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

My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’

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

By Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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. tristanfermin

    Great points are made throughout the article; but this article is woefully superficial and lacking in what the Bible truly is and teachers. Bias would decide the issue beforehand for most people, but this doesn't have to be so.

    November 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • tristanfermin repeats himself

      Great points are made throughout the article; but this article is woefully superficial and lacking in what the Bible truly is and teaches. Bias would decide the issue beforehand for most people, but this doesn't have to be so.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  2. cg

    Pride is a human defect, and to assume there is no God, that is not expainable or even scienitific

    November 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Sam Stone

      Nor is assuming the Flying Spagetti Monster doesn't exist

      November 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • biobraine

      How is not assuming something until proof is presented unscientific? How is a god or gods any more explainable than having none? If the universe had to have had a creator, how was the creator created? Please explain.

      November 21, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Use Your Brain

      How is it prideful to not believe in a god? Do you feel prideful not believing in Zeus?

      November 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • End Religion

      this guy says dogs have pride:

      http://www.wisegeek.com/how-do-dogs-show-emotions.htm#lbss

      this person says the same:

      http://www.moderndogmagazine.com/articles/which-emotions-do-dogs-actually-experience/32883

      The bible says pride is naughty because they have a need to keep the sin/forgiveness cycle going eternally. Pride is a perfectly natural emotion.

      November 21, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  3. Cam

    Religion is like any other business. Money is king.

    November 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  4. jaizen

    Christianity relates to the new testament not the old testament. you cannot take the old testament literally but it should be taken for its spiritual meanings. So everything you mentioned in the article regarding old testament laws does not apply to the Christianity and christian women.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Snow

      aka.. pick and choose what you want.. which is what the author pointed out..

      Also, what was that about that verse the jesus dude said about not changing a word in the law till heaven and earth pass or whatever? duh!

      November 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Bob

      So, jaizen, at least you acknowledge that the crazy stuff is in there in the OT. It was wrong then, and it is wrong now, and you appear to agree with that point too. How does that make you feel about the "perfect" god that is supposedly behind those bible tall tales of yours? A little too prone to mistakes, isn't he...

      November 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • cynthia gibbins

      The Bible "Gods word", is very simple, you must study the word fully to understand the times and culture they were living in when these scriptures were written, if the time is taken to study this, there would be no room for falsehood or misunderstanding.

      November 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Sue

      cynthis, that's stupid. Why can't your omnipotent creature produce a text in modern context? And like someone else asked here recently, why can't god make his own website, and why can't he get some tweets out?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Sue

      cynthia, that's stupid. Why can't your omnipotent creature produce a text in modern context? And like someone else asked here recently, why can't god make his own website, and why can't he get some tweets out?

      November 20, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • biobraine

      Sue,
      There is no faster way to cause a christian to abandon a thread than to ask such a simple straightforward question.

      November 21, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • fintastic

      @jaizen................ so is the old testament the word of god? yes or no.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      So no 10 commandments for you then?

      December 3, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  5. Old Enough

    You don't need a GOD to be a bad person.
    On the other hand, you don't need GOD to be a good person.
    You just don't need GOD at all.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Bob

      "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

      -Steven Weinberg

      November 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Emmy

      What people like you fail to UNDERSTAND is that good and bad are relative. What is considered good/bad in the eye of say a follower of Christ is not necessarily considered good/bad in the eye of an unbeliever and vice-versa so specifics actually matter.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • cg

      there are many new Bibles that have todays context in it, the message for one. All of the nations of the worlds laws are based around Gods word, take a long look at them and if you have taken time to read Gods word you will clearly see the outline for our worlds laws or legal systems. Do not be so arrogant and prideful as to not atleast look, if you have an opinion about something, be educated about it first before making judgements or criitical views. God made us and He loves us all equally.

      November 21, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • biobraine

      cg,
      Being that man invented religion, you would expect the laws that man created to also be present in the various religions that man created.

      November 21, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  6. ProperVillain

    Finally, a christian with a functioning brain stem writes an coherent, truthful and heartfelt article. Bravo! I think the bible may be inspired by God but infallible? Not by a long shot. The amount of mental and theological gymnastics required to hold that view should be your first clue that something is amiss with that assumption...

