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.
Jesus Christ himself said that the entire law could be summed up with the following...
1. Love the Lord you God with all your heart.
2. Love you neighbor as yourself.
That, to me, is living "Biblical". And that is the essence of true Christianity. If you love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself, everything else will take care of itself.
Everything else is legalism.
You got it Mark !!! Now comes the hard part; trying to live our lives in such a manner. That's why "Biblical Scholars" start looking for loopholes in "The Bible" to get around this difficult task.
Thanks for your greeting card explanation. However your bible has many rules you Christians conveniently forget. Your cherry pickers, revisionists, apologists, and hypocrites. You can't even agree on the most basic tenants of your own faith.
See this is why I argue against religious folks. You make a statement that your man-god "said" something. Were you there? Did you witness it? Did he visit you? The FACT is you have no idea what Jesus said. You folks should preface what you say with " I believe without reason that.....".
Yeah. And God also says in the bible that if you worship another god you should be killed. If you argue with your parents, you should be killed, if you engage in debate, you should be killed. If you don't believe in him you and your children should be killed. He even talks about ripping suckling babies from their mothers and killing them. Any irony here with the Christian position of abortion? All at the same time as making a commandment that states Thou shalt not kill. Really? Please stop quoting your nonsense and get your head out of the sand.
Pearls before swine Mark
that is the essence of Christianity, but unfortunately there is very little evidence that Jesus actually said those words. Those are from the Gospel of Mark, likely the last gospel written, and pieced together by multiple writers who were heavily influenced by the Apostle Paul. Nice message, but again, very little reason to believe that Jesus was the origin.
Its a fair enough point that there are differing interpretations of biblical text. But if you believe that the bible is the inspired word of God, as you say, you must agree that there is one correct interpretation of each verse. True that some verses are difficult and generate more disagreement among believers about what it means, so we should perhaps wisely stay away from those as final authority on any particular issue. Otherwise the opposite extreme is that it doesn't really mean anything at all, and we can read into the bible whatever we wish. Also everyone who wishes to criticize the bible starts with the old testament law, and pretends to have no idea that every believing theologian has agreed that some of it applies to ancient Israel only and other parts are universal. Is any serious believing theologian suggesting that we ought to sell daughters into slavery to pay off debt, as part of our obedience to biblical principles? So isn't it setting up a bit of a straw man to bring it up?
Umm, referencing literature from the source is now a straw man?
Yes, it can be, if one willfully misinterprets the original text and provides no context, such as hundreds of years of agreement among believers about the basic interpretation of the old testament law. Unfortunately part of the problem is that many believers these days are somewhat illiterate on these matters.
I've always wondered what Mark Twain meant when he said "It aint' the parts of the Bible I don't understand that confound me, it's the parts I do."
Why would you find that a puzzle, Billy? It's pretty clear what Twain meant.
@Skyhill – "agreement among believers"....really? that's your metric? agreement among folks sharing a common interest? And what are the percentages of agreement among academic theologians? oops....
Well Tom, one explanation, which I'm sure many agree with, is that Twain had the same issues with reconciling literal readings of select Scriptures with every day life. Another explanation, which I'm equally sure applies to many, is that he understood very well what the Bible intended but his pride and arrogance rejected the instruction.
Christians believe that non-believers (roughly 70% of the world's population) will suffer in hell for eternity. You will suffer for eternity for what you believe ie for thought-crime. Christians believe that this is fair and just. They tell us that their god is a loving god. They will say that you have a choice. But where is the choice? If someone comes up to you and puts a gun to your head and says give me money or die, you have a choice as well, right? But you wouldn't call the being that put the gun to your head a loving and just person. Why do you call the sadistic god that you worship loving and just either? Christians think they are morally superior to everyone else. Please explain to me how this is so.
it's the religious organizations who seek to influence political discourse – and the adherents who attempt to secularize their theology that are the problem.
but they aren't quite as big a problem as all the ignorant people who tolerate all this religious idiocy.
It's not because of ie for thought-crime.
Hell is separation from God and those that do not want to live with God will not have to. Those that understand the just judgment 100% of the world desires then we understand the grace and mercy God has shown us, wanting to be with him for eternity.
True Christian's don't belive that they are morally superior to anyone, as we are taught by the Bible that we are not to judge. There will be only one judge in the end.
I do find the entire article facinating though. Once again, it's fine to trash Christian's, but write this article about Muslum's and they are justified in kills and terrorism by the media. Yet, how many Christian's are going to run out and kill someone because this article was written?
If you truly belive there is no God, then I feel sorry for you, not superior. But, if you want to make that case then how about not just aiming at Christian's!
TRUE xians sell all they have – and give it to the poor. it even says so in the bible. if you call yourself xian and don't sell all your possessions and give them to the poor... you are just a poseur.
we are taught by the Bible that we are not to judge. There will be only one judge in the end
What about other cultures who have no access to christianity, but have their own notions of God and spirituality? Are they on the right path, as you think you are? If someone has never heard of the bible, how are they to follow what's inside?
Sugar coat hell all you want Mike. The bible describes it as one nasty place. You really think anyone deserves to go there for what they think? Give me a break. A hindu in India, an athiest in China, a muslum in Iraq, or a "spiritual but not religious" in the USA do not deserve punishment for their beliefs any more than a christian deserves a reward for his.
How come, Mike, no one is able to answer the question: What about the people who never receive the teachings or knowledge of this so-called loving god? Are they automatically doomed for eternity?
"If you truly belive there is no God, then I feel sorry for you, not superior. "
You REALLY can't see how degrading your pity is? Don't you realize that the only reason that you believe in a god is because someone told you to?
Please provide the reference you are referring to in context that may help
": What about the people who never receive the teachings or knowledge of this so-called loving god? Are they automatically doomed for eternity?"
Jesus never answers that question. So I can not answer it for you. But you are not part of the above group so you must make a intelligent decision on what you think of Jesus life, teaching, death, resurrection and the claims that Christ did make
"You really think anyone deserves to go there for what they think?"
Yes, including me. If you see it as you have committed treason against the Creator of this world by not living by the way He designed it then that can be eye-opening. And every country prosecutes treason with death Romans 6:23
"A hindu in India, an athiest in China, a muslum in Iraq, or a "spiritual but not religious" in the USA do not deserve punishment for their beliefs any more than a christian deserves a reward for his."
Great now please back up why you believe your belief is correct.
If someone has never heard of the bible, how are they to follow what's inside?
Mike from CT
If someone has never heard of the bible, how are they to follow what's inside?
LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is utter brilliance(sarcasm). To answer the question about what someone should do if they don't have access to the bible.................you give a biblical scripture reference. Again: LOL!!!!
No, and sarcasm is not neither. I answered the question as to what the bible says the answer is to those that did not, and still do not have the bible. Luckily you, nor the OP are in that situation so you can see what the answer is.
Sorry that went over your head and you had to laugh off your inability to comprehend that.
Yes, because this just says it all so clearly:
"20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse"
So, a person who's never had access to the bible, and doesn't have the first idea who Jesus Christ is, will still be held accountable for not following Christ, because all are "without excuse"? Is that what you believe?
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
(Romans 1:21-23 ESV)
Yes. Not for not knowing Christ, but for exchanging worship for the creation instead of the Creator.
God in Quran says, (holy Islamic scripture)
“Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]
“They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]
“The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]
‘They said, "You have to be Jewish or Christian, to be guided." Say, "We follow the religion of Abraham – monotheism – he never was an idol worshiper." [2:135]
God will say, "O Jesus, son of Mary did you say to the people, `Make me and my mother idols beside God?' " He will say, "Be You glorified. I could not utter what was not right. Had I said it, You already would have known it. You know my thoughts, and I do not know Your thoughts. You know all the secrets.[5:116]
The Messiah, son of Mary is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate! [5:75]
“No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]
It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is. [19:35]
When My servants ask you about Me, I am always near. I answer their prayers when they pray to Me. The people shall respond to Me and believe in Me, in order to be guided. Quran [2:186]
'Say, "We believe in God, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters." [2:136]
Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.
Another book about a Santa....the middle east's santa
Jesus clarifies the biblical model of marriage in Mt 19:8 as Adam and Eve, which is monogamy. Deuteronomy 17:17, states kings should not have multiple wives. Interesting how adopting current cultural practices influences the walk of the bilical stories. The bible is authoritative. If I can be submissive, so can you.
Who would want to submit to a book that is rife with contradictions and errors? Why is it your word of god is so wrong many times in the bible?
