How evangelicals won a war and lost a generation
Are church teachings on homosexuality driving millennials away from faith?
March 31st, 2014
02:18 PM ET

How evangelicals won a war and lost a generation

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, special to CNN

(CNN) - On March 24, World Vision announced that the U.S. branch of the popular humanitarian organization would no longer discriminate against employees in same-sex marriages.

It was a decision that surprised many but one that made sense, given the organization’s ecumenical nature.

But on March 26, World Vision President Richard Stearns reversed the decision, stating, “our board acknowledged that the policy change we made was a mistake.”

Supporters helped the aid group “see that with more clarity,” Stearns added, “and we’re asking you to forgive us for that mistake.”

So what happened within those 48 hours to cause such a sudden reversal?

The Evangelical Machine kicked into gear.

Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the decision pointed to “disaster,” and the Assemblies of God denomination encouraged its members to pull their financial support from the organization.

Evangelicals took to Twitter and Facebook to threaten to stop sending money to their sponsored children unless World Vision reversed course.

Within a day of the initial announcement, more than 2,000 children sponsored by World Vision lost their financial support. And with more and more individuals, churches and organizations threatening to do the same, the charity stood to lose millions of dollars in aid that would otherwise reach the poor, sick, hungry and displaced people World Vision serves.

So World Vision reversed course.

Stearns told The New York Times that some people, satisfied with the reversal, have called World Vision headquarters to ask, “Can I have my child back?” as though needy children are expendable bargaining chips in the culture war against gay and lesbian people.

Many of us who grew up evangelical watched with horror as these events unfolded.

As a longtime supporter of World Vision, I encouraged readers of my blog to pick up some of the dropped sponsorships after the initial decision. I then felt betrayed when World Vision backtracked, though I urged my readers not to play the same game but to keep supporting their sponsored children, who are of course at no fault in any of this.

But most of all, the situation put into stark, unsettling relief just how misaligned evangelical priorities have become.

When Christians declare that they would rather withhold aid from people who need it than serve alongside gays and lesbians helping to provide that aid, something is wrong.

There is a disproportionate focus on homosexuality that consistently dehumanizes, stigmatizes and marginalizes gay and lesbian people and, at least in this case, prioritizes the culture war against them over and against the important work of caring for the poor.

Evangelicals insist that they are simply fighting to preserve “biblical marriage,” but if this were actually about “biblical marriage,” then we would also be discussing the charity’s policy around divorce.

But we’re not.

Furthermore, Scripture itself teaches that when we clothe and feed those in need, we clothe and feed Christ himself, and when we withhold care from those in need, we withhold it from Christ himself (Matthew 25:31-46).

Why are the few passages about homosexuality accepted uncritically, without regard to context or culture, but the many about poverty so easily discarded?

As I grieved with my (mostly 20- and 30-something) readers over this ugly and embarrassing situation, I heard a similar refrain over and over again: “I don’t think I’m an evangelical anymore. I want to follow Jesus, but I can’t be a part of this.”

I feel the same way.

Whether it’s over the denial of evolutionary science, continued opposition to gender equality in the church, an unhealthy alliance between religion and politics or the obsession with opposing gay marriage, evangelicalism is losing a generation to the culture wars.

A recent survey from Public Religion Research Institute revealed that nearly one-third of millennials who left their childhood faith did so because of “negative teachings” or “negative treatment” of gay and lesbian people.

Christians can disagree about what the Bible says (or doesn’t say) about same-sex marriage. This is not an issue of orthodoxy. But when we begin using child sponsorships as bargaining tools in our debates, we’ve lost the way of Jesus.

So my question for those evangelicals is this: Is it worth it?

Is a “victory” against gay marriage really worth leaving thousands of needy children without financial support?

Is a “victory” against gay marriage worth losing more young people to cynicism regarding the church?

Is a “victory” against gay marriage worth perpetuating the idea that evangelical Christians are at war with LGBT people?

And is a “victory” against gay marriage worth drowning out that quiet but persistent internal voice that asks, "what if we get this wrong?"

I, for one, am tired of arguing. I’m tired of trying to defend evangelicalism when its leaders behave indefensibly.

I’m going AWOL on evangelicalism's culture wars so I can get back to following Jesus among its many refugees: LGBT people, women called to ministry, artists, science-lovers, misfits, sinners, doubters, thinkers and “the least of these.”

I’m ready to stop waging war and start washing feet.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Culture wars • Discrimination • Ethics • evangelicals • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Opinion • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (2,141 Responses)
  1. happyfrenchman

    So the religious groups effectively used the poor children they allegedly help, as hostages. That is their style. The charity should have showed courage that more people would step up to fill the void. The void in the hearts of the religious groups is too big to fill.

    March 31, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
  2. ausphor

    In fighting among the Christian cults quickly dissipates when they have a common enemy, but then they get right back into the back stabbing and the no true Scotsman analogy. They do not follow the "Golden Rule" their sects are too far apart. Most are more concerned with the bottom line than with the salvation of the flock.

