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

My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’

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

By Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • My Take • Opinion

soundoff (4,657 Responses)
  1. Martin

    - Gods lives in the depth of the ocean and on clouds – solved
    - God lives in the fire and thunder – solved
    - God is the son and the moon and the stars -solved
    - God is the corn that feeds the world – solved
    See the pattern? Like Neil De Grasse Tyson said "God is an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance." and sooner or later today's religions will join the past forgotten ones. Cultures that can't adapt will fail and new ones that can will rise, just like many times in history. So who cares about religious people, you can't convince someone of reality when they fabricate their own, they fabricate their proof, their facts, best thing is just do your thing and stay way from them as much possible, most of the times they turn more people into atheists than atheists themselves by the things they say and do anyway, lol so no need for us to do it.

    November 19, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • AJD

      LOL....exactly. Had some facebook stalker that I accepted a friend request from on FB for a game...she saw some of my atheist posts and started harassing me, using every two faced, manipulative tactic in the book to try to convert me. I tried to be nice and tell her that if she wanted to be a Christian that was fine with me but I did not wish to be and here were my reasons. Even tried to just have friendly chats with her and in those chats the topic of my best friend who died in a car accident in high school came up briefly...little more than a mere mention. She kept harassing me with her proselytizing and judging and getting more and more annoying with it all until I finally told her where to go and how fast she could get there. So then she posts on my page seething with hatred for me and saying I've never known love and have a sad life and that I've "awakened her to the evil plots in my mind" and all this other crazy, hateful speech....and THEN goes on to say that my best friend who died is "ashamed of me"....using my dead best friend as a tool to try to guilt trip me. Absolutely DISGUSTING. And all because I simply refused to believe what she wanted me to believe and allow her to convert me.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:08 am |
    • AJD

      And there are definitely some people posting now that show the truth of your statement as they are making me even more happy to be an atheist and not sound like a fool. :)

      November 19, 2012 at 5:13 am |
    • harpman

      AJD, I don't believe in God but I miss him (Julius Barnes). But I still envy those that do believe and find hope and comfort in the idea of God, purpose, and eternal llife. I wish that I could believe but it all seems like nonsense. However, I would never say or do anything to remove hope from someone else who does believe. I will leave them to the comfort in the belief (false or not) that they will be reunited with departed love ones and live in eternal bliss. What kind of person tells a kid that there is no Santa Clause. Let them have those magic moments while they may. Carl Sagan was an agnostic. Someone asked him if he was really an atheist. He said "no, an atheist must know more than I do".

      November 19, 2012 at 5:32 am |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      I'm not sure where you see this 'ever receding' stuff. Let me know. The more we learn, the more I see pointing in the favor of theism. It wasn't all that long ago that we didn't understand the fine-tuning of earth and the universe, the design of DNA, or the Big Bang for that matter. If ever there were enough evidence to be a Christian (short of actually living with Jesus), it's our current time, not the past.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ harpman -
      On the other hand, if the theist is correct, we'd have to hate the skeptics and atheists quite a lot (as Penn Gillete has pointed out) to NOT try and convince you of our position. The problem I have with what is going on here, is that I've only met one person so far that has actually tried to even understand what they are not believing to any reasonable extent.... and these are supposed to be the reason people???

      November 19, 2012 at 5:41 am |
    • Frank Bonora

      After 9-11 and after suffering the loss of close friends I refuse to allow a theist to run his BS without rebuke. Religion is a contagious poisoning of the mind that makes otherwise normal people do hideous things. Mutilate a child's genitalia. Told to fear and also love a dictator that constantly watches you. Countless other atrocities. Lets put their imaginary gods with Leprecons, Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.

      November 19, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ Frank Bonora -
      And given your sharp observation skills, you've missed that this universal human trait extends well beyond the realm of religion?

      Nice rebuke, but can you refute?

      re: "Lets put their imaginary gods with Leprecons, Santa Claus and the tooth fairy."
      I agree, the Bible even teaches that! Imaginary gods is called idolatry and is most frowned upon.

