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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. Ben Lefler

    I'm at once annoyed by Huckabee's words and disgusted that someone who labels themselves an "evangelical Christian" would "cheer Stewart on". As for your assertion that, any claim to a “biblical” lifestyle requires some serious selectivity, I should think that would be obvious!! There are many models of human behavior in the Bible, showing God's people at their best and worst. We are meant to learn from their example, not make the same mistakes.

    November 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • the AnViL

      um... ok... but anyone who actually reads the bible without their delusional-stupid-glasses on can plainly see – most of the old testament prophets had more than one wife.

      why is this so offensive?

      if it wasn't tragically sad watching those of you trapped in the throes of delusional thinking cry and moan about it.... it'd be hilarious.

      November 22, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Jason

      @ anvil once again – you talk about ignorance, but you are the definition of it completely – man check out this book – Ultimate proof of Creation – Jason Lisle, read the book then think about your statements – unless your afraid :)

      November 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • the AnViL

      jason – there is absolutely no proof for creationism.

      it's ignorance compounded by idiocy.

      i'd suggest you educate yourself beyond theological mumbo-jumbo.

      you should be ashamed to be so ignorant.

      November 22, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Dee

      So all I want to know is am I going to "flames of Hell" because I voted for Obama?

      November 23, 2012 at 5:28 am |
    • Todd

      Anvil,

      Everyone has "colored" glasses. No one is without bias. Both the atheist and the theist have intellectual pre-commitments.

      November 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  2. Mike P

    The problem is when people start taking things that are fundamental to the Bible, like male/female duality and the preciousness of human life established in Genesis 1, and saying, "Eh, these things don't matter," and then go on to support causes that contradict these foundational values (e.g., gay marriage, abortion). But if you toss out the foundation of the biblical worldview, you may as well toss out the whole Bible. The God of the Bible is a God who believes and teaches that every human life is sacred and gender is not an accident but a purposeful division in the human species. If you refuse to believe those things, you're basically refusing to be a Jew, Christian, Muslim, Mormon, etc. - i.e., a member of any faith that respects what the Bible has to say about humanity. It would be better for people trying to compromise religion to suit their feelings to simply leave that religion.

    November 22, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  3. splassher6

    CNN's continued war on religion....

    November 22, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Correctlycenter

      It's war on Christianity, not just religion. God's word is truth, it is God's "gold standard" on how we are to conduct our lives, be obedient to the LORD, and understand He is God, we are not. Solomon was the prime example why polygamy is wrong and will cause you to be disobedient to God. Read the bible first before you wish to criticize it... God bless the US and Israel...

      November 22, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • the AnViL

      this is a war agaimnst ignorance and stupidity. a war against idiocy and tyranny. a war against retardation and irrationality.

      those of us who are educated beyond religion don't particularly savor the idea of people who're ignorant and delusional making decisions for the country based on their idiotic theistic morals.

      deal with it.

      it's good to see less tolerance of religious ignorance.

      you and those who think like you SHOULD be ashamed to be so stupid in the 21st century.

      November 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Jason

      @ anvil – I will pray for you, you are so lost in a sea of futility. You have absolutely no reason to believe in your reliability of your senses, absolute morality, uniformity in nature, reliability of your memory, and laws of logic apart from the Bible. You have no proof you evolved correct, you can't even make a coherent statement without assuming the Bible is true. Evolution is based on Naturalism – you cannot touch a law of logic, therefore how does it exist. You assume that people are irrational, but why in your worldview would that be wrong? You assume that they are evil, because you assume an absolute morality, there is no point to your argument in your worldview

      November 22, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • the AnViL

      jason – your private whispers are futile. there's no gods listening.

      there's no santa either.. or easter bunny... or tooth fairy.

      grow up – evolve.

      November 22, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Todd

      Anvil,

      If all there is is the material universe, there is no basis for a standard to determine what is ignorance and what is not. This cannot be justified in a world view that says only the physical world exists. Things just are. Neurons simply act – for the one who believes in evolution and for the one who doesn't.

      November 24, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • the AnViL

      todd, ignorance is the state of being uninformed.

      neurons simply act? they act incorrectly in some craniums... ignorance abounds.

      all that exists is the material universe and we have a very good grasp on the definition of ignorance.

      your assertion is rejected.

      cha cha cha

      November 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Todd

      Anvil,

      What is the basis, for ignorance? This is an immaterial statement which has no bearing in a world or universe where all that exists is the material.