"Interesting how adopting current cultural practices influences the walk of the bilical stories"
The untruth comes when “traditional marriage” is offered up as a term that defines a religious concept of a God-blessed union of a young man and woman who fall in love, get married with no prior sexual experience, have children and remain together into old age. They are implying that this is how God ordains marriage.
If it is, it took him until just 50 years ago to arrive at that conclusion.
The tradition of marriage in Old Testament times meant the man and his wife could have the same father.
In the Bible, the patriarch of the Hebrew people, Abraham, and his wife, Sarah, couldn’t have children so Sarah put forth her slave Hagar for Abraham to have children by.
In Old Testament times, it was normal, sometimes even required for a man to take multiple wives. A man having multiple wives was accepted by the church as late as the 5th Century, 500 years after the teachings set forth in the New Testament. The church for a very long time apparently did not interpret biblical teaching as an edict for one-man, one-woman marriage.
The tradition of marital unions in the 1700s and 1800s in America doesn’t seem to measure up to God-ordained – especially from the female perspective.
One third of brides were pregnant at the altar in Concord, Massachusetts during the 20 years prior to the American Revolution.
In this quote from a wedding couple in 1855, we see that the church had no problem blessing a legal marriage that was considered by many – including this couple – as a violation of the woman’s dignity and civil rights:
“We believe that personal independence and equal human rights can never be forfeited, except for crime; that marriage should be an equal and permanent partnership, and so recognized by law; that until it is so recognized, married partners should provide against the radical injustice of present laws, by every means in their power…”
So we can look back and see that religious teachings which uphold the ideals of love, dignity, compassion and respect for each person within marital unions throughout history has taken a back seat.
In other words, the definition of a God-ordained tradition of marriage has never been constant rather it has evolved.
History shows us it’s the marital union that should be uplifted…not the evolving traditions of a social institution. In other words, it’s not about how we come together but why.
21:7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.
21:8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.
21:9 And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.
21:10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
There's your polygamy regulations and, if you read 1 Corinthians, then Paul believed that marriage wasn't a good idea for Christians anyway
deuteronomy 17:17 is in no way a proscription on plural marriage.
you should be ashamed to be so ignorant.
@the AnVil you should take a reading class so you don't come off looking like such an azz.
LOL!tard wrote: "@the AnVil you should take a reading class so you don't come off looking like such an azz."
i'm willing to bet i've taken more classes than you have. but – it doesn't take a reading class to interpret the scriptures in the book of deuteronomy. chapter 17, verse 17 is merely an admonishment to kings not to multiply their wives – as was the custom to build large harems. it was not a proscription on polygamy, stupid.
you're an idiot and you should be ashamed.
"Who would want to submit to a book that is rife with contradictions and errors? Why is it your word of god is so wrong many times in the bible?"
It is not rife with contradictions and errors. The message is so strong that it spans several books written over thousands of years and it portrays the same message; righteousness is only found in God and is made available only in God's Son, Jesus.
"deuteronomy 17:17 is in no way a proscription on plural marriage"
If you believe a king is a leader, then it absolutely is a proscription. Follow the leader; leader, lead the people. God did not make Adam many wives did he? Why do you think God's desire is for men to have many wives? Because they had many wives? This is illogical!
available only in God's Son, Jesus
Hey Todd, curious as to your take on why God had only 1 son, Jesus? God created this vast and complex universe, and everything natural around us, yet only 1 son? I'd think God could have as many sons/daughters as he would see fit to have. I wonder why God didn't send additional sons/daughters to all reaches of the globe at the time of Jesus, to reach all of humanity? After all, we are all created equal. Seems to me God loved the humans inhabiting North America at the time of Jesus, the same way he loved the humans in the middle east. Yet, no son/daughter was sent to North America to provide this alledgedly divine message to those folks. Curious.
"why God had only 1 son, Jesus?" Jesus describes God as the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit. The Trinity aspect of God blows wide open criticism from every other religion on Chritianity's claims they are monotheistic. However, Jesus explains God in this way. In fact when he called God His Father, blasphemy was the cry from the Jews, who realized what he was saying. So your idea that the Son didn't exhist at one time is not in line with the Bible. Significance: Sin was passesd down from 1 man Adam, Grace and Truth comes from 1 100%God/100% man Jesus. The only righteous man needed to fix the problem of sin is 1... Grace=gift of perfectness, lovliness, acceptableness of God.
