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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 • Opinion

soundoff (4,657 Responses)
  1. guy indovina

    Using the bible as a weapon is what worries me,As in the recent Presidential election.Keep religion out of politics it does not fit.
    Over the centuries the Church has cherry picked the Bible to suit their views on how we should live our lives.They know that the average person is not going to research past church history on subjects such as Priests marrying which was common prior to 1000 AD ,even bishops and some Popes were married.You cannot use the Bible in all situations as it has many conflicting stories on many subjects and we have to do what is best for our times and culture.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Ztom

      On top of that, there is quite a plethora of evidence in the Bible that instructs us not to attempt to bring religion into politics. Per the Bible, the governments of the world are ultimately ruled by Satan. I know this sounds radical to most, because those passages are glossed over by most. The basic gist is that until the End Times, Satan has a hold on the governments of the world, but will lose it all when Christ returns. Until then, trying to build a theocracy or attempt to instill "Biblical values" into our governments are a fruitless task.

      About the only Christian religion that has picked up on these passages are the Jehovah's Witnesses. Of course, they are a bit of a strange group. I'm not advocating joining them, and I am not myself a JW. More of an agnostic.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      guy, actually most RCIA classes at Catholic parishes teach church history and explain the introduction of priestly celibacy on both a theological level and as a way to eliminate "empire building" within the church hierarchy

      November 19, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • justme

      ztom makes a good statement but maybe should look closer at the JWs and see that they are not "strange "at all but the real teachers of what the bible really teaches. I have been learning and it all makes sense. nothing crazy here.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • mk

      "...the real teachers of what the bible really teaches. I have been learning and it all makes sense. nothing crazy here."

      Oh! The really REAL teachings. Okay, so everyone else has it wrong and you are the only REAL teachers who can REALLY make sense of it. Got it. No...you're not crazy at all.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • justme

      mk, if you check back here for a response, yes we do and no we are not crazy. when someone told me they had "the truth" i did not just dismiss them but checked it out. Why not do the same for yourself Try a couple scriptures to start, Matt.7:21-23; John 17:25,26 and that whole chapter gives Jesus' prayer to his father before his arrest. I feel from your comment you have no belief in God or the bible. At one time while trying to teach evolution I was amazed by what I learned from these people. give it a shot and have a discussion and keep it civil. You just may enjoy yourself. thanks again for your response.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  2. D

    I would like to know why, if the bible is the inspired word of God, would it become necessary for us to pick and chose from it? If its from God should it not be accurate in all of its teachings, lessons, and its recount of history?

    On what basis should we pick and chose out of the bible? Should we chose the teachings that we identify with? Should we chose the lessons that we find distasteful or abhorrent? Should we chose the lessons that criticize and condemn the people we don't like?

    My problem with this view is that its not logical. Its either that you believe that god exist and that the bible is the word of god in which case it seems to me that you are obligated to follow it as closely as possible or that you do not believe in god or for the very least do not believe that the bible is the inspired word of God in which case you can do whatever you want with it.

    I think the issue is that religious people have come to realize over the centuries that the bible is NOT a reliable source for history, knowledge, and truth. The bible often proscribes barbaric, unscientific, and immoral solutions to problems. Religious people would like to reconcile the barbarity of the bible with the modern world hence the necessity of “picking and choosing” But at the end of the day claiming that the bible is the “word of god” and then going on to pick and choose selective texts from the bible while ignoring the distasteful parts is well, simply HYPOCRACY.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Dissident Fairy

      Why do you say that believers "pick and choose"? The entire Bible IS the inspired word of God! The Bible doesn't "prescribe immoral solutions." The Bible prescribes moral resolutions. Any immorality that the Bible depicts has been the doing of Man Not God. He has allowed man to make mistakes and he has corrected them. As far as the Bible being "unscientific" again that is not true. The Bible wasn't specifically written to be a book of science but there are no scientific contradictions found. For instance, the Bible says, "the circle of the earth" that is correct the earth is a circle. The Bible says that "a little wine is good for the body" Hasn't scientific research now proven that to be true? The Bible also says to wash the hands to keep from spreading disease. It took the medical profession years to realize this! There are No scientific inconsistencies in the Bible!