      If all that is needed is to say, "I reject your assertion" then I reject your assertion.

      Also, the statement, "I reject your assertion" is an immaterial statement. To claim someone is ignorant is to appeal to a standard that is immaterial in nature, which you just stated all that exists is the material world. Your "argument" is turned on it's own head.

      November 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Todd

      Anvil,

      cha, cha, cha

      November 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Todd

      Anvil,

      To make a statement about what is correct and what is not correct is also assuming that there is an immaterial standard by which to determine whether or not something is good. You see, you use immaterial, rational statements which show that you cannot live in a world that is purely material in nature.

      Your definition "ignorance is the state of being uninformed" is also an immaterial statement. What you really mean is, "the only real way to understand the world is your way of understanding." What makes your definition the one that people should adhere to? Why not another person's explanation?

      And of course on we could go.But I ask, if the material world is all there is, where do laws (laws of logic, laws of science which are based on laws of logic), that which is immaterial come from?

      November 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • mama k

      @Todd – you assume an immaterial standard. What is your proof of such a thing?

      November 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • the AnViL

      the basis for ignorance is – knowledge/information exists and individuals fail to grasp, understand or know that knowledge/information.

      it can be argued that all thoughts/concepts are immaterial. so what of it??? does the immaterial nature of a thought or concept make it true or untrue? the statement that ignorance exists is logically falsifiable – and specifically – that very statement is true. ignorance not only exists – it abounds.

      the assertion that a true statement can be "immaterial" is pointless philosophical jabberwocky. again – your laughable assertion is rejected.

      last time: all that exists – is the material universe AND there is basis for the classification, labeling and understanding of the concept of ignorance within this material universe.

      check your ignorance and deal with it.

      November 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Todd

      Anvil,

      You are using an immaterial statement to prove that all that exists is the material. That is non-sense. Tell me how, in a world where all that exists is the material that any immaterial law can actually exist?

      You can make "assertions," and reject "assertions," but you cannot provide me or anyone with reasons as to why yours are valid without making use of the immaterial, which you reject as being real.

      Mama K,

      Yes, that is an assumption. It is a basic assumption and one without which, we cannot even have a conversation.
      If there is no standard, what I say goes, and the opposite of what I say goes. Which, I assume, you would agree is non-sense.

      November 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Todd

      Anvil,
      If you reject philosophy, you certainly try to make use of it when saying philosophy is mumbo jumbo. This shows how happily inconsistent you are in applying your own philosophy.

      November 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • the AnViL

      you are very clearly confused, todd.

      i have made a statement that all the things that exist (including the immaterial thoughts and ideas of humans) – exist within this very material universe. that statement is logically falsifiable... in order to "prove" otherwise you or someone else will have to provide evidence that an immaterial universe exists. good luck with that.

      it's called science, todd. look into it. as for philosophy – i did not reject it... i only rejected your goofy drivel.

      November 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • the AnViL

      you are very clearly confused, todd.

      i made a statement: all the things that exist (including the immaterial thoughts and ideas of humans) – exist within this very material universe.

      that statement is logically falsifiable... in order to "prove" otherwise you or someone else will have to provide evidence that an immaterial universe exists. good luck with that.

      it's called science, todd. look into it. as for philosophy – i did not reject it... i only rejected your goofy drivel.

      November 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • mama k

      @Todd – then I don't buy this concept of a immaterial standard. By nature, humans are born and have evolved to be communal beings – for the most part – interested in the survival of themselves foremost, but also to a large degree of other beings (and other mammals) around them. All thoughts, memory recall, complex evaluation of things and situations to varying degrees of "good" or "bad"-ness, along with decision processes and communication of these things seem to naturally fall into what is the natural, chemical and eletro-magetic aspects of our brain.

      What would be a proveable example of some standard, then, that affects our abilities or level of "goodness" outside of what is naturally withing each of us?

      November 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • mama k

      my last sentence: "within", not "withing"

      November 24, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Todd

      Anvil,

      You are right that you made an assertion that immaterial thoughts and concepts exist within this universe. What you have yet to "prove" is how you can get immaterial precepts from that which is purely physical in nature. In fact, I would say you cannot justify it, all you can do is make assertions.