Todd, all that gibberish didn't come close to answering the question.
"your idea that the Son didn't exhist at one time is not in line with the Bible" - I'm not even sure what this is supposed to mean. The very simply question again is: Why couldn't God have more than 1 son/daughter? With God as all-powerful as he is, able to create all aspects of all things natural and considering the vastness and complexity, yet subtle simplicity, of the natural world, how could we think for a moment he isn't also capable of creating as many offspring as he'd want? Answer the question without leaning on the crutch of the bible. Try to think for yourself, and answer in your own words. I know you can do it Todd!!
"Why couldn't God have more than 1 son/daughter? " The "I would have done it different/better" is not a valid argument. The question you have to wrestle with is, Is Jesus the Son of God? Not the why.
"Why couldn't God have more than 1 son/daughter?"
Madtown, I did answer your question. "Jesus describes God as the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit" Simply put God did not create The Son of the Trinity. It is His Essence. There is no more of God described to us.
"Try to think for yourself, and answer in your own words"
I am not a humaniist. Your as bad as evolutionists. "Prove there is a God without the Bible" LOL. Do you see why this is funny to me? Explain Humanism and Evolution without Thales of Miletus or Petrarch. The Holy Bible exhists just as Humanists and Evolutionists exhist. The people of the Bible are witnesses to incredible revelation and prophecy, fulfilled! The end question is which one holds authority. Humanists and Evolutionists pull authority out of the sky. Just read pg 49 in this blog. I am asked to explain or bring proof yet all the others have to do is say no, no proof needed. LOL.
I Corinthians 1:30 "It is because of Him that we are in Christ Jesus, who has become wisdom from God, that is our righteousness, santification and redemption"
Please note that the early Church did not have a New Testament...
Mike from CT
"Why couldn't God have more than 1 son/daughter? " The "I would have done it different/better" is not a valid argument.
Another deluded fool who can't answer a simple question, and retreats to the predictable redirect. I never said "I could do it better". I simply asked why a being who is capable of creating this vast universe ISN'T capable of creating more than 1 son.
Madtown, I did answer your question
Sure, you answered the question. Just not an answer that makes any sense. The Trinity – a creation of the human mind. Not necessary to believe in God.
"Why couldn't God have more than 1 son/daughter? " Because it would be a lie, Madtown, and God does not lie. Have a good Thankgiving.
Madtown, One more thing. Why is an expression of doubt. What is it you are doubting? Just tell us!!!
Yet the bible has scores of men with polygamous marriages, including Abraham. Does incest with both of your daughters count? Naughty old Lot.
Dear Santa, You are correct. These things are in the Bible. You are wrong that God condones them. Todd
And yet... we will NEVER see a CNN story about the dangers of being Koran-ical
These very same points the author makes are some of the reasons behind the miracle of the Holy Quran being sent down. It (Quran) is however a text that tells all of mankind not just Muslims how to live their lives (literally). It takes the guess work and opinitated views out of the picture. At the end of the day, it doesnt matter what any of us think, it only matters that we live our life according to what God has commanded if we want to be succesful in our next life. I invite all of you to read a copy of the Holy Quran for yourself, and see how it helps you understand your bible
And we never see an article on CNN about atheists other than "they don't believe" We never get to read a core article about Dawkins book "The god Delusion" and why we atheists don't really "hate" believers, any more than one would hate any other handicapped or disabled person. I view religious people as mentally ill. I don't believe they should have the right to vote. This is not hate, it's just logic. People who can't use logic shouldn't be allowed to shape policy. Religion is a complete lack of logic, (and all they want to say in answer to that is........!!! "that's why we call it faith" Cute and nauseating.
I'm 50 In 1962 there were 3.2 billion people on earth. In 2011, we hit 7 billion. All these religions are against contraception and birth control. Religion is the reason humanity will destroy the planet, and thus, ourselves.
It does make you wonder doesn't it. I think the Quran is generally consider off limits.
