matthew are depicted as unable to understand Jesus’ message, most likely due to his deafness. While the other disciples took the time to learn sign language, such as it was, Peter and Matthew did not find this to be important.

      Scholars have interpreted this as a criticism against the school of Christianity associated with the Gospel of Matthew where Matthew writes, “…our Lord, be He holy and impressive is challenging. He challenges us in mind and patience.”

      November 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Elizabeth Hart

      Good point. People should not take bible verses out of context, however it still validates the author's point that the bible is interpretation based on the surrounding context, not just the words surrounding the passage, but society at the time. Very good point.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ was blind – really nice to see that you believe that you can interpret the will of a supposedly all-knowing, all-powerful ent-ity that created the universe. Kind of like a bacterium saying that it knows the innermost thoughts of Einstein. Rather arrogant of you.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Dr. D. Johnson

      In the Gnostic Gospels, Peter and Matthew are depicted as unable to understand Jesus’ message, most likely due to his deafness. While the other disciples took the time to learn sign language, such as it was, Peter and Matthew did not find this to be important.

      Scholars have interpreted this as a criticism against the school of Christianity associated with the Gospel of Matthew where Matthew writes, “…our Lord, be He holy and impressive is challenging. He challenges us in mind and patience.”

      Who's deafness are you refering to, and what translation of Matthew's Gospel are you reading?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ was blind – really nice to see that you believe that you can interpret the will of a supposedly all-knowing, all-powerful ent-ity that created the universe. Kind of like a bacterium saying that it knows the innermost thoughts of Einstein. Rather arrogant of you.

      If the bacterium spent decades studying the words of Einstein, and had a portion of Einstein's very own essence (spirit) within it, well.....yea, I gues the bacterium could very well make that claim.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Yes, was, and IF pigs had wings they could fly. IF, IF, IF. Guess what? Pigs don't have wings.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      @Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear; "Yes, was, and IF pigs had wings they could fly. IF, IF, IF. Guess what? Pigs don't have wings."

      Thank-you for closing my point.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  7. Eric

    You write as though you're an avid bible studier and don't understand the basic difference between civil laws and moral laws in the old testament? The passages concerning civil law are defined as such right there in the text, and are all relevant to the time and culture in which they were given. The passages on timeless moral laws are also clearly spelled out.

    That's an utterly foundational point for any old testament study. If you missed the fundamentals what qualifies you to write a book defining "biblical principals"?

    November 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      I'm finding that more and more with the more liberal 'Evangelicals' these days. They don't seem to have even a basic grasp of Biblical exegesis and hermeneutics. They are kind of like fundamentalists in the way they handle the Bible... they've just fallen in the other ditch. They proof-text Biblical texts sans-context and then just put a 'Christian-left' rather than a 'Christian-right' spin on. Unfortunately, in both cases, the problem is utter ignorance.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      There's no shortage of "experts" out there. They remind me of the pharisees and sadducees. They were so educated in their beloved Torah, but couldn't recognise their long-awaited messiah when He was standing right in front of them.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  8. Steve Wilkinson

    Rachel, as someone who supposedly 'loves the Bible' you should know better. You're 'analysis' of Levitical law and it's application is like Sunday-school level overly simplistic. You're either A) better informed and just playing the ignorant masses, or B) confused yourself because you haven't had enough education on the matter.

    Remember what the Bible says about the responsibility of teachers... and as a prominent blogger and author, you're filling that role in some manner.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      According to the bible, teachers are required to lie to children's faces about the lies and fallacies of Christianity. This is child abuse. Christian "teachers" do not allow children time to mature and utilize their critical thinking skills. Early indoctrination is the only way to keep the cult numbers high and the money flowing in. This is child abuse and should be punishible by law.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Elizabeth Hart

      Mr. Wilkinson, I thought this article or blog, was rather insightful. It is asking for open discussion and interpretation of the bible. Instead of taking the bible literally, it is about the reason for the bible verse and how it applies to your life at that moment. She obviously does not believe the literal meaning of Leviticus, but was acknowledging how people will take some parts of the bible literally.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ Apple Bush -
      With a statement like that, I'll take on your 'critical thinking' skills any day. ;)

      November 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Kevin Wilhoit

      Thanks Steve. That is a thoughtful and careful critique and exhortation. I'm so often frustrated reading blogs that misrepresent the Bible or Christianity. I hope the author takes your advice and heeds the warning of scripture.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      Elizabeth, you have to take the Bible in proper context. That's kind of one of the first rules of looking at ANY text. When you pick up a newspaper and read, "The Giants killed the Packers" you have to know a few things to get the meaning (like it's the sports sections; who the Giants and Packers are; what 'killed' means in this context, etc.) If you know this, you read it literally. What we want to avoid is reading it literalistically or to superficially so as to misunderstand and misapply it.

