My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?
June 21st, 2011
10:10 AM ET

My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?

Editor's Note: Jonathan Dudley is the author of Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics.

By Jonathan Dudley, Special to CNN

Growing up in the evangelical community, I learned the Bible’s stance on homosexuality is clear-cut. God condemns it, I was taught, and those who disagree just haven’t read their Bibles closely enough.

Having recently graduated from Yale Divinity School, I can say that my childhood community’s approach to gay rights—though well intentioned—is riddled with self-serving double standards.

I don’t doubt that the one New Testament author who wrote on the subject of male-male intercourse thought it a sin. In Romans 1, the only passage in the Bible where a reason is explicitly given for opposing same-sex relations, the Apostle Paul calls them “unnatural.”

Problem is, Paul’s only other moral argument from nature is the following: “Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” (1 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Few Christians would answer that question with a “yes.”

In short, Paul objects to two things as unnatural: one is male-male sex and the other is long hair on men and short hair on women. The community opposed to gay marriage takes one condemnation as timeless and universal and the other as culturally relative.

I also don’t doubt that those who advocate gay marriage are advocating a revision of the Christian tradition.

But the community opposed to gay marriage has itself revised the Christian tradition in a host of ways. For the first 1500 years of Christianity, for example, marriage was deemed morally inferior to celibacy. When a theologian named Jovinian challenged that hierarchy in 390 A.D. — merely by suggesting that marriage and celibacy might be equally worthwhile endeavors — he was deemed a heretic and excommunicated from the church.

How does that sit with “family values” activism today?

Yale New Testament professor Dale B. Martin has noted that today’s "pro-family" activism, despite its pretense to be representing traditional Christian values, would have been considered “heresy” for most of the church’s history.

The community opposed to gay marriage has also departed from the Christian tradition on another issue at the heart of its social agenda: abortion.

Unbeknownst to most lay Christians, the vast majority of Christian theologians and saints throughout history have not believed life begins at conception.

Although he admitted some uncertainty on the matter, the hugely influential 4th and 5th century Christian thinker Saint Augustine wrote, “it could not be said that there was a living soul in [a] body” if it is “not yet endowed with senses.”

Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic saint and a giant of mediaeval theology, argued: “before the body has organs in any way whatever, it cannot be receptive of the soul.”

American evangelicals, meanwhile, widely opposed the idea that life begins at conception until the 1970s, with some even advocating looser abortion laws based on their reading of the Bible before then.

It won’t do to oppose gay marriage because it’s not traditional while advocating other positions that are not traditional.

And then there’s the topic of divorce. Although there is only one uncontested reference to same-sex relations in the New Testament, divorce is condemned throughout, both by Jesus and Paul. To quote Jesus from the Gospel of Mark: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.”

A possible exception is made only for unfaithfulness.

The community most opposed to gay marriage usually reads these condemnations very leniently. A 2007 issue of Christianity Today, for example, featured a story on its cover about divorce that concluded that Christians should permit divorce for “adultery,” “emotional and physical neglect” and “abandonment and abuse.”

The author emphasizes how impractical it would be to apply a strict interpretation of Jesus on this matter: “It is difficult to believe the Bible can be as impractical as this interpretation implies.”

Indeed it is.

On the other hand, it’s not at all difficult for a community of Christian leaders, who are almost exclusively white, heterosexual men, to advocate interpretations that can be very impractical for a historically oppressed minority to which they do not belong – homosexuals.

Whether the topic is hair length, celibacy, when life begins, or divorce, time and again, the leaders most opposed to gay marriage have demonstrated an incredible willingness to consider nuances and complicating considerations when their own interests are at stake.

Since graduating from seminary, I no longer identify with the evangelical community of my youth. The community gave me many fond memories and sound values but it also taught me to take the very human perspectives of its leaders and attribute them to God.

So let’s stop the charade and be honest.

Opponents of gay marriage aren’t defending the Bible’s values. They’re using the Bible to defend their own.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jonathan Dudley.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Homosexuality • Opinion

soundoff (6,474 Responses)
  1. RightturnClyde

    Each person can have a "moral problem" that nobody else faces. if you k_illed somebody with a car (maybe even DUI) .. you may have a moral nightmare for the remainder or your life .. or in war (as a young person) .. and then never be able to reconcile your having done it. If you did things under the influence of alcohol - then overcame the addiction - there may be things you cannot "make right." It may never be right. You may have done things that had serious implications for your spouse or your children (and you cannot reverse it). There can be moral implications to industrial accidents, marine disasters, train wrecks, or just being "typhoid Mary." There can be a quest for "answers" in the Bible, in literature and philosophy, with professional (shrinks and clergy). Life is full of moral problems. There are few "pat answers" even in thing as black and white as "Thou Shall Not K_ill" or "Thou shall Not Bear False Witness" ... there can be a lot of moral complications. Each of us needs to reckon with our own.