      November 19, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      I think you should pick the Scriptures that speak to you and try to live by them, allowing others the same privilege; all the while seeking to increase your understanding and knowledge.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • the AnViL

      dissident fairy wrote: "...but there are no scientific contradictions found"

      that's just wrong – check out Genesis 30:37-39....
      heck – the entire creation epic contradicts science...

      you can read anything into the bible if that's where your mind is.... but all your hoping won't change the fact – the bible is convoluted, filled with fallacies and simply not fit for personal governance in the 21st century.

      but you stick to your guns kid! you're an exemplary xian! hooray!!!

      November 19, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • ME II

      @Dissident Fairy,
      "For instance, the Bible says, 'the circle of the earth' that is correct the earth is a circle.
      Last I checked the Earth is a sphere, or more accurately an oblate spheroid, but definitely not a circle. And, I think, there is actually a Hebrew word for sphere, or 'ball', as opposed to 'circle'.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Dissident Fairy,

      "no scientific contradictions found" ?

      How about that edict from the LORD for curing leprosy by a handy-dandy method of dipping a live dove in the blood of a dead dove and having the live one fly around? Then anointing the sufferer in certain strategic points on his body with the dead dove's blood?

      How about that advice from the LORD that an adulterous wife will have her belly swell and her thigh rot after she drinks some magical water?

      How about the LORD's slick instructions on how to produce highly-desired striped goats - simply have the mating parents stare at striped objects!?

      How about that inside information from the LORD telling how he keeps snow and hail in a storehouse in the sky?

      November 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Dissident Fairy

      Me: You are straining out the gnat! Obviously the earth is dimensional and spherical, but to say that the earth isn't round or shaped in a circle is ludicrous! When you view our solar system do the planets look square to you?

      Anvil and Bizarre: First, I'd like to say thank you, Anvil. I will take that as a compliment unless it was laced in sarcasm:)

      In answer to your concerns regarding the "unscientific" origin of the magical spots that appeared on the sheep, I have to ask, why are you focusing in on this? Why not Jonah being swallowed by the whale? Noah and the ark? God parting the Red Sea? In the Book of Daniel, and the handwriting on the wall? Jesus raising the dead? Turning water into wine? Feeding 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fishes? Or Daniel being thrown in the lions pit? The three Hebrews being cast in a fiery furnace? The magical sensationalism of the Book of Revelation? Is it so hard to believe that God, who created this world, and man, and our limitless Universe, is limited in his power? He's the ultimate Creator magician!

      November 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • the AnViL

      dissident fairy axed: "why are you focusing in on this?"

      you made a statement and it was inaccurate. the bible IS filled with fallacies and contradictions.
      it gets science wrong. plain and simple.

      recant! relent and submit!! admit your error!!!!

      also – yeah i was being a little sarcastic.. sorry.
      (no – i'm not really sorry)

      November 19, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • ME II

      @Dissident Fairy,
      "Obviously the earth is dimensional and spherical... "
      Obviously, to us, today, sure. But many flat earth cosmologies envisioned a disc-shaped, or circular, world with the heavens as a "vaulted dome" above it.

      "... but to say that the earth isn't round or shaped in a circle is ludicrous!"
      To say the earth isn't shaped in a circle is not ludicrous, because it is not shaped in a circle.

      "... When you view our solar system do the planets look square to you?"
      Wow, what a horrible false dichotomy. Actually, the orbits are eliptical and the planets, moons, etc. are spherical. If I wanted to get gnat-like, I might say that there is almost never a "circle" in nature, not a perfect one anyway.