      November 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  2. R Burns

    As with many prominent and mainstream Christian scholars, this article refers to Paul's writings as if they were authoritative mandates from God. However, where Paul definitely was the driving force behind the establishment of early Christian congregations and never waivered in his assertion that Jesus is the Messiah, at the same time he prided himself in waiting 3 years after his conversion to even learn what Jesus taught! There are a few passages in his letters that indicate he realizes he speaks on his own and not, as it were, from God, but he also has many things to say that have been adopted hook line and sinker by the main of Christianity and yet they do conflict with some of the messages Christ gave. In my own study and teaching moments I always defer to Christ's authority in questions of doctrine. It should have been this way from the beginning, to avoid confusion and conflict that in our day especially brings many outside of Christianity to question the faith.
    As one scholar put it, if Paul had known how his letters would have eventually been used he would most likely have been more careful! If we can get back to Jesus' core message and give Paul's writings their place as a supportive, not authoritative body, then some of the dissent we see might be resolved. Something to think about.

    November 19, 2012 at 5:00 am |
    • Frank Bonora

      To R Burns. Think about this. You were dead for billions of years before you we're born. You will be dead after you die. Get over it.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  3. Bootyfunk

    how about just the danger of following the bible?

    the bible tells christians to kill g.ays, non-virgin brides, disobedient children and anyone working the weekend. the bible has unicorns, satyrs, dragons and c.ockatrice. the bible supports slavery. god drowned babies in his great flood. read that again - BABIES. how could anyone worship such a monster? only a truly evil being could fill a newborn's lungs with water and call it divine justice. the bible is disgusting. anyone following the bible to the letter would be among the worst serial killer/mass murderers in history.

    realize the bible was written by people that thought the earth was flat. read the introduction in any high school science text book - congratulations, you now have more knowledge than is in all of the bible. you do not need god to be a good person. get up off your knees. think for yourself. go outside and put those hands to use helping your brothers and sisters.

    November 19, 2012 at 4:52 am |
    • AJD

      If more people would actually read the bible from cover to cover like they do any other work of literature and really...I mean REALLY thought about what they're reading and what's in it, there would be a huge influx of atheists. The bible when read as a whole is truly a disgusting and honestly poorly written book. And what about "god"? This supposedly perfect, all good, all loving being had the inclination to create a world of suffering and full of so much "evil." Makes no sense. If he's all knowing, he knew everything that would happen and how it would turn out. He would have known what would have happened with Adam and Eve and the snake/Satan. He would have known everything that was ever going to happen. I'm a parent....I would NEVER EVER EVER have ANY inclination to create a world for my kids if I could create one that had ANY suffering or evil in it and I'm not a "perfect" all powerful, all loving deity. And this all powerful god is so vain that he needed to create a world of people to worship him and if you don't, his vanity is such that he'll torture you in hell fire for all eternity. Totally nonsensical rubbish.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:59 am |
    • noodles doodles and toodles

      An "influx" of atheists. Hmm. Where would they be coming from ?

      November 19, 2012 at 5:03 am |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      We kill millions of babies... EACH YEAR... in the USA alone... and consider it a virtue.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:04 am |
    • Doug

      "realize the bible was written by people that thought the earth was flat"
      So was the Magna Carta, so was Aristotle's Metaphysics, so was The Art of War. So what? Have you gone all the way around the world? Have you yourself seen the earth from space? No? Then you only believe it is round because someone else told you. Why does this belief suddenly make you wise and the writers of the Bible stupid, huh? They interpreted God's word through the world they knew; small wonder it often sounds confusing, or even backward at times, to our modern ears. But that doesn't make them dumb, nor does it make everything they said wrong.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:46 am |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ Doug -
      We have more technical knowledge for sure, but yes, I'd say that many of the ancients were MUCH better thinkers than most of us today.

      Also, it can be argued that what is probably the oldest book of the Bible (Job) describes a circular or spherical earth. The 'flat earth' idea has been grossly exaggerated and is read into the Bible... not taken from it.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:53 am |
  4. Burl99

    The authors' confusion is evident that her mind wanders often and she does not want instruction in matters, but seeks more to align her views with worldly thinking than pleasing her creator. One cannot do both.