    June 22, 2011 at 3:36 am |
    • John Richardson

      I'm with you there, RTC!

      June 22, 2011 at 6:06 am |
  2. TDJ

    "Opponents of gay marriage aren’t defending the Bible’s values. They’re using the Bible to defend their own."

    IMO, methinks you need to return to seminary and start over.


    June 22, 2011 at 2:55 am |
    • RightturnClyde

      Well actually .. he's right. There is a lot of intentional misinterpretation of the Bible to fit individual agendas. We recently saw an "end times" huckster dupe (apparently large numbers of people) by predicting the end of the world (it's not the first huckster). Many preachers have built a following based on Revelations and the rapture and have overlooked the gospels entirely (then will accuse detractors of reading in error). They are very successful (monetarily) BUT .. they know hat is not the center of Christian doctrine. They know they are misleading others. Some people (apparently) misread the Bible to justify handling rattlesnakes (?? whew??) Many obvious misreadings and some not so obvious. Well, OK, each human can read a writing differently (including Frost, Shakespeare, Melville, Dickens .. whatever) People do read the Bible differently and some read it to goad their own goat.

      June 22, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • Liutgard

      "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires."- Susan B Anthony

      June 22, 2011 at 3:58 am |
  3. RightturnClyde

    I liked this article and I thought it was well written. For once the author seems to be well read in Biblical matters. I'd like to comment on a couple of things he mentioned. First is that as we grew up we received our parents "beliefs' (however correct they may have been) but as adults it is really our responsibility to decide moral realities and act accordingly. Life has a lot of difficult challenges and a good moral compass can avoid a lot of pain. For those of us who are not gay there is no personal encounter with it. It's kind of like if you do not smoke or drink then there is no encounter with those (I DID have to face it with smoking and stopped in 1974 - it was a struggle - and it had moral implications in the sense that as a after of children I "owed" it to them to try to be here for them - and I was/am). But I have not had a personal encounter with alcohol or drugs. As a male I do not have to face moral dilemmas that challenge only women. So I am on who never devoted much time and attention to gay anything. The second thing that I liked about this article - brutal honesty so to speak - is that St. Paul was often not quite dead on things. He is an amazing source but epistles are not gospels. Jesus told the Apostles to "preach the gospels and baptize." So the four gospels and Acts are one things and epistles are yet another. All of the Apostles were fallible .. Peter was always being admonished, James and John received admonition, Judas was condemned, Thomas was admonished for being "doubting," and so we need to see that the Apostles are capable of error like any human and ll of the epistles are capable of error. Paul had been a Pharisee and we can only know what we read (some of which may be wrong). Jesus never said a word about epistles or encyclicals or infallibility or a bishopric in any "see." Did He forget? Not likely. He had a mission and the mission was fulfilled and He left. Now the Old Testament (Christians use the Septuagint) was bounced around a lot (captivity, etc.) and the Ark was actually lost. So the main value in the Old Testament is the fulfillment of prophecy and law by the Messiah in the New Testament. The Old Testament is not wrong but it traveled (in the form of scrolls) .. and remarkably survived .. I infer some "Divine intent" there too. The gospels and Acts were pretty much completed before Paul was beheaded in 63 AD (30 years after the resurrection and the Ascension. A short period and so I think we can be confident about them. I like the red letters. I "measure" everything else by what I read in the gospels and Acts. Jesus forgave (rather than to condemn) .. and it seems He intended for us to work on the mote in our own eye more than the cinder in another's. This is a well written article and I hope this writer has a good future as a leader and writer among Christians.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • Sepper

      Wow, a thoughtful and reasoned response. The last thing I expected after seeing the many examples of exactly what the author pointed out: that many people use Scripture to inform their own positions, not the other way around. I'm not sure I'd agree with every one of your positions, Clyde, but thanks for inserting some intelligent discourse into this discussion.

      June 22, 2011 at 8:10 am |
  4. Mark from Middle River

    >> “That's fine River... but you're agreeing with me. The fact that it's a story that literally every single person can have their own interpretation for.... means that it's not the end all be all like Christ Is King is implying...... He cites the "Bible" as if we can just look to the Bible for answers. “

    Well, Friendly... I think you can for yourself. We all most likely will not get the same answers but that is mostly because of what we bring into the situation. That is why I put forth those simple verses. They are very direct and they were quoted from Jesus himself. The other verses we can have a greater variance but these are as simple as … as a Christian do you believe in Capital Punishment.... my answer is that when Jesus was asked about it he said yep... who without sin cast the first stone.

    Gays and Lesbians.... if you are a Christian and you have a issue with it … cast the first stone or first condemnation only if you bring no sins into the argument.