      Either the Bible is correct or it isn't. There is a perfectly good Hebrew word for ball, perhaps even in the same chapter, but "circle" is used.
      Are you saying that the Bible didn't really mean "circle"? Perhaps, it meant square? or round like a donut?

      November 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Dissident Fairy

      Anvil: That scripture you quoted has nothing to do with science. So it doesn't have to meet the criteria of what is scientifically feasible today. It was divine intervention from God:) He had a different relationship with man back then. The Old Testament is to show us his vast power through miracles and intervention, to help us appreciate what He will do for us on a far grander scale in the future.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • the AnViL

      Dissident Fairy – that scripture illustrates how the author had precisely no clue about heredity or genetics. the bible fails at science and you fail at reading comprehension.

      my word is quite final on the matter.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Dissident Fairy

      ME2: Before Modern technology how did man know the earth was circular or round or spherical? They didn't! The only way for them to have known would have been to step outside the planet! So you tell me how a writer of the Bible, 2000 years ago, could possibly know such a thing? Aristotle and Pythagoras may have theorized that the world was round, but, the Bible, stated it as fact, when it says, the "circle" of the earth. Also, the Bible says, that "the earth is suspended," that nothing is holding it in place. I know....you are now going to get all technical on me with the gravitational pull, etc., etc.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Dissident Fairy

      Actually, Anvil, I think God will have the last say:) Or the final word on the matter!

      November 19, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • the AnViL

      meh – there's a ton of references to the "four corners of the earth". infer what you will... but it wasn't understood that the earth was spherical in nature. circles aren't spheres. anyone can turn 360 degrees and survey the earth in a circular fashion....

      the bottom line here is... the bible got science wrong wrong wrong.

      as for imaginary men in the sky having the last word – that's just absurd.

      dismissed.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Dissident Fairy

      You can diss-miss me, AnVil, but you can't dismiss God!

      November 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • the AnViL

      actually – yes... i can dismiss gods. i – and many others have.

      evolve.

      November 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Simran

      Dissident Fairy,

      People knew the Earth is spherical even much before the Bible was written. So actually, if the Bible still used the word circular, they were utter morons!
      That the earth is spherical was proven in the western world in 3rd century BC be Hellenistic astronomy (read about Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle).

      And to beat that, the Vedas which are a scripture of 1500-2000BC already mention a spherical earth _
      Rigveda:
      * madhye samantandasya bhugolo vyomni tisthati{12th ch-32 sloka} – It means 'In the midst of universe{Brahmanda},the spherical earth stands firm in the space"

      November 20, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  3. els2cents

    It's so silly when christians act as if they can't discern between laws given to Isreal and laws given to the church. Newsflash christians!... you are living in the church age! And you are no longer under law but under grace! (see the new testament) This makes it very silly for the author to try living according to OT laws, and claiming that certain OT practices are "biblical". God bless her, but she's greatly overstating the difficulty of discerning what is biblical.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Trill Troll

      Soooo you don't have to follow the ten commandments?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • MaryJ

      The 10 Commandments were given to Israel, weren't they? Are they part of that Law that doesn't apply to Christians anymore or do you want to fire up the old cherry picker?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Why do you need to ask questions for which you already know the answers?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Trill Troll

      I already know god doesn't exist, yet people proclaim god exists without a shred of proof.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Matt Steinbach

      Your comment stating that these old laws don't apply is a prime example of picking and choosing what applies to you and what you categorized as does not apply, because its god's old laws. Most of the laws she stated were in timothy which we know is the new testament and is ignored by today's Christians, because women are being granted authority over men as a pastor, women remaining quiet at church, covering your head for prayer, and wives submitting to husbands. Please show me where in the bible it states that these laws do not apply to you.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  4. Matthew Hayden

