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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.

Opinion: What all those Jesus jokes tell us

This didn’t really trouble me until adulthood, when I found myself in a childless egalitarian marriage with a blossoming career and an interest in church leadership and biblical studies. As I wrestled with what it meant to be a woman of faith, I realized that, despite insistent claims that we don’t “pick and choose” from the Bible, any claim to a “biblical” lifestyle requires some serious selectivity.

After all, technically speaking, it is “biblical” for a woman to be sold by her father to pay off debt, “biblical” for a woman to be required to marry her rapist, “biblical” for her to be one of many wives.

So why are some Bible passages lifted out and declared “biblical,” while others are explained away or simply ignored? Does the Bible really present a single prescriptive lifestyle for all women?

These were the questions that inspired me to take a page from A.J. Jacobs, author of "The Year of Living Biblically", and try true biblical womanhood on for size—literally, no “picking and choosing."

This meant, among other things, growing out my hair, making my own clothes, covering my head whenever I prayed, abstaining from gossip, remaining silent in church (unless I was “prophesying,” of course), calling my husband "master,” even camping out in my front yard during my period to observe the Levitical purity laws that rendered me unclean.

During my yearlong experiment, I interviewed a variety of women practicing biblical womanhood in different ways — an Orthodox Jew, an Amish housewife, even a polygamist family - and I combed through every commentary I could find, reexamining the stories of biblical women such as Deborah, Ruth, Hagar, Tamar, Mary Magdalene, Priscilla and Junia.

My goal was to playfully challenge this idea that the Bible prescribes a single lifestyle for how to be a woman of faith, and in so doing, playfully challenge our overuse of the term “biblical.” I did this not out of disdain for Scripture, but out of love for it, out of respect for the fact that interpreting and applying the Bible is a messy, imperfect and - at times - frustrating process that requires humility and grace as we wrestle the text together.

The fact of the matter is, we all pick and choose. We’re all selective in our interpretation and application of the biblical text. The better question to ask one another is why we pick and choose the way that we do, why we emphasis some passages and not others. This, I believe, will elevate the conversation so that we’re using the Bible, not as a blunt weapon, but as a starting point for dialogue.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (4,657 Responses)
  1. Belief Blog Bistro

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    November 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • John

      I had your crab cakes last night and ever since then can't go 4 feet from toilet from mass botchulism. Been puking and explosive diarrhea. Thanks a lot.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • WeWereOnTheMoon

      your place must be not to busy as you got time to spend on forums...just sayin

      November 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Belief Blog Bistro

      John, they are named after Chad you know. If you could be kind enough not to put this on Yelp, there is a free drink in it fot you...

      November 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      It's the horseradish in the mayo. Some people just can't take it. Shoulda come with a warning label.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Drake

      @John

      You are libeling this good man's establishment.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  2. KyRunner

    rachel needs to remember I Timothy 2:11-2:12 before trying to act as a Christian theologian

    November 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Sue

      So, if a man had said the exact same things then you'd be OK with that?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • End Religion

      Another nutter helping convert people to atheism. Welcome to the He-Man Woman Haters Club.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBIC8JTQMMQ&w=640&h=390]

      November 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  3. csx

    BTW, as this is one of a series of anti-Christian articles......I dare you to address Quaranic standards.

    Do not they vote that way too? You leave Islam alone, 1. the threat from them is real and 2. you share the same father.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Speaking of addressing Koranic standards, here's what Sam Harris had to say on the subject:

      "As a source of objective morality, the Bible is one of the worst books we have. It might have been the very worst, in fact — if we didn't also happen to have the Koran." —Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

      November 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  4. Susan

    "Religion poisons everything!" How many times does the human race have to wiggle out of it?

    November 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  5. csx

    This article is below the sodomite glorification article.
    How can a lost person decry Biblical? Do not apply values such as not killing unborn humans for example?

    CNN, grab the lever and flush yourself.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Sue

      In the Bible, there are verses that clearly indicate that the unborn are not yet persons, and that harming the unborn is not murder. See the problem?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Most of the lost persons I know decry their husbands, who wouldn't stop to ask for directions.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  6. james

    She should take to heart "the danger of being ignorant"

    November 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • End Religion

      Yes, the danger of being ignorant is that it leads to religion.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Sue

      I think that's basically the basis of her argument, that people are seeing one "biblical" way out of ignorance that the bible usually has several different opinions on things.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  7. champ

    Its a travesty that someone who can get blog and get exposure via CNN could be as stupid as this woman.