      Rachel makes so many mistakes in what she has stated in this article, that you certainly shouldn't trust her conclusions.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Elizabeth Hart

      Mr. Bush, as many people have taken on the "Church is making (insert name here) into a cult member", Catholicism and Lutheranism have a process called confirmation where the adolescent is supposed to make a choice if he/she wants to be a member of the church. The Amish have rumspringa (spelling?).

      November 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Steve Wilkinson,
      " What we want to avoid is reading it literalistically or to superficially so as to misunderstand and misapply it."

      A real smart god would've known how to communicate unambiguously... with no misunderstandings or misapplications possible.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Elizabeth Hart

      Mr. Wilkinson,
      I was merely pointing out that she brought up interesting points. I believe she was trying to say that politicians, law makers, are taking verses out of context, and in reality, a person cannot take one verse and run with it, but they have to consider the surrounding context. Thank you for your concern for my education, I hope you have a good day (evening? night? don't know what time it is where you are at)

      November 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ A Frayed Knot -
      I guess you'd have to explain to me what is ambiguous. All the core things are pretty unambiguous. But, when you WANT to misapply something, you'll find a way. The problem isn't generally on God's revelation side of things. (The only thing I noticed Rachel mention which is a bit ambiguous, is the office of elder/pastor and females. On that, I'd probably agree with her position and that it isn't a super-clear issue. But, it's also hardly a core issue and is complex primarily because of our historical distance from the context. Had we been there, I doubt we'd have had any doubt. This is a basic problem with any form of communication. The only solution would be for God to give us a new text every decade or so. Why doesn't God do that? I don't know... maybe He wanted us to care enough to invest the time to learn something about Him.)

      @ Elizabeth Hart -
      She brings up some interesting points I guess (they are certainly 'hot' in our culture), but since she gets the basics wrong, I'm not sure of what use her input is. Her level of handling the text is on par with with the folks who say, "Look, the Bible talks about preaching to the 4 corners of the earth... the earth is clearly flat!" If you don't know basic Biblical exegetical principals, you can MAKE the Bible say (or think the Bible says) all sorts of wacky things. Or, in this case, you can decide that thousands of years of careful study are just bunk because you've figured out some new, clever way of reading it.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • esperanza

      Just out of curiosity, do you go to Bobby Thieme's church in Houston, TX, or listen to his lessons on dvd?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  9. Dr. D. Johnson

    Polygamy is possible without breaking God's law against Adultery.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      There is no god; therefore there is no god's law against adultery. Simply a man-made attempt by men to try to keep their wives from straying

      November 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  10. Dr. D. Johnson

    Did you know that in the Gospel of Thomas, it is written that Jesus relied heavily on Thomas saying, "...it is a weary day dream that Thomas earns great victory in quenching the thirst of my people."

    It was incorrectly translated from the Coptic to mean that "Thomas the Contender" was a champion for Jesus, when in fact; Jesus was referring to Thomas' ability to mix wine-based cocktails! We often joke that he should have been called, "Thomas the Bartender".

    November 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      Did you know that the Gospel of Thomas is a late Gnostic text that just about anyone with an education doesn't take seriously (nor, pretty much anyone with familiarity with the Bible who has actually read it!). It also teaches that women need to be converted into men before they can be saved. ;)
      It has about as much to do with the Biblical texts as Humpty Dumpty.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Steve – didn't you mean to say that anyone who is truly educated does not take ANYTHING in the bible seriously?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      Nope, I didn't mean to say that. If you were even slightly educated in the matter, you'd know that.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Steve – Well, d'uh!

      November 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ Underwear -
      Then I suggest you grow up and do your homework.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  11. lionlylamb

    What is the reasoning for Life? Are we to believe that nothingness is the ultimate conclusion of Life? Just how long did it take Life to create mankind? Kindly consider all the nuances and reasonings for the world's establishing of a biosphere wherein to place mankind upon. Why should such a sphere ever be needed if not for a sound reason? To stand upon the premise that 'naturalistic' phenoms made the world what is now is so falsely unreasoning that it puts assunder the amazing feat that creation itself did play out here amid a rock being at just the right place within the sun's solar system to give rise to mankind! Who'd have guessed we were made right, right here upon this rock?

