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October 12th, 2010
07:30 AM ET

My Take: People of faith must preach love in the face of anti-LGBT hate

Editor's Note: The Rev. Rebecca Voelkel is the Faith Work Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

By Rev. Rebecca Voelkel , Special to CNN

Before he committed suicide, a high school friend of mine wrote pages and pages in his journal about his turmoil and struggle with his church’s teaching that he, as a gay man, was sick, sinful and an abomination. Finally, it was simply too much for his 15-year-old soul to endure.

His experience has been writ large in recent weeks as we’ve seen a national spate of suicides caused by bullying - in school and church.

We’ve seen brutal attacks on gay men in New York City, while New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino verbally attacked the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community with divisive, hateful remarks. Threats to LGBT people have become an epidemic.

As a pastor who claims the life and ministry of Jesus as her model, I need to say that this is simply unacceptable. Preaching hate from our pulpits, in our politics, or to our pupils is never acceptable. It literally endangers lives. And the life and ministry of Jesus always stands against that which hates, hurts or destroys.

Last weekend, at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Believe Out Loud Power Summit in Orlando, Fla., more than 300 Christian leaders gathered to stand against this kind of violence and to proclaim the extravagant welcome and inclusive justice of the gospel.

Through worship, Bible study and teaching, participants affirmed a vision - rooted in Jesus’ life and ministry - of a church whose primary mission is proclaiming God’s love for all people, and a practicing justice that is specific, particular and concrete. Participants prepared themselves for action within their churches and society. This includes:

• Creating a church that ordains all who have a call and a commitment to ministry.

• Building a church in which all the sacraments are for all the baptized.

• Embodying a church that celebrates love — in all its forms — including in blessing the marriages of same-sex couples.

• Being a church that advocates tirelessly for the human and civil rights of all people — including for housing, employment, health care, immigration and marriage equality.

We strive for these goals because Jesus calls us to enter into real people’s lives and show God’s love in real ways. That can literally save lives.

About a year ago, a United Methodist pastor in Florida made the courageous decision to proclaim God’s specific and concrete love for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. And he got a lot of negative pushback. But he persisted, because he knew this persistent love is what he is called by God to do.

Last week, a young man from his congregation who had left for college called and asked him for a meeting. When they finally sat down, the young man said to him, “I am a gay man and I’m alive today because of you.” That is the power of the life-saving gospel of Christ.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rebecca Voelkel.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Gay rights • Homosexuality

soundoff (162 Responses)
  1. lordkid

    Sometime some of us do SkylarK. GOD is LOVE, and LOVE is of GOD. Question. If you don't know GOD, how can you truely LOVE someone apart from GOD. If GOD is LOVE. And he is LOVE, since he first made us. He must LOVE us because a lot of us human are not worthy of any LOVE, but he do LOVE them too...

    October 12, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      I love my family. I do not believe in a deity.

      October 12, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
    • Raison

      Lord, lordkid, I do not believe that there is anyone who is unworthy of love. Yet I have this opinion from out of my reasoning skills. Mental error is just that. Our brains are not completely to be relied upon. Humanity has a long way to go before we are free from the pitfalls of delusional thinking and the organic vulnerabilities that lead to delusional thinking.
      My anger at evil is a touchy thing. Sometimes it "gets the better of me".
      But my love for everyone makes me hate religious delusions at a comparable level of intensity.
      I like you, but I wish you were not so gullible. My father was cheated and defrauded many times by unscrupulous people, as was my grandfather. I do not like gullibility. I ask that you be cynical and skeptical. Test that stuff. Do it for love.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      What gives you knowledge of God, you can't possibly know about anything creature so apart from us. For instance; is God a living thing, if so define what you mean by living? You keep saying God is loving but you never explained what you mean by God is loving (at least provide examples of Gods love). All of your feelings are internal to you. It's not different than a 9 year saying he loves Santa, doesn't make Santa real, or does it?

      October 12, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  2. Skylark

    So the faithful needing reminding or prompting to preach love? Kinda says a mouthful...

    October 12, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      Nailed it.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Selfish Gene

      Hey Gene..! Careful, if you didn't know yet, 'some' of the radical Christian fundies get just a little up-tight when someone uses any word or phase with the word *nail/s* in it...! 🙂

      October 12, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  3. lordkid

    NL we can do this all day. Just do what is right in GOD eyes, He do forgive SIN which we all are guilty of. That is what his GRACE and MERCY is all about.

    October 12, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
    • Raison

      @lordkid

      Where are God's eyes and how do you really know what is "right" in them? The poetic and mystical words of other "sinners"??