    She gives the word stupid a bad name.

    How can a person who IS a traditional christian convince themselves that Stewart is a "good guy"? The question is built on a false pretext. This woman is not a traditional christian at all. She is a radical. Progressivism and a semi-literal interpretation of the bible are simply impossible to blend.

    The fact she thinks she has done it shows how convoluted her thinking has become. She is a paradox and doesnt even know.

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

      Let me guess, she criticized your take on the Bible so she must be wrong? You ever consider that you might be the one in the wrong here, or is your ego too big for something like that?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • TJ

      Sue, did you ever consider he may be quite correct, and that CNN has a dirty, nasty, vile little "habit" of putting forth ANYTHING that is anti-Christian, anti-Biblical, anti-conservative, anti-Republican, and anti-American? That I should even have to bring this up makes me question if the word "stupid" applies to you. "Naive" and "gullible" certainly do.

      As for this author... she's just another lib who calls herself a "Christian", but doesn't like what comes with it, so she, like mr. obama, tailors it to suit HER own needs and desires. Nothing more.

      There are those who talk the "Christian" talk. And there are those who walk the Christian walk. Wise men practice, proud men (and women) preach. Which is the author, and which are you?

      November 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Speaking only for myself, I do not walk the Christian walk, and I do not talk the Christian talk, and I am dang proud of both.
       
      Since we took the power of life and death away from them after centuries of horrible abuse, religions have been good mainly for oppression, bigotry, and humor. So: not ENTIRELY a dead loss.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  8. Konadreamer

    I grew up in the Bible Belt, too. It's a shame that it took me so long to shake that experience off and not rely on ancient texts to direct my daily existence. Want to know why there is so much suffering happening in the world today? Two things: the innate greed of man and differences in the interpretation of ancient religious texts. Well, let me add one more thing: nationalism.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • End Religion

      Yep. John Lennon had it right. We need to get rid of religion then eventually the whole concept of national borders. By then hopefully we will mostly be light/medium brown skinned folks with dark eyes, so hopefully we can get over the whole race thing. No religion, no race, no country. It's the only way we're going to work together as the entirety of the human race.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Unfortunately, a world without divisions working together will never work in this age. There will always be those who don't want to work together, but want to exploit others. The moment you oppose them, there is a division.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  9. BobThe Tomato

    By they way as we rant: there are many Christians who do believe that calling something "biblical" doesn't make it so and it is an easy excuse ignorant people use to justify their own agenda (And I am one of those Christians). But secular people who use the word "Christian" the same way to further their own agenda are also Ignorant. Good Article.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  10. 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.

    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!

    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' End means. Like hell's fury does Nothingness's cold strike out! Only the very devoted atheists might garner the freezing bitter 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!

    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?

    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!

    Written by God's Oldest Dreamer

    November 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I wish this was longer because I can't get enough ot it.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Dick Izinya

      Could you elaborate?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      hinduism, absurdity from book of hindu Mithra ism, savior ism called bible.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Reminds me of what my dad used to say to my mom when she'd drag him (and us kids) to a Sunday sermon:
      "Wake me when it's over."

      November 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @Dick Izinya

      LOL :)

      November 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  11. Fred

    This poor woman. She thinks she knows what she is talking about and she is just clueless.
    So is Stewart with his thinking that polygamy is what the Bible teaches. It talks about people who practiced polygamy,
    but nowhere does it endorse it or authorize. Oh, wait...you'd have to actually read the Bible to know that. No wonder
    Stewart doesn't know that.
    And, yes, female preachers are not Biblical. Paul was right about that. This poor woman needs to sit down and be taught by someone who knows the Bible instead of her taking it and twisting it to fit her liberal agenda.

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

      Bulls eye.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      What's almost worse is when people who are supposed to know better (like Huckabee) don't have a decent answer for people like Stewart.

      "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit..."

      - 1 Peter 3:12-18

      November 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Solomon, the supposed wisest person in antiquity, much beloved of God (according to the Bible), had 700 wives and 300 concubines. If God DIDN'T approve of that, he had ample opportunity to deliver the message, instead of heaping praise on old Sol.
       