    November 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      Born of truth, learn truth and live by truth and die in truth absolute, reason for life.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Edweird69

      I don't know the answer to all your question. But, unlike yourself, I'm not about to "invent" answers. To believe that it takes a god to make something from nothing, is to believe it takes a god to make a god.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @lionlylamb – with logic like that, I have to ask – did you finish grade 8? Seriously.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ lionlylamb – by your reasoning, then, God failed miserably because there is no life on Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Pluto, and all of their myriad satellites. Why couldn't god create life that would be compatible with those worlds?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  12. Belief Blog Bistro

    Try our new Yum Yum Yaza Pie!

    Frozen Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie

    Oreo crust and a cream cheese/peanut butter/whipped cream mousse filling. We toss in some chocolate chips and chopped peanuts and the top is drizzled with semisweet chocolate and peanut butter.

    Got a moe-ism for sweets? You’re welcome.

    November 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  13. Meade21

    This woman is not BIBLICAL.........who cares what she has to say......another Liberal Woman....

    November 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      What exactly does "biblical" mean, and who are you to say what it means?

      November 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • robert

      Actually, I think this is one of the most interesting and provocative articles in this series. I appreciate her honesty and I believe she has hit a nail on the head if we are honest. No matter our faith community we can tend to "reduce" the Bible to much less than what it really is, God's revealed Word to mankind.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      No kidding.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • rambr01

      RHE is correct. In evangelical circles (of which I am a part), selective use of the bible is used to support positions already arrived at, and other passages ignored. In terms of gender, God's original design was for men and women as co-rulers, co-inheritors, and equally carriers of the divine image of God. A correct rendering of the Hebrew of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 bears this out, and refutes the dangerous perpetuated heresy that woman was created subordinate, secondary and supportive to the man's needs and calling. The latest incarnation of this gender heresy, put forth by authors such as Mark Driscoll, is called complementarianism.
      Similarly, mistranslation of the greek and quoting out of historical, cultural and topical context has turned Paul into a misogynist when in fact he, like his Messiah, were revolutionary in their teachings, establishing in the church God's original design for man (including the restoration of gender equality and proper relations) which was restored through the redemptive work of the cross.
      The bible is not to be used as a weapon or proof-text for previously held positions. It is sacred, and reveals God's character and God's design, and this is the basis of approaching it, within its historical, cultural and linguistic context, to understand what He desires. And as RHE rightly points out, this needs to generate dialogue.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  14. Just call me Lucifer

    Religion is a virus of the mind.

    November 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Get Real

      Praise Lucifer! Bringer of light and defender of Reason.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      Hale to hindu Jew, filthy self centered, son of hindu Lucifer, filthy self center, secular, teacher of hindu, filthy reason to rob and steal.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      No it is way of hindu's crooks to rob and steal.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Yessarie

      Having a problem with ego and arrogance is what you should look into. Won't do you any good since we already know you refuse to go humble.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • OTOH

      Yessarie,

      Ah yes, go "humble" and proclaim that the Almighty Creator of the Universe loves YOU and fervently desires to spend eternity with YOU!

      November 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  15. Get Real

    Another Christian contradiction:

    A recent issue of Christianity Today featured this cover:

    The cover story is: 5 Reasons Torture Is Always Wrong.

    If you think about it, you can see the contradiction here. What does God plan to do to people who do not accept Jesus Christ as their savior? According to the Christian faith, he plans to torture them for eternity in the fires of hell. Since we all know that torture is always wrong, we have a contradiction.

    According to Genesis, God also tortures all women for eternity with painful childbirth. For her trangression of eating the fruit, God says to Eve:

    "I will greatly increase your pains in Childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children."

    This, of course, is torture. Inflicting excruciating pain on someone as punishment is the dictionary definition of torture, as you can see here:

    tor·ture: Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion. [ref]

    So, according to the Bible, God is the universe's all-powerful torturer. Unfortunately, according to Christianity Today, torture is always wrong. The fact that a perfect God is doing something that is always wrong shows you the contradiction.

    We are so lucky god is imaginary!

    November 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      Word God is short of hindu. pagan god Gowd, the belly, it is full of it, it can do nothing but full of hind, stink like a hindu stinky skunk.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Yessarie

      Get Real. Use you brain instead of for a hat rack. Because you refuse to get along with all in society, you end of being the menace to all of us who are willing to work within society to build society. I know this is difficult for you to comprehend. But all you atheists are antisocial.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • pt

      Actually what you are referring to is not a contradiction and it shows just how little you know about the Bible. You should perhaps make a study of something before trying to pretend you have all the answers.

      The choice Adam and Eve made had consequences. This was made clear to them before they sinned. The worst consequence of their actions is what now all humankind is experiencing, and that is death. This was not what God had purposed for mankind. But since he endowed all of his intelligent creation with free will, they were free to choose God as their Ruler, and live forever, or sin and reject God and lose eternal life.