      "all that exists – is the material universe AND there is basis for the classification, labeling and understanding of the concept of ignorance within this material universe."

      This is your statement. This says nothing to the point of how it's possible to get that which is immaterial from the material. All you have done is say, "This is so."

      My challenge to you is to justify (explain how they exist in a purely material world) using rational statements to prove that all that there is is the material world. This is self-defeating.

      You said, "it is science." This is a statement that normally means, the way to know anything is through empirical observation (sense perception). This assumes that sense perception is reliable, but cannot make any case for sense perception being generally reliable (make a scientific case for such an assertion). It also assumes that there is order in the universe. It also assumes that there are laws that govern to make things orderly. What it doesn't do is make the case through empirical observation.

      November 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • mama k

      @Todd. Do you mean precept as say, a particular person's natural tendency not to murder anyone because of their religious beliefs? Or did you mean that in some other, more generic way – maybe as is just what makes us make the same kind of decision when faced with the same kind of problem at different times?

      November 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • mama k

      @Todd – but either way (regarding my last post) – I would think one could just as easily argue that there is still nothing "immaterial" about the tendency for the mind to behave similarly against certain situations. I would say so far, the case for this "immaterial standard" has not been demonstrated, much less proved.

      November 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Todd

      Mamma K,

      The law of non-contradiction would be an example.

      November 24, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • mama k

      I don't see how our ability to discern things as or interpret things as mutually exclusive for certain conditions const itutes something immaterial. Either we have experience with the give condition to be able to recognize it, or we have the brainpower to extrapolate from a similar set of conditions that allows us to interpret the same way. Just because someone considers this a law or gives it a name – why does that necessarily mean such a "law" or pattern of assessment has to be something external to our natural brains (and our ability as like-minded being to see those things the same way)?

      November 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • mama k

      typo corrections: second line: "the given condition"
      last line: "beings"

      November 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • sam stone

      CorruptlyCenter: It seems you have that vaunted Christian Persecution Complex in running order

      November 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  4. Nietodarwin

    . Who made the following statement?

    "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . We need believing people."

    Adolf Hitler. April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933.

    November 22, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Jason

      @neitdarwin – not sure is that an argument for or against, pretty sure Hitler had nothing to do with Christianity, but lip service to look like a 'good moral character' plenty of people claim Christianity to look like a good person

      November 22, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • truth be told

      To quote hitler for truth is the height of stupidity. hitler was a liar and an atheist. Truth be told a person cannot be an atheist unless they are an accomplished liar.

      November 22, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Mirosal

      TBT... of course Hitler was a liar, he was a politician, and a very good one at that. As far as your claim that he was an Atheist.. might I suggest taking a high school history course once you finish your 3rd year of 8th grade?

      November 23, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • fintastic

      @truth....

      " a person cannot be a christian unless they are an accomplished liar"

      What are you like 9 years old??

      December 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  5. Chuckhashman

    Satan and his crew of losers are very very real !!! Good vs Evil also real!! It is a choice?? All people who live must heed this warning!!! As a small business owner i never looked to run into the Devil and his crew-they personally forewarned me that they were gonna remove me from the position i had–i was getting in their way and compensate me financially for doin so –all 1 year in advance!! All you doubters--heres your proof-- find a really good person/devout/ of humble means and now assist them in all ways to better their lives-- then the forces of Evil will show up to in eager to take care of you!! Evil has its agenda to destroy mankind and thwart GOD!!! PRAISE BE TO GOD!!! Beware of them......... This message is payback!!!!

    November 22, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • Gadflie

      It's always fun to read a delusional rant like that one.

      November 22, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • End Religion

      in other words, chuck, you're a fucking lunatic and got fired because of it, and somehow you attribute this to a god?

      November 22, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Athy

      Shit, Chuckie. FSounds to me like they were totally justified in firing you. In fact, you probably shouldn't have been hired in the first place.

      November 23, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • Sam Stone

      chucky.....your warnings are empty. get back on your knees, b!tch

      November 23, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      Wait... the devil has a crew?

      You should have hired, "The A-Team"

      November 23, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • End Religion

      Satan's Evil Toadies, playing soon at a bar near you.

      November 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • aeroprime

      can't tell if Troll or if serious..... -_-

      November 24, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • fintastic

      Chucky not so lucky....