    November 19, 2012 at 4:26 am |
    • AJD

      I would say that it's more that she's figured out that the bible and religion in general is bull but like a child with a security blanket, she doesn't want to believe what she's figured out (like the child not wanting to believe that they've outgrown the blankie) and is desperately trying to rationalize clinging to her faith when the best thing she could do is free herself from what she deep down inside knows is untrue and silly ancient myths.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ AJD -
      I think you've hit the nail on the head. But, I'd suggest she get an actual education on the subject, so that instead of going the uneducated way you suggest, she can learn the Bible is true and reliable... so she puts her trust back into what it explains.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:07 am |
    • AJD

      You mean so she can continue to be confused by all the contradictions and logical fallacies of this supposedly "divinely inspired" book written by people with no concept of simple things like the chlorophyll in plants that make them green? No, she'd be better off casting that rubbish aside and living in reality and using her time to learn about things that actually are real and matter.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:11 am |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      Contradictions and logical fallacies? You've peaked my interest... ;)

      November 19, 2012 at 5:15 am |
    • midwest rail

      If your interest has "peaked" , it's all downhill from here.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ midwest rail -
      Probably true. I've been interacting a bit here over the past day, and I've only had ONE atheist/skeptic show a glimpse of knowledge on the subject-matter we were discussing (which happened to be biology). Otherwise, it has been ignoramus-central. I guess I should have expected this on CNN 'belief' blogs, but sheesh!

      November 19, 2012 at 5:28 am |
    • midwest rail

      Steve – I was simply making word play about "piqued" vs "peaked". As to the article, men and women have been arguing the correct interpretation of this passage or that since day one. What I find more valuable as a lesson is what people really DO.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      Heh, you got me on that one! :) Oh certainly. The Bible is not as clear on every possible topic as some would like, and there is certainly disagreement about various passages or points. However, the problem with this article is that Rachel indicates one thing in her self-description (being an evangelical with high regard for Scripture), but then does another (acts as if not to be taken too seriously, must be full of errors and issues, etc.). Which is it Rachel? Because, ultimately, what you believe DRIVES what you do.

      November 19, 2012 at 6:01 am |
  5. LAST DAY

    The Stone despised by the builders has become the CORNERSTONE! (Psalms 118/22)

    So if/when we read the Bible in the light of this CORNERSTONE now,
    only then we will see everything clearly here:

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNFICENT MIRACLES

    November 19, 2012 at 4:20 am |
    • noodles doodles and toodles

      Ho hum. Another one that is the only one to figure things out.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:05 am |
  6. Gaunt

    We cannot say there is 'No evidence' for jesus, thats inaccurate. One can say there is incredibly little evidence for Jesus.

    However, even among that miniscule fragmentary after-the-fact evidence for jesus that does exist, it is fair to say there is NO evidence whatsoever for a DIVINE jesus. There may well have been a mad scholar wandering around Judeah in the reign of Augustus caesar, who was eventually nailed to a cross. It would be unsurprising, that happened all the time. But was he anything more than another lunatic, perhaps with a bit nicer a message than most? There is no evidence whatsoever to support that.

    November 19, 2012 at 4:14 am |
    • Evert van Vliet

      'Jesus' was an extremely common name in those years...so there's as much 'evidence' as there is none.

      Fact is that figures like jesus and mohammed prevent any discussion about the utterly nonsense they represent.
      It's also 'proven' god has a penis, which is a huge fact without having any evidence about the guy himself.
      All 'it' does however is make me wonder...why?...after all he created mankind after his own image and Eve was still in the pipeline.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:42 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Yes...the "Son of God" Jesus is equivalent to the Abraham Lincoln vampire killer idea. No matter how much evidence we have about Abe the man there isn't any reason or evidence to believe he was an early version of Buffy. No amount of textual accounts is evidence for the divine or miraculous. That the Bible depicts actual places or people isn't surprising...people and places actually exist...but stories about magical or supernatural events are just that...fanciful stories.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:57 am |
  7. thaddeus98

    One thing I never understood was how the Bible is used as a support for Pro Life arguments. In the bible, God placed many genocidal kill orders that included women (pregnant or not) and children. (In addition he ordered virgins to be spared and taken as war booty) In Egypt he even sent an angel to slaughter firstborn children.........babies and all. How in the hell is the bible a good support for Pro Life folks?