As my pastor said yesterday–"The problem with Christians is that we're known more for our convictions and preferences than we are for our Jesus." It's totally fine and good to have personal convictions about the way God would have you live, but it becomes legalism and self-righteousness when we elevate those convictions to the level of Biblical mandate. Most of what Rachel talks about regarding women's roles is exactly that–personal convictions masquerading as Biblical truth. It's totally fine if you feel God has called you to be a "submissive" wife, and people ought not mock that (that's also self-righteousness), but if God has called you to be a strong single woman with no children, that should be celebrated as well. This isn't to say that there is no Biblical truth, but there are obviously things that the Bible sends mixed messages on, and it's our job to sift through those prayerfully and seek what God is saying to us personally. We will undoubtedly come to different conclusions and should hold onto them with a loose grip.
Dave, that's absurd. So your omnipotent creature can't get a clear message across, and furthermore, needs an old book to communicate. How come your god can't do his own website, or push some tweets out? The answer is that your god doesn't exist.
Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
As it turned out when God did provide objective and contemporary evidence, the crowd refused to believe it. Why do you think it would be different today?
The fact is that there is plenty of evidence for the reliability of the message already given. You could do the research yourself, if you cared to. But I'm guessing you, along with the crowds in Jesus' day, do not really want to know the truth; you are more comfortable with skepticism and your life the way it is.
You believe the bible to be the inspired word of God. Why? You admit it is nothing but a collection of literature spanning a small period in time, but like so many leave out that it also originated in a quite small, rather ignorant region of the world. Why are the religions that came before the bible not the inspired words of those peoples' Gods? All this article does is verify what most objective viewers of religion already know – religious doctrine is applied subjectively based on how well it fits with what a person, or group wants to believe.
What a JOKE!!!!!!
The ignorance is amazing. The biblical view of marriage is not polygamy.
Moses had 2 wives Zipporah and an Ethiopian woman. King David had seven or eight wives and more concubines. Abraham Had one wife and one concubine. Care to explain that?
And Lamech took unto him two wives.
Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai ... gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived.
But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had....
Esau ... took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite.
Then Jacob rose up, and set ... his wives upon camels.
If he take him another wife....
If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated....
And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.
1 Samuel 1:1-2
Elkanah ... had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah.
2 Samuel 12:7-8
Thus saith the LORD God of Israel ... I gave thee ... thy master's wives....
1 Kings 11:2-3
Solomon ... had seven hundred wives ... and three hundred concubines.
1 Chronicles 4:5
And Ashur the father of Tekoa had two wives, Helah and Naarah.
2 Chronicles 11:21
Rehoboam ... took eighteen wives, and threescore concubines.
2 Chronicles 13:21
But Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives....
2 Chronicles 24:3
Jehoiada took for him two wives....
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
The ignorance IS amazing. Putting "faith" in an imaginary being and viewing ANY text as "sacred." Religious people are weak. They speak of "serving" the lord, (that's probably where all that getting on your knees stuff started, ......."serving" a "lord" on your knees, with hands up in front for fondling.) RELIGION = MENTAL ILLNESS. It's that simple. Ignorance and mental illness are amazing.
There's an awful lot of "Godly" men in the Bible who had tons of wives. David, Solomon, pretty much every King of Israel. Then step back from that–have you ever looked at how many women Jacob impregnated to create the tribes of Israel? That boy got around and God honored him probably above any other man in scripture. Obviously there's a different calling in the New Testament, but the point is that there's a problem with cherry-picking passages from the Bible to say your own point of view is the singular view of the Biblical. The Bible doesn't have a singular point of view. It has many points of view crashing through different times, cultures, and covenants, so you have to be careful which of those gives you your "Biblical Truth."
Seth is correct. The bible lays out its model for marriage at the beginning of Genesis (one man and one woman on equal footing) and Jesus himself repeats it in the New Testament. Just because old testament patriarchs broke this model doesn't mean it was the right thing for them to do. Their polygamous relationships caused a lot of problems in their lives and the New Testament directives make it clear that people with multiple spouses should not be leaders in the church.
So "god" got it wrong in the OT, and had to do a new version. That's a pretty pathetic god you've made for yourself there.
I agree that is not the biblcial view. Scripture reports, rather than proscribing or even endorsing, examples of polygamy. It was forbidden to kings. When we see kings practicing it, we are supposed to understand that they were WRONG. (It was not forbidden to the common man... but that is hardly a ringing endorsement.)