      October 12, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
    • Mike

      Really is that the best argument you have? Do you take the phrase "the sunrise is at 5 am and the sunset is at 5 pm that literal too?

      October 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Mike

      O.K.... Now, I am assuming that you are posting against @Raison, if not, my apologies.. well, maybe not anyway.

      Because, you are one of the, if not *the* most 'Christian Biblical Literalists' on these blogs. Now, you are questioning an interpretation on literalism...? Now that doesn't make much sense to me.

      See, it comes back to your continuing argument that you are *sure* and that your assumption=fact.

      Just an observation. Some, might even call what you did in your post 'hypocrisy.'

      October 12, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  4. salmos8318

    One additional point (apologize for the length of prev post): Everything that Satan has caused God will undo. Yes, all the suffering and pain and death... tons of senseless death throughout those 6000 yrs... will be undone. All those who have died will be resurrected. Many reasoning people like yourself find it hard to reconcile a supposedly loving God with one that allows for so much suffering and pain. Well, like a loving parent that stands by watching their kids go through a painful operation knowing that they will come out of it much better later... our Creator is allowing this time of suffering but he has all intention of setting things straight. Now, how would you feel if other parents watching said about you "he doesn't really love his kid... why look at all the pain and suffering he's kid is going through and he's not doing anything about it!"? The claims that God doesn't love us are slanderous and untrue and unjust and totally not like God's personality at all.

    That is precisely why Jesus taught us to pray for God's Kingdom... his will be done on earth... and it will be in due time... it wont be late (it is not our timetable but God's). To be a subject of that kingdom (or government) we need to know it's rules/laws. A good start is learning about his name... also part of that model prayer... let your name be sanctified (or hallowed; or, let everything that has been unjustly said about you be fixed)... PSALM 83:18 "That people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, You alone are the Most High over all the earth."

    Why is it important that we know and use God's name?:
    "At that time those in fear [not morbid fear, but a reverential one] of Jehovah spoke with one another, each one with his companion, and Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance began to be written up before him for those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name." MAL 3:16

    I invite you to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    October 12, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  5. Tom

    When Jesus was confronted with a sinful woman, he said, "he who is without sin, let him first cast a stone at her." All the people walked away, condemned by their own conscience. Then the Savior told the woman that he didn't condemn her but he didn't condone her sins either. He told her to "go, and sin no more." That's the key to true Christian love. We don't have to accept the sin to love the sinner.

    October 12, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
    • Raison

      Neither do we have to accept sociopathic actions when loving people. Religion is delusional. Your "sin" is an assertion without merit because the words they are based on are without merit.
      I do not need "holy writ" to know that murder is insane while desiring that the murderer be healed of insanity.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Raison

      Well said....

      October 12, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  6. lordkid

    I WILL ALWAYS LOVE HIM AND LOVE HIM MORE THAT THAN ANYTHING OR ANYBODY ON THIS EARTH. THAT IS THE WAY WE ARE TO LOVE GOD. LOVE HIM MORE THAN YOUR MOTHER, FATHER, SISTER, BROTHER, DOG, CAT AND ANYTHING ELSE COMBINED. LOVE HIM WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT.

    October 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
    • Raison

      @lordkid
      I almost gave a sermon once using words similar to your post. Love can be one of the best feelings in the world. Sometimes my love for everyone in the world is overwhelming and frustrating to an amazing degree.

      If God exists, and is truly good, how could anyone not love that? But some people think that loving their deity of choice also means that they must love whatever anyone else puts forth as supposedly coming from that deity – such as "holy" books.
      Then we see justifications for every type of evil action under color of the "words" of this deity who did not write these "words".
      Do you see what I am talking about?

      Someone comes up to you and says that "God" told them to murder their family because their family was violating some "law" written by "inspired" people. It does not seem to matter that these "laws" are obviously uninspired, because the claim that they WERE inspired is NEVER TESTED OR CHALLENGED.

      Blind faith in the words of others has led to people following other people, like Hitler, instead of seeking the truth of those words and doing their best to make sure those words are actually from "God" or just another person.....

      Test the words and do it with absolute honesty and susp-icion, and you'll find that following a "mantra", dogma, or other "holy" saying is only leading you into the hands of evil humans.
      If you seek God, do not seek him amongst the pages and pages of silly words written by other people like yourself.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
    • Morgan

      @lordkid,

      I've been watching your posts with some amusement. You've basically been parrotting the phrases you've heard during and since your conversion experience and ignoring any semblance of reasoned debate. At length you resort to the online equivalent of putting your hands over your ears and shouting your beliefs as loud as you can to make the bad man who makes you think go away.