    March 31, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
  3. curtgustafson

    The comments on this blog show that most of the commenters are biggoted, judgmental, small minded people who don't know what they are talking about. Christians support Christian organizations. It's as simple as that. If an organization like World Vision makes a decision to go against the Bible then Christians will pull out their support. That exactly the way it should be. God doesn't support gay marriage and no organization that considers themselves to be Christian will either. I know there are a lot of closed minded people reading this that think anyone who disagrees with them is wrong. These people need to realize that they don't know everything and maybe it's ok to disagree once in a while. In any case even if you do disagree you don't have to be so judgmental and hateful about what you say about people. It's very hard to have any respect for anyone who does that.

    March 31, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
    • Doris

      That the organization may cater more to a certain brands of Christianity is not unusual.

      But please – "makes a decision to go against the Bible", "God doesn't support gay marriage "

      That's just your opinion. There are millions of other Christians that think otherwise. And so it goes with the over 41,000 sects of insanity.

      "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth." –Thomas Jefferson

      March 31, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "God doesn't support gay marriage and no organization that considers themselves to be Christian will either"

      I guess you'll have to explain that to the Anglican/Episcopalians.

      March 31, 2014 at 6:52 pm |
      • samsjmail

        Will he come to the reception? Open bar.

        March 31, 2014 at 7:05 pm |
      • Doris

        Or the ECLA. Some Anglicans. Then again if we look at Uganda, the Anglicans there is a completely different story. But it's all just part of the over 41,000 sects of insanity.

        March 31, 2014 at 7:14 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "The comments on this blog show that most of the commenters are biggoted, judgmental, small minded people who don't know what they are talking about."
      There are actually very few christians here.

      You said, "Christians support Christian organizations. It's as simple as that."
      Unfortunately you are right.

      You said, "If an organization like World Vision makes a decision to go against the Bible then Christians will pull out their support."
      You can take any position and find support for it by doing what every christian does. All you need is to pick and choose the verses that support your position and downplay those that don't. It's all about interpretation.

      You said, "That exactly the way it should be."
      I would hope that, eventually, as a society we can move past the Bronze Age superstitions, and base our actions on reason. That's the way it should be, in my humble opinion.

      You said, "God doesn't support gay marriage and no organization that considers themselves to be Christian will either."
      Bullshit. Your god is no more real than the Tooth Fairy. All you have is your interpretation of the ramblings of ignorant sheep herders.

      You said, "I know there are a lot of closed minded people reading this that think anyone who disagrees with them is wrong."
      Not everyone who disagrees with me is wrong, but you certainly are.

      You said, "In any case even if you do disagree you don't have to be so judgmental and hateful about what you say about people."
      You know what is really hateful? Discrimination based on a fairy tale.

      You said, "It's very hard to have any respect for anyone who does that."
      It's also hard to have any respect for adults that still cling to their imaginary friends. It's 2014, after all.

      March 31, 2014 at 7:43 pm |
    • Sara

      From the article: When Christians declare that they would rather withhold aid from people who need it than serve alongside gays and lesbians helping to provide that aid, something is wrong.
      Couldn't say it better myself. Helping people trumps being anti gay in my book.

      March 31, 2014 at 10:07 pm |
    • roberttcan

      "God doesn't support gay marriage" ...... Wow, I mean just Wow..... Whether you believe in God or not, most of us, whether atheist or religion understand the basic tenet that MAN CAN NEVER KNOW THE TRUE MIND OF GOD. Hence to state unequivocally what God wants is to be arrogant to the extreme .. almost blasphemous.

      March 31, 2014 at 11:56 pm |
  4. samsjmail

    Uh oh. Has anyone considered that a percentage of the needy children are bound to be gay?

    Is there some kind of test we could give them before we feed them, like, ........"Do you think Kathy Griffin is funny?"......or...."Can you tastefully match a striped shirt with a striped tie?"

    March 31, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
    • one24scale

      Well, if they we're not born gay (cough cough) they will be told they are gay over and over until they believe it.
      So to answer your question, I doubt their s-e-x-u-a-l- orientation matters at that age to the donors.
      Merely serving God as God has directed to take care of the children.

      I don't know all that much about God, but somehow I get the feeling he don't take kindly to those who neglect the little ones nor coheres their innocence.

      March 31, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
      • curtgustafson

        You even said it yourself. You don't know much about God. Why don't you find out before you start judging other people. Christians are usually more than happy to help gay people. But hypocritical organizations who claim to be Christian but don't stick to Christian values, not so much. And just for the record, while there were a few Christians who pulled their support because of the hypocricy of the organization it probably was a small number. I didn't pull my support but I did think they made a mistake.

        March 31, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
  5. snowr14

    How the Persecuted become the persecutors.

    Has anyone noticed the similarities between how Romans persecuted/oppressed christians in 1st century and how christians are persecuting/oppressing the LGBT today.

    Sure, there are no lions or crucifixions today. But they seem to be doing everything they can to make life not worth living for LGBT.

    March 31, 2014 at 6:24 pm |
    • samsjmail

      I think Christians have a persecution complex. They WANT to be persecuted. I think they were poking the lions with sticks.