Not everything 'mentioned' in the Bible is approved by God. Solomon had many wives – and his downfall was a result of it. Confusion and misinterpretation result when we pick and choose things from the Bible without a context, and without understanding the message as a whole. David, already having wives, married Bathsheba – because it was mentioned in the historical record, was it God's perfect will? Read on and see what became of it.
Until you've read and understood the entire text, picking out bits here and there to mock is meaningless. When you approach anything with a disdain in your mind, you'll see what you came looking for.
The problem with this whole "living biblically" thing is that those who observe the Levitical laws as part of it are not actually living "biblically". Those who know the Bible know that people are no longer bound to those laws, but to Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the law. Therefore, Christians who seek to "live biblically" – even with a literal translation of the Bible – would not live like this girl did. In fact, if anything it makes a mockery of what the Bible says to try to live that way. I don't blame people for making fun of it. I would too.
I guess you skipped this verse.
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
Ohhh seems to poke a hole in your proclamation there Brian. Care to explain the contradiction?
I would suggest that mocking anyone is unbiblical. You can disagree and correct without resorting to mocking your fellow sister in Christ. This is self-righteousness and it's not Godly.
It helps to look at atoning sacrifice as the ultimate example of what Jesus' fullfillment of the law means. Here, the law of atoning sacrifice is still in effect, Jesus has just displaced that sacrifice that would have been filled by various animals beforehand. Same with the less "salient" laws. It is wrong to assert, as Brian did, that Christians are no longer bound by the law; their belief and Jesus has simply atoned for deviating from it.
But this is all part of the same cognitive dissonance reduction Christians go through when attempting to explain ostensibly timeless Biblical laws that obviously have no place in contemporary society, such as dietary laws, which most Christians wrongly assert have been lifted in accordance with a misinterpretation of Paul.
Self-righteousness? Hey, if you guys are right and Christianity is the one true religion, Brian H. ought to be thanking the random internet strangers who pointed out his misinterpretation of Jesus' "fullfillment" of the law. It's blaphemy to go around telling people that they're no longer bound by the laws of Moses, and, who knows, maybe Brian, being a good Christian and all, doesn't want to go around participating in that.
@Lee: I think you are right - we Christians are FAR too quick to resolve our cognitive dissonance, and I believe this is a major factor in misinterpreting the biblical text. A lot of us agree with you that our "religion" is anything but the one true belief-system (though I suppose we disagree about the extent to which it needs reforming). Personally, it has become more important to me that Jesus is (one person of the) one true God. (Yeah, I know how that sounds :/ but I do believe it.)
If we don't want our church to become just another cult or cult-like organization, we Christians need to learn that cognitive dissonance can be our friend - alerting us to potential problems. I am extremely grateful to random internet strangers for pointing out the flaws in my thinking :) If all truth is God's truth, then that means it can come from any of the people created in His image.
@Brian H: You make several very good points. These are the reasons I was skeptical of RHE's project at first. (Though self-righteous mockery is warned against in Scripture, I sure hope it's okay to poke gentle fun at each other once in awhile... the apostle Paul certainly poked less-than-gentle fun on occasion... I mean, wow... )
I haven't read Evans' book yet, but I do visit her blog sometimes, and I think it helps to understand that her experiment was done as a tongue-in-cheek way to debunk select misconceptions about the Bible, rather than as an all-inclusive immersion in ancient Hebrew culture (or Greek culture, or Roman culture, or...). I also think it would help tremendously if she would more consistently qualify her assertion that we all "pick and choose" when to apply the Bible LITERALLY.
@Lee: Though I should mention that I don't consider your assertion about the way the Law persists to be rock-solid either ;)
If there is no father God, who's gonna take you home when school's over?
And this is exactly why there is no such thing as a "literal" interpretation of the bible. I consistently find that many Christians choose to believe in a literal interpretation of only select verses which invalidates the whole idea.
I can see the writer of this article and others are "biblicaly" confused. The Old Testament is law for the Jews while the New Testament is Law for Christians. I found this to help you out. http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-law.html
" Law for Christians"
No, Jesus is the false messiah, Mithra is the original son of God, you are worshiping the false prophet.
All hail Mithra!
Was born of a virgin on December 25th, in a cave, attended by shepherds
Was considered a great traveling teacher and master
Had 12 companions or disciples
Promised his followers immortality
Sacrificed himself for world peace
Was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again
Was celebrated each year at the time of His resurrection (later to become Easter)
Was called "the Good Shepherd"
Was identified with both the Lamb and the Lion
Was considered to be the "Way, the Truth and the Light," and the "Logos," "Redeemer," "Savior" and "Messiah."