    November 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  7. was blind, but now I see

    Uh..no...actually, if you read the ENTIRE Bible and pray for understanding, it really is not that difficult to reconcile. The problem (as further evidenced by the election) is that people wants immediate gratification and they do not want to put forth any effort to get it.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • ProperVillain

      Yes, because it is relatively simple reconciling the peaceful, loving person of Jesus with the god of the old testament that orders the massacre of entire towns including women and children OR, the Israelites back in the day were using god (once again, just as recent events are showing...) as an excuse for mayhem and territorial takeover. Something that god probably wants no part of. We have a brain and logic for reason. I think we are expected to use it...

      November 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      There is a reason that God sometimes sanctioned violence. In case you don't know it, there is a real enemy out there:

      24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”

      Matthew 13:24-30

      November 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Sam Stone

      wow, a real enemy...

      November 21, 2012 at 4:45 am |
    • fintastic

      I'm guessing it's that guy with the horns and pitchfork again?

      December 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  8. Julie

    Women are joint heirs with men but they are not to unsurp authority over the man – it is dangerous to also twist scripture

    November 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Tell your husband I said thanks for letting you post that, if he allows you to thank him for others on the internet, that is.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  9. Bobb

    Yeah, you're right, Rachel, the Bible is just like a piece of abstract art. It prescribes no absolute moral rules. Everyone sees different things, and there are no "right" or "wrong" interpretations. Of course, centuries of trained Biblical scholars of many different traditions and persuasions have foolishly concluded otherwise, but hey, they were not you: a 31-year old with an English Lit degree who knows she's got the answer, and that answer is that there are no answers. Thanks for the insight Rachel. I assure you that you have a very promising and lucrative career ahead of you as the liberal media's choice as the voice of the wise and enlightened faction of "evangelicals.". Here's to you.

    November 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • ProperVillain

      That's not what she said. Another knee jerk reaction by a biblical literalist. Why are you so afraid of ideas different from your own? Are you so insecure in your belief that you need to destroy any thought that doesn't fit your narrow view of scripture?

      November 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  10. Jen B

    Loved this piece. Thanks. I highly recommend "The Bible Made Impossible" by Christian Smith.

    November 20, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  11. Dionmithjesu

    Reality
    Google....Book review of secret papers of Pope Benedidt XVI....then click the leaked Vatican doc*uments....you will find a review by John Allan Jr....under the heading Vatican finances you will see details of how some of the cash comes in....how reliable? I will leave up to you.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  12. James

    Solid critique of Rachel Held Evans latest book.

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/book-reviews/review/a_year_of_biblical_womanhood

    November 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • End Religion

      a "solid" critique from an evangelical site? hardly...

      November 20, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      Yea, Kathy does nail it. The best is the closing remark... which I've been saying similar here for the last day or two:
      "However, you have become what you claim to despise; you have imposed your own agenda on Scripture in order to advance your own goals. In doing so, you have further muddied the waters of biblical interpretation instead of bringing any clarity to the task."

      I've actually agreed with Rachel a number of times in the past, at least in her conclusions, on various issues (like egalitarian vs complementarian views). Like Kathy, I'm having a hard time believing she is really that ignorant of basic hermeneutic principals. But, I recently heard her on "Unbelievable?" radio program out of the UK, and she made the same basic mistakes (even though I agreed with her position overall). I'm finding this more and more among the younger 'progressive' Evangelicals. It's like they grew up in the church, weren't well educated, and then bought into some of the secular stupidity and ignorance about the Bible and just parrot it back.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:34 am |
    • End Religion

      If the bible is to be taken literally then there is almost no human who will got o heaven these days. If it is up for interpretation then one interpretation isn't any "truthier" than any other. Rachel's interpretation is just as valid as anyone else's: you're all deluded if you believe in imaginary creatures.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ End Religion -
      EVERY text (including the one you're reading right now) has to be interpreted.... and EVERY text should be taken literally (i.e.: according to genre). The goal in reading ANYTHING is to figure out what the author intended to communicate in writing it.

      So, this means that there is ONE valid interpretation to any text, unless the author purposely designed the text in such a way as to make people ponder various interpretations (which would be a certain kind of genre, but not most texts). Reading something LITERALISTICALLY is a problem. This is where you read something at face value, IGNORING genre, context, etc.