    I'm pro life myself......

    November 19, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • AJD

      Because what most Christians know about the bible does not come from them actually reading it themselves but from what they've been told it says through cherry picked verses here and there. Few people have actually read it cover to cover as you would any other work of literature. If more people did, there would probably be a lot more atheists lol. You are exactly right...god condoned the killing of women and children in the bible, quite frequently actually. But these same people you speak of are also the ones that will say they're "pro-life" but then be pro death penalty (though I'm not against the death penalty myself in certain cases) and usually are all ready to go to war, don't support programs that help these children once they are born, etc. I tend to call those people "pro-birth" and not "pro-life." The truth is, if god really is in control of everything, if nothing happens that's not his will, if he is all powerful...then he is the most prolific abortionist in the history of the world because around 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage...a natural abortion as it is termed...if he's truly all powerful he could have stopped it...but he did not....or you could go further and say that perhaps he even caused it if everything happens according to his "will." Religious people don't like that when I bring that up, but it's just the way the dots come together when you connect them.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:00 am |
  8. 2357

    YHWH is the being who drives all beings. Proof is for the knowing of things. Being requires no proof at all, and proof does not add to or subtract from a being. Being simply is. YHWH is the primal and ultimate being. We know of his significance through his words. By his word all things come into being, by his word he makes himself known, and by his word he became flesh in the glorious person of Yeshua, the Messiah King of the Jews.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:50 am |
    • AJD

      On the contrary.....if you assert that something exists, the burden of proof lies on YOU to prove its existence, not on others to disprove it. This is the kind of crazy brainwashed prattle that I detest the most.

      November 19, 2012 at 3:54 am |
    • thaddeus98

      YHWH and his Canaanite goddess Ashera. Do you even know the history of where these names came from?

      November 19, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • Gaunt

      You are mixing concepts. Proof (or rather, evidence: proof is a terribly misused word) is necessary to establish Being. 'Being' may be or it may not be, but you have no evidence of this 'being' simply your personal belief based on what you have been taught by similarily deluded elders. Lacking evidence, you try and claim evidence does not matter. That simply shows your mind is small and shallow.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:09 am |
    • AJD

      Well said, Gaunt. That's what really gets me. Religious people say things like "I don't have to have proof, I believe it's true and that's enough for me." Well ok, that's fine for YOU....but the problem is they extend that to mean that it should be enough for everyone else to believe as well and if we don't accept that and believe as they do, if we ask for more evidence then we're "evil" or "oppressing them" or whatever. If YOU want to believe in something with absolutely ZERO evidence whatsoever that it's true or that it exists and risk looking like an idiot, that's fine, that's your right.....but don't expect me to do the same!

      November 19, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • CarlWstCoast

      Once heard Desmond Tutu make the remark that our God "is the isness of is". That to me says it all...

      November 19, 2012 at 4:20 am |
    • Evert van Vliet

      "King of the Jews."

      There is no such a "thing" as a "king" or "jews" neither....just like I said, it's ALL politics based on hear-say and hypocrisy.

      You're making claims out of an absolute vacuum.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:06 am |
  9. Elphaba

    It's a pretty well known fact that all the books of the Bible were written in the Greek and Hebrew languages, and that the translation into other languages was not an easy task. Many passages were not literally translated, but translated to the translators best efforts, and sometimes to reflect the morals of the day. The term "poetic license" comes to mind.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:22 am |
  10. Felicia

    Sorry, by far the most disgusting article I have ever read. You are wasting your life on something that you stated yourself as being "poetry, stories, laws" that were written a thousand some odd years ago when life in all aspects was very different. We no longer all herd sheep, wear little thin sandals while walking in a desert, wear long robes, and eat flattened bread every night for dinner. Times have changed and along with it just about EVERYTHING in our daily life since these "stories, poetry, laws" were written. Calling your husband "Master" is just plain disturbing. All the Bible does is spill out a bunch of things you should and should not do. But never has a single logical reason why. All you need to do in life is enjoy it and raise a generation that will be beneficial to the planet. There is NOTHING that is going to benefit your life greater then any other by covering your head, growing out your hair, or sleeping in a tent in your front lawn because your uterus is shedding its lining for crying out loud! People that do things like this are weak and very single minded. What if a natural disaster ever happens??? Just going to sit there and pray to god for everything to be better? Starve in the process? Survival of the fittest.... and smartest I guess in this case.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:20 am |
    • Epidi