      March 31, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
      • sam stone

        sams: it maks them feel more like eebus

        March 31, 2014 at 8:20 pm |
        • sam stone

          jeebus, that is

          March 31, 2014 at 8:21 pm |
    • guidedans

      Sorry, but that analogy is way off base.

      Christians may think hom.ose.xuality is a sin, but no Bible-believing Christian would subject hom.ose.xuals to the tortures that early Christians endured.

      Fighting against same-se.x marriage is no where near the same level as boiling someone in oil, burning them alive, stoning them, or banishing them to an island to die.

      If you want to see a really good analogy for Roman times, move to the middle east. Then you could see persecution in a similar fashion.

      Interesting how it's the non-Christian countries that really tend to persecute people because of their lifestyles.

      March 31, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
      • sam stone

        perhaps not, guidedans. but, many christians do seek to deny gays equal rights.

        March 31, 2014 at 8:19 pm |
      • whirlwitch

        Bible-believing Christians have called for gays to be stoned and put in concentration camps. They've also murdered them., sometimes by stoning, sometimes by setting them on fire. No boiling in oil that I'm aware of, but then the Romans didn't have guns, and didn't use the beat-and-tie-them-to-a-fence method (although crucifixion comes close). Read the dang news.

        All that aside, denying people equal rights is wrong regardless of what else is or is not being done. "It could be worse and it isn't" does not make something all right.

        April 1, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
  6. one24scale

    Good !
    Take a stand for what you believe in and stop caving into political correctness.
    All these company's going along for the ride based solely on business/money.

    March 31, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      Dodge v. Ford, 1911
      businesses must put profits first

      March 31, 2014 at 6:10 pm |
    • Doris

      Lol.. yeah the flip-flopping says something. I think also the position they started from and ended up on also says something...

      March 31, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
      • one24scale

        Reality hit home.
        They wanted to fit in and go along with the tide. They actually forgot who supports them and the starving children and it sure as h-ll ain't gay Parie.

        March 31, 2014 at 6:13 pm |
        • Bootyfunk


          March 31, 2014 at 6:17 pm |
        • kudlak

          Yet, the "tide" is still coming in. No stopping that, now is there?

          March 31, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
    • snowr14

      what actually happend here is the exact opposite. They declared what they actually believe in. But had to cave in to the threats against financial support.

      March 31, 2014 at 6:19 pm |
      • one24scale

        Well, without they's have to get a regular job right,,,oh the horror..

        March 31, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
        • snowr14

          what part of charitable work do you not understand? Clearly shows that you have NEVER worked in charity before.

          March 31, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
    • kudlak

      The funny thing about political correctness is that it's usually what we really need to do if we're interested in having a society free of bigotry.

      Some people just aren't interested in that kind of society, I suppose.

      March 31, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
    • stormkite

      Every time I hear a fundywhacko start going off about "Political Correctness" I realize that the things they're blathering about are the basic simple ideas I learned in Sunday School as a kid and every theology book and scripture I ever read.... and I realize that the fundywhackos are what the Teachings were all about. At the heart of every religion there's a guy you're not supposed to be. Guess who that is? Yup.

      April 1, 2014 at 12:14 am |
  7. snowr14

    To some, it doesn't matter if a charitable trust really helps the poor or uses the money to buy lizard skin shoes and million dollar mansions. As long as the trust supports their political ideology, they will keep giving the money.

    Totally in line with Christ's original teachings.. NOT!!

    Bet those evangelical christians are very proud of their "We will not allow you to support needy children unless you reject equality and discriminate against a part of population"

    March 31, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      anyone who actually followed the bible would be among the world's worst serial killers/mass murderers.

      March 31, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
    • kudlak

      Evangelical "charity" has, as it's primary aim, the evangelizing of the world. Minting new, or converting other Christians to their sect, that's the goal. "Giving aid" is just how they lure them in, and has always been the secondary function of this effort. Not many evangelical charities would continue to offer aid if they were not allowed to proselytize.

      March 31, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
    • curtgustafson

      Are you serious? Christians support organizations that have Christian values, not political values. It's as simple as that.

      March 31, 2014 at 6:49 pm |
      • kudlak

        "Christian values" are a particular subset of political values, as are "working-class values", "liberal values" and "middle-class values". Each represents political blocs that savvy politicians seek support from.

        March 31, 2014 at 7:04 pm |
  8. kingliberal

    As always, it's all about the money for these messengers of gawd.

    March 31, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
  9. samsjmail

    I will never donate to World Vision. They condone the use of electricity.

    March 31, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
  10. unsername1

    World Vision is suffering from religious cataracts.

    March 31, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
  11. Bootyfunk

    Jesus had long hair, a great tan, washboard abs, never got with a woman, hung out with 12 dudes...

    pretty sure Jesus would be VERY pro-g.ay marriage.

    March 31, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
    • samsjmail

      He seemed awfully "submissive" as well.