      An example might be where one sports opponent jokingly verbally 'jabs' the other with a comment like, "We're going to kill you!" You don't call in the police if you're taking that literally, as you understand it's a sports hyperbole. But you also don't think it means, 'spaghetti dinner,' as that interpretation would be just as valid as any other.

      The problem, especially over such a time span, is figuring out WHAT that correct interpretation is (not if there is one). Someone with training in the languages it was originally written in, historical understanding of the culture, understanding of the genre of the text, understanding of the textual context, understanding of the lineage of the copies of the text and textual variants (textual criticism), will have a pretty big advantage. It's quite clear Rachel doesn't have such an education.

      BTW, we don't believe in an imaginary creature and I have no clue why you think if the Bible is to be taking literally, few would go to heaven. I guess I'd recommend that you learn a thing or two about the religion and worldview you are critiquing (and examine your own better).

      November 21, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • fintastic

      @steve..............
      .

      "BTW, we don't believe in an imaginary creature"

      Beg to differ with ya Steve....... god is imaginary until you or someone else can prove otherwise.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 19, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      November 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "John 3:16" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian

      November 20, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • Jesus

      `Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      November 20, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  14. sue thom

    People who worship these imaginary, invisible and non-existent deities are the root of most evil in the world today. Let's bring back religious persecution, I say, and drive these mental cases back into their caves, so they can get out of the way of human progress!!

    November 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      no deity = no evil, period.

      religious persecution = human progress???

      Um, OK.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:53 am |
    • the AnViL

      steve: evil, while arguably subjective and arbitrary – is generally accepted to be the opposite of good... or intentional, conscious, and deliberate wrongdoing.

      it's true – there are no gods – but there doesn't need to be a deity in order for evil to exist.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • the AnViL

      shunning religious idiocy – reviling delusional thinking – and intolerance of antiquated ideals that usurp the freedoms, liberties, equality and rights of others IS progress.

      it's waaaaaaay past time for humanity to evolve beyond the ignorance of its infancy.

      evolve, please... thank you.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • the AnViL

      steve – instead of boasting epic exegetical skills – maybe you should work on your critical thinking skills... just a suggestion.

      November 20, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      History shows that when you persecute most groups those groups come back stronger. Often times pulling to the level of ruling society.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • the AnViL

      Mark from Middle River: as the education level of any population increases, and social systems improve, religion falls by the wayside.

      in the meantime – tolerating religious bigotry and idiocy shouldn't be the norm. it's a bad thing.

      November 20, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • End Religion

      "History shows that when you persecute most groups those groups come back stronger. Often times pulling to the level of ruling society."

      Mark, please list all groups throughout mankind's history. Once we approve this list, please show how all "came back stronger" after persecution. Until then, as usual, we'll assume you're lying.

      November 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ the AnViL -
      re: evil – good? wrongdoing? These are subjective as well without a theism.

      re: "shunning religious idiocy – reviling delusional thinking – and intolerance of antiquated ideals that usurp the freedoms, liberties, equality and rights of others IS progress"

      I don't think being harsh is the best way to go about it... but I agree that those things are bad, which is why I do what I do! The problem is, those things aren't the exclusive domain of the religious.

      re: "it's waaaaaaay past time for humanity to evolve beyond the ignorance of its infancy"

      "We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive." – C.S. Lewis

      re: critical thinking skills – Given our conversation so far, I think mine are considerably more developed than yours already. ;)

      re: "as the education level of any population increases, and social systems improve, religion falls by the wayside"

      Really? Got any example to cite? (USSR, East Germany, maybe ????)