      Had I lived in that time I would have welcomed spending a week away from the rest of the family during menses. Sure must have been hard work doing everything a woman was expected to do back in those days & without the benefit of our technology. Some Native Americans have a tradition of the Moon Lodge where a woman in her menses or who has just given birth stays and is looked after by other women until the bleeding is over. The difference is it is not looked upon as dirty and keeping away from everyone but as a retreat & rejuvenation process for the woman. How can you be expected to care for so many when you are not cared for yourself? As for calling a man Master – I'd only walk 2 ft behind one to kick him if he wanted me to call him that lol.

      November 19, 2012 at 3:48 am |
    • AJD

      There was a time when SOME of these "rules" may have been practical or had a logical reason for them in that time period (for example, the rules against eating certain animals could easily be explained by diseases that were not understood then that were commonly acquired by people that ate them.) Other rules were obviously nothing more than to subjugate women in a patriarchal society. The laws such as not having intercourse during a woman's period and for seven days after that is obviously because at that point is when a woman is most fertile and most likely to get pregnant and in those times of high mortality and in the interest of being a strong "nation" (i.e. more people to fight and gain power) it made sense...just not for the reasons that people thought it did, i.e. because "god" said. There are a few stories in the bible that do have some practical lessons that are good even today....but that's also true for Aesop's fables, yet no one believes they're real. They just take the good lessons from them and leave it at that.

      November 19, 2012 at 3:50 am |
  11. AJD

    We no longer need a flawed, ridiculous, inconsistant and contradictory text of ancient myths/fairy tales told by people with no concept of science written thousands of years ago. It astounds me that people easily accept that the myths of Ancient Greece and Rome are just that...myths...and that those gods have no reality or substance, yet people still desperately cling to Christianity (or any other religion) today. It's so much simpler just to live by one simple rule...to treat others as you would like to be treated. That's it. It's the only rule I've ever needed and it serves me quite well. This world will not know real peace and we never live up to our true potential until we cast aside the beliefs in myth and blind obedience and faith in them. As an atheist I have been told by religious people among other things that I must have a "void" in my life/heart to not believe in God. That is the furthest from the truth. I am far happier as an atheist than I ever was as a Christian. On the contrary, I feel that there must be a void in the lives of religious people to feel that they need to force themselves to keep believing in these silly myths in order to have a reason to do good things and be good people...that it's not enough for them to be "good" for the sake of goodness, for the sake of our society and our world....that they must believe that there is to be some great reward for themselves or some great punishment after death in order to motivate them to be good. This author in my opinion deep inside is questioning her faith but like a security blanket to a child does not want to get rid of it and is looking for any explanation she can come up with to hold onto it even in the face of the reality that the text that faith is based upon is highly flawed and frankly quite silly.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:13 am |
    • Evert van Vliet

      And you don't think nations are silly?

      I don't see any difference between obeying gods or founding daddies, it all depends on what's being claimed to be true first.

      In other words; Politics=religion.

      November 19, 2012 at 3:18 am |
    • AJD

      I think that's a bit off topic and a whole different discussion for another day, Evert.

      November 19, 2012 at 3:21 am |
    • Felicia

      <3

      November 19, 2012 at 3:22 am |
    • Evert van Vliet

      Same planet, same topic...it's only a tad "off" when hypocrisy takes over.
      What gives you (and a "few" others) the right to claim a huge part of it (and everything that comes along with it)?...to claim the potentially available brain-space of youngsters?

      November 19, 2012 at 3:45 am |
    • Evert van Vliet

      ".....if you assert that something exists, the burden of proof lies on YOU to prove its existence, not on others to disprove it. This is the kind of crazy brainwashed prattle that I detest the most."