      I was just like that.

      I got over it.

      You can to, and hopefully, once you grow a bit, you will.

      I'm not saying give up your faith, not at all. I'm saying hold your faith deeply and personally, and believe because YOU think it's right, not because all your friends think it's right, or some guy who says he knows what happens after you die says so. Your faith should be strong enough to survive questioning and rooted in your intellect as much as your heart. If it's not, then maybe it's not the right faith for you.

      Morgan

      October 18, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  7. lordkid

    NL GOD will let you believe or say whatever you like, that is what free will is all about. But beware of your consequences you will face for disobeying THE CREATOR of the UNIVERSE. We all have the right either to believe are don't believe. I have had a personal experience with him in 1976 that I cannot deny. So with all my heart, soul and mind I KNOW HE IS REAL. He revealed himself to me in a way i am so glad he did. The way he did it as I think about it now blows my mind, but again I think Him for choosing me. We christian who truly christian are blessed people. Something non-christian can never understand.

    October 12, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
    • NL

      I knew God was real back in '76 too, and I do understand how you now feel, because I use to feel that way myself. I learned over time not to trust every impulse I ever had just because I was certain that I was on the side of the angels. Just because you KNOW that you're saved doesn't mean that evil thoughts don't cross your mind, right? Perhaps, then, you should also beware the consequences of your actions?

      October 12, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
    • Respondez

      lordkid,

      Nice for you that you were 'chosen', I suppose. "God" just doesn't like me, I guess. He knows where I am, my address, phone number, email - everything - according to you all; but he never writes, phones or appears in my family room.

      And please don't tell me that I have to SEEK him or else he won't show... been there, done that for many years... got over it. People can talk themselves into believing just about anything if they put their mind to it - but it doesn't make it true.

      October 12, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Respondez,
      Did you ever have a friend that you never invite over…never talk to….never thank for all he’s given you….and then wonder why you never see him in your life?

      October 12, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
    • Respondez

      CatholicMom,

      "Did you ever have a friend that you never invite over..."

      Why do you assign such petty, human characteristics to this supposed "Perfect Super-Being"?

      I can pretend and imagine that this being is all around all the time - and I did so for many years - but there is no one there. It is all in your imagination. You are talking to yourself.

      Nothing is different without that belief. I had happiness and sadness then, successes and failures, highs and lows, beauty and horror, warmth and coolness, all things in exactly the same measure as I do now. And since absolutely nothing is known about a supposed afterlife, I do not concern myself with unfounded speculation.

      October 12, 2010 at 10:06 pm |
  8. Frank

    That's a scary looking picture.

    October 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
  9. lordkid

    JohnQuest their are GODLY Spirits ANGELS and Unclean spirits demonic in nature. If you are not a Saved person in Christ you are probably dealing with and unclean spirit. GOD said test the spirits. If you don't know GOD you can't test anything, you belong to satan and his family apart from CHRIST. JESUS CHRIST said his people know his voice and follow him, do you know his voice? If you did you would know who you are talking too. We either belong to GOD through his Son JESUS CHRIST, if not satan.

    October 12, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
    • Raison

      @lordkid

      You said, "GOD said test the spirits."
      But "God" is supposed to be a spirit, too.
      "Thou shalt not put the Lord thy God to the test" is another saying.

      There is a contradiction here. I would like to know what you think of it.
      To test is to apply reasoning and logic upon the available evidence, yet "faith" requires an absence of evidence.
      What do you think about that?

      October 12, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
  10. lordkid

    I speak to GOD all the time through the Holy Spirit and he talks back me through the Holy Spirit, the Bible, other people and or any other method He chooses to use. If he is not talking to you it's probably because you don't a personal relationship with him through his Son JESUS CHRIST, so don't hate on us that do.

    October 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      lordkid, how is it different than saying "The God Baal spoke to me through the ghost of my great-great-great grandfather's pet pig Aloysius and through the guidance I get from other people, or any other way I want"?

      October 12, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
    • NL

      Personally, my aim for posting here is not to condemn believers, but to try reasoning with them and, in the short term, to encourage them not to do harm to people. So, within YOUR reference of belief, have you considered the possibility that atheists like me may be God's instruments, highlighting current problems with people's interpretation of faith, as prophets of old once did? We fit many of the requirements. We are on the fringe, bringing an unpopular message to the people, and are definitely not appreciated in our own land. If we are standing on the same side as the religious leaders who also see a problem with bullying gays who are you to judge that the message must be wrong because of who is delivering it?