Celebrated Sunday as His sacred day (also known as the "Lord's Day,")
Celebrated a Eucharist or "Lord's Supper"
Your very own Jesus states a couple times that all his daddy's sick twisted rules, laws, and commands would remain in play until heaven and earth pass away. The earth is still here.
The wives submit to your husband verse is so misread, if you read it in full context, the submission does not mean servitude but rather submit in the meaning of love only your husband and not any other man. The following verse states husbands honor your wive and fits in with that context.
No Matthew, that is how YOU choose to interpret it. Hundreds of millions of other christians choose to interpret it literally.
In fact, those verses were the basis for laws that stated a husband could not legally be charged with ràping his wife. Some states had these laws until the late 70's. Theose verses were also the basis for "Head and Master" laws that many states had, again many until the 70's.
@Primewonk: you're right, there are rival interpretations of the Bible within the Christian community. And some are good and smoe are bad; and some get turned into laws. That doesn't negate the validity of the Bible, nor does it mean that we're done getting better at interpreting it. Just like science produces both good results (e.g. modern medicine) and bad results (e.g. nuclear weapons). We don't discount science just because some people have taken science and used it for bad purposes. In the same way, pointing to bad interpretations and applications of the Bible shouldn't discount the validity of the Bible.
There are an awful lot of people who would disagree with you. And an awful lot of people who would agree with you. Kind of Evans' point. Having strong personal convictions about what this passage is saying are fine and Godly. Elevating those convictions to the level of "Biblical" and judging those who don't measure up is called legalism and self-righteousness. And it cuts both ways. Take your personal conviction, practice it, teach it to your children, heck, teach it to whoever you want, but don't use it as a standard by which to judge other Christians' "godliness." You're only condemning yourself.
It saddens me that such nice and well intended people get caught up in trying to reconcile fact with fiction, and even try to justify their life decisions upon thousand year old tenets which no longer may be at all relevant, or even logical, not to say some may not be irrelevant. But you have to look around you at the world you live in and try to cultivate a sense of what is right for you. Religious people always strike me as people who are grasping for straws when it comes to ligical questions. When confronted with logical questions or facts that contradict one of their conclusions, they resort to canned answers, such as: "have faith"; "God works in strange ways"; or "what are you, a Doubting Thomas". Ultimately you are responsible for what you do and you must realize that "god told me to" doesn't hold up in court. You as an individual must learn to use your better judgement, and I for one, had trouble doing that until I put aside all the contradicitions, and myths of the scriptures. Life is full of many more lessons than you will ever find in a book anyway.
look around the world and cultivate a sense of what is right for you? That's exactly the problem. As I look around the world I see billions of people who are trying to cultivate a sense of what is right for them. And I see conflict, hatred, murder, and war on both a personal level and international level. To be honest, Jonathan, I don't think that philosophy is working.
@Jonathan L: everyone – regardless of what religions we may or may not ascribe to – we all live by values that are formed not primarily in ourselves but by somethign outside ourselves (though we do still choose which storylines we adhere to). For many in america it's the storylines of sitcoms and movies. The characters that are presented as admirable and likeable also consciously or subconsiously create a set of values within us regarding what is acceptable and not acceptable. It just happens for Christians, the Bible is the primary source of those (true) storylines – not Modern Family (for example).
Sorry Don – nothing has caused more violence and havoc in the world than faith based religion – peace comes from an open heart, an open mind and open eyes.
Coffee, while your claim remains a favorite assertion of religion haters, it has been proven wrong many times on this board
The problem is that more people take their knowledge of the Bible from someone like John Stewart whose knowledge of the Bible is minimal at best. Just because some practice is in the Bible does not mean it is endorsed by God. He was dealing with a people growing in knowledge of himself. So if the practice of polygamy occurred God had to deal with it in his revelation. It is important to note that the Bible recountings that did deal with polygamous men projected the many disasterous issues that were the result of their polygamous offspring. Hardly an endorsement. Polygamy reduced the woman to the status of property. It was not until Christianity that woman received equality of value to men. That too happened slowly, but you would have to to see things objectively to appreciate that. Written by a proud christian woman.