      Abraham, common ancestor of 2 great world religions, had 2 wives, by whom he had 2 sons. God supposedly commanded him to prepare to sacrifice one of the sons to prove his devotion. According to the Jews and Christians, that son was Isaac, child of Sarah; according to Islam, it was Ishmael, son of Hagar.
       
      These guys are cited as ROLE MODELS by the Bible.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Ray Downen

      It hurts to read someone who claims to be a Christian but is not. The Bible plan for marriage began with Adam and one woman, Eve. That's the ideal way marriage always should be. The Bible reports on polygamy but does not ever endorse or recommend it. So this lady and her champion claim Mike Huckabee is wrong that ideal marriage from God's standpoint is one man to one woman. Mike is right. The lady is wrong.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • End Religion

      So sad and typical to see christians ignoring the word of their god as they see fit. God obviously wants you to have many wives: hundreds of wives, r@ped wives, stolen wives, subjugated wives, and mostly quiet wives.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      So, Ray, all men should be named Adam, and all women should be named Eve, right? Because that was God's precedent for names, according to the Bible and your "reasoning". Shame your parents didn't know that before sticking you with an infidel, heretic name like Ray. You'll undoubtedly burn in Hell for it.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  12. John 3: 16

    Ms. Rachel Held Evans, you have done yourself a great service to all Christians and those who believe the Word of God is "exceedingly broad" covering all situations in life. Eve doubted the Word of God and look what happened to the world, sin entered through her disbelief. Now you also doubt, and what will happen? The Bible talks about the end of the world and everything that is happening in the Middle East to this day, so of course we can "biblical marriage," "biblical dating." God wrote the Bible, yet you mention cultures different of our own,
    "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." God intended the Word of God to be a "lamp unto our feet and light unto our path." Therefore, God's Word of course tells us how to vote. Before any Christian that doubts the infallibility of scripture, read Psalm 119. Correct your thinking about the Bible people, because one day God himself will rebuke those that disrespect His Word and doubt Him.

    Read this, http://www.insight.org/library/articles/bible/confidence-in-the-bible.html. God have mercy on this country. People are rejecting your Word because they do not believe in your Son Jesus Christ who died for your sins.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • John 3: 16

      I intended to say great disservice above in my first sentence. Ms. Evans, God's Word must not be played with. Satan is attacking the Word daily, let's not help him. As for polygamy, God's design for marriage is one man and one woman! Read the WHOLE BIBLE BEFORE YOU DOUBT IT. Don't knock it until you try it. I have tried it and it is pure and sure!

      "We all therefore have to face this ultimate and final question: Do we accept the Bible as the Word of God, as the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice, or do we not? Is the whole of my thinking governed by Scripture, or do I come with my reason and pick and choose out of Scripture and sit in judgment upon it, putting myself and modern knowledge forward as the ultimate standard and authority? The issue is crystal clear. Do I accept Scripture as a revelation from God, or do I trust to speculation, human knowledge, human learning, human understanding and human reasons Or, putting it still more simply, Do I pin my faith to, and subject all my thinking to, what I read in the Bible? Or do I defer to modern knowledge, to modern learning, to what people think today, to what we know at this present time which was not known in the past? It is inevitable that we occupy one or the other of those two positions. "

      November 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      "Eve doubted the Word of God and look what happened to the world, sin entered through her disbelief." Okay, why did your god create Eve with that capacity to doubt, and why didn't your god have the foresight to figure it out beforehand?

      Or, once Eve supposedly scr-ewed up, since there were only the two of them (Adam and Eve), why didn't your god just start over?

      And speaking of the Rib Lady, since Adam and Eve supposedly only had two sons. And since Cain killed Abel, that means – what? That Cain then banged Eve, produced some kids, and either Cain, Adam, or these offspring banged each other in a nice big inc-estuous ga-ngbang.

      The whole Adam and Eve story – apart form completely ignoring absolute mountains of scientific evidence supporting evolution – is beyond ridiculous.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Pooptop

      Leviticus 20:13 – “if a man lays with another man he should be stoned.”