      So where does the us of a fit?

      November 19, 2012 at 4:22 am |
    • AJD

      Evert....you're getting no where....mostly because no one understands wth you're talking about. If you want to talk politics, go somewhere where the topic is politics. This story isn't it. Honestly, reading the other things you're written here, I can't help but think that perhaps you skipped a dose of some prescribed meds.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:37 am |
    • CarlWstCoast

      What does it mean to be Christian, if not what is spelled out in Luke 10:27? From the New International Version (1984):

      25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
      26“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
      27He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
      28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

      Unfortunately, it is much easier to put down on paper than it is to live.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:38 am |
    • Evert van Vliet

      "....mostly because no one understands wth you're talking about"

      And still you don't see any common place here and there?

      That figures.

      Religion=politics (as is most other 'topic').

      It's a fact that one can 'only' observe nations when all others believe in it....especially those outside of the imaginary border.
      The godly versions do exactly the same thing.

      It's up to you to make sense out of it and that's not the same as telling me I'm the one who's off topic a/o not understood.
      **&- – really don't make things real.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:49 am |
  12. Evert van Vliet

    Too funny, as if anybody can "be" the utterly nonsense washed on the brains?..in that respect not even "Americans" exist despite the founding daddies, stars, stripes and all.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  13. Elphaba

    I find it interesting that the prohibitionists, during prohibition, tried to alter the Bible to exclude any reference to alcoholic beverages such as wine. I wonder how many times in the last two thousand years one group or another was successful in their attempts to alter the Bible. Kind of makes me wonder what was written two thousand years ago compared to what the Bible says now. Hmmm.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:10 am |
    • Jay

      Each time a new scroll is found in the Middle East, it is translated to see what it says. When some are found to be ancient books of the Bible, they are then tested to see how old they really are (based on the language, style of writing, paper or other material, etc.), then cross-referenced with the same books and scrolls. If it does turn out to be older than what has been previously discovered, better, more accurate translations can be made. Keep in mind new Bibles are published everyday. Corrections, revisions, etc. can be made with new information.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • CarlWstCoast

      To echo what Jay said, this is exactly why finding things like the Dead Sea scrolls is so important. That text has been carbon dated to 33 CE, plus or minus 200 years. Folks studying these texts are able to tell if changes have crept into the Hebrew Bible, and make recommendations/corrections accordingly.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:55 am |
  14. Chuck Steak

    I hate it when Islamists are so koranical.

    November 19, 2012 at 2:37 am |
  15. Nate

    I born and breed in the United States this country was founded on freedom of religion you people and any other person can't stop me and the bible is the truth and way Jesus is the messiah and my god is the same as Alabama Genesis 12:1-5

    November 19, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, our government is separate from religion by deliberate intent. This separation protects people of all religions as well as atheists from being persecuted for their beliefs. It is one of the great cornerstones of our freedom. This country would be diminished, if not destroyed, if we ever lost our freedom of - and from - religion.

      November 19, 2012 at 2:33 am |
    • jkeller

      To the comment below: it protects from persecution? What country are you living in?

      Do you realize how much Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. are persecuted for their faith on a daily basis from the general public, mainstream media and social elite?

      November 19, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Oh Dear

      Nate,

      Please do Alabama a favor and don't breed anymore. They obviously aren't able to properly educate the ones they have.

      November 19, 2012 at 2:55 am |
    • Athy

      Nate. Punctuation is your friend. Learn to use it. Your third-grade writing skills are right in line with your foolish religious beliefs. Too much bible time, not enough textbook time. Pity.

      November 19, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • Elphaba

      jkeller; The First Amendment seperation of church and state is a result of the Church of England persecuting Cathoilics and members of other religions who didn't follow the Church of England started by Henry the VIII. Persecution was very real in the 1700s when the First Amendment was written. This is exactly why the First Amendment was written the way it was. In addition, any persecution you speak of is not perpetrated by the government, but by individuals. Your arguement in invalid.

      November 19, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • End Religion

      What an embarrassment to the U.S.

      November 19, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • Athy

      Nate is an embarrasment to our educational system. How is he able to use a computer?