    I do not think the Bible is Gods word, its a book about ancient culture and of people that did amazing things for their time, its letters, opinions and teachings of their elders, nothing more. Reducing this book of values and history to an adjective is shouting, "I am a simpleton!" Everything we listen to these days seems to have to be reduce to some sound bite, like we have no ability to understand the details behind it. Priests, Commentators, and Journalist all treat people like cattle, to be moved one way or this with a simple sound bite sentence. Sadly, people give credence to this because they actually move as told without thinking. Biblical, as a word really only means "book-like" as Bible as a word means Book. If we turn the Bible in nothing but a noun its nothing but a book, if we turn it into a adjective we reduce its value and meaning even further for now its just a concept.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Todd Printz

      The Bible says itself is God's word. And it says that there are people like minded to you that won't believe it. It is a tremendous work that reveals: God is holy, mankind is sinful and fallen, and Christ's righteousness is available to all who believe.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • sam

      @Todd – the bible itself says it's true, so that makes it true? Do you realize how silly that sounds?

      November 19, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Todd Printz

      "the bible itself says it's true, so that makes it true? Do you realize how silly that sounds?"
      Not as silly as you saying it is otherwise not true; LOL. Remember there are witnesses in the Bible that support its truthfulness. These are evidently just "characters" in your mind, with no credibility. They are presented, however, as witnesses. God Bless!

      November 19, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Madtown

      there are witnesses in the Bible that support its truthfulness
      -------
      Sure, those who authored the words. Had the phrase "conflict of interest" been introduced at that time?

      November 19, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Todd Printz

      "Sure, those who authored the words. Had the phrase "conflict of interest" been introduced at that time?"

      And we should believe you? That they are not witnesses? You weren't there! How cynical you are!

      November 19, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Madtown

      You weren't there!
      ---
      Nor were you.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Huebert

      Todd

      The Odyssey is proof that Poseidon exists. After all there are witnesses in the Odyssey that support it's truthfulness. Though I'm sure you think they are just "characters". They are presented, however, as witnesses.

      Now do you see how silly you sound?

      November 19, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Simran

      Todd,
      THE BIBLE ITSELF SAYS IT IS GOD'S WORD.

      Now I wonder if you have ever heard of other religious scriptures! While you claim that Bible was inspired by God, the Muslims claim that Quran was revealed word for word, letter for letter (and not the work of some witnesses)! And better still, the Hindus believe that Vedas are apauruṣeya, i.e. "not human compositions", and are supposed to be a direct revelation of the “cosmic sound of truth” heard by ancient Rishis who then translated what was heard into something understandable by humans.

      So, who is right?

      November 19, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Todd Printz

      Hi Simran, "So, who is right? You want me to answer this question from a humanistic position, ie. outside of the Bible? Why should I do that, so many people are here to take that position. But I will answer your question this way: God bless Simran. Prevent evil from her and her family and restore anything taken from her. Show her your goodness and love all of the days of her life.

      November 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  5. independentlyowned

    Excellent article! As an atheist myself, I greatly appreciate her take on religious politicians and how they use the Bible for their own personal gain. I was educated in Catholic school and am a strong believer in feminism, part of which in fact stems from my Catholic beginnings. There are so many verses that praise femininity and equality between husband and wife, and yet so many more that say women are property and need to be silent and obedient. You can't pick and choose, but that's exactly what politicians do.

    I cannot respect a leader of faith who barely resembles the message that their religion represents. Even thought I do not personally believe in a God, I can at least have respect for those who practice what they preach and believe in something that creates good for the world, not something that brings us all back to the Middle Ages.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Horus

      I don't know that I could claim to respect people just for practicing what they preach. Some preach and practice discrimination, hate, etc.... How can you respect that? Some ancients practiced what they preached when they ripped the hearts out of humans in order to keep the Sun rising. Early Christians practiced what they preached when they slaughtered entire families for not accepting the Christian God, and burned true knowledge (like the Library at Alexandria) simply because it refuted their claims. Respect them for these convictions? Sorry, not me.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Tom Blanzy