      BTW, I'm not sure if Mark from Middle River's thesis is sound, but one pretty good example of it might be Christianity. But, I don't think that's because of persecution alone, but also because of worldview better aligned with reality.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • the AnViL

      captain hermeneutical:

      your opinion about "being harsh" is duly noted, and for the record i could not disagree more, but i do think it's great that you agree with me.

      as for whoever else may work overtime to undermine the rights, liberties, freedom and equality of others... they're not the subject at present... right now it's just organized religion. your strawman argument is rejected.

      your summation of your critical thinking skills from our "conversation thus far" is errant, as it seems your attempting to attribute morality to theology...again. even animals have a rudimentary understanding of right and wrong. this is an old argument which delusional theists have lost already, so i don't intend to expound on it further other than to point out once more – you're wrong.

      as for countries which are vastly more atheist than the usa – swizerland and denmark come to mind. you can look up the statistics and demographics on your own. even france is a good example.

      as for east germany and the ussr – they were only good examples of failed social systems, education, and government. they were "atheist" for an entirely different reason than countries like sweden and denmark.

      finally – i'd hardly refer to mark from wherevers comment a "thesis" – but as for xianity being suppressed and rising to power – fortunately the founding fathers thought this out when they were creating our bylaws... and as a result – as hard as they try – xianity doesn't rule anything here in the usa other than very weak, delusional minds.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:04 am |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      What's the opposite of organized religion, disorganized? The problem with organized religion is the same problem as with any other type of organization, people. And, it isn't exactly like individuals are any better on average. Larger organizations just seem to multiply the problem by creating a sort of cover for it.

      Yes, I am attributing REAL morality to theism. Any REAL law requires a lawgiver. Sure, you don't need theism to MAKE UP some moral code and get a majority of people to follow it. No one is claiming that! The problem, though, is that you have no valid GROUNDING for morality without theism. It simply becomes arbitrary, or at best, pragmatic. That's not what morality is.

      re: atheist countries – Give them some time. You might want to note what all the countries you listed have in common, and think a bit about how long they have been more atheistic. Atheists are still living on borrowed capital in much of the West.

      re: "failed social systems, education, and government" – That doesn't leave a whole lot left. :)

      re: rising to power – Yes, I agree. The point of religion, especially Christianity, isn't to rise to power. We know what happens when that occurs (organized people there again!). But, I think the point is that at points in history (and in places, even today) where Christianity has been under the most extreme persecution, it thrived. I think this is because it tends to weed the fakes out and make the real-deal even more determined. I actually think we're seeing that in the US stats recently. Pop 'christianity' is losing popularity, and we're not really seeing a shrinkage of the number of Christians and a gain in the 'nones' (% of atheists has remained quite stable) but instead just more accurate reporting, as people don't feel social pressure to check the 'Christianity' box.

      November 23, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • the AnViL

      that you'd continue to bark up the tree of religion having a monopoly on morality is laughable.

      the opinion that "real" morality can't exist without theology is absurd and there's evidence to the contrary.

      question: if you knew that there was no god, would you go out and start killing and raping people?

      altruism, sympathy, and empathy exist within the human brain as a survival mechanism for ourselves and ultimately our tribe. our very genetic makeup compels us to survive – it is our imperative – as is with all life. to do so we make judgments and predict outcomes of our actions and the actions of others. this mostly happens in the moral center of the brain (the right temporo-parietal junction).

      we can, by using electromagnetic energy, render the moral center of the brain ineffectual. there is actual evidence that magnetic fields applied to the rtpj can scramble the brains ability to judge outcomes. so there is in-your-face solid scientific evidence that morality is a construct of the human brain.

      altruism, sympathy, and empathy are products of the evolutionary process in humans, genetically selected and very physical.

      it is no surprise that theists would dismiss science, but it's just pompous to dismiss secular humanism. again – more of what we've come to expect from theists. you may be ignorant to it, but it's an old argument i and many others have been over before – only the names change.

      the idea that religions hold the monopoly on ethics and morals would be comical if it wasn't so entirely tragically untrue.

      those countries which are almost entirely theistic have by far the lowest education rates and the highest murder rates, while countries that are highly atheistic have much higher education rates and drastically lower murder rates. comparative studies on people with religiosity and various social ills has shown higher rates of belief in a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion.

      that's evidence of the complete ineffectiveness of religion to affect peace, prosperity, well-being, and strong moral values (or any, it would seem) – and strong evidence – (perhaps the strongest) of the complete and total lack of divinity in religion. it doesn't work – in fact – it does the exact polar opposite of its supposed intended effect.

      in relation to religion and morals – again – if anything has been shown to be the case – it is that religious bodies are so incredibly immoral and malevolent that it boggles the mind how anyone in the 21st century could possibly be blind to the abject harm they do and have done to humanity.

      the rest of everything you wrote was just more drivel.

      shed your delusion. educate yourself and evolve.