      November 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Hey, Pooptop, good thing we're legalizing both gay marriage AND marijuana then, hey?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      You need to read the origianl Hebrew text (or KJV Bible with a concordance). The Lord God planted a garden eastward in eden. Eatward of what? And why did He plant an enclosed area? Huh...maybe because there were other "creatures" (some even go so far as to say Satan's children and/or fallen angels...) living outside the newly planted garden...

      November 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • jobseeker

      Sorry, but the Scripture isn't broad. If you don't like what the Bible says, don't read it, don't listen to it, get rid of it. Write your own bible. Just spare the rest of us having to endure your 'twisting the Scripture" to your favor! Get in or get out!

      November 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Attack. . .: What is one piece of evidence that supports evolution over God's creating man and woman? One fact commonly cited in support of evolution is the similarity of human DNA and chimpanzee (and other primate) DNA. However, unless you can show that God's creation of chimpanzees and humans would lead to different DNA that what exists, there is no basis to claim that evolution is a superior explanation.

      November 18, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  13. Reality

    The Two Universal Sects->>>>

    They all err—Moslems, Jews,
    Christians, and Zoroastrians:

    Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
    One, man intelligent without religion,
    The second, religious without intellect. "

    Al-Ma'arri
    born AD 973 /, died AD 1058 / .

    He was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.[1][2] He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion and rejecting the claim that Islam possessed any monopoly on truth."

    Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/resalat-al-ghufran#ixzz1lI6DuZmZ and http://www.humanistictexts.org/al_ma'arri.htm

    November 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      There are lots of sects – insects, pre-marital sects, group sects – the list is limitless!

      November 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  14. Robert

    "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." Rachel Evens

    If Rachel Evens is using this long, long essay to justify a postion of tearing down the Bible while claiming to love scripture, then she is a liar. And that is what I think she did. Of course those who believe the bible, belive in truth, are going to summarize their beliefs, just as the liberals and ungodly summarize thier positions in this day of sount bites. But NO ONE she's quoted as claimed that the Bible is a set of position papers as she has suggested, and the idea that they have is a cleaverly devised lie from the devil; the father of all lies. What it appears to me that she is doing is that she is trying to change the definition of "biblical" in order to shroud the iniquity of falsehood in darkness by actually claiming that it is the truth. What audacity in the face of a holy God. Anyone who can do such a thing has no knowlege of the holiness and righteousness of God, and of what He will do to defend His holiness.

    And lest I remind the reader, that Jesus said that they reason why people even come up with such positions is that they love the darkness, because their deeds are evil. And they will believe, embrace and propogate lies in order to justify themselves and continue to hide their iniquity in darkness. Jesus pronounced woes on people such as this. And woes are real, and they will silence the scoffers one they come and the suffering begins. Our Founding Father's attributed the success of our nation to the care of God and siad that they thrembled to think of what whould happen if our nation ever turned its back on God. They knew how fragile a nation could be, but we have forgotten that and have taken our liberties and our prosperity for granted. But there could be famine from national economic depression, widespread disease because the government can no long afford to provide everyone's health care. And that would just be the beginning.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Ooohhhh!!!! The Devil!!! Watch out, Robert – there's a boogey man in the closet and a monster under your bed, so you better be good, or they're going to get you!!!!!!

      How old are you – six?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "Of course those who believe the bible, belive in truth"
       
      Pick one.

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

      "And lest I remind the reader, that Jesus said that they reason why people even come up with such positions is that they love the darkness, because their deeds are evil."

      The same can be said for those who choose to see bigotry in the bible. I think it's evil to withhold marriage from some adults just because you don'y like their se xual orientation. I see Galatians 3:28 as invalidating all such distinctions. Those who still hold bigotry for gays are neck deep in "the darkness".

      November 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayerbot.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      I prayed for you to go away. Nothing changed.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • cr926

      i am christian, and to me i feel that politics and religion should never be involved, i feel that politics should not take over religion nor religion should get involved with politics, and i say that because the idea of religion is to accepted because you like it not just because you are forced to like it. It so sad today that there are so many crazy people today who use religion as an excuse to do bad things around the world

      November 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  16. Chad

    At the core, the problem here is completely misunderstanding the purpose of God's interaction with humanity (which is chronicled in the bible).