      The Biblical record of man's deeds is not meant to be the Biblical standard of behavior. The record of these deeds (such as polygamy) only reflects the falling away from these standards. The Bible also accurately records the results of deviating from these standards. Read with an open prayerful mind the Bible is not hard to understand.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Not hard to understand but easy to misconstrue.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • mk

      I am an atheist that was educated as a Catholic also. I'm not sure I understand the claim that Catholicism inspired your feminism. In my view, there is nothing about Catholicism that preaches female equality, starting with refusing women to be priests.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • independentlyowned

      Horus, comparing modern day religions to ancient ones is asinine. Obviously there are extreme differences so it's not even worth comparing. And yes, I respect someone who practices what they preach, even if I don't agree with those practices, more so than I do a hypocrite. Hands down. If we can't at least say that, then all we're left with is "You're wrong because I don't agree with you." And we've seen that conversations like that don't get anyone anywhere.

      And as for people who use their religion to cause harm to others, that goes back to my earlier point: Those people are hypocrites. Even if they can find some passage in the Bible that justifies their actions, Jesus's message was one of pacifism and acceptance of others, no exceptions.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • independentlyowned

      mk, I wouldn't say my Catholic background inspired me to be a feminist, but that my schooling helped me form my feminist opinions. If you look at Pslams, there are many love poems that praise femininity, and Jesus preaches equality to women, one example being his relationship with Mary Magdeline. Both those parts of the Bible plus seeing how things can be interpreted so many different ways, how people pick and choose, that is really what inspired my feminism because it made me see that I need to think for myself, and that every coin has 2 sides. That present-day Catholic Church as an establishment is absolutely not female-friendly, but the Church is again an instance of hypocrisy.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Horus

      @independent – comparing modern religions to ancients is asinine? Really? The modern religions that still follow the same creeds written in the 4th century CE? The modern religions that breed divisiveness, violence and murder?...just as they have for thousands of years? Don't believe me? Do a little search on religiously motivated violence just in the US. Then expand to the globe. You will find that these religions aren't so evolved as you want to believe. Furthermore, you make an assumption, and attribute positive characteristics to a man (Jesus) whom you never knew, and whose only references were written by his followers after his death. No one, including you can claim anything about what the Christian man-god said or did without submitting to faith.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • independentlyowned

      Horus, Christians, Muslims, Jews, or any other present-day religion never ripped human hearts out to keep the Sun from rising. Those were much more ancient, polytheistic religions that yes, it's asinine to compare to modern-day religions. I do think modern-day religions in practice are still very backwards, but again, that's the hypocrisy of man interpreting these texts for their own benefit. Hence why I praised this woman's article for her unbiased way of telling people they cannot pick and choose Bible verses.

      And when did I claim to know what Jesus actually said? Those that believe in Jesus and his message refer to the Bible, and the accuracy of those statements, and whether Jesus was a real person at all, is debatable. My point was, IF you believe in the Bible and Jesus's words as recorded by those many years later, then based upon those writings, Jesus's message was one of acceptance, pacifism, and helping others.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  6. Al Cassel

    Thank you. As an ordained pastor who has spent my life wrestling with the scriptures, I have been saddened by the use of a bible as a simple sound bite. The bible is a book of mystery, that challenges us to wrestle (thus the name Israel) with God. It does not provide us easy answers, but mostly difficult questions. One of the principal questions is 'how shall we read this sacred text?'

    November 19, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Pastor Cassel, Thank you for commenting. I am a non believer, but this article rings true. People do choose what to believe and what not to believe (read ignore) within the Bible based on their own ideas of right and wrong. My question then is where do we as a species get our Morals?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  7. Abraham Reyes

    I tie everyone in this blog to the purpose of God. love you

    November 19, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Huebert

      I tie everyone on the internet to the purpose Odin. Hail the All Father.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  8. Jim

    Faith in God, who is the Inspirer and Preserver of his Word, makes us confident that he is the one who has guided the gathering together of its various parts. So we confidently accept the 27 books of the Christian Greek Scriptures along with the 39 of the Hebrew Scriptures as ONE Bible, by the one divine Author, Jehovah God. His Word, in all its 66 books is our guide, and its entire harmony, balance and candor testify to its completeness.

    All praise belongs to Jehovah God, the Creator of this incomparable book. It can equip us completely and put our feet on the way to life. Let us read from it daily and use it wisely at every opportunity.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • John

      Where did this idea of having faith in God come from originally if not the Bible? So, really, the Bible gives you faith in God which gives you confidence in the Bible, and so on, and so on... One great big bit of circular logic.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  9. Trill Troll

    Your god must be a total dipsh.it if he made it sooo hard to understand the "word of god" and his followers can't agree on what is literal or should be scrapped. Its almost as if the bible was written by ancient bronze age men? Weird huh?

    November 19, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Bobby

      Amen!

      November 19, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Sodapop

      I think your name says all we need to know about you. You are living proof of the ignorant atheist.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • LOL!

      And Sodapop is soooooo much more intelligent – NOT!

      November 19, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Sodapop

      LOL!
      How old are you? Seven maybe? Again, you prove my point for me.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • LOL!

      You can't spell and your grammar is crap = Troll loser.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Sodapop

      And, yet again, you prove my point for me. You act like a child, which seems typical for atheists.
      Maybe you need a spell checker?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • LOL!

      That's why you're a troll with multiple handles on the blog, you're an idiot, not a christian. LOL!

      November 19, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Sodapop

      What are you RANTING about? I only use one handle. If you could look up my IP, you would see that. Why would I use others? Also, I'm not the one trolling, and calling people names. You're crazy. I'm done responding to you.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • LOL!

      What are you seven? Grow up troll.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  10. jose

    Thera are many things in the Bible that are just people's opinions on how things should be. That is why Muslims when creating their book, took some which were convenient to them to gorw their religion and that apealed to many men of that time. But you still are confused with what men say and what Jesus says. In the Bible are quotes of what Jesus said, when did he say women were inferior to men or that they could not do as men? Jesus kept men and women as equal and the laws were for both igually, yet you pcik and choose phrases from the many letters in the Bible from other people who are not Jesus, that is what creats confusion in the people who read the Bible or listen to people like you talk about the Bible. Out of the Bible, thousands of religions have sprong out and none see the Bible the same way, all interpret the words in there differently, but you should only take what GOD and Jesus said which is quoted in the Bible, the rest is opinion and that is why so much conflicts is created and the Bible gets a bad rap with some. So, use the old testament and what Jesus said to guiede you, not what Timothy, Paul etc said in letters, that is just personal views, not what was really said by GOD or Jesus.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Trill Troll

      Its obvious that you don't understand that much of your Christian religion is ripped off from previous cultures religions. Its true. Do the minimal amount of research and you could know this. Ignorance is bliss religious people.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • John

      If Muslims did take what was convenient for them in writing the Qur'an, then the same can be said of Christians borrowing from the Jewish scriptures when writing their own books, correct?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • JohnQuest

      jose, you are not making any sense, Jesus doesn't say anything, the books were written long after he died. Everything you think you know about him or what he supposed to have said is coming from the same people you say people shouldn't listen to. Please explain?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Sodapop

      Troll, you don't know a thing, so stop pretending that you do. What cultures did we steal Jesus from? What culture did we steal the the God of Abraham and Isaac from? You are cluesless...

      November 19, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Huh?

      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
      Performed miracles
      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"

      November 19, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  11. Darryl

    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!