      November 23, 2012 at 3:55 am |
  15. Ken

    What I just cannot get is how any patriotic, democracy-loving American would ever follow a system that fantasizes about being ruled over by some alien king? When Jesus supposedly returns he will rule over us from Israel, according to the popular myth. Why is this desirable? King Jesus won't be asking anyone's opinions about how to rule, will he? We won't ever get a vote. You people actually want to live under a dictatorship? Reminds me of Nazi Germany. They elected Hitler just to turn around and make him dictator. You all should be ashamed to call yourselves Americans.

    November 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Dissident Fairy

      The Jews were once God's chosen people, but that was only because of Jesus Christ, and ironically most of them rejected him. In fact they demanded that he die. They said to Pilate, "Let his blood be upon us and upon our children. So in calling it a "myth" in regards to Christ ruling from Israel you are actually right. The book of Revelation speaks of a "new Jerusalem" a "spiritual Jerusalem." Where Christ will rule in heaven not on the earth, and there will be people who make up his heavenly kingdom "from every nation and tribe" from the four corners of the earth. They will rule over the earth and the people living on it.

      November 20, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Madtown

      The Jews were once God's chosen people
      -----–
      So said the Jews. Would a perfect God really play favorites among his equal creations? Of course not.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Saraswati

      I don't actually see an inconsistency in this. The Christians believe god was all powerful or very powerful and something at least very close to all good. On the other hand, they view humans as weak, with limited knowledge, and not all that good by nature. It seems perfectly plausible to me to say that you are willing to be ruled without question by someone who is all good and all knowing, but not by some random ignorant human slob. I don't subscribe to these beliefs, but at least this part of Christianity (as opposed to some of theother ethical and scientific elements) does seem fairly consistent.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Dissident Fairy

      Madtown: You are right! The Bible says that "God is not partial" as I previously mentioned, God did refer to the nation of Israel as being his "chosen people" in the Old Testament, but, that was Only because Jesus Christ was to appear through the line of David, and that is why God kept the "root of the tree." The Jews turned their backs on God time and again. not all, but most. Obviously Moses, and Jeremiah, and Isaiah, and many others, were faithful to God. Most however were ignoring orphans and widows, worshipping false gods, not freeing their slaves like God had commanded them to do, (actually they freed them but then they re-enslaved them) disgusted, after repeatedly warning them to return to him, God, finally allowed Babylon to overthrow them and they were sent into exile for 70 years in servitude to Babylon. Yes, they were eventually given back their land, and God embraced them again, but many of them did not embrace pure worship. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ it opened the door for everyone on the face of the earth to gain salvation, not just the chosen few!

      In the Bible Jesus Christ is referred to as the "second Adam" meaning: he bought back what Adam had lost. Adam, through his disobedience, caused all of the generations after him to be born in sin. Jesus Christ took it away. God is giving us the same opportunity that Adam was originally given....the gift of everlasting life!

      November 20, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • biobraine

      Why would anyone want to live forever? It would be more a curse than a gift.

      November 21, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Dissident Fairy

      Biobraine: That's only because you are viewing it based on what you see right now! Who would want to live forever in a world like this? A world full of violence, war and injustice? Who wants to grow old and stay old forever? Probably no one, but, then again, why do most people fight for their last breath? Because they don't wish to die! Why is science working so hard to try extend mans life to 150 and beyond? Because no one really wants to die!

      God promises that we can live forever. On an earth that is free of sickness and death. He says in the Bible that he didn't "make the earth for nothing," that he made it "to be inhabited by man," and that "the earth will last to time indefinite."

      Some people think they would become bored living forever, but those same people would mostly likely never choose to die if they had an option. i don't know about you, but there are so many things I would like to do, in this life, but there simply isn't enough time, and it can be very frustrating. Take me for example: I'm in the Arts, but I mostly focus in on a couple of aspects of the arts, because that's really all I have time for in this life, but I do find it frustrating because there is so much more that I wish I had time to accomplish. I envision all sorts of creative things in my mind that I would like to design and implement but there isn't time. If I could live forever, hey, I could spend a lifetime, as we know it now, just on one masterful painting. If Beethoven were still alive just imagine how many more compositions he would have composed. Michelangelo his art. I'm sure you must feel the same.