      December 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  6. jimmiedon

    Just proves that CNN is not to be taken too seriously in the believing department. Having been an Atheist, I can easily see the pick and choose method the esteemed columnist uses is a far cry from biblical hermeneutics. The pot, in this case, is black on the fire, while the kettle is clean.

    November 21, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • lol??

      While you're at it watch out for ye olde Hermes, from wiki:"Hermes ( /ˈhɜrmiːz/; Greek : Ἑρμῆς) was an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, son of Zeus and the Pleiade Maia. He was second youngest of the Olympian gods." I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw up on him.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  7. lol??

    Author"...........required I keep a home as tidy as June Cleaver's................" So when the Mrs. ran off with Eddie, Ward was a little ticked. They split custody and she took the Beaver. That's how he became a partner at the Bates Motel. Ward was payin' too much child support and they blew the nest egg there.

    November 21, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  8. lol??

    Oh, mommie dearest! "Tts 2:3-4 The aged women likewise, that [they be] in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children," The women of americult forgot how to love.

    November 21, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  9. lol??

    "Rev 19:13 And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God."

    November 21, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  10. Lance

    Were Jews ever really slaves in Egypt, or is Passover a myth?
    Where is the real proof – archeological evidence, state records and primary sources?
    Josh Mintz
    Here's a question for you: what do actor Charlton Heston, DreamWorks animation studios and Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin all have in common? Well, they've all, at one time or another, perpetuated the myth that the Jews built the pyramids. And it is a myth, make no mistake. Even if we take the earliest possible date for Jewish slavery that the Bible suggests, the Jews were enslaved in Egypt a good three hundred years after the 1750 B.C. completion date of the pyramids. That is, of course, if they were ever slaves in Egypt at all.
    We are so quick to point out the obvious lies about Jews and Israel that come out in Egypt – the Sinai Governors claims that the Mossad released a shark into the Red Sea to kill Egyptians, or, as I once read in a newspaper whilst on holiday in Cairo, the tale of the magnetic belt buckles that Jews were selling cheap in Egypt that would sterilize men on contact – yet we so rarely examine our own misconceptions about the nature of our history with the Egyptian nation.
    We tend, in the midst of our disdain for Egyptian, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, to overlook the fact that one of the biggest events of the Jewish calendar is predicated upon reminding the next generation every year of how the Egyptians were our cruel slave-masters, in a bondage that likely never happened. Is this really so different from Jaws the Mossad agent?
    The reality is that there is no evidence whatsoever that the Jews were ever enslaved in Egypt. Yes, there's the story contained within the bible itself, but that's not a remotely historically admissible source. I'm talking about real proof; archeological evidence, state records and primary sources. Of these, nothing exists.
    It is hard to believe that 600,000 families (which would mean about two million people) crossed the entire Sinai without leaving one shard of pottery (the archeologist's best friend) with Hebrew writing on it. It is remarkable that Egyptian records make no mention of the sudden migration of what would have been nearly a quarter of their population, nor has any evidence been found for any of the expected effects of such an exodus; such as economic downturn or labor shortages. Furthermore, there is no evidence in Israel that shows a sudden influx of people from another culture at that time. No rapid departure from traditional pottery has been seen, no record or story of a surge in population.
    In fact, there's absolutely no more evidence to suggest that the story is true than there is in support of any of the Arab world's conspiracy theories and tall tales about Jews.
    So, as we come to Passover 2012 when, thanks to the “Arab Spring,” our relations with Egypt are at a nearly 40 year low, let us enjoy our Seder and read the story by all means, but also remind those at the table who may forget that it is just a metaphor, and that there is no ancient animosity between Israelites and Egyptians. Because, if we want to re-establish that elusive peace with Egypt that so many worked so hard to build, we're all going to have to let go of our prejudices.

    November 21, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • End Religion

      Show me archaeological proof of heaven first.