    November 19, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Gumby

      You feel sorry for me because I don't believe in your god? How condescending. People like you are why religions is the shytehole it is.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Darryl, Maybe I misses something, I thought the article was about the hypocrisy of "choosing" one verse as the correct way to live and ignoring the rest (picking and choosing to fit your own ideals). I didn't read anything about the nature or existence of a deity, Although I personally don't believe in one.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Z-Rated

      I guess you are unfamiliar with the Crusades?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Hi Darryl,

      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 find anyone saying anything that starts with "true Christians do this", is less likely to display traits that would incline me to believe they are followers of Christ than many who never even mention his name. While it is true that the bible requires those who believe it and hold it to authority to refrain from judgment of others, it is also true that humans find that difficult to do, without regard to religious belief.

      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?

      I'm sorry. Maybe you read a different article than I did. Where are Christians trashed here? This article is written by an evangelical Christian woman, talking about what it means to be biblical. If there's any trashing of Christians going on here, it's from another Christian.

      How does this have ANYTHING to do with Muslims?

      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!

      Perhaps you are unable to see how telling someone that you feel sorry for them makes you look as though you are putting yourself above them, believing yourself (or something about you, say your faith) is superior to them.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  12. Garrick

    Rachel’s examination and conflict with her faith during adolescence was similar to what my friends and I experienced in our teenage years. However our experience lead us to Atheism, rather than an adjustment of faith.

    Ministers in my town were using the bible to condemn everything from skateboarding to Nintendo. I also started attending church with friends, everything from Catholic to Pentecostal. I noticed a significant amount of sermon time was spent gossiping, ridiculing, and sometimes even damning the other denominations in my town.

    It was all so ridiculous that I started to question everything. When I’d ask, I was always told to be quite and to stop thinking so much. I asked God what was right, but obviously I never heard anything back. By age 17 I concluded that it was just a bunch of angry old men out for personal gain.

    In a town of 4,000 people, 3,800 won’t be burning in hell because they didn’t show up to your specific church that Sunday.
    The Devil didn’t make the internet.
    There were no satanic messages in early 90’s Paula Abdul singles.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  13. Skyhill2000

    Regarding Exodus 12:7: I think when interpreting a verse its important to ask what is the purpose of the verse. Is the purpose of this verse to recommend selling a daughter to be a maidservant? No, if one is honest, the purpose is to protect that daughter as much as possible in the case where that happens. So some allowance is made for sin in the law itself. That's why when Jesus was asked about divorce, he said that God had mercifully allowed it. Matthew 19:8 "“Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so." Also regarding marriage, Paul did say that a Christian would be freer to serve God if they were not married, but he also said that this arrangement was only good for those who had been called to it, and that the marriage bed was to be held in honor. Paul did not dishonor marriage at all. It's also important to note that marriage between a man and a woman is held up as a symbol or a type of the relationship between Christ and the church. The man and the woman are clearly assigned different roles in the marriage relationship, though both are joint heirs of salvation.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • MaryJ

      Exodus 21:10 outlines how sold daughters should be treated if they are second wives in polygamous marriages.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  14. Keith

    sorry, but the bible is definitely not 'the word of god.' i was shocked when i finally realized that. the cause? knowledge. do some research and be honest with yourself. secular=free!

    November 19, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  15. Damien

    The Bible includes examples and explanations of the way to live your life and the way not to live your life. So, Scriptures that talk about polygamy are not there to support it or refute it they exist to show the way not to do things.

    November 19, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Horus

      God rewards Abraham's dishonesty in Genisis. Refute that.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  16. Atheism is healthy for everyone! Pets too!

    The Old Testament stories are fable at best. There is certainly no reason to believe in any of the supernatural events described therein. Authors of the New Testament added some new compelling stories with its own bits of supernatural wizardry by trying to carefully back each other up with various witness accounts that we know of today only through writings and trust in the early church regarding said writings. The latter NT authors, mainly Paul, got pretty chatty and introduced much more material that would become fodder for contradicting interpretation than was already in the NT. But their deception becomes obvious because to meet their new tenets, early Christians had to add some twists on the OT interpretation to make that folklore better serve as a basis for Christianity. And of course the Mormons did the exactly same thing with its own variation – twist and add.

    In short, there are some good stories and a few good lessons in the Bible, but other than that, it's claim to describe connection to a higher being is completely unfounded. It's importance has been dangerously over-valued, rendering Judeo-Christian religions dangerous, divisive and guilty of hampering human progress – progress on all levels, but especially social progress. Islam is no more credible. Iron age fable is fable.

    November 19, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • the AnViL

      good form, old bean.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Sodapop

      Are you saying that you don't believe in the Bible, or that you don't believe in God, or both?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Atheism is healthy for everyone! Pets too!

      @Sodapop: I should first ask – which god? But it matters not – the answer is still no to both. The god of abraham hasn't gone anywhere man didn't take him.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  17. Ron from Jersey

    Evans has no idea what she is talking about. If she really knew what she was reading when she read the Bible, she'd find much more important issues than egalitarianism. She can be the best C.E.O. or journalist or president for that matter, but places the Bible into question as her own vandetta. Face it lady, the Bible addresses more serious issues than your prima donna desire for success. Jon Stewart isn't much better. If he had truly read that the Bible as boldly saying POLYGAMY DOESN'T WORK, maybe he'd not look so much like an idiot. READ THE BOOK FOR GOD'S SAKE not your own horror-scope!!!

    November 19, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Madtown

      Ron, you are the only one who knows what they are talking about! Thankfully we have you to set all things straight.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • CosmicC

      Nice rant. What, exactly, is your point?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Paul

      lol. Nice, MadTown. At least Ron can spell and use punctuation. Seems like 90% of the people who care enough to post on here are functionally illiterate.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  18. theabilitytolove

    I thought your post to be thought provoking and what a wonderful experiment! The truth is that the bible is full of contradictions and laws that are no longer followed. I believe it to be God's personal love letter to us. What I will derive from its meaning, may be completely different in interpretation than someone else.

    I also believe that hard core interpretations of anything biblical were in fact, discouraged when used to harm others.

    November 19, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Madtown

      I believe it to be God's personal love letter to us.
      --------
      Interesting. Why do you supposed that God didn't grant access to this love letter to all his equal human creations? Doesn't God love all of humanity equally? Aren't we all created equal? There are millions of people in this world right now, who have never heard the name Jesus Christ, and have never heard the word "bible". They are your human equal. Why wouldn't God pen a love letter to them?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Paul

      In her defense, just because you haven't received or found a letter yet doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't addressed to you. Also, in this day and age, I'm not sure it's accurate to say that there are "millions" in the world who have never heard of or had access to the bible. a) it's a pretty big deal, and b) media and the internet reach the vast majority of humanity now.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Madtown

      I'm not sure it's accurate to say that there are "millions" in the world who have never heard of or had access to the bible
      -------
      Oh no? There aren't all sorts of more primitive societies, cultures, and even countries still in existence today? You are mistaken. Certainly technology has made the world smaller but if you think there aren't large amounts of humans who have no current access to christianity, and likely never will, then you live in a small little box.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  19. Sodapop

    Leave it to a Blogger to thoroughly muddy the waters. Maybe she should remain silent on the internet as well.

    What was her point??? Is she for or against??? It’s wrong to quote the Bible now?

    Is she saying that, if you’re not willing to obey all the biblical laws, then don’t obey any?

    November 19, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Paul

      you really need that much guidance?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Ben

      All she is doing is telling a story about her experience and then saying that everybody is selective when it comes to following the Bible. She doesn't have to tell you what to do.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Sodapop

      I thought so. then she is saying nothing at all. A blogger looking to see her name in print. She believes, and then questions, then criticizes.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • LOL!

      Hey Troll, that's what you just did idiot. You believed, and then questioned, then criticized. What a moron.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  20. Robble

    What kinds of moronic child doesn't question their own oppression? She is not smart enough to talk to us about ANYTHING!

    November 19, 2012 at 9:53 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.