      March 31, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
  12. Bootyfunk

    this just shows how out of date the devoutly religious are.

    modern ethics > biblical morals

    why would you think following a 2k year old book that tells you how to sell your own daughter into slavery is the best guide for good morals/ethics? there have been vast improvements in ethics since the bible. according to the bible, non-virgin brides are to be stoned to death on their father's doorstep - sound like something that fits into modern society? the bible is outdated as a guide for good living.

    March 31, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
    • samsjmail

      The Old Testament is only for Jews. Only Jews are allowed to sell their daughters into slavery.

      At least that's how it has been explained to me.

      March 31, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
      • samsjmail

        On the other hand, don't ask me why evangelicals think it is so important to post the Ten Commandments in public buildings, since they are only for Jews. I don't know that one.

        March 31, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          because it's not only for jews. that's just not correct.

          March 31, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          yeah, that's an excuse christians make so they don't have to deal with the cruelty of the OT. but they constantly refer to things like the 10 commandments, which are OT. as i said, jesus says you must follow the OT, so not sure how they think they don't.

          March 31, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
        • henrystockwell

          I'm of the same belief. Jesus spoke mostly to fellow Jews, so of course He's going to say that one should follow the Old Testament.

          March 31, 2014 at 6:16 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          henry, same belief as...?

          March 31, 2014 at 6:18 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        absolutely wrong. the old testament is just as binding as the new testament. jesus himself said you are not to drop a single letter from the OT. if they differ, you are supposed to go by the NT, but the OT isn't only for jews. otherwise, tell me why christians follow the 10 commandments? they are OT.

        March 31, 2014 at 6:03 pm |
        • samsjmail

          So you disagree with the Christians who told me that it was perfectly ok for them to eat shell fish, cut their beards, and covet their neighbor's slave, even though the Old Testament forbids it?

          March 31, 2014 at 6:10 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          they are interpreting the bible, as christians often do, to approve of their lifestyle. they like to eat shellfish, so they ignore that part and say, 'well, this was written a long time ago when eating shellfish in the desert was dangerous." but they say they condemn h.omos.exuality because it's in the bible. see, they pick what they like and discard what they don't.

          in matthew 5:18, jesus makes it very clear christians are to follow the OT. they recant the stories from the OT. they follow the 10 commandments. they get most of their g.ay condemnation from the OT. then they say they don't have to follow the OT? lol.

          March 31, 2014 at 6:15 pm |
      • observer


        Yes. They are the ones who are supposed to go around killing anyone who works on the Sabbath.

        March 31, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
  13. samsjmail

    Help! My statue is bleeding! What should I do?

    March 31, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
    • doobzz

      Put a video of it on YouTube. Put a collection plate in front of it.

      I'll take my 10% consultation fee in cash.

      March 31, 2014 at 5:56 pm |
      • samsjmail

        Is that you, Joel Osteen?

        March 31, 2014 at 6:02 pm |
        • ausphor

          First of all do not panic. Taste the fluid to see if is actually blood or a decent Chianti. If blood you have to consider a tourniquet to stop the flow, or you could just let the damn thing just bleed to death again and again and.....

          March 31, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
        • doobzz

          LOL! Osteen would demand 25%.

          March 31, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
    • kingliberal

      I would sell it on Ebay. Some nutbag will give you a buttload of money for it.

      March 31, 2014 at 6:10 pm |
  14. nhkeener

    Rachel, you speak for untold thousands of us who have migrated to the Mainline Church. The WV fiasco is sad and surreal...regretfully more like something one would have read in Holy Fool; the novel written by Harold Fickett some thirty years ago. I suggest we not surrender the word for Good News to "Evangelicals" and by default grant
    them sole ownership. It is almost beyond belief that their theology and morality trump justice–the redemptive essence of the gospel.

    March 31, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
  15. Katie

    Why are we drawing a false dichotomy here?

    Why are we speaking as if the only two options are to support the LGBT lifestyle and help the poor, or to disagree with the LBGT lifestyle and abandon the poor?

    Who is to say that these people withdrawing their sponsorship from children through a particular organization have not gone on to help the poor in other ways? Perhaps more local ways?

    Yes, we often focus on the poor in counties far away from us, but what about the poor right down the street?

    It's true that many live in affluent neighborhoods, but it doesn't take too long to find someone in need. I have family that have to walk a half an hour to work because they don't have a car. Not half an hour away from me are countless rescue missions and shelters. I see the homeless lying on vents in the city in the winter to keep warm. There are countless people all around us that we can choose to "sponsor" every time God presents us an opportunity.

    Why are we acting like giving to the poor needs to be done through some organization? Jesus never mentioned one, that I'm aware of. It seemed a lot more personal when He spoke of giving. As in, we actually might see a child who is thirsty, and might decide to give them the cup of water we had been carrying along for ourselves.

    Jesus said, "The poor you have with you always. But me you have not always."

    Am I saying we should not help the poor? Absolutely not. I am a firm believer in doing all I can with the resources God has given me (which isn't much, but is abundantly more than I deserve) to help those in need.

    Am I saying we should shun the LGBT community? No, not at all. No matter what your stance on the LBGT lifestyle, Jesus showed love to everyone He ministered to. We can either lovingly but firmly express are disapproval, or lovingly embrace something.

    We will all be accountable to our Master for our stance on these issues– what we have done with what we have been given, for to whom much has been given, much shall be required. Everyone reading this blog has access to the Bible, because everyone reading this blog has access to the internet. We have all been given much.

    So what is my point?

    Only to ask that we please not draw lines where there are none– one's support or disapproval of a lifestyle does not necessarily mean they are not doing their best to follow Jesus' commands– including commands such as giving to the poor.

    March 31, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
    • observer

      "one's support or disapproval of a lifestyle does not necessarily mean they are not doing their best to follow Jesus' commands"

      Tell us EVERYTHING Jesus said about the gay "lifestyle". He had plenty bad to say about heteros. This should be interesting.

      March 31, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
      • Katie

        Based on the tone of your comment, I am guessing you are not actually asking for information on Jesus' opinion of the LGBT lifestyle with any intention of studying it with an open mind.

        I am also guessing you have already made assumptions about my stance on the LGBT lifestyle, and how many friends and family I have who participate in the LGBT lifestyle. I don't know what those assumptions are, but judging by your tone, I am fairly certain your assumptions are incorrect.

        This is a much deeper issue that to simply "show me the verse where it says ___________." This involves your opinion on the inspiration of Scripture, the canonical books, the story of the Bible as a whole... not much will be accomplished on a comment on a blog post. If you're really interested in knowing my personal beliefs, feel free to send me a message.

        My point is not to affirm or denounce a particular lifestyle. My point is to acknowledge that there are people on both sides of this issue who love Jesus, who do their best to follow Him, and who also care deeply about the poor.

        Romans 14:4: "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand."

        March 31, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
        • observer


          "Tell us EVERYTHING Jesus said about the gay "lifestyle". He had plenty bad to say about heteros. This should be interesting."

          That was EXACTLY what I said. You can try to change the topic to some fantasy about my trying to figure out "how many friends and family I have who participate in the LGBT lifestyle", but we both KNOW you are just stalling.

          So what was the answer?

          March 31, 2014 at 5:49 pm |
        • Doris

          Katie quote Romans. How quaint. Do you know who really authored Peter 2, Katie, where Peter allegedly give his stamp of approval for Paul's works? If you can fill us all in on that, then.... well you know if you had a way of really knowing, all kinds of famous people will be calling you to find out how you found out......you would be on the news later tonight with such a revelation......

          March 31, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
        • kudlak

          "My point is to acknowledge that there are people on both sides of this issue who love Jesus, who do their best to follow Him, and who also care deeply about the poor."
          So, you're saying that Jesus would have said "Accept gays, or persecute them. Either is fine as long as you're trying your best to guess what I think about the subject."?

          March 31, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
        • kudlak

          There were also people on both sides of the slavery issue who loved Jesus, and who did their best to follow him. Are you saying that both sides of issues like this are always equally justified?

          March 31, 2014 at 6:59 pm |
      • guidedans

        Hey observer,

        Most Christians believe Jesus is God. Thus everything that God says in the Old Testament could be attributed to Jesus. I am sure you have read all the commandments about weird stuff from Deuteronomy and Leviticus.

        No one is so good that they can live up to the standard set by the law. Jesus makes that very clear to the Pharisees of his time, who were thought to be the spiritual leaders.

        The Bible is pretty clear on the se.xual immorality, of which hom.ose.xuality is a part. I don't think you will find too many Bible-believing Christians that believe hom.ose.xuality is not a sin.

        I have said this before, but everyone is a sinner and everyone has their personal walk to take with God. Jesus came to save us from sin, not to rub our sin in our face.

        March 31, 2014 at 7:32 pm |
    • ausphor

      Jesus is a blackmailer just like the evangie crowd. Do as I tell you or I shall withdraw my love. Many verses in the bible that offer paradise but you damn well better believe, you don't have to behave, just repent, what nonsense. See john 3:16, a load of whoop ass.

      March 31, 2014 at 5:42 pm |
    • Doris

      Sorry, but the lines, in a sense, were drawn long ago. The divisions in Christianity are those lines. There number of lines continue to grow. And Christians all need to spread the word, so they will continue to step on each others' toes as much as on the toes of non-Christians. That's the way they are.

      "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

      [If] the nature of... government [were] a subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the] clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of liberty only by the help of a tow-rope." –Thomas Jefferson

      "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution." –James Madison

      "I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history." –John Adams

      March 31, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
    • sam stone

      "We will all be accountable to our Master for our stance on these issues"

      Based on what?

      March 31, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "one's support or disapproval of a lifestyle"
      +++ it's NOT a lifestyle. it's not like choosing to be goth or punk. being g.ay is part of who they are as a person, similar to how being straight is part of who you are. so that's the difference. it's not like being prejudice against someone because they like to hunt and you're against it - it's like being prejudice against someone because they are asian, something they are and can't change.

      March 31, 2014 at 5:53 pm |
    • transframer

      observer, ausphor, Doris:

      You are just sidestepping and showing your venom on a very warm and peaceful message. At least have the decency to open new threads if you really want answers

      March 31, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
      • Doris

        I addressed the point directly. I believe it was about lines being drawn, was it not?

        March 31, 2014 at 6:03 pm |
    • Akira

      How long have you participated in the heterosexual lifestyle?

      Nope. It looks just as absurd as LBGT lifestyle.

      In other words, it's not a lifestyle; it's intrinsically who we are as individuals.

      Just my two cents.

      March 31, 2014 at 6:09 pm |
    • snowr14

      Say you are making regular charitable contribution to an organization and are COMPLETELY aware of how they are using that money to support poor.

      would you personally stop your regular contribution the day after they make a "support for LGBT" comment? Knowing full well that they would not have enough funds to continue their work?

      March 31, 2014 at 6:15 pm |
  16. Doris

    I'll draw a quasi graphic representation here with the earliest writings of interest at the top:

    GOSPELS (authorship unknown)
    Paul's letters
    Peter's affirmation of Paul's writings as "the Word" in Peter 2 (most Biblical scholars agree Peter did not author Peter 2)
    hearsay "historians"

    March 31, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
    • colin31714

      Actually, the Pauline Epistles (at least the real ones) predate the canonical gospels. Paul wrote in the 50s. The earliest canonical gospel, Mark, was written about 70 AD. The poster "Reality" has regularly posted the likely chronology. Here is a copy

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative – supposed, but never proven. Speculative as to whether it ever existed.
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q. Very likely existed.
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

      Interestingly, of the 13 Pauline Epistles only 6-9 were written by PAul. 3 of the rest (Ti.tus, 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy) are certain forgeries under his name. 3 others (I forget which) are possible forgeries under his name. Further, neither of the Petrine Epistles were written by Peter and the 3 Epistles of John were written by a totally unknown John long after the Apostle John (to whom they are regularly attributed) was dead.

      Just FYI.

      March 31, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
      • Doris

        "Actually, the Pauline Epistles (at least the real ones) predate the canonical gospels."

        True – good point. I was thinking of Paul's life in relation to the stories' subject matter, but that is an important distinction.
        Regardless – there is not a lot of good evidence for the stories, nor for Paul's words to be taken as seriously as they are.

        March 31, 2014 at 5:31 pm |
        • G to the T

          I think it's also important because it means that Paul had no access to these stories (and it shows in his variance to what the gospels portray in several instances) so trying to interpret the 4 gospels through Paul's theology (then add John's apocalypse) and you end up with a very paradoxical belief system.

          April 1, 2014 at 10:23 am |
  17. neverbeenhappieratheist

    I've read the article twice now and I still can't find anywhere in it that could be considered acknowledging that evangelicals have won anything. They were able to get World Vision to reverse a decision but how exactly is that winning? And the rest confirms that the evangelicals have lost and are continuing to lose. They stand with their near sieg heil salute of the "L" to their foreheads and march ever onward into irrelevance.

    March 31, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
    • Akira

      It would help if the headline writers actually read the article they are attempting to headline.

      March 31, 2014 at 5:03 pm |
    • kudlak

      Yeah, it's not like they can claim any kind of moral victory, or even a defence of "truth" here. They held children's lives over the heads of World Vision, proving yet again that their charity is all about minting new Christians and holding onto the ones they have than actually helping people.

      March 31, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
  18. Reality

    Rachel noted at the end of her comments:

    "I’m ready to stop waging war and start washing feet."

    But did her Jesus actually wash his disciples' feet? As per a thorough analysis by Professor Gerd Ludemann (Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 526-531), he did not.

    Once again, John's gospel is the least historic of the four gospels. Unfortunately Rachel continues to us passages from the NT that are historically nil but considering her education, that is to be expected and disturbing at the same time.

    March 31, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
    • ausphor

      I though I read somewhere that Jesus was into the oral tradition when dealing with the disciples appendages.

      March 31, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
    • Sara

      But the sentiment was a good one. Seems kind of irrelevant whether Jesus washed feet or not.

      March 31, 2014 at 10:22 pm |
    • Reality

      Oops, make that "Rachel continues to post passages."

      And washing the feet of others? What exactly does that do for a person other than exposing the washer to germs and odors?

      March 31, 2014 at 11:23 pm |
  19. guidedans

    Hom.ose.xuality will always be a sin. You can't get around that. It is in the Bible.

    It is not the only sin however, and to focus on it as especially bad in any way is to preach falsehood. Christians should never support sin, but that does not mean bagging on the people trapped in bondage to that sin.

    We all have our battles, some of use are addicted to drugs, others are addicted to por.nography, so people look lustfully at women who are not their wives, and other are attracted to members of the same gender.

    Sin is sin and John 3:17 says, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." The law is meant to show us how far we have fallen from it, and to demonstrate that we all need a savior to justify us in the eyes of God. We are all sinners and we all need Jesus to redeem us.

    Hom.ose.xuality will always be a sin, but there are better ways of confronting that issue than many of the actions taken at the moment.

    March 31, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      How about adultery? Jesus actually mentioned that one.