      November 21, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • NII

      LANCE
      Your post is very nice but you make certain fundamental mistakes. One the Copts or Ancient Egyptians are very different from the mostly Arab modern Egyptians. Also you pass over the linguistic ties that Coptic has with Hebrew. Thirdly pottery is not our only source of tracing ancestry. Genetics is there and many such. Also the Hyksos a Hebrew-like nation ruled Egypt just before the Ramesides.
      Point is where Pharaoh told Joseph to look after his cattle though Copts hated cattlemen.
      Why?
      Different race.
      The Egyptian records do show that the Hyksos were defeated and enslaved and eventually driven out.
      A Hyksos Pharaoh and a Hebrew Prime Minister. Doesn't that mean they considered them same.
      The Bible said the Israelites built the cities of Pithom and Rameses not the Pyramids.
      You also do not realize that Israel is mostly a Jewish nation not a predominantly Hebrew nation. There is a big difference there.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  11. lynne castle

    Great essay! In addition to the list of "blblical" things mentioned, I might add that the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in its website mentions and defines "bibliclal divorce"–this makes very interesting reading; check it outl

    November 21, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  12. babbo natale

    Atheists believe that they are smarter by rejecting the morals of the Bible/Religion/Christianity...however they believe that they came from a monkey and this monkey came from an amoeba from an explosion in the big badabing explosion... what a fairytale they settled for.

    November 21, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • midwest rail

      You are painfully wrong, but I suspect that you're used to it.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      Being an atheist has nothing to do with rejecting morals. It is rejecting the ancient superstitions that have evolved into modern-day religions and their insistence that a god must be responsible for all we did not and do not understand.
      The rest of your drivel just shows you as poorly educated.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Paul Stufflebeam

      It may come as a surprise to you to hear that both are true, evolution and creation.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Paul Stufflebeam

      Atheists have not rejected the morals of the Bible/Religion/Christianity any more than christians have, it is that neither have any idea what they are ( morals that is ) !

      November 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • End Religion

      Ding dong! No one's at the door.

      November 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @babbo natale, I challenge you to find 1 atheists that bases their intelligence level on a concept such as rejecting morals. Atheist think they are smarter because they study hard and seek the truth no matter how inconvenient. For me, atheism was just a natural rest stop on the road to improving my mind and reasoning skills. Long before I became an atheist, I realized that true morality is doing what is right, even when no super being is telling you what to do or watching you. It was when I stopped blaming others for my mistakes or relying on others to forgive me that I learned personal responsibility.

      November 21, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • Gadflie

      babbo, actually not monkeys. But, feel free to revel in your ignorance.

      November 21, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • fintastic

      @babbo...................... Is that Jim from Taxi??

      December 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  13. humilitee

    @ Rachel Evans

    It's hard to be christian. There are a lot of rules. One of them is the matter of marriage and the matter of not putting it asunder. Yet American christians, including evangelicals, like to pick n choose the rules that they want for their own convenience. If thse alleged christians cannot respect their own bible and their own God, who else will ?

    I will put forth the example provided by a christian named mother teresa. She was humble. She did not have your pride. Yet she is widely known to be a better christian than you. Therefore, take it as a lesson that frankly the path that you're on is not necessarily like a christian. Objective observers can see that. Pride doesn't get you anywhere. In fact the bible has harsh words for pride (see phari sees)
    .

    November 21, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • G to the T

      Yeah... mother Theresa may not be the best example:

      http://howgoodisthat.wordpress.com/2008/07/13/the-truth-about-mother-teresa-of-calcutta/

      It's a bit biased, but really, she wasn't the saint everyone wants to make her out to be...

      November 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Not a Saint yet, but beatified. You give it a shot and we'll see who slings mud at you.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • End Religion

      mother teresa, the go-to goody-goody, apparently not so much

      November 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • homama

      There's more evidence of Mother Teresa's goodness to the world than your ho mama. The argument can be flipped around. There's no proof nor reason to believe that your mama is a good person. In that case, why even believe her or respect her. And if she's not a good person, then how can something that came out between her legs possibly be good, either.

      We don't hire surgeons to be plumbers. We don't hire farmers to be commercial plane pilots. Yet people who have no training seem to think they are theologians. People who have no evidence of being good seem to believe they're moral. Funny.

      November 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  14. cg

    has anyone of you ever taking time to read for yourselves a Bible anyone of the many translations.

    November 21, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • biobraine

      I would imagine the vast majority of us have my friend. Have you ever taken the time to read the Koran? How about the Vedas? The Book of Mormons maybe?

      November 21, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Yes. Several times. Genesis to Revelations twice, study course that paired readings from OT and NT to get through the whole book in a year once. In chunks with a concordance and a notebook. Still have great big parts of it memorized too. I used to be able to do the genealogy of Christ verbatim, but I can't do that from memory any more....can still do most of the book of John though, and great big chunks of Psalms and Song of Solomon and Genesis as well.