    The purpose of that interaction is to convince humanity that we are estranged, and that we can be reconciled. As Christians we should take a stand on social issues, but recognize that first things first: we're broken, Jesus saves.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for the eyes of bible readers:

      JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

      Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      OR you could join us in reality and leave la la land.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Corner Cafe

      Limited time only, Reality Wrappers! Turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato wrapped in a warm flour tortilla with creamy sauce. $3.99 each. Ok not really, they are $4.99 each and they don't really have bacon.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Get Real

      A mythical god on my money
      A mythical God n the Pledge of Allegiance
      Ten commandment monuments in government buildings

      Just to name a few. Btw, "god" was not in the original Pledge of Allegiance- the wide "god" was added in the 1950's by Christian whack jobs

      November 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  17. Get Real

    Believe whatever you want, but do not force your bible or god upon me. I respect your right to free speech and if you have American values you will respect mine.

    How evil a monster this mythical "God" is. Thank god God is imaginary, for the story of God is a story of a cruel mass murderer. If god is all powerful and all knowing and perfectly good, he would not bring people into the world knowing that they would go to hell and be tortured forever- a perfectly good being would never do such a thing.

    If god is all powerful and all knowing and perfectly EVIL, then god would create people knowing in advance they were going to burn in hell forever.

    Oh yeah, other examples of gods evil ways:

    1. Murdering innocent children during the flood
    2. Murdering Job's family
    3. Telling Abraham is kill his son
    4. Killing the innocent first born children in Egypt
    5. Requiring a human sacrifice for the salvation of mankind

    Clearly god is not love, he is pure evil. Fortunately for us he is purely imaginary.

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

      Get Real, who force the bible on you? Have you been beaten for not accepting a bible, has it put any hardship on you?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • GetReal

      Purely imaginary, and yet you thank him....."Thank god God.....etc"

      November 18, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  18. Alan

    The  god theory of both Christianity and Islam are lies, there is no such thing in evolution. In order to control people these two little books were possibly fabricated from Indian text "bhagwadgita" which existed thousand of years prior to these two man made religions. In those days it was not uncommon to have magical powers in India.
    Both of  these books have a lot of loopholes like the earth being made in 6 years, and from Islam everyone else are infidels and should go to hell. Hello, I mean what "kind" of religions are these. 

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

      They the usual ol' kind of religions.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      Islam is not hinduism, theory but fact, proven by sience, hindu, gossiper.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • jobseeker

      Do you have a copy of your 'bongwityomamasbooty' sacred text, or are you going on faith?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  19. Dr. D. Johnson

    If you read the Gnostic Gospel of Phillip, you will see that, "...indeed I say unto you that we are but drops in the sea, each one a ripple makes..."

    Phillip goes on to say that, "...be not one but part of the whole. Be not in disconnect, but hold firmly and endure…”

    Scholars believe these two passages are very revealing. What do they reveal?

    Jesus, being deaf, identified with "Mother Earth" in such a way that swimming and wrestling were very enjoyable to him, and this is something he wanted to share with his disciples.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      Gospels are hinduism, gossip of some hindu, ignorant while high on hem, why waste time?

      November 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  20. ROSE JAMES

    IN the beginning was the WORD, & the WORD, was with GOD & the WORD was GOD. And the WORD was made flesh, [ JESUS] & dwelt among us, ( & we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace & truth. For the law was given by Moses , but grace & truth came by JESUS CHRIST. John 1:1,14,17 And she [ MARY] shall bring for a son, & thou shalt call his name JESUS; for he shall save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [ JESUS] under heaven given among men , whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12 [ JESUS] ... I say therefore unto U, that ye shall die in your sins : for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. John 8:24 PRAY now ask GOD to save U in JESUS' name, JESUS ONLY ONE WAY TO HEAVEN.

    November 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Wait, isn't Moses that crazy dude who talks to bushes? Not off to an auspicious start are we.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Get Real

      Lies, lies and more lies.

      November 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • jobseeker

      Hi, Rose James. I agree with your texts. However, it's obvious the fine, upstanding "tolerant" individuals who respond to Biblical texts are "natural men who cannot discern the word of God and they are foolishness to him, because they are spiritually discerned." For extra credit, oh great enlightened atheists, where is that text found? ...If you're afraid, wear gloves!!......

      November 18, 2012 at 3:58 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.