      November 19, 2012 at 3:05 am |
    • Evert van Vliet

      Ever realized countries are made up too?

      November 19, 2012 at 3:13 am |
  16. Jesus

    Ummm where did this lady attend seminary? Oh the postmodern school of exegesis. Lol she's been reading to much of Bart erhman s books lol...

    November 19, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • Susie

      Sadly most of the Christina Universities are being taken over by post modernists.

      November 19, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • End Religion

      An interesting dilemma for Christianity. Either don't stay current and risk quick irrelevance, or update the "word of god" and risk the backlash of it. So far Christianity has been changing the word of god to stay relevant, but now it is dying even faster. Now that we're nearing the end of Christianity, which way will they turn? My bet is follow the money. The will, as they have, continue to bend the "word of god" as much as needed to bring in believers and keep the coffers filled.

      November 19, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  17. FormerChristian

    There is no more evidence for Jesus than Santa Claus, and no evidence for the magical evidence for either one.

    While people stop believing in the magical acts of Santa as children, some adults believe in the magical acts of Jesus ( I believed in the magic until my 20's).

    I think we should just fully combine the Santa magic with the Jesus magic.

    Here is the basic idea of Santa-Jesus-mas:

    - Jesus and Santa deliver presents to children on Dec 25
    - Jesus was born in the stable where Rudolph and the other reindeer's were kept
    - ...

    you get the idea

    November 19, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • jkeller

      No evidence for Jesus? Read Josephus, if you'd like to get some evidence outside the bible. Do your research before making such a claim. People were writing about Jesus just decades after he died and we still have the writings for that.

      November 19, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • tallulah13

      Josephus was not a contemporary of Jesus. He makes only one va.gue mention of a man named Jesus. There was a second quote, but that one was believed to have been added in the fourth century. To put it plainly, Josephus is not a reliable witness.

      November 19, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • jkeller

      Really. A man who was born just a few years after Christ died therefore holds no credibility in mentioning him; not to mention the dozens of people who wrote about him just decades after? Including those who knew the disciples personally?

      November 19, 2012 at 2:49 am |
    • End Religion

      Not one single credible eyewitness. Not one. And if there were, we know eyewitness testimony is unreliable, especially when that testimony is from a zealot testifying on his obsession. Religious people are known to substitute emotional conviction for fact. Dishonesty abounds within religious ranks, even as they wag their fingers at others' "sins".

      November 19, 2012 at 3:16 am |
    • Gaunt

      One cannot say there is 'No evidence' for jesus, thats inaccurate. One can say there is incredibly little evidence for Jesus.

      However, even among that miniscule fragmentary after-the-fact evidence for jesus that does exist, it is fair to say there is NO evidence whatsoever for a DIVINE jesus. There may well have been a mad scholar wandering around Judeah in the reign of Augustus caesar, who was eventually nailed to a cross. It would be unsurprising, that happened all the time. But was he anything more than another lunatic, perhaps with a bit nicer a message than most? There is no evidence whatsoever to support that.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:13 am |
    • Guest2

      I believe those who suggest evidence of Jesus' existence are missing the point. There may be evidence that a man Jesus existed but not that a 'savior,' 'son of god' Jesus existed.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • CarlWstCoast

      You know, to argue that Jesus didn't live is a bit silly. How do we know he lived? Well, the same way we know George Washington lived: people wrote about him. Now, you can argue if you like that what they wrote about him is inaccurate or flawed in some way, but I think there's ample evidence that a man named Jesus lived. I mean, if Josephus doesn't provide help, open up a Koran and you'll find references to the man.

      Now, as to "was he anything more than another lunatic, perhaps with a bit nicer a message than most? There is no evidence whatsoever to support that.", I would point out that those who spread the word about what this lunatic said and what happened after he died, those people were not treated very kindly. In fact, look at how they ended up; why would anyone go through what they did? You can argue for mass insanity, but I have to wonder if there wasn't more going on. It sure appears that their convictions with regard to what happened to this man Jesus is fairly solid.