      My point is we could travel the world. Become a master at what ever we chose to do, a master of many things not just a few. I don't think anyone would ever be bored or run out of things to do. The Bible says that we have "never seen or heard of the things God has planned for us." I have no doubt they will be Spectacular. Personally, if I had a wish, I would like to fly like a bird only to dive into the depths of the sea and swim with the fish without restriction in terms of the air that I breathe. Yes, I know it's a fantasy but who knows, "all things are possible with God."

      That life might not be for everyone. The people who prefer to break all the rules might prefer to enjoy the little time they have left doing all the things that they think are fun....but....are they really having a good time? Usually when people veer away from God, they find themselves less happy than before. There's something about doing the right thing that is inherent in all of us. I guess because our conscience usually tells us so:)

      November 21, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  16. William Demuth

    Being Biblical means Kiss Jeebuses rear end or else burn in hell.

    Frankly God is a lie, but in some ways it is a shame he isn't real

    If he was I would kill him, just as my ancestors did.

    November 19, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • End Religion

      lol, Mr. Niceguy...

      November 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Dissident Fairy

      Religion is responsible for turning people away from God! They are painting him to be a diabolical monster that hurls heathens into the fiery horrors of hell. Not true! The Bible does Not support this doctrine! If one does a comparative analysis of various Bible translations, of the same exact scripture, they will often find the word hell or sheol, hades, pit, or grave. They all mean the exact same thing. They are referring to the grave and nothing more. The Bible says, "For the wages sin pays is death." Not eternal torment! God is a lover of justice. Why would he do any less than imperfect man? Do we torture convicted felons? Or are they put to death? Think about it! Why would a perfect God do any less! Fire is often used in the Bible in a symbolic manner. A term used to denote a 'cleansing.'

      Religion is responsible for turning people against God. For making the Bible seem as if it's full of contradiction. They have stolen many of their false beliefs from Pagans, and for the most part, they are Not teaching the truth about God. They have falsely labeled God as being merciless, cruel, and unkind, for the sake of sheer profit. If they can frighten enough converts and fleece their flocks they will have accomplished their goal, at the expense of God, and the people they are misleading. The Bible says, that they will say to Christ in the end, "Lord, Lord, did we not we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name? And yet I will confess to them; I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness." Matthew 7:22,23

      November 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  17. Dionmithjesu

    Osiris
    If I had not evolved into that pus*sy jesus, I would punch your lights out, Dionysus!!!

    November 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Dionmithjesu

      Stupid reply button, sucks, I give up.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • chris

      Do you and Osiris play Dungeons and Dragons? World of Warcraft? Magic the Card game?

      November 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Dionmithjesu

      Chris
      I can't even find the reply button most of the time, games are way above my skill level. Besides from what I know about Osiris, HE probably cheats.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • End Religion

      it happens to the best of us. I think once you hit reply and start typing, but before you hit 'post', if the page has filled with comments and gone to the next page, the reply sorta gets orphaned and posted as a new post. It happens often enough that I don't think it's a mistake all the time.

      November 19, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  18. Dionmithjesu

    Osiris
    If I hadn't evolved into that pus*sy jesus, I would punch your lights out Dionysus!!!

    November 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Dionmithjesu

      Oops

      November 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Osiris

      How dare you speak to a god in such tone. I shall call upon Ra to dock his boat and let your land go black for good. He's tired of floating that thing across the sky and battling Set every night anyway. Behold the darkness that awaits you false god.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Dionmithjesu

      Oh Ya! (as he hides behind his disciples skirts, ah, robes).

      November 19, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  19. GodFreeNow

    Christians are beginning to hate being chained to their holy book. The more non-christians know about the bible and demand justification, the more evangelicals hide behind "faith" and "interpretation." It's hard to justify slavery, r@pe, murdering children, treating women as a lower species and the capital crime of eating shellfish. So when confronted with these biblacally justifiable things, watch how slippery they become. If you can get past being offended, it's quite entertaining to see.