Your definition of equality and mine are apparently very different. I would not consider being forced to remain silent, cover your head while praying, calling your husband "master", and sleeping outside during your monthly cycle to satisfy some ridiculous "cleanliness" requirement in line with equality, but hey, that's me. Written by a proud Christian man who has maintains his honor and respect for others by not being an insane right wing toolbag.
1 Timothy 2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
Apparently, Josee, you are wrong.
So in response to your comment, why even keep the old testament?" If god was working with his children as they got to know him. What is the point in going backwards in the text and confusing some? And if the the New testament is where it is at do we take it all literally or figuratively? These picking and choosing line by line is what this woman is talking about. Evidently Gods message is soooo unclear everyone needs a Minister or Priest to interpret line by line which ones "count" literally and which ones count figuratively or as a parable.
Jesus did a horrible job of showing his equality – he chose 12 men as his disciples – where were the women?
Smell the coffee – the women were at his feet at the crucifixion after the men had mostly scattered. They were at his tomb at the resurrection when the men had given up hope. Jesus spent a lot of time teaching women along side his male disciples, and he set an example that changed the world. Women in the Christian Roman empire and Byzantium developed a place in society that was far above any major society before that. Christian civilization hasn't always lived up to the example set by our founder, but comparing the role of women in Byzantium with the domininant contemporary cultures of China, India, and Persia, or the primitive societies in Northern Europe and elsewhere, and it's pretty clear that the impact of the Bible was a major leap forward for equality.
the danger of being biblical is that you are dilusional and will follow anybody anywhere.
I wouldn't follow you...anywhere
To the author, Rachel Held Evans:
Interesting article, but you really need to study the bible and understand why all dealings with humanity are there and how it is all connected. All the "Old Testament" leads to Christ. He started a new chapter in God's purpose, being the reason the "New Testament" no longer endorses many things that were allowed in the past. They had a purpose then, and you can only understand if you really study the Bible. A hint: Study the several different pacts made by God.
The bible disagrees with your interpretation
@huebert: what do you think it means to "fulfill" something? And if we remember that the Bible is a story, then what Jesus is saying is that you can't delete any part of the story without detracting from the meaning. That still leaves in tact the hermeneutic that allows for contour and development of themes – of even "rules". nice biblical quote, but you need to study that quote in context. like all the fundamentalist christians that people seem to like to attack in forums like these, you are taking pieces of the Bible out of context... only in your case, you're doing it to try to argue against it
Ohhhh MR IGS, Hubert has pointed out a glairing contradiction in your bible and your statement. Care to explain why your "word of god" is so rife with contradictions and errors?
Herbert, you could, I am quite sure, quote other places in the New Testament that qualify Jesus' statement, as could Mr. Igs. Good Bible exegesis requires that we consider the whole.
So my take on the quote you include is that the law is not made obsolete. It does still accomplish what it was meant to do.
And what is that? It is meant to point out sin.
But what is the remedy for sin? First it is God's forgiveness. It is not keeping the law. Paul makes that plain. Then Iit is living not by the letter of the law, but by the spirit of the law.
How is that done? By walking in the Spirit. It is by grace. God enables by the indwelling Spirit that we may live in a way that is good.
Jason – is the earth still here? Plus, tthe second coming of your Jesus will be when "all is accomplished" Has he come again?
I love itt when nutters spin their bible so that they don't have to follow all the sick twisted psychotic rules off your god.
So "no longer endorses" and Keeping the lesson intact so we can see where Jesus has fulfilled the prophecy's still doesn't come close to explaining what is no longer endorsed and what is still "kosher". Let's just face it, like the author said it is a collection of stories, poetry, philosophy etc by different people over thousands of years. Let's not forget these were peoples even through Jesus's time who thought the Sun circled the Earth, who believed a sneeze was an evil spirit, who regarded a womans worth as much lower than a man and a child much less than that. Who took slaves, traded slaves and it was all okay. If Christians, Musilms and Jews don't move in to the 21st century the educated public will leave there holy books behind as worthless relics of a irrelevant era.
@Primewonk: once again confiming the point that most commenters on internet forums like this one can't handle more complex arguments, and have to resort to name-calling and insults
If you can find a passage that refutes or contradicts the one I posted please provide it. Otherwise sit down.
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