      And as an aside, there is one character in the New Testament that repeatedly ticks off the religious people of the day, so much so that he ends up on a cross. The support of religiosity does not appear to have even been on his "to do" list. So to those people that have a problem with the politics of the "religious right", I'm with you, but don't confuse things and make that out to be a problem with Christ, because they're not the same thing...

      November 19, 2012 at 5:45 am |
    • End Religion

      the discrepancy is most don't identify if they're speaking of "some dude named jesus" or "jesus, son of god". Between those 2 there'd be myriad arguments, just as there are among religious folks who disagree how literally to adhere to scripture.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  18. freethinkr

    "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"

    Right, the inspired word of God. With 300,000 errors great and small. And over 20 different versions around. Which one pray tell is the actual inspired word? The NIV? The KJV, ESV? GNT? or any of the others? How do you know which one? What about the earliest versions dating back to 200 AD that don't have anything after Mark 16:8? Where twelve verses were added hundreds of years later? A book filled with hundreds of contradictions and inconsistencies written by pre scientific Iron Age men. Not a god.

    Anyone who really knows the history of the book itself will have MAJOR issues with its "inspired" nature.

    November 19, 2012 at 2:18 am |
    • jkeller

      Wow, 300,000 errors? And 20 versions? Looks like someone didn't do ANY research and decided to make blanket statements for the sheer fun of it! Typical CNN comments!

      November 19, 2012 at 2:33 am |
    • jkeller

      The Catholic Church compiled the canon of Scripture – so, I would say the Latin Vulgate would be the best translation. Anything from the Protestant side is an incomplete Bible, so I would stay away from that. Enjoy! :)

      November 19, 2012 at 2:35 am |
    • tallulah13

      Well, one thing if for certain. The bible is chock full of contradictions. If it is the word of god, then your god must be schizophrenic.

      November 19, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • jkeller

      There really aren't contradictions :) Having said that, it would take quite a while to explain why – because I understand where you're coming from. The "contradictions" seem rather apparent, yes.

      If you want to talk about schizophrenia, you can bring up the example about all the Christian denominations that claim the Holy Spirit inspires them to interpret Scripture. And yet, there are thousands of them that can't agree on simple doctrines of the faith. I find it rather humorous.

      November 19, 2012 at 2:54 am |
    • Athy

      Not humorous at all. Rather pitiful to me.

      November 19, 2012 at 3:09 am |
    • freethinkr

      jkeller,

      Tis not I who claim these things, but Bible scholars who know much more than you or I ever will. And do you really think there is only one version of the Bible? Surely not. Just google "bible versions" and you will become much more informed.

      November 19, 2012 at 3:10 am |
    • End Religion

      1) God is satisfied with his works – Gen 1:31
      God is dissatisfied with his works. – Gen 6:6
      2) God dwells in chosen temples – 2 Chron 7:12,16
      God dwells not in temples – Acts 7:48
      3) God dwells in light – Tim 6:16
      God dwells in darkness – 1 Kings 8:12/ Ps 18:11/ Ps 97:2
      4) God is seen and heard – Ex 33:23/ Ex 33:11/ Gen 3:9,10/ Gen 32:30/ Is 6:1/ Ex 24:9-11
      God is invisible and cannot be heard – John 1:18/ John 5:37/ Ex 33:20/ 1 Tim 6:16
      5) God is tired and rests – Ex 31:17
      God is never tired and never rests – Is 40:28

      November 19, 2012 at 3:20 am |
  19. slapshotbob

    The traditional Jewish view on modern "Biblical" law flows from Deuteronomy 17, which states that you should follow the judges and priests in charge at your time period.

    The Rabbis interpreted this as saying that the Rabbis could never vote incorrectly. Therefore, if today's Rabbis vote that women can now wear pants, then it is "Biblical" (correct) for women to wear pants. If electricity is declared like fire, then it is forbidden on the Sabbath almost as if God himself said so.

    I personally have trouble with the inherent subjectivity of this system, especially when I seriously disagree with their opinions. But the argument is constructed so that it is difficult to argue against.

    November 19, 2012 at 2:15 am |
  20. Chuck

    Being biblical means making a virtue out of not thinking.

    November 19, 2012 at 2:13 am |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.