      What's your point?

      November 21, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • justme

      sounds like you really have not read it for yourself and feel it is too much for anyone else. just read a little each day and you will be amazed how soon you will be through sections you never thought possible. a few tough spots but if you are doing it for the right reason (yourself) you may find some real enjoyment. and think, if it is the real word of God, what are you missing? I have read it many times (a little every day) and i still find things i do not remember. maybe i'm getting too old to remember but there is no doubt this is the most important piece of literature we can learn. if it is not God's word it is still great reading and I do a lot of that of a variety of books and other publications. I wish you all could enjoy as much as I do. j

      November 21, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • justme

      also The Bible in living English, and The New World Translation are probably the easiest to read (new English) also the DNKJV, an updated printing of the King James is real fun (old english) check out different ones, they really say the same thing.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Paul Stufflebeam

      The reading of the word of God is only half of the battle. It is in the understanding of it that there is truth. Otherwise you are nothing more than a dog, returning to its own vomit, as you regergetate what you have read. I have never met anyone that has an understanding.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • justme

      paul, go to jw.org if you really want to learn what the bible really teaches. insight, understanding, knowledge, wisdom and truth. check it out for yourself and do not let anyone mislead you. j

      November 21, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • End Religion

      Beware! Every time someone reads the bible an atheist is born.

      November 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • cg

      my point of asking if anyone has actually read a Bible is this, there seems to be alot of people quoting Gods word that do not really know what His message is for all of us. Time spent to enrich your life and not sit and critize other people is only a waste of time and very negative thinking, if people just took time to read Gods word, find a Bible version that speaks to you and there will be something useful in it, mircles do happen, i was an additict at 8 years old, have lived a very hard life to anyones standards, i know what God has helped me with. If you just trust alittle, you to can experience muchof His love too. Gods Blessings to all Shalom

      November 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • End Religion

      cg, it's wonderful that you're "over" your addiction, however it seems you only traded one for another. Thankfully, this one may not be as dangerous to you as the other, but it is very dangerous to the world.

      November 21, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • justme

      if you go to the site for the dnkjb.com (Divine Name King James Bible) and check out the preface. One of the most honest introductions to a publication of the Bible I have seen. takes only 5 minutes to read and may encourage to read more.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  15. Reality

    The bible in the 21st century:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

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

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

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    November 21, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • Dissident Fairy

      Your link took me absolutely nowhere! So then I resorted to searching for this book on the net and was unable to find any source material to read, only a link to Amazon where I could purchase the book(s), the ETZ Hayim for $288.65! Wow! That's allot of money for a "Probably." I notice that you use the word "probably" in multiplicity!

      It doesn't surprise me in the least that the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism is trying to discredit Jesus Christ and the Bible, of course they consider him a threat. After all, it was the Jews back in the days of Christ that demanded he die, as they shouted to Pilate, "Let his blood be upon us and upon our children." What does surprise me is that they call themselves Conservative! They sound rather Liberal to me! If they are going so far as to discredit their own Torah by saying that Moses and Abraham Never existed then what is left? It sounds rather radical to me!

      I have been doing allot of in depth research lately regarding Biblical archeology, and have been astounded by the findings. Discoveries that overwhelmingly support events in the Bible regarding people, places, things. So I would "probably" be very curious to see what they dug up.

      The one thing you mentioned that I will agree with is the Trinity doctrine! It was originally embraced by the Catholic church and spread like a virus into mainstream Christianity. The concept of a Triune god was stolen from the ancient Egyptian's and has no place in pure worship. Jesus Christ never claimed to be God, he said, "The Father is greater than I." He prayed to his Father. Was he praying to himself? If he truly died like the Bible said, then who raised him from the dead? There are literally hundreds of scriptures in the Bible that prove that Jesus Christ is Not God, but is the Son of God. Christ had a "beginning" God did Not. In the book of Revelation it describes Christ as being God's "first creation." Trinitarians site John 1:1 as proof of a trinity, but, if one digs a little deeper, they will find that there are 70 Bible translations that disagree, using that same scripture, and do not refer to Christ as being God. One translation is a Catholic translation of the Bible, most are Protestant. The reason these translations exist is because the original manuscripts do not support calling Christ God but rather "a god." As per: Dr. William Newcome, Archbishop of Armagh, and many other Bible scholars. The Jews never had a Triune God which is correct and to their credit, and Christianity should follow suit, and recognize that there is only One Supreme Being, and stop taking their cue from the Pagans!

      November 21, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • justme

      wow a reasonable dissident, very accurate in your research.

      November 21, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      What archeological discoveries support the bible? Obviously a few towns and areas but specifically what out-of-the-ordinary stories in the bible do they support? Noah, Moses, Lot, Abraham, Jonah, etc. are all just that – stories.

      November 21, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • randy

      The New World Versin is a perverted, cursed book by the Jehovah's Witness. They had no biblical scholars on the translation committee of 4 people. A better translation is the New King James or even teh New Living.

      Trying to discredit Christianity by using Jewish sources is wrong. The anti Jesus, Anti Christian beliefs of Judism has lead yoiu to bias.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • OTOH

      The fact that places mentioned in the Bible have been verified archeologically has no bearing on the veracity of the supernatural stories put forth in that book.

      Mount Olympus (and many other places mentioned in their legends and myths) really exists in Greece. Does that mean that 12 gods really live there? Dickens' "The Christmas Carol" fairly accurately portrays the places and conditions of 19th century England. Does that mean that the supernatural visits of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come were real? All sorts of fiction and fantasy stories are set in real places.

      The Bible is a book which includes *some* history of primitive Hebrew culture, and *some* good advice for practical, beneficial human behavior, but mostly it is a compilation of ancient Middle Eastern historical fiction, myth, legend, superst.ition and fantasy.

      There is not a whit of verified evidence for any of the supernatural beings or supernatural events in that book.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • justme

      randy; why do so many bible scholars proclaim the New World Translation "the most accurate", please do the research and you may want to read it yourself before misleading people about who was on the committee and how it was done. do not just listen to the pharisees but do the research and read it and compare it to others for yourself.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • TheTruth

      Sorry "Reality", but most of your "facts" were debunked as false years ago (so were the sources you quoted). Catch up with modern times – your "research" is outdated and proven obsolete.

      November 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • babbo natale

      You forgot all the hospitals, schools and charities for the poor they've built over 1800 years.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Dippy

      Folks, "allot" is not a word. Sorry.

      November 22, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • OTOH

      Dippy,

      "Allot" IS a word - just not the correct word for that post. She probably typed "alot", which is NOT a word, and the auto-correct changed it to "allot" instead of "a lot".

      November 22, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • Dippy

      OTOH, you are indeed correct. I should have said it's not the right word.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • Dissident Fairy

      OTOH: Thank you but I can't honestly say if it was my mistake or the computers. There is also another mistake, I'm surprised you guys didn't catch it. The word "Site" is incorrect, I had too much architectural digging on my mind:) It should have been "Cite."

      November 22, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Dissident Fairy

      OTOH: I just responded to your other comment, actually my response was rather in depth, but unfortunately, it never posted, and I forgot to save it, so I will try again later in the day.

      November 22, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • the AnViL

      typos are ok... who cares about spelling and grammar? anyone of reasonable intelligence can wade through those things.

      it just doesn't matter.

      November 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Dissident Fairy

      I just tried to send my reply again but it didn't post.....maybe it's too long and I need to send it in sections. I eliminated hyphens and whatever else I thought might be the problem but so far nothing seems to work.....

      November 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Dissident Fairy

      Section:1 You're right, just because archaeologists unearth a new find doesn't necessarily prove the Bible itself. However, archaeology does help to strengthen the validity of the Bible as being God's inspired word. For example, certain Biblical accounts were once held in question by scholars. The Tower of Babel was one, the Babylonian king Belshazzar another, also an Assyrian king named Sargon was yet another. Up until the nineteenth century C.E. those names were not found in an independent source other than the Bible.

      When Archaeologists unearth cities, and pottery, and cuneiform tablets, and cylinders, and papyrus, and palaces, we gain a wealth of knowledge that backs up Biblical accounts. There have been all sorts of inscriptions that give important information regarding cities, people, things, and important events in history.