    November 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Likewise, the mockeries of these godless and ungodly against the goodly who do themselves believe upon godly importance the goodly ones may well live on to pass all and pass leverages onto every generation's aged continuations. How else could Life Truly End and Real Living Thusly Begin? To believe or not believe for these are Life's choices. Christ Jesus came to this world to condemn it and yet did He come here to also show how tenderly are generous mercies shown upon those otherly ones being most merciful to others who did so shower mercy to be so freely given by those being most merciful! Again I do say to believe or not believe for these are Life's choices. Still yet and forever onwards many generations are to be favoringly found in many a mercies, for the mercifilled ambiences are one of our Life's greatest treasures and livings' sweetest unending rewards upon the most needy of the poorest in spirits.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @ionlylamb, I know you're really convinced your story is true. You probably greatly fear that it isn't. That fear makes you cling tighter to your story. You'll use things like "faith" and find all kinds of justifications for your belief, but in the end, you lack any concrete evidence that your story is true. That mean, it exists solely as reality in your imagination. I have no interest in mocking you. I merely wish to help. I cannot mock something I don't believe in, so your god story is also safe from my derision. When I see you, I see my own lost and confused family members, so I hope you can believe me when I say, my goal is to help you free yourself from this delusion so you can find peace and freedom.

      November 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      If you know some basic hermeneutical principals, there really isn't much of a problem explaining it all, or coherently holding it together. The problem is that Rachel seems not to know these principals, so ends up herself, picking and choosing. You SHOULD be amused, I suppose, except that you're not really engaging the educated Christians. (Would you be impressed if I found nuts on the street corner to ask science questions, and then laughed at their bad answers... and then wrote off science? It's called the STRAWMAN fallacy!)

      November 20, 2012 at 4:13 am |
    • David

      Lionlylamb – Jesus did NOT come to earth to condemn it – He came to save it. John 3:17

      November 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Uh..no...actually, if you read the ENTIRE Bible and pray for understanding, it really is not that difficult to reconcile. The problem (as further evidenced by the election) is that people wants immediate gratification and they do not want to put forth any effort to get it.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @was blind, but now I see, Again... you're basing your statement on the fact that I haven't done exactly what you said. Scroll down to my other posts to save me from repeating myself.

      I found peace and freedom, not from prayer, but when (to put it in words you can accept), I put away childish things. Being an adult means facing reality and stop creating fantasies in your head that make you feel better about the problems in your life. It means taking responsibility for yourself and not expecting some deity to forgive you for your actions. It means facing the unknown of the afterlife with grace and courage and not fear and denial.

      If all of these things sound scary to you, I assure you, they are. But when you learn to face your fears, you can find a lasting peace that doesn't require a story in your head to maintain. You can then see the true beauty of life, and the mystery of existence. I don't begrudge your need to find fulfillment in your story. I've been there, and I have many family members still there. I've tried god, alcohol, se.x and drugs... All of them are distractions from reality. All provide temporary relief from suffering but require constant feeding to maintain. This is an incredible demand on your energy stores, and ultimately will crumble and have to be rebuilt as a new story—to find new meaning. It is your life, ultimately though. It is your choice to make.

      November 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      @ GodFreeNow -
      Based on the comments I've seen from you around this forum, I don't think that if you have done what you claim, you got a very good education within that system. I guess I'd recommend that rather than dismiss it, you take an honest look at the best of what it has to offer. If I were poorly educated in whatever system you now hold, and didn't have any of it correct, and thus rejected it... what would you say to me?

      November 21, 2012 at 2:05 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Steve Wilkinson, I think that's a compliment(?), so thank you. In fact, I had a horrible education. I was taught that the earth was 6k years old and that everything that happened in life was influenced by god. I was taught that the bible was literal (including Noah's ark). Algebra was optional, and being a kid who didn't enjoy school, I skipped out on it. I did get a good education in Biology (minus the evolution). It just so happens that I'm a personality type who never stops learning, so I learned by reading and studying on my own. This is why I find ignorance to be the enemy of humanity and willful ignorance to be a disease.