      March 31, 2014 at 4:54 pm |
      • guidedans


        That's what I am saying. Adultery is a sin and it covers a broad spectrum of behavior from just looking at a woman in lust to divorcing and remarrying. Adultery is as bad a sin as hom.ose.xuality, and the Church needs to recognize that more publicly than they have done. In the end, sin is a why Jesus came to the world. We are all sinners and we all fall short of the Glory of God. We need Jesus to bridge the gap.

        March 31, 2014 at 6:06 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          The point is (and one made by Ms. Held Evans) that World Vision has not restrictions on hiring people who have remarried. So why discriminate against gays?

          March 31, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
        • guidedans

          I would agree with the author on that. I think it is misguided to focus on one sin over others. If you are going to claim moral convictions as a reason for acting, or not acting, you should do so uniformly.

          What should be noted here however, is that hom.ose.uality will never be an OK thing for a Christian to take part in, just like premarital se.x will never be an OK thing for a Christian to take part in.

          Will Christians do those things? Yes. Is it OK? No. But that is why we need Jesus. We need Him to save us from our sins.

          March 31, 2014 at 7:06 pm |
        • Reality

          Of course, those straights and gays who belong to Abrahamic religions supposedly abide by the rules of no adu-ltery or for-nication allowed.

          March 31, 2014 at 11:37 pm |
        • Reality

          Jesus saving us from our sins??? Give us a break !!!

          Some words of wisdom from one who has studied the historic Jesus in some detail:

          (from Professor Crossan's book, "Who is Jesus" co-authored with Richard Watts)

          "Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us."

          "Traditionally, Christians have said, 'See how Christ's passion was foretold by the prophets." Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus' last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God."

          "In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life."

          March 31, 2014 at 11:41 pm |
        • roberttcan

          It is sad that people as lacking in critical thought as you exist in the world. Truly sad.

          April 1, 2014 at 12:10 am |
        • hotairace

          robetcans, you are talking about guidedans, right?

          April 1, 2014 at 12:15 am |
        • hotairace

          Apologies for messing up your name!

          April 1, 2014 at 12:16 am |
    • Reality

      o "Abrahamics" believe that their god created all of us and of course that includes the g-ay members of the human race. Also, those who have studied ho-mo-se-xuality have determined that there is no choice involved therefore ga-ys are ga-y because god made them that way. So how is it a sin??

      To wit:

      1. The Royal College of Psy-chiatrists stated in 2007:

      “ Despite almost a century of psy-choanalytic and psy-chological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heteros-exual or hom-ose-xual orientation. It would appear that s-exual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of ge-netic factors and the early ut-erine environment. Se-xual orientation is therefore not a choice.[60] "

      2. "Garcia-Falgueras and Swaab state in the abstract of their 2010 study, "The fe-tal brain develops during the intraut-erine period in the male direction through a direct action of tes-tosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hor-mone surge. In this way, our gender identi-ty (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and s-exual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender ident–ity or s-exual orientation."[8

      3. See also the From the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”
      "Most scientists who study human se-xuality agree that gay people are born that way. But that consensus raises an evolutionary puzzle: How do genes associated with h-omose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?"

      March 31, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
      • guidedans


        You say, "those who have studied ho.mo.se.xuality have determined that there is no choice involved therefore ga.ys are ga.y because god made them that way. So how is it a sin??"

        I agree that hom.ose.xuals don't have a choice on whom they are attracted to, but they do have a choice to act on that attraction. Hete.ros.exuals are in a similar boat mind you, we are all attracted to members of the opposite s.ex, but we are forb.idden from having se.x with anyone but our wives (or husbands). There are a lot of things that seem natural, but are sins.

        Also, God did not make us like this. God made us perfect, and we fell from grace. God gave us the law to show us what the standard of perfection was and everyone who has ever existed save for Jesus has fallen short of that standard.

        We are all sinners. We all need Jesus.

        March 31, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
    • SeaVik

      Teaching children to be Christians is the real sin. It always will be a sin to do that to children.

      March 31, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
      • mythless

        It's simply child abuse.

        March 31, 2014 at 6:19 pm |
    • Doris

      Christianity will always be divided and a menace to social progress.

      Hypocrisy and self-righteousness based on writings of unknown authorship.

      March 31, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
    • Akira

      Please tell me the exact verse that Jesus said anything about homosexuals.

      March 31, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
      • cnnobserver

        Matthew 19:12

        March 31, 2014 at 6:37 pm |
        • observer


          Do you have any idea what a EUNUCH is?

          March 31, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
        • guidedans

          I guess Jesus did say, "If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."

          Maybe that goes for the Eunich's stuff too...

          March 31, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
        • guidedans

          And just so I am not condoning self-mutilation, Jesus was speaking figuratively. He was using an example to demonstrate that your eternal salvation is worth a finite amount of suffering.

          March 31, 2014 at 6:58 pm |
      • guidedans

        Jesus is God, Akira.

        Everywhere where God give the law to man, that is Jesus talking.

        It is very evident in the Bible that se.xual immorality of all types was treated as a sin. We should not target one as exceptionally bad. They all are.