      For example: The temple of Etemenanki inside Babylon's walls, an inscription reads, "It's top shall reach the heavens." King Nebuchadnezzar is recorded as saying, "I raised the summit of the tower of stages at Etemenanki. So that it's top rivaled the heavens." One fragment found north of Marduk temple in Babylon related the fall of such a ziggurat in these words: "The building of this temple offended the gods. In a night they threw down what had been built. They scattered them abroad and made strange their speech. The progress they impeded." (Compare these findings to the Genesis account of the Tower of Babel. The tower being destroyed by God, the people scattered, and their languages confused) (Genesis 11:1-9) even describes the bricks of the ziggurats being made of clay and asphalt, another find that was proven true.

      November 23, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Dissident Fairy

      Section 2 refuses to post....I will try again later:)

      November 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  16. Scott715

    Strange that the author admits that the bible is contradictory and insulting to women, but still seems to think that it has some validity to her and her life. Time to just admit that it is a collection of stories and opinions written by men (obviously) with a bronze age mentality and understanding of the world. It is just time to move on and find some other meaning in your life. The world still has a lot of mystery and wonder without the idea that the magic man in the sky is looking over your shoulder all the time. Life is more precious when you believe it is the only one you get.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • babbo natale

      Is "thou shall not murder" the bronze age? How about, "love your neighbor as yourself", is that bronze age. How about Jesus saying, "it is better for you to tie a boulder around your neck than to harm little children". is that bronze age? Maybe we need some bronze age thinking in this society that is going down the toilet.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • End Religion

      Babbo, dear Babbo, you are so mercifully free from the ravages of intelligence. When we speak of too much Bronze Age thinking we are not talking about "be nice to people," for goodness sake. We're talking about talking serpents, the parting of bodies of water with the wave of a hand, an impossible Ark, a vengeful hate-filled man-made god, rising from the dead, killing people who work on sunday or selling our daughters into slavery. You know, *that* kind of thinking, which leads us to hatred and division.

      Go on and continue to be nice to people. You simply do not need the shamanism to go along with it.

      November 21, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  17. art

    What does the Book of Mormon say about marriage?

    November 20, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Dissident Fairy

      I don't know but I do know they will choose the Book of Mormons over the Bible. Two guys showed up at my dad's door one day, and he asked them, "If you could only keep one, the Book of Mormons, or the Bible, which would it be?" They both hesitated for a moment, glanced at each other, and in unison said, "The Book of Mormons." It actually surprised me, I don't know why but it did.

      November 21, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  18. MK

    If Christ is taken out of any context, then everything falls apart. Biblical marriage IS Christ and the Church, never about one man and one woman although it is part of the picture, not the whole picture. The Bible does show different types of marriage, but it does not mean that God approved them. God still used them to get the work done. Sorry Steward but it seems like you don't know what the picture of Biblical marriage is.

    November 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Sam Stone

      christians are free to abide by the biblical definition of marriage. the governmental definition has to be more inclusive. the ban on gays marrying will fall to the 14th amendment the same as the ban on blacks and whites marrying did. Good riddance.

      November 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • G to the T

      Which church is that? Seems to be me that God's been a bit of a polygamist these days....

      November 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  19. Ztom

    Per the Bible, it is not God's plan that the government should have anything to do with religion, or at least with Christianity. Per the Bible, all of the governments of the world (including the US government), and all attempts by mankind to govern itself are motivated by Satan. Per the Bible, Satan is the prince of this world, until Christ comes back to take the world back in Revelations. Therefore, anyone who takes the Bible literally should NOT be trying to inject religion into politics. They should understand that this is fruitless and not part of God's Plan.

    Bible verses showing that Satan is in charge of the current earthly world. Some of these verses are even Christ speaking:

    John 12:31 , John 14:30 , John 16:11 , 2nd Corinthians 4:3-4 , 1st John 5:19

    Even if you aren't into checking those Bible verses, think about it. When Satan tempted Jesus by offering him "all the kingdoms of the world and their glory", how would it be a temptation if Satan didn't have the authority to do so.

    Bottom line is if you are really a Christian who believes in the literal truth of the Bible, you should be minding your own business and working on your own relationship with God, and spreading the good word. Not shoveling donations at candidates because they are "more Christian".

    There are a few denominations who have picked up on this, and thankfully stay away from elections and trying to foist their version of Christianity on others via government intervention. Jehovah's Witnesses are one example who are apolitical, but then again, they are a little strange.

    November 20, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  20. tristanfermin

    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 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 |
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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.