      "What would you say to me?" If I felt the need/desire to give you direction or advice (I rarely do because I believe every man's path is his own), I would say seek truth above all—even when it's inconvenient to your story.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Steve Wilkinson

      Oh nuts, the board seems to have lost my response, and is giving me the dreaded 'duplicate content' message... so it's probably gone, as I can't repost.

      But, to summarize:
      That isn't the fault of Christianity then, but of a distorted version. A truth-seeker would seek out the true version before rejecting the whole worldview. Rejecting a strawman might make you feel better, but won't ensure you the truth.

      November 23, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      What strawman, specifically? You've used that as an accusation twice, but I'm not sure which straw man I'm supposed to have been attacking. I was merely correcting your incorrect assumption about my education.

      If you're saying that I am equating religion with low intelligence, and that is a straw man, then I would point you to the many studies and polls done on the subject. 45% of Americans believe the earth is less than 10k years old—most believing it is less than 6k. They get this idea from the bible. They believe in the literal story of Noah's ark, completely dismissing the complexities of evolution and how those animals all found their way back to their respective habitats. Studies show that critical thinking makes one less likely to believe in a god. You can google for the specific tests that were done. That's hardly a straw man. These are not random nuts on the street. It's nearly half the population of America. On an international level, America and it's beliefs about evolution ranks near the bottom with Turkey. Adding to this, they are anti-embryonic stem cell research, because they believe a zygote (pre-cerebreal cortex, nervous system and brain) is a human being. Many of these people are against abortion for these same reasons even in the cases of r@pe, danger to the mother and inc-est. These are not random Joe-madment on the street carrying signs warning of apocalypse. This s a pervasive philosophy that almost half of America shares in believing. Again, I ask, where is the straw man?

      November 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  20. lionlylamb

    The "blood" of Christ Jesus will ever be an acclaiming conscription thru relief-based emotional prescriptions foresaken though not by the mobs nor even the masses allotments sakes! Only thru the individualists coming to self-minding emotional terms can one's detriments be erased! The podium does entertain the amassed audiences no matter the speaker who acclaims their wordages to be more then mere words but are as a model of enlightenment to be ever made thoughtful conscious recognitions of after the speaker does close out their speech! How soon one forget and how long one does dwell.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Uh... what?

      November 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Osiris

      It's unlikely one will dwell on something one has forgoten.....just say'n.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      EnjaySea,

      In school are we? Yes? Stay there? Not? Time to rethink and go back.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Primewonk

      The hypotenous expresses the vàgeries of purple quantum foam. Existentially speaking the frumluat has no cognitive relationship with the applesauce. Taupe shines dishearteningly with marshmellow fluff. Saudi profits make no sense. Only pennies make cents and skunks make scents. The mirror is filled with roe but in all honesty, pablum is warmer than liposûction.

      Thank you.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Huebert

      @Primewonk

      Nice hipster poetry.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Primewonk,

      Prima facie! It's been some time! How has your work been as of late? Do you still work with copy-N-paste diatribes as you once before so did do? Where lays the fun in such 'pastey" poo poo?

      November 19, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • chris

      Lionly lamb...

      Although we find your words to be truly fascinating (no, seriously) don't you have a starbucks that you should be sitting at, perhaps with a Kerouac novel or maybe a ginsberg poem in hand? I'm sure there is a better place than this for you and Primewonk to begin your blossoming bro-mance?

      November 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      chris
      ,

      I have little income and am using CNN as a 'springboard' so to speak. I have no "Word Perfect" program from which to enact my want for gathering my thoughts c u m u l a t i v e l y. I am a real homeboy and venture out very little. Ceasars Pizza for $5.oo and grocery shopping moments are my life's fortay. Did I forget to mention McD and BK?

      November 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • sam

      I want to lock lionly and that hindu-hating troll in a room together and watch them confuse each other to death.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • End Religion

      google docs is free and will not fill CNN comments with meaningless tripe.

      November 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @sam, they'd die from the gas level in about 15 minutes.

      November 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Ian Johnson

      lionlylamb I've read through several of your posts here. Why do you write in such a cryptic fashion? Do you really understand what you're saying because I don't? If people don't understand what you're saying what's the use in saying it?
      You're not doing a service to Jesus or God this way. You accomplish little more than looking like someone who's mastered gibberish.

      November 19, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.