    See.... That is how I look towards the Bible. Often in simple and direct terms. The rest can argue what this person said or that person meant … I really do not have that kind of relationship with others that I need to bring them to the Lord and say they must change. Its a Michael Jackson thing with me... there is enough issue with the “man in the mirror” or in my way of looking at it .. “the child before God”

    >> “We'd still be stuck in the land mass of Europe/Asia and Africa. We'd have never progressed beyond wooden rafts. “

    Now you are being silly. Folks were constructing sailing vessels before the Bible ...much longer than before the Bible. We are talking before the Romans ...even before the Greeks. It is a Atheist choice to make this charge but as soon as someone read the part in the Bible about spreading the “word”... then it was a hand and hand desire for Faiths and Religions to work with advancements in technology 🙂

    But, if you feel that there are Christians that do not want technological progress than I suggest you talk to the Amish wing of the Christian part of society. 😀 Talk to them about such. A famous preacher named TD Jakes has wifi and internet available through his churches service and I know my small church is doing fine with our tech as well. So Friendly, point that charge towards Lancaster Pennsylvania.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:48 am |
  5. Indyman

    Show me any evidence, any whatsoever, that Jesus ever existed. And if you can muster up some evidence, back it up. Don't tell my you found Noah's ark in the mountains because you've discovered some wood. Noah's ark was a metaphor, silly hunters. Jesus was symbolic of many characteristics humans should aspire to, but he did not exist. Moreover, HE never said anything about the topic of this article; nothing.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:36 am |
  6. Horace

    Bible is a bunch of b.s. Rather pathetic seeing grownups actually debating it as if it were something meaningful to be considered in life...

    June 22, 2011 at 2:27 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      I think its more interesting to see a "grownup" throw a tantrum because everyone has diverse views and ... some of them are not the same as his ... boo hoo... 🙁 .... ROFL

      June 22, 2011 at 3:06 am |
    • Sybaris

      The problem Mark is that these diverse religious views are being used to shape the laws that govern this country. I for one do not want to live in a christian theocracy, it is not what the founders of this country intended but an appreciable amount of public officials relish the idea. As long as that continues then expect the tantrums.

      June 22, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  7. Colin

    How does a “divinity school” stay honest to the concepts of historical or scientific research?

    I ask this not in an accusatorial manner, but because I am genuinely bemused. The name “Yale” carries instant credibility, and yet the idea that a higher insti.tution like it could have a “divinity school” is like finding out its astrophysics department has an Astrology School.

    How can divinity school be anything more than a very specific history course? Surely, they don’t buy into the supernatural elements of the Christian, or any other faith.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:10 am |
  8. Scott in Ca

    At one point in time, Yale (like Princeton) had a decent school of theology. Now, like all the Ivy League schools, they have abandoned their historic positions in favor of a hyper-liberal stance (as shown in this article – that thoroughly abandons any commitment to the Scriptures). Yale's motto is "Lux et veritas" – "light & truth". Sadly, they now have very little of either.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Carter

      How blissful is ignorance. Because his conclusions and research disagree with yours, you cavalierly dismiss his findings. Since Yale's Divinity school has so clearly fallen from their heights, I invite you to rebut, point by point, his contentions, complete with proper historical and linguistic research and relevant citations.

      Do go on. We're all waiting with bated breath.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:58 am |
    • Ron

      So back up what you are saying, show us where he does not speak the truth! The issue is that he has pointed out the inconsistencies in your beliefs and you don;t like it. So you dismiss it as part of the "lib "agenda! Perhaps you should read the parts of the bible about putting on airs and being self righteous, or are those parts you discount also?

      June 22, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • fred

      Carter, #1 Paul makes reference to natural / nature 13 times not 1 or 2 as Dudley stated. Now given different translations that number can be 9-17 not counting indirect references. #2 In Dudley’s quoted reference in 1Corinthians the long hair of men referred to the male pro sti tutes of Corinth, not some hair style issue as Dudley suggests. The long hair for women referred to what was acceptable for worship since women with short hair in Corinth were pro sti tutes again not a style issue as Dudley suggests. When reading a letter to a group of people( in this case the Corinthians) you must refer to the customs of those readers not todays’ trends. #3 As to abortion God said to David “you knit me together in my mother’s womb” to Jeremiah God said “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you’ and John the Baptist “leaped in joy in the womb” when Mary was pregnant with Jesus. For Dudley imply life in the womb is questionable for Christians makes no sense. To imply abortion is not an issue goes against God where in Exodus the King of Egypt instructed midwives to kill male children during delivery. They did not because “they feared God “more than the King. As to celibacy Dudley implies the hierarchy has changed which it has not. Jesus said it is best to be celibate for the glory of God but few can do this. Paul said it is best that men not marry but due to temptation they should. So the order is clear celibacy best for just a few and marriage next for most people.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • Mark from Middle River


      June 22, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • John Richardson

      @fred Dudley never said that anyone claimed that personhood didn't begin in the womb, but that it didn't start at conception but only later, