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My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’
The author argues that there are many meanings of the adjective 'biblical.'
November 17th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’

Editor's Note: Rachel Held Evans is a popular blogger from Dayton, Tennessee, and author of “A Year of Biblical Womanhood.”

By Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

On "The Daily Show" recently, Jon Stewart grilled Mike Huckabee about a TV ad in which Huckabee urged voters to support “biblical values” at the voting box.

When Huckabee said that he supported the “biblical model of marriage,” Stewart shot back that “the biblical model of marriage is polygamy.”

And there’s a big problem, Stewart went on, with reducing “biblical values” to one or two social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, while ignoring issues such as poverty and immigration reform.

It may come as some surprise that as an evangelical Christian, I cheered Stewart on from my living room couch.

As someone who loves the Bible and believes it to be the inspired word of God, I hate seeing it reduced to an adjective like Huckabee did. I hate seeing my sacred text flattened out, edited down and used as a prop to support a select few political positions and platforms.

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And yet evangelicals have grown so accustomed to talking about the Bible this way that we hardly realize we’re doing it anymore. We talk about “biblical families,” “biblical marriage,” “biblical economics,” “biblical politics,” “biblical values,” “biblical stewardship,” “biblical voting,” “biblical manhood,” “biblical womanhood,” even “biblical dating” to create the impression that the Bible has just one thing to say on each of these topics - that it offers a single prescriptive formula for how people of faith ought to respond to them.

But the Bible is not a position paper. The Bible is an ancient collection of letters, laws, poetry, proverbs, histories, prophecies, philosophy and stories spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own.

When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word, we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t quite fit our preferences and presuppositions. In an attempt to simplify, we force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone and turn a complicated, beautiful, and diverse holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says.

Nowhere is this more evident than in conversations surrounding “biblical womanhood.”

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

Growing up in the Bible Belt, I received a lot of mixed messages about the appropriate roles of women in the home, the church and society, each punctuated with the claim that this or that lifestyle represented true “biblical womanhood.”

In my faith community, popular women pastors such as Joyce Meyer were considered unbiblical for preaching from the pulpit in violation of the apostle Paul's restriction in 1 Timothy 2:12 ("I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent"), while Amish women were considered legalistic for covering their heads in compliance with his instructions in 1 Corinthians 11:5 ("Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head").

Pastors told wives to submit to their husbands as the apostle Peter instructed in 1 Peter 3:1, but rarely told them to avoid wearing nice jewelry as the apostle instructs them just one sentence later in 1 Peter 3:3. Despite the fact that being single was praised by both Jesus and Paul, I learned early on that marriage and motherhood were my highest callings, and that Proverbs 31 required I keep a home as tidy as June Cleaver's.

Opinion: What all those Jesus jokes tell us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (4,657 Responses)
  1. pbernasc

    translated: the danger of being stupid

    November 19, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  2. johnh1625

    All this hate on a religious site...weird and sad

    November 19, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • Sue

      It's constructive criticism, dear. Try not to be so sensitive.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • Athy

      No hate, just truth vs mythology.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Sue

      Athy
      Mythology is still "truth", just not literal truth. More like poetic truth. Myths teach valued concepts. The creation myth, for example, teaches why the Sabbath was to remain holy, see? Taking the Bible literally is like trying to take poetry literally.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • sam

      1) A difference of opinion – or even mockery – does not equal hate.
      2) This is an opinion blog, not a religion site.

      You fail at logic.

      November 19, 2012 at 1:08 am |
  3. Kyle T

    I am a Christian, I am actually going to attend a Biblical college in a year and currently am a Christian worker at my Church. I don't believe any political party can define God. "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" He simply stands for freedom. The democrats support helping the Poor, Biblical, the Republicans support the end of abortion, Biblical.

    However when it comes to polygamy you are referencing the old testament. If the Media is going to condemn being Biblical they should at least be accurate with what Christians follow.

    November 19, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2012 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (References used are available upon request.)

      November 19, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • End Religion

      Kyle don't waste your college years on an education with blinders on. You were regret it later when you find that any non-religious school provides a more well rounded degree that is preferred by the workforce at large... unless you're going to work in Utah maybe.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Mickey1313

      Kyle, the nt did not wipe away the ot. In my openion both are rubbish. But that is not the point. The point its that anyone who claims to know the will of god is ether insane or stupid. it is sad to know people of collage age are still being brainwashed.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Sue

      Kyle
      Ending abortion isn't as biblical as you've been led to believe. There are passages in the Bible where causing a miscarriage isn't seen as murder, and where the unborn are not counted as persons, right?

      November 19, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • allanhowls

      Kyle, Christians follow BOTH testaments; that's why they're both included in the Christian bible. To focus on one while pretending the other doesn't exist is dishonest and disingenuous. Jesus stated that he did not come to abolish the old laws, but to fulfill them. Your statement is itself highly selective and cherry-picking.

      Remember that the bible is a book written by men over a very long period of time, each of whom claimed to be speaking for God. Furthermore, the books in that bible were selected some 350 years after the death of Jesus, in order to present a politically-motivated narrative (1st Council of Nicea). It is fine to have faith in it and take comfort in it if that's what you choose, but you must also be acutely aware of its history, both what is included and what is missing. Don't blame the media for that; it's on your shoulders to really understand what you believe.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Athy

      Kyle, be sure to take some courses in logic and science.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • sam stone

      "The point its that anyone who claims to know the will of god is ether insane or stupid. "

      Don't forget power hungry

      November 19, 2012 at 5:50 am |
  4. Sam

    No matter how you read the bible, you could not justify gay marriage as "biblical." Polygamy was practiced in the OT period. But the OT never encouraged polygamy. Gen. Chapter 2:24 "For this reason, a man will leave his father & mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh." From the day of creation, the marriage was between one man & one woman. Jon Steward may be a Jewish, but he did not read his bible.

    November 19, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Reality

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

      The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      November 19, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • sam

      It's 'Jon Stewart', you child. And that's just the least of the mistakes in your post.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • sam stone

      gay marriage may not be biblical, but that has nothing to do with whether it should be legal

      November 19, 2012 at 5:58 am |
  5. Dennis

    I believe the Bible should be view for its Golden Rule.

    November 19, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Sue

      The Golden Rule was around long before the Bible was ever written, like laws against murder, theft, and lying. I suggest researching other, especially older, ancient holy and/or law books before talking as though the Bible was somehow extraordinary, or even original.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:30 am |
  6. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    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 11:56 pm |
  7. GayAtheist

    Things that don't exist (including gods) provide no evidence of their non – existance.

    Therefore, it is the burden of the person claiming the affirmative to offer evidence of his position. Because things that exist offer evidence of their existance.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • MaryJ

      Besides, Christians don't believe that any other gods actually exist, but none of them had to prove this, did they? They just up and decided that no other gods exist, yet they demand of us evidence that their God doesn't. Funny how that works, huh?

      November 19, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Alpa Chino

      There's no such thing as a gay atheist

      I hear you mofo's calling for god all the time, 'oh god yeah harder yeah god omg'

      November 19, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Mickey1313

      Alpa you r r_tarded

      November 19, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • johnh1625

      The beauty of a personal belief is that it is personal. I believe in many things that can't be proven, as do you. Employing philosophy 101 existential syllogisms to explain a belief is as transparently cold as computer generated poetry.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • Alpa Chino

      Mickey, you got anything of substance to say, bitch?

      November 19, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • clinky

      I'm perfectly fine saying "I don't have rational grounds that unicorns exist" instead of "Unicorns don't exist." How would I really know the latter? Since God is a matter of faith, most believers are indifferent toward providing rational grounds and escape that demand.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • LinSea

      Exactly what kind of proof of God's existence are you demanding, GayAtheist? Throughout the Bible, God speaks to mankind, acts on mankind's behalf, and interacts with mankind. The events recorded in the Bible are the testimonies of the people who witnessed and participated in those events. You are free to reject those testimonies, but that does not negate them or prove that they did not happen.

      November 19, 2012 at 2:49 am |
  8. GayAtheist

    It's time to lay Jesus Christ to rest and tuck him into his eternal bed of curiosity with Zeus, Athena, Joseph Smith, and Honey Boo Boo.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Peace, Peace, Peace

      Why?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • sam

      I find ths incredibly offensive!

      How dare you compare these others to Honey Boo Boo.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • John

      Well, we know for sure that John Smith and Honey Boo Boo are/were real people, so I don't see why you lump them all up together.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  9. DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

    I just re-descovered God s formula, "GOD= absolute vodka, constant", goons, go visit my web site and learn price for a case of truth absolute vodka, and vodka ism, denial of truth absolute, side by side at vodkaisthetruth.com thousands have visited and ordered so for, be like a human, not a Is'lambic, biblical thief, ignorant.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • sam

      I like you better than the original.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
  10. Peace, Peace, Peace

    Sam, you're proving my point. Nobody can prove that God exist. Do you believe or not?

    November 18, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Peace, Peace, Peace

      Correction: Nobody can prove that God doesn't exist.Q

      November 18, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Dick Izinya

      No, you were right the first time. You are making the outlandish claim. The burden of proof rests with you.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • sam

      All you're proving right now is that you can't figure out how to use the 'reply' link properly. You're not instilling much hope.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Raz Mor

      If it's existed, someone or somthing created. Common sense.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Peace, Peace, Peace

      Dick, You are following the others. Not one person can prove that God doesn't exist.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • sam

      Not one person can prove he does. You wanna play this game all day?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Raz Mor

      By just looking your hands, eyes, nose, ears, every single part of your body. I believe there is a perfect creator, God.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Observer

      Peace, Peace, Peace,

      Pointless.

      Not one person can prove that Zeus doesn't exist.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • Peace, Peace, Peace

      Sam, I'm sorry that I'm not perfect. Let's stay on track. Can you prove that God does not exist?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Dick Izinya

      PPP, you're not following anything, much less logic or linear reasoning. Please, run down to the nearest Community College and take Logic 101. You're just embarrassing yourself.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • sam

      Can you prove that he does? That's the track we're on, doll.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • MaryJ

      Peace, Peace, Peace
      Since you can't prove that any of the other gods don't exist either then that must mean that they actually do exist, I suppose?

      November 19, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Peace, Peace, Peace

      Dick, you crack me up. So let me get this straight, I need to go to Community College because nobody here can prove that God doesn't exist. If you' re so smart why dont you just prove that he doesn't exist? Should be really easy for you or for somebody on here.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Alpa Chino

      Peace, I got a feeling dicks of all kinds confuse you.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • allanhowls

      It is impossible to prove a negative, Peace. This is basic knowledge you should have left high school with. If you're going to pose a nonsense question, you don't get to be all high and mighty that no one answers it.

      Can you prove there isn't a pink leprechaun in the trunk of my car?
      A baker never fails to put finished pies on her windowsill, so if there is no pie on the windowsill, then no finished pies exist. This can be formulated as modus tollens in propositional logic: P implies Q, but Q is false, therefore P is false.

      If your standards of certainty lead you to say "there is never 'proof' of non-existence", then you must also say that "there is never 'proof' of existence either".

      November 19, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Peace, Peace, Peace

      Alpha, I'm not confused by any means. I think it's great that all the intelligent people on here have thrown jabs all night but not one single person has proven that God doesnt exist. I guess everybody is upset at the truth.lpha,

      November 19, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • MaryJ

      Peace, Peace, Peace
      You've never answered, but how do you know that no other gods are real? Can you prove that God is the only one?

      November 19, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • Peace, Peace, Peace

      MaryJ, I don't need to answer that question because you are trying to change the subject. The question that I've had all night is can anybody prove that God does not exist? Please answer the question and then we can change gears.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • MaryJ

      Peace, Peace, Peace
      The subject is "Can anyone prove that any gods don't exist?" God is a god, but so are a couple thousand others. Do you believe in all of them? If not, why don't you? You don't have any "proof" that they don't exist, do you?

      I'm going to bed for the night, but I'm looking forward to reading your response tomorrow. Good night. :-)

      November 19, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Over It

      Peace, Peace, Peace,

      "The question that I've had all night is can anybody prove that God does not exist?"

      No. What's your point?

      November 19, 2012 at 1:07 am |
  11. Mike

    Graystone, You pick your verses, I can pick mine, Matt 16:28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Just one of many contradictions

    November 18, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Sue

      I think that they solved that one with the story of the Wandering Jew, cursed to immortality until Jesus (eventually) returns.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Reality

      Mark 9:1 = Matt 16:28 = Luke 9:27: As per many contemporary NT scholars, said passage is a single attestation i.e. Matt and Luke copied it from Mark plus its reconstruction makes its validity nil. e.g. Professor Gerd Ludemann's conclusions in his book, Jesus after 2000 Years, pp. 57-61 and http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb243.html.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  12. Castiel, the Angel of Thursday

    You're all a bunch of assbutts.

    I found a liquor store and I drank it.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  13. All of these posts explain why America was formed as one Nation under Law (not God)

    nuff said.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  14. patpatpatpat

    Many studies show that religious people in America are happier, kinder, more productive, etc. And they live longer. I am not religious but leave the religious alone. Religion is good.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Dick Izinya

      Why would they want to live longer, when the best part of their existence awaits them in the grave?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • the AnViL

      religion impoverishes humanity. it propagates ignorance. it's divisive and delusional. religion – all religions.. are the enemies of reason.

      wake up

      tolerance of religious ignorance and idiocy is a cancer.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • End Religion

      religion stinks like yesterday's diapers. Enough already!

      November 18, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • John

      They can be all those things because they make everyone else sadder, less productive and have shorter lifespans in comparison.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • religion&politics

      To Anvil, who said "religion [...] propagates ignorance. it's divisive and delusional. religion – all religions.. are the enemies of reason":

      I don't know about the religions that you are familiar with, but mine certainly does not "propagate ignorance" or in any encourage one to ignore reason. We believe what we can't see (i.e. Biblical stories, etc), but we also believe what we CAN see (i.e. science, I am a scientist myself), and my religion in no way encourages me to ignore my scientific findings.

      If by "ignorance" or "reason" you mean YOUR version of the facts, or YOUR version of truth, then yea, I guess I'm ignorant and unreasonable. But then again, so are people like you.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Concerned Citizen

      cite sources please

      Also, which religious? You would think that if all of what you said was actuality true it would actually point towards a "right" religion but considering no religious group has yet to be outliers in living longer, have less criminals, etc.... you post is, in a word: Bullshi.t

      November 18, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Concerned Citizen

      @Religion and Politcs

      What Anvil was trying to say (And Anvil, correct me if I'm wrong) religion propagates ignorance by encouraging people to believe in something based on faith alone, to sometimes trump reason with belief. Before going further however, what kind of "scientist" are you and what is your religion?

      November 19, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • the AnViL

      religion&politics – yeah ok... you're special – your religion is best! that's super! certainly you can discount yourself from the list of bad religions!!! yay!!!!

      what religion do you affiliate yourself with, by the way? you'll need to be specific so i can rip it to bits before your very eyes – with absolutely no regard to your sensitive feelings what sooo evvvarrrrrrr.... and believe i'll do it... have faith.

      i will point out each and every fallacy and ridicule them in that special way i do... it'll be a gas...

      as for you being generally educated in the sciences... so was sir isaac newton -and he worked overtime at alchemy – and also – like yourself – held the delusional belief in an imaginary man in the sky. so -your point was???? what exactly???

      *smiles sweetly*

      November 19, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Dick Izinya

      " mine certainly does not "propagate ignorance" or in any encourage one to ignore reason."
      "We believe what we can't see" :D

      November 19, 2012 at 12:02 am |
  15. Kevin H

    OK folks so here it is. "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." So what existed before the heavens? And who created God? Now answer those questions and we're well on our way to all the faith, hope, love and judgement we want and need. Until then people cherry pickers are for picking cherries not to build the core of a personal philosophy.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • the AnViL

      define heavens. for now we'll just posit ~nothing~ existed before the "heavens" – and as for your other equally retarded question – the minds of ignorant, uneducated men created god.

      cha cha cha

      November 18, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Raz Mor

      There is existed before heaven.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Castiel, the Angel of Thursday

      @Raz Mor

      Are you drunk?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Raz Mor

      No

      November 18, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  16. Tom

    From this article, it is how I feel. Everyone has their own religious beliefs and we worship the way we want to. Whether you're Amish, Jewish, Christian, or whatever religion you are, we all have differences in beliefs. However you worship is the way you worship. Aren't we allowed Freedom of Religion in America?

    November 18, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • the AnViL

      yes we sure are – we're also afforded freedom FROM religion, stupid.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • jobseeker

      It's amusing to watch kool-aid drinkers who mindlessly tell Christians they are 'intolerant, bigoted,' etc. then turn around and display the most 'mean spirited, bigoted, caustic' behavior. Who's the hypocrite now, 'theAnvil?'

      November 18, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • End Religion

      jobseeker, get me some gr@pe kool-aid, asshole.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • the AnViL

      @jobseekertard:

      be careful with your ignorant assumptions, derpy.

      also – look up the word hypocrite.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  17. Equalizer357

    Rachel, this piece is written by a stupi*d person who claims to be raised in Bible belt...You did not even understand what is old and new testaments...... it is as if I'm reading a GAY freak quoting leviticus about those forbidden food to eat and apply it in present time. or they say God is love...or don't judge....not worth a reply..dumbest of the dumb....

    November 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Observer

      Equalizer357,

      It's the NEW Testament that supports slavery and discriminaion against women.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • Observer

      should be "discrimination"

      November 18, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • sam

      Congrats, you win 'Idiot Douche Post of the day!! You're also current runner up for the I'm More Christian Than You Post and 'Totally Misunderstood The Point Post'.

      You're also in the running for Sad Troll Post of the day too, though, if it makes you feel any better.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • john117

      @Observer

      Yeah, the Old Testament just supports child sacrifice and divine retaliation for not being a faithful follower.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • John

      All she said was that she was raised in the Bible Belt, so why do you just assume that she's stupid?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • End Religion

      stop judging, sinner

      November 18, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • heliocracy

      So Leviticus is to be ignored when it talks about food, but taken as gospel when it says being gay is wrong? Riiiiight...you really, really, missed the point of this opinion piece.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Baret Fawbush

      The New Testament doesn't support slavery or discrimination towards women. What we have here interwebs, is the typical lack of education in first century culture. Slavery in the first century is not the way you understand slavery to be. You understand slavery as horrible, oprresion of a different race, pulled from a different country with a poor quality of life. When you think slavery you think 1800 American. However, the first century slave, often CHOSE the slavery. Slaves had possessions, income, land, slaves themselves, and other rights and priviledges. Often times, slaves sold themselves into slavery to pay off debt. The bible actually says in Duet 15 “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. " Seems like a pretty good way to treat a slave. And even Paul in his letter to the salve owner Philemon tells Philemon to treat his runaway slave as "a brother in Christ," and to recieve him and have grace and mercy upon him. And if you've read this without any bias, and you would like a response to your woman comment, let me know.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • MaryJ

      Better ignore the 10 commandments, Adam & Eve, the seven day creation stories, Noah, David, and all those prophets who supposedly foretold Jesus's birth too then, huh? Neat, no more creationists!

      November 19, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  18. mikem

    This article explains why America was formed as one Nation, under Law (not God).

    November 18, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      Get off of, what ever you are on before spewing your hinduism, absurdity about foundation of America, America was established on LA. truth absolute God as her foundation, not law, hinduism corruption of truth, word La, as you hindu absurd in your post.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • mikem

      In Law we Trust.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • sam

      Go away, creepy hindu-hating troll.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      In LA truth absolute GOD we trust. foundation of America. hindu, lair.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      and Ya, goon, for your information, way before America was established on LA Law. truth absolute God as her foundation, Allah, was the bases for American consti pation, secular s, Law ism corruption of truth, word La, as you hindu absurd in your post, ignorant goon.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • All of these posts explain why America was formed as one Nation under Law (not God)

      Dear Dump,
      I'm pleased to see that you love America as much as the rest of us.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      mi ken, only goon trust in law s, truth absolute God trust in sword, Allah permit, BY FORCE, Is'lamb will rewrite American consti pation, your law, with our Salahfi ism, ignorant.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      sncwoeifoi4ncoanrvoenroranvoeanronva ornron bbbbbbbbbbbbb phbbbbbbbtttttttt ba ba ba ba ba ba boooooo

      November 18, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • DUMP HINDU ATHEISM, SELF CENTER ISM AND BE A TRUE AMERICAN IN FOLLOWING OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD

      goons, learn our prayer, truth absolute GAWD, sya it, sal -lal-la-hu 'a-lay-hi wa-sal-lam khan, eeeeeeee, uuuuuuuuu, allla oooo akbur.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  19. RobsTake

    why do you people literally go out of your way to bash other peoples' faiths? I dont care what religion you practice or if your atheist...I DONT CARE! Hate is why there is a war in the middle east, why there was a civil rights movement, hitler, etc. Your hate filled comments are just another reason humanity needs religion.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Alpa Chino

      What do you mean, 'you people'?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • sam

      Uh...religion's been causing some serious troubles around the planet lately. I think you might want to back off your proclamation, there.

      Maybe not so much the religions themselves, but a lot of people using it as an excuse to violate the rights of others.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • I wonder

      "another reason humanity needs religion."

      As long as it's *your* religion, eh, Rob?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • the AnViL

      wake up rob stake.

      right this very moment there are those who seek to secularize their theology. they openly, brazenly, and proudly seek to legislate their religious morals onto society, depriving individuals who do not believe as they do – their rights, liberties, freedoms and equality.

      didn't you get the memo?

      tolerance of religious idiocy has to end... enough is enough,

      November 18, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Rob

      No, i just think there would be no principle of ethics or treating people with dignity if not for religion. We all might not practice the same set of spiritual laws but we all have the basis of ethics developed over many years.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • sam

      >>No, i just think there would be no principle of ethics or treating people with dignity if not for religion

      LOL

      LOLOLOLOLOL x 1000

      November 18, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Rob

      @AnVil so you support hate?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • the AnViL

      Rob
      @AnVil so you support hate?

      no more than you'd suppose a surgeon hates a tumor or a gardener hates weeds.

      any more pointless, ignorant questions?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • End Religion

      thansk rob, for the same olf tired "atheists have no morals" argument....

      Morality: Using empathy as a guide for human interaction. AKA, "treat others the way you want to be treated" and "put yourself in my shoes". It has nothing inherently to do with the bible.

      Karen Wynn of Yale has a study showing even babies have an idea of wrong versus right. Neuroscientist Christian Keysers has done research to show that the brain of those who see others receiving pain themselves have similar neurological responses. There is a curve to empathy; some feel it more than others. But it certainly doesn't come from a hateful book about imaginary people.

      Frans de Waal shows that even monkeys employ "morality"...
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcJxRqTs5nk&w=640&h=390]

      November 18, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • John

      I go past churches every day that have signs outside them claiming that Jesus is the ONLY way. If that isn't bashing other faiths then what is it? They are telling people that all other faiths are worthless, right?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Rob

      Like i said, people of other faiths are no better nor worse. We are all humans, ya? I never said atheists were wrong but anyone who downright leaves hateful messages attacking other people faiths are in fact inferior, yes. I do not like people who shove their faiths down other peoples' throats and im not trying to do that. just stop the hate. atheists have morals as do religious people. Both can be hateful,

      November 18, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • sam

      Ok, Rob, I have to admit you have a point there, with that last post.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • John

      Rob
      Nothing more "hateful" than telling people that they're evil, and deserve eternal torture just because they don't believe the same things you do.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Rob

      @John Although I NEVER said that, I agree. There comes a point when directly attacking someones beliefs and making your own "true" is a form of hate. I think whether or not you are religious you shouldnt judge others. Am I judging people who judge? yes. I am being contradicting but there is a level beyond religion, the human psyche, where ethics come into place and hate is wrong. Religion just makes those human "laws" concrete, for better or worse.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • John

      Rob
      So, a true Christian would not believe that other religions are completely wrong and that non-Christians are all going to Hell? Doesn't it actually disqualify you as a Christian to believe that believing in Christ isn't really the only answer? Just asking!

      November 19, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Rob

      @john, true that wouldnt define what my religion states exactly but the principle of including everyone extends beyond text,its universally interpreted and practiced in all faiths

      November 19, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • John

      Rob
      But can you describe Jesus as your savior if you believe that Muhammad, Krishna, or L. Ron Hubbard could be equally someone else's savior? That there could be equally valid afterlives? That one moral code is as good as any other?

      If so, what makes Christianity your preferred faith, just because you were born into it?

      November 19, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  20. robert

    @Rachel, you seem like an intelligent person, so why would you choose a religion that hates you for your gender? Monotheistic religions were created by men to take power from women that traditionally held it under pagan religions. You are the cause of the downfall of man. To this day you and all of your gender are punished with painful labour as a result of your offense to god. You are not equals. Your own God of Love, Jesus did nothing to release you from your low status when you would think it would be on the top of his list. You are a member of a club that not only doesn't want you, but sees you as the cause of all suffering. You love your abuser! I guess they call that Stockholm syndrome.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Baret Fawbush

      @ Robert – your emotionally charge response is hilarious and shows that you lack very surface level thinking of Christianity and its beliefs. Jesus restored women's status. Jesus preached that in a world where God is King, the last are first and the first are last. The humble are the blessed ones. Historically speaking, Jesus shouldnt have talked to the woman at the well. If he hadn't, and hadn't stuck up for the woman cuaght in adultery, if he hadn't allowed a prositute to annointed him wth oil, then i could understand your position. However, your viewpoint again, is surface level and misguided. Women's testimoney in the first century wasn't even admissible in court, yet the first person so see the resurrected Jesus – a woman. If you were a first century fictiction writer, you might have wanted to leave that detail of the fake story out if it wasn't true. If it was a true event, then why have a woman find Jesus resurrected? Unless, in the Kingdom of God, all are equal and recieve equal grace and equal roles. Paul, the chauvinistic brute modern feminist make him out to be forget to also quote Galatians 3:23 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Again, if Paul is sinscrely speaking from a chauvinistic paradigm, i'm sure he would have left that part out. But, he doesn't. Why? Because women are as equally vital in Christianity as men. Waiting on your response that you will not give....

      November 18, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • MaryJ

      @robert
      There are sects within Christianity that do not see women as equal, and other sects that do see them as equal. There are flavors of Christianity to satisfy every person's need to feel included, even the bigots. Problem is they all get their flavoring from the same pile of ingredients, the Bible.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:51 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.