      God's purpose has not changed for man. We still have an opportunity to gain everlasting life even though we inherited sin/death from Adam. Perhaps you might want to find out how we can gain that because anything is better than this life.
      Cheers

      November 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Edweird69

      @Yessarie – and your retort is not antisocial? What ever happened to Xtians mottos, like "a soft answer turneth away wrath".

      November 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Joe blow

      LOL..so, so logically incorrect in your thesis that it's laughable. If there are pre-existing rules and you knowingly turn away and/or reject those rules and truths, guess who is responsible Get Real? Newsflash: YOU ARE.

      That's the problem with the modern liberal left and the newer generations of morons infesting our country – no accountability, no sense of personal responsibility. Everything is someone else's fault.

      ::: shaking head sadly ::::

      November 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Edweird69

      @PT – BS !! Ezekiel 18:20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Dissident Fairy

      God doesn't torture. He "disciplines those that he loves." I wouldn't exactly call childbirth torture! If it was torture I believe we would see allot less children being born in the world! As far as the unimaginable notion that God hurls heathens into the horrors of hell, I feel that has been misinterpreted by the masses, much of the Bible is symbolic in nature. Many times the term fire in the Bible represents a "cleansing." When one does a comparative analysis of various Bible translations, hell, sheol, pit, and grave, all mean the very same thing, mankind's common grave, ergo, "the wages sin pays is death" not eternal torment, similar to our own justice system. We don't torture hard core criminals we put them to death. Why would God do any less!

      November 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Joe Blow: an evil and powerful gangster moves into the neighbourhood. He says to you, there are some rules I'm imposing. Now, you don;t have to follow these rules – you're completely free to not follow them – but if you don;t follow them then I'm going to kill you family. So if I don't follow those rules I'm the one responsible for the death of my family? Get real. Your god is a monster

      November 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  16. Get Real

    The bible is full of contradictions which would tend to prove god is imaginary and the bible is a book of myths and lies.

    A thoughtful person who thinks about God cannot help but notice the amazing contradictions. They are everywhere you look.

    Here is one very simple example. On the day Moses comes down from Mount Sinai with the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments, he discovers that the Israelites have created a golden calf. To punish the people, Moses gathers a group of men and takes the following action in the book of Exodus, Chapter 32:

    Then he [Moses] said to them, "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.' " The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died.
    So... one minute we have God carving into stone, "Thou shalt not kill." Then the next minute we have God telling each man to strap a sword to his side and lay waste to thousands. Wouldn't you expect the almighty ruler of the universe to be slightly more consistent than this? 3,000 dead people is a lot of commandment breaking. Obviously that is a total contradiction. The reason why you find contradictions like that in the Bible is because God is imaginary.
    When you look at slavery, you get the same feeling of total contradiction. It is obvious to modern human beings that slavery is an abomination.

    The fact that God is a huge proponent of slavery in the Bible shows us that God is imaginary.

    November 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      The irrational belief in god and the bible are the direct bi-product of child abuse.

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

      hey get real if GOD doesnt exist you dont exist. HE i s real . you will find that out when you stand at the judgment. and you will no matter what you think. hell is real and you cant just wish it away. it still exists regardless of what anybody thinks. and if you leave this life unsaved you will end up in hell screaming in pain 24/7 forever!!! and no do overs once you leave this life. so you just going to take your chances after you die and just hope for the best ?good luck with that. and you are isolated from all human contact in hell. there is either heaven or hell when you die. heaven is peace and no more pain and suffering. hell is just that total pain and total suffering. so if you want to get to heaven just tell JESUS you are sorry for your sins and that you accept HIM into your heart and tell HIM you are willing to turn from sin. and thank HIM. and end it with in JESUS name amen. thats it!! not hard at all.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • hindu filthy gherken ism

      SCOTTA, nothing can be proven beyond the existence of the self. No perception felt by the mind can be regarded as truly verifiable, and so its existence is not certain. Hence, nothing outside the mind of the observer can be rationally confirmed.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Yessarie

      Get Real. It must be difficult not knowing your brain doesn't think everything to it's conclusion. But, there is no contradictions in the Bible. If you see contradictions, it means you aren't willing to rid yourself of a sin that you love to do. Very simple. As for slavery. The masses during biblical days. Masses meaning "the people" as a whole, in general, in society had no education. No skills. They were living hand to mouth. Slavery was in those days, employees as we have today. A master bought you ... you worked for the master and were feed, clothed, all living expenses were taken care of for you as the slave. Daaaaaaaaaa. Difficult for you to comprehend because your ego has gotten the best of you.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Get Real

      Praise Lucifer, the bringer of truth, light and reason! Hail Satan, the imaginary adversary to an imaginary god, who has the balls to fight against god's evil ways! Glory be to the mythical beings of Lucifer and Satan who shall slay the evil mythical God of Abraham!!!!

      November 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Dissident Fairy

      God didn't condone slavery! He told the Jews at one point to free their slaves and they did, then, they turned around and re-enslaved them again. That brought God's wrath against Israel and it was one of the reasons he allowed Babylon to conquer them and place them into servitude and exile for 70 years. He's a great believer in justice!

      As far as the Ten Commandments goes, Moses had been pleading their case and defending his people to God regarding their sin, but, when he came down from the mountain and saw what the people were doing against God, after he had just received the Command "You shall have no other gods before me." It angered Moses and at that point he must have felt what they did was worthy of death. He had been defending them to God and they turned around and made a mockery of them both.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  17. Elliot

    As long as we're concerned with the Bible, we're not staying focused on reality.

    November 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • 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.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Yessarie

      The reasons Christians cling to Jesus' truth is because it the most positive way to live. All other paths don't hold a candle to Jesus' truth. The reason you nonbelievers can't see it is simple. You are not the brightest bulbs in the universe.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @Yessarie

      You are a big silly.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • robert

      You sad, sad person. Human centered "reason" is a false reality. God defines reality and only those who know Him understand real reality. It is like a child playing in a mud puddle thinking that is what "real" fun is all about when right around the corner is an ocean side swimming pool. Find God through His Son and experience "real" life.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  18. filthy hindu chronic ism

    Your rastafarian ism pot smoking called irie mon has no legalism in it, rastafarian ism, irie mon from start, Rasta Irie, dread locks irie ism to be reggae. Jamaica ism is blunt ism the dutchie ism and ganja mon, but rasta corrupt reggae is a tool to spread Rastafarian ism, denial of smoke shop passing the dutchie ism laid back among Jamaica and establish rastafarian ism, rasta ism among humanity.

    November 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  19. Dr. D. Johnson

    There is much that does not get told in popular biblical academia.

    For example, Jesus tells us that his father and mother "have not spaketh a single word in two years plus three. This sounds like a man scorned to me.

    How can we prove marital troubles in the home of Jesus? Reading from Mary (Magdalene), she says, "when Joseph's gaze met mine I felt a burning deep within...." She goes on to discuss Jesus' jealousy and rage.

    Is it possible Joseph never forgave Mother Mary for her affair, and Joseph and Jesus were competing for Mary Magdalene’s affection?

    November 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      You can't "prove" anything simply by quoting from or analyzing the bible

      November 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Dr. D. Johnson

      In the Jesus Gospel he discusses long journeys east of the desert where, "....there I encountered great wisdom and peace among the monks. They removed the sand from my sandals and blew upon my feet with flowered breath"

      He goes on to say that, "...we meditated together for many days, fasting but joyful in the divine and always mindful of odor."

      He brought these teachings to his 12 plus Mary and his parents saying, "...know me and know the many lives of the snake, the lizard, and the beasts of all previous lives. Mine is the journey of a God. Perfection can be found through self-sacrifice."

      This is well documented but sadly, few too people understand that Jesus was no more a rabbi than me.

      He was a monk, and according to Timothy, an enthusiastic nudist. "...without concern nor bashfulness, the fullness of our Lord cannot be contained by his tunic."

      November 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      It's NOT well doc-umented – and saying that it is doesn't make it so. Quoting from the bible does not make the contents of the bible true. What other primary sources are you relying on? Sources that are contemporaneous to the events described in the bible, verifiable, and independently shown to be reliable?

      November 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Yessarie

      D. Johnson, try this on for size. You are a fool. Deal with it. We have to.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      What does any of this have to do with the Bible?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  20. Apple Bush

    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.

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

      Apple bush I pray that you will have a change of heart before it's to late. No I am not ashamed to say that I claim Jesus as my Lord ans Savior. Why should I be ashamed of my belief? Are you ashamed of yours?

      November 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Taskmaster, replace "jesus" with "the tooth fairy". Now, as a 3 or 4 year old, sure, go ahead and believe in the tooth fairy. But would you consider an educated adult who believed in the tooth fairy to be a little, well, nutty?

      November 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Yessarie

      Apple, it must be sad not knowing and living His truth. How arrogant not to remember that Jesus, who created all, which includes you and the rest in society. Did so for his pleasure. What pleasure? You'd have to read the Bible to learn how he wants the best for us. But, you choose to stay lost. You refuse and choose to listen to other miserable people, as yourself, to follow to stay confused and miserable.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Advertisement
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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.