      October 12, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
  11. Ghunt

    God loves all people even if they don't conform to his laws. True enough. But in the end the nonconformers will reject him and spend eternity in hell. Sad. Very sad.

    October 12, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Who you to say what God loves or doesn't love? Have you spoken to it (God), has it (God) spoken to you or are you relying on a 2000 year old book written by people who thought owning other people was a moral thing to do?

      October 12, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
    • NL

      Ghunt-
      Perhaps God's true intention in this is not to condemn gays, but to test the willingness of His followers to take His judgment upon themselves? In your opinion, have those who bullied gays ruined their chances of salvation?

      October 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • Ghunt

      NL, God does not want to condemn but to save. Those who do not allow him to save, simply by repenting endanger their own salvation. Their unwillingness to submit to God and repent and accept his forgiveness is what stands in their way. Romans 8 tells us that noone can separate us from the love of God. Its our choice if we want to accept it or reject it by holding on to sin. Those who bully gays endanger their own salvation of course. That's not right either.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
    • NL

      Ghunt-
      Perhaps, then, the urge to bully gays is a temptation aimed at trying to get believers to willingly give up their salvation?

      October 12, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  12. Ghunt

    Now the true hate will come out from those who don't like my last post.

    October 12, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Ghunt

      Please see my response to you above.... I am very curious to hear your response. And no, I have no hate for you.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  13. Ghunt

    Speaking the truth is not hate. If a rapist enjoys raping women is it hate to tell him what he does is evil and should not be tolerated? is that hate? Neither is this. Thank God there are some like Paladino who dare speak it.

    October 12, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
    • LetoAtreides

      Truth itself is not hate, but we human beings have a clever way of using truth to hurt others rather than love them. I ask my self...What is my INTENT when speaking the truth.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
    • NL

      Wrong analogy. You're trying to equate assault with something consensual. Nobody likes being assaulted.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
    • Ghunt

      So consensual suicide of a whole bunch of people is fine? Gee, I guess Wacco should have gone up in smoke.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Ghunt

      @NL is right... although, I might tweak his comment a bit.

      'Basically' what YOU are saying is...... BRUTAL ASSAULT WITH DIRECT AND TANGIBLE HARM IS = TO GAYS AND THERE ACTIONS.

      Please tell me you are kidding Ghunt...? Equating 'brutal assault' that has direct, long-lasting harm or even death to the person being assaulted is the same as Gay behavior...?

      Where is the direct and tangible harm that YOU have ever experienced by Gays....? Please be specific, and try not to use:

      1)God says its wrong

      2)Ewwww--just makes me 'feel' bad.

      Maybe I am wrong on my interpretation of what I believe you are saying... If so, I will own that. If I am right however, I challenge you to provide tangible factual proof of your assertions.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:08 pm |
  14. VistaNow

    The Reverend is very much mistaken and in error – she has no authority of Apostolic succession, she is scattering rather than collecting or helping to gather souls for eternal life. Her misinterpretation of what it means to follow Jesus taints the Gospel message proven by her writings. John 8:11 – Jesus said to her – Go and from now on do sin anymore – The intent here is not to commit Illicit sins. Another thought among Christians is to hate the Sin, but love the sinner in their weakness. Marriage is between a man and a woman proven in the book of Genesis. Another thought you can not give what you can not have. Revelation 22:14* Blessed are those who wash their robes, * that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
    • VistaNow

      typo ...it is do not sin anymore what I meant to say

      October 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • LetoAtreides

      I agree!

      October 12, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
    • Frank

      Vista, give me one example of a when a person has denied their innate s#xual orientation or gender ident!ty, it has helped them. HMM?

      October 12, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
    • VistaNow

      Frank, I don't know or understand what your question is exactly? God allowed scripture through the proper interpretation of the Church to guide His flock; He made it available to the Gentiles and to all, and are all welcome to share with the Lord Jesus

      October 12, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  15. JohnQuest

    brad, your argument is so flawed I don't know where to begin.

    The God that believers are interested in is not subject to your specifications, demands, or requirements.
    What God are believers interested in, how are we suppose to view this God if not with our own specifications,
    demands, or requirements? If we were able to view God from God's specifications, demands, or requirements then we
    would also be Gods.

    A smaller God which comes out of your own brain is a failure because that one does not live up to your expectations.
    I think the idea of God is a failure not because it doesn't live up to my expectations but because it doesn't live up to any
    expectations mine or anyone else, (not even the most devout believers). I creature that exist beyond time, space and
    matter has to be bigger more strange than anything in the known and unknown universe, that aint small, it just doesn't
    exist at least not in our reality (maybe yours but you would have to prove it).

    Religious believers have spent thousands of years trying to find a language in which to respond to God.
    I am not certain what you mean by "respond to God", you say that as if there can be a two way conversation with a
    creature that is beyond time, space and matter (does that make any sense to you). We have not communicate with this
    creature for thousands of years (maybe it does not want to communicate with us or it is simple not there).

    Non-believers invent a god and then reject it when it won't dance for them.
    We have not invented anything, no more than we invented Zeus or Baal both were Gods that our ancestors believed in
    both are regulated to myths and very good stories. I think sooner more than later the Gods of the Christians, Jews, and
    Muslim will be regulated to the same myth status, without the good story to go along with it.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • Just_Wondering

      John Quest,

      I think I agree with you, but it was sometimes difficult following where brad's comment ended and yours started. Next time could you separate them a bit more... or use quotation marks, or something?

      October 12, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Just_Wondering, I apologize for not being as clear as I should have been, I will take your words as a correction to an error I made and will strive to do a better job in the future. Thank You.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
    • Just_Wondering

      JohnQuest,

      Thanks. You have many important points which might otherwise be missed by readers.

      Rock on...

      October 12, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @JohnQuest

      Nice post... and I concur with@ Just_Wondering....

      Keep it going brother...

      October 12, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  16. JohnQuest

    Mike, The Problem of Pain, does not address the issue of pain and suffering on a global level. If you are all ready a believer it gives a superficial reason why your foot (I hope that has never happened to you are your loved ones) was amputated. It does not answer the question of the tsunami or drought, nor does it address the fact that all relief of suffering is done by us, doctors, rescue workers even pastors and priest (not the pedophiles) that provided a sympathetic ear or a hug when needed.

    I have not read Reason for God by Tim Keller, thank you, I have to read it before I make a comment on it which I will.

    Have you read The end of Faith by Sam Harris or The Northern Lights (three book series) by Philip Pullman. I think it is best to read everything especially the opposing views.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:08 am |
    • Mike

      Thank you. I will look into that though not immediately

      October 12, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  17. JohnQuest

    If there is a God (I don't think there is or ever was) then it hates all of us, consider the following:
    If God created everything and everyone why is there pain and suffering? Some say it is because of sin but an earthquake that kills 100,000 followed by hunger and a slow death for 100,000 more is an act of God or nature, if God then it can not be love (not the way I view love) if nature then God couldn't or wouldn't stop it, then what is the nature of God?

    Life, pain, and suffering makes more sense once God is removed, we wouldn't have to jump through hoops trying to understand what we as humans can never understand. How could any of us possibly know the likes and dislikes of a creature (God) so far removed from us it is neither in our time or space. Why (or better how) would a creature that is beyond all time, space and matter care who we sleep with or what job we get or even if we live or die? Any creature that far removed from us couldn't possibly care about what we think, our thoughts and actions couldn't have an affect on it good or bad.

    The sooner we get away from these poisonous ideas the better off we will be. Religion causes us to hate our neighbors, stifle emotional growth and human development, think how far we could be if these myths had died in the bronze age like they should have. The Middle East would be a lot more peaceful, we would have had fewer wars and the ones we had would not have lasted as long, religious dogma makes it okay to kill (God loves me and hates the others, so it must be okay to kill them and take their land). Of course this is just speculation but does anyone think I'm wrong, if so please tell me how you see it?

    October 12, 2010 at 9:36 am |
    • David Johnson

      Amen brother. The pain and suffering allowed by an all benevolent god is what I have been preaching on.
      The idiot fundies will tell you it has to do with: Original sin; Free will; or Soul building.

      The following is an answer I gave on this subject:

      Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge. So god created disease. He constructed the tick and the flea, and the tape worm and the mosquito. He caused the animals to prey on one another. God did this to teach...what lesson, to the subsequent generations? The desire for knowledge is evil? Just read your bible and believe? What lesson?

      But you say man did it to ourselves. Really? Did these things spontaneously generate as the fruit was chewed? So when a person is placed under the lash or upon the rack, he brought it upon himself? No matter how hideous the penalty, the person applying the punishment bears no guilt? Did no one fashion the lash or devise the rack?

      Humans deserved all this suffering for a mouth full of fruit?

      You said, "This world is basically a spiritual battleground/classroom that we apparently have created in order to learn from, after all."
      So you are contending that God allows some evil because it builds positive character in the victims or in others which outweighs the negative value of the evil itself (e.g., John Hick).

      I don't think "we" created the classroom of pain. God would have had to create it. This is like the fundie claim, that god doesn't send you to hell, you send yourself to hell. Make no mistake. God sends people to hell.

      If God exists, we must have evidence that all of the evils we see are means to a higher purpose. All the pain and suffering should have the purpose of teaching. But even fundies admit there is no evidence. That is why they must resort to talking about the mysterious ways in which God works. There's no evidence at all, that 300 to 500 million people dying from Smallpox in the 20th century, is for a greater good.

      Even if, as you say, evil and suffering is a teaching tool, God would only allow as much evil or suffering as is absolutely necessary in order to achieve a greater purpose. Any suffering above that necessary to learn, would be overkill. But when we look at the world around us, we find prevalent instances of apparently gratuitous evil—pointless suffering from which no greater purpose seems to result.

      As William Rowe points out, when a fawn burns to death in a forest fire and no human being ever knows about it, this apparently unnecessary evil does nothing to build the character of human beings. It is just suffering.

      Again I ask, how would this scenario look different if there was no god? Would there be suffering for no apparent reason? Would there be more evil than could ever be necessary to preserve either free will or for soul making?
      The answer once again, is: The scenario would look exactly the same.

      October 12, 2010 at 10:10 am |
    • Mike

      "if God then it can not be love (not the way I view love)?" View it from the point of a father, that allows his child to grow and does not get in the way of law when law is broken or attempt to stop the law when treason is committed.

      "The sooner we get away from these poisonous ideas the better off we will be."
      We have been trying that being great grand children of the Enlightenment which has only lead to ent-itlement.
      How is that working out for us? Even through your own admission, something has gone wrong with the world. Especially when an athetist goes into a fourth grade class room and executes all the childern. So what is your explaintion to why humanity has so many "character defects"?

      Problem of Pain CS Lewis
      and Reason for God Tim Keller may be good reads to help.

      October 12, 2010 at 10:20 am |
    • Mike

      denton.thevillagechurch.net/resource_files/audio/200909080630HWC21ATAAA_MattChandler_DwellDeepPt01-DoesGodOrdainEvil.mp3

      Does God Ordain Evil?

      October 12, 2010 at 10:29 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Mike

      You asked JohnQuest, "what is your explaintion to why humanity has so many "character defects"?"

      Umm...If a car has defects, we normally blame the car maker.

      If God could settle for nothing less than perfection, why would he not create us perfect in the first place – rather than create humans imperfect, blame them for that imperfection, and then put them through vast amounts of suffering in an attempt to fix it, an attempt which results in the perfection of a small number of them and the eternal loss of a vastly larger number to Hell? The claim that this criminally incompetent behavior is the plan of salvation adopted by a loving, all-wise god is too absurd to merit belief.

      October 12, 2010 at 10:52 am |
    • brad

      The God that believers are interested in is not subject to your specifications, demands, or requirements. A smaller God which comes out of your own brain is a failure because that one does not live up to your expectations. Religious believers have spent thousands of years trying to find a language in which to respond to God. Non-believers invent a god and then reject it when it won't dance for them.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:41 am |
    • Mike

      Dave the question is if you do not believe in a God, what has gone wrong with the world and humanity, what Christians call sin??

      If you do believe in God then, sin (treason) was created against an all perfect God and we are all worthy of Death, by by grace through faith we are saved through the double imputation of Christ.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
    • dan

      then I take it, Brad, that you are God's happy little psychophant.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
    • Respondez

      brad,
      "Non-believers invent a god and then reject it when it won't dance for them."

      Non-believers respond to specific claims about a "God" which are made by believers. Many of these claims vary from believer to believer. Some say, "God is perfect", some say, "God is Omniscient, Omnipotent and Eternal." Non-believers don't make this stuff up - believers do.

      Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to prove them.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Mike

      You said, "If you do believe in God then, sin (treason) was created against an all perfect God and we are all worthy of Death, by by grace through faith we are saved through the double imputation of Christ."

      Seems like the penalty is a tad steep for a mouthful of fruit. LOL

      October 12, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
    • Mike

      "mouthful of fruit" - correct but every country executes for treason and we don't seem to have a problem with that. Sin is treason against God and all He created.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Mike

      Again, it appears that you are attempting to equate some 'intangible-metaphysical' unproven nor verified philosophy, as equal to tangible recognized 'sensory-based' and mutually agreed upon, by most anyway
      laws of our planet.

      Now, also, whether or not everyone should be executed is another matter, and conversation for another day.