        Here's some exact verses that we should spend more time on:
        Matthew 7:4-5
        Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

        March 31, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
        • Doris

          Why spend time on something for which the authorship is unknown?

          March 31, 2014 at 7:34 pm |
    • bostontola

      I think that is a reasonable perspective for a Christian to take. I do have a question:

      Are there really some men that never look lustfully at women who are not their wives? If so, I feel sorry for them. That is much more unnatural than ho.mose.xuality.

      March 31, 2014 at 5:09 pm |
      • guidedans

        Hi Boston.

        You are exactly correct. I doubt any man except for Jesus never looked lustfully at a non-wife woman of his.

        That is the whole point. We are all sinners. Jesus came to redeem us from our sin.

        March 31, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Hom.ose.xuality will always be a sin. You can't get around that. It is in the Bible."
      I have a real easy fix. Simply recognize the bible for what it is and chuck it with the other mythology. Basing life changing decisions on such a piece of garbage is moronic. Forcing others to change their lives based on your interpretation of such nonsense is immoral and reprehensible.

      While you are free to cling to your infantile beliefs, can you please let the sane part of society live in reality?

      March 31, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
      • guidedans

        You use a lot of colorful adjectives.

        God loves you.

        March 31, 2014 at 6:51 pm |
        • LinCA


          You said, "God loves you."
          I guess that since it only exists in your head, you'd be the only one to know what it loves. But what makes you think I care about who or what your imaginary friend loves?

          With Easter right around the corner, I'd be far more interested to know if the Easter Bunny loves me. Do you have any insight in that?

          March 31, 2014 at 7:26 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Hom.ose.xuality will always be a sin. You can't get around that. It is in the Bible."

      Always is a long time.

      When the bible is relegated to the dust bin of history, like other sacred texts, the idea of "sin" will be there too

      March 31, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
      • guidedans

        It's funny you should say that. I would argue that sin is defined by the Bible and that it is a concept (that is, a thought, not an thing).

        Concepts are eternal and the concepts in the Bible will always be concepts even if you burned every Bible on Earth.

        What wont last forever is the people who burn those Bibles. People, books, things are temporary. Concepts are forever.

        March 31, 2014 at 6:49 pm |
        • tallulah131

          It doesn't matter what is written in the bible; it can be and has been interpreted to support any number of ideas. Religion changes with society, otherwise it dies. Simple as that.

          March 31, 2014 at 10:38 pm |
    • tallulah131

      Unless someone actually provides evidence of the existence of the christian god and evidence that the bible is indeed his word, the bible remains a work of fiction. I will trust science and the personal experiences of my gay friends and acquaintances, which show that homosexuality is innate and not a choice. Religion, on the other hand is indeed a choice. Therefore bigotry based on religion is immoral and wrong.

      March 31, 2014 at 10:31 pm |
  20. bostontola

    People in one sect of a religion behave towards other sects of that religion in a very similar way as people in one religion behave towards other religions.

    Just read the various comments on this page. One set of Christians laud the charity for sticking to their beliefs, others say they are abusing the bible.

    It is amazing how fine you can cut it, but people will splinter into finer and finer groups, each with the Truth. But that Truth is irreconcilably different. Someone is wrong. But God is AWOL, why isn't He here to settle these disputes.

    All the people in each sect loves Jesus, why not do something to get the 40,000 sects down to 1?

    March 31, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
    • ausphor

      I fear you are understating the number of sects when you have Theo and Dala... who are sects onto themselves. Getting everyone on earth just getting along is impossible, is there any religion that does not bicker among themselves but bands together in loose affiliation to ward off the heathens from another religion? Dominance basic mammalian behaviour.

      March 31, 2014 at 4:54 pm |
      • bostontola

        I agree. My main point was that God was not very shy back in the day, He was quite flamboyant in fact. Now, when they need Him most to resolve all this fractionation, He is AWOL. I would think that should make them sus.picious.

        March 31, 2014 at 5:03 pm |
        • ausphor

          Yes the god of old seems to have very low self esteem and needed unrelenting praise to bolster his/her ego and very petulant and vindictive if dissed in any way, could have used therapy. Oh well the Christians are stuck with what they have got, better gods out there if they just shopped around.

          March 31, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yes, the Emo Philips joke:

      Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!"
      He said, "Nobody loves me."
      I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"
      He said, "Yes."
      I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?"
      He said, "A Christian."
      I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?"
      He said, "Protestant."
      I said, "Me, too! What franchise?"
      He said, "Baptist."
      I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?"
      He said, "Northern Baptist."
      I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"
      He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist."
      I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region."
      I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?"
      He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912."
      I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.

      March 31, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
      • bostontola

        Precisely. It's funny to me to see it in action on this blog in real time.

        March 31, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
        • ausphor

          And yet you have a quite reasonable believer like Dalla.. never making an adverse comment against the creationist nutters like theo, vic, or fred et al, sticking together at all costs against the supposed enemy.

          March 31, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
        • one24scale

          Those nutters have been thoroughly emancipated in Reddit and the infowars. Some even beliving their baby boom parents are responsible for them still living at home in their 30's.

          March 31, 2014 at 6:28 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.