      October 12, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
    • Morgan

      @Mike,

      Every country executes for treason? Wow, what a load of tripe! First of all, not every country even has the death penalty. Second, even in the US, we don't execute for treason except in time of war. Perhaps you should check your facts before showing your ignorance so blatantly.

      Morgan

      October 18, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  18. Reality

    Back to the real world:

    (for new members only)

    "No simple cause for se-xual orientation has been co-nclusively demonstrated, and there is no scientific co-nsensus as to whether the contributing factors are primarily biological or environmental. Many think both play complex roles.[1][2] The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psy-chological As-sociation have both stated that se-xual orientation probably has multiple causes.[3][4] Research has identified several biological factors which may be related to the development of a heteros-exual, ho-mos-exual or bise-xual orientation. These include genes, prenatal hormones, and brain structure. Conclusive proof of a biological cause of s-exual orientation would have significant political and cultural implications. [5]"

    The general population to include many of the voters in California find g-ay s-exual activities, "unionized" or not, to be unusual and typically as-sociate such activity with the spread of AIDS which is of course wrong. Said AIDS epidemic in the g-ay male community at the start of the AIDS crises will always remain unfortunately a stigma on the ga-y community.

    There is an impressive list of g-ay people who did not let their defect get in the way of being a contribution to society.

    From below, on top, backwards, forwards, from this side of the Moon and from the other side too, ga-y s-exual activity is still mutual mas-turbation caused by one or more complex s-exual defects. Some defects are visually obvious in for example the complex maleness of DeGeneres, Billy Jean King and Rosie O'Donnell.

    Finally, gay people abide by the human-living rules of no adu-ltery or for-nication allowed.
    .

    October 12, 2010 at 8:15 am |
    • David Johnson

      When I was in high school, I had a buddy, who was "all man". He loved girls, played football, drank, spit and cussed. He eventually married and we lost touch through the years.

      But, my buddy had a younger brother. I first met him when he was about 15. I could tell, he was gay. Everything about him was effeminate. The thing is, that he was raised in the same environment as his older brother. Same dad, same mom, same house, same water supply. Makes me think it might be a birth defect. Cheers!

      October 12, 2010 at 10:23 am |
    • Reality

      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] "

      "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

      October 12, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
    • Frank

      "I could tell, he was gay. Everything about him was effeminate."

      Being fem doesn't automatically mean you're gay, being a 'manly' man doesn't automatically mean you're straight.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Frank

      The fellow is gay.

      Does being named "Frank" mean everything you say will be stupid?

      October 12, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
    • Reality

      Rock Hudson

      October 12, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
  19. Peace2All

    It is so good to see and hear about 'christian progressives or moderates' who are helping to spearhead compassion, love and equality.

    I certainly believe in this message of love and kindness.

    Congratulations...!

    October 12, 2010 at 7:55 am |
    • Raison

      @Peace2all

      Wouldn't it make more sense to just believe in love and kindness – no message needed???

      Or better yet – DO love and kindness – no belief needed??????
      ha! Take that! 😀

      October 12, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
    • Ghunt

      Yes it would be nice if there were no hell. A million dollars would be nice to but I don't have it and hell exists. We can wish all we want and say "oh wouldn't that be nice" but the reality of evil in the world demands that there be a hell for those who do not love. Hitler killed 6 million Jews. He enjoyed it and yet you say he will receive no retribution in the afterlife. Your theories are as cruel as the problem you try to solve.

      October 12, 2010 at 9:29 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Ghunt
      Yes it would be nice if there were no hell. A million dollars would be nice to but I don't have it and hell exists. We can wish all we want and say "oh wouldn't that be nice" but the reality of evil in the world demands that there be a hell for those who do not love. Hitler killed 6 million Jews. He enjoyed it and yet you say he will receive no retribution in the afterlife. Your theories are as cruel as the problem you try to solve."

      What proof do you have that there is a god? That should be job #1. If god does not exist, then hell and heaven and Jesus do not exist. Give me your evidence for there being a god.

      You are making an extraordinary claim about the existence of god and hell. It is your burden to offer proof.

      October 12, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Raison

      You keep on trying to stop me from infiltrating the 'fundie' camp...! darn you...! 🙂

      October 13, 2010 at 2:41 am |
    • Raison

      @Peace2all

      but I thought you were a closet fundie! What.....?!?
      (laughs)

      October 13, 2010 at 3:06 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Raison

      And the Lord said.... "And ye shall know them by their false blaspheming stuff that they speaketh... So, sayeth Me. Er.. Lord God, that is.. If anyone is listenin' to me anymore.. Me, God.. the Big G. etc...

      October 13, 2010 at 3:22 am |
    • Morgan

      @Ghunt,

      The diffrence between the two assertions is that one is provable (i.e., look at your bank balance and see you don't have a million dollars) and the other is not. You can't say that it's a fact that hell exists if you can't prove your assertion. The entire definition of faith precludes proving an article of faith. I appreciate that you believe and have faith that hell exists, but it is NOT a fact.

      Morgan

      October 18, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  20. HisOwn

    God loves ALL people. Thank fully one minister had the courage and belief to stand by his teachings. A life was saved because of it. As Christians we need to be accepting of all people and show love to them,so they can see Jesus in us. God loves G-a-y people,too.
    Anyone who calls himself a Christian, needs to put aside all malice, and live the gospel according to what Jesus stood for, love your neighbor as I have loved you!

    October 12, 2010 at 7:47 am |
    • brad

      Very much agreed, HisOwn. I have been married to the same woman for 34 years. Were I to fanticize about "making it" with another women, or actually do so, that would be a serious disorder and violation of something sacred. I've got too much to worry about keeping my own act in order. Of course, I can't tell much about the behaviour of g ay people. This plank in my eye is obstructing my vision. Of course, Jesus said it would be this way.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:56 am |
    • Ghunt

      God loves all people despite their sins. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Sin damages body and soul and it is not love to ignore this FACT. Therefore Palaino's comments are not hate.

      October 12, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      I'm confused, why is it a sin (or crime) if it hurts no one?

      October 12, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
    • Joey

      John you would be surprised at just how much it hurts others,such as family members, society as a whole not to leave out the individual themselves, It is the gay activist themselves that are spreading the hate, I can honestly say I do not hate gays but i do hate what they do! but yet activist call me a hater!

      October 12, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • Frank

      H0m0s#xuality 'hurts' people just as much as heteros#xuality.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @joey

      You totally deflected and did *not* answer @JohnQuest's question. Yes, I would like to know too. Please cite 'tangible, real,' harm that you experience by someone who is born gay.

      And you can't use the:

      1)God says it's wrong, therefor it hurts us.

      2)Ewww-- Just makes me 'feel' bad.

      O.K.... Now go for it, as I am sure a lot of us are 'very' interested in your assertion that there is *direct, tangible, factual and verifiable harm* done to us.

      October 12, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Ghunt

      See my response to @Joey above.... I believe that @JohnQuest's question could probably be directed to you as well..

      Curious to your response...

      October 12, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
    • ErikB88

      She said that Jesus' ministry stands against things which hates, hurts or destroys. This is not true. Jesus himself said he did not come to bring peace but the sword.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @ErikB88

      You said.... "She said that Jesus' ministry stands against things which hates, hurts or destroys. This is not true. Jesus himself said he did not come to bring peace but the sword."

      So, in effect, you are basically re-asserting and proving 'her' point. Since Jesus came to bring the 'sword,' It's obvious that 'he,' Jesus, is wielding his sword against anything which hates, hurts or destroys. Because everything I have read about Jesus.... he was all about Love and C o m passion... right..?

      October 12, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
    • Robert DiStefano

      People of faith must preach love and love all people. I agree with that concept wholeheartedly. That being said, part of being a loving person of faith is to tell the whole truth. First of all, I am very sad about what happened to this boy and if the church actually did these things to cause this boy to take his life, they were totally wrong. We are not to beat the person over the head with a sledgehammer or belittle the person regardless of the sin. But we still need to tell the truth that fornication in all its forms is sin according to the Christian Bible and most other religious books. But my concern is primarily what the Bible says since I am a Christian. Now we must tell the truth in love and pray for the individual, not badger them or belittle them. We can warn them that they are on the wrong road and it can lead them to hell if they do not repent. That is loving the person enough to be willing to tell them the truth that can save their soul. Nothing wrong with that! The day that they make that hate speech would be a sad day indeed, since they would be taking away our ability to preach the whole word.

      October 12, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Robert DiStefano,

      I believe this video explains the Catholic Church's view on this subject very well.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0sILSapUUc

      October 12, 2010 at 9:19 pm |
    • Morgan

      @Joey,

      Ok, so you don't hate the people, just what they do. Why do you have to hate at all? Are they hurting you by what they do? Are they doing something that injurse you directly? Sorry to say, you ARE a hater. By your own admission, you hate what they do, so you hate. Last I heard, the definition of hater is "one who hates" so guess what... there you are.

      Morgan

      October 18, 2010 at 8:21 am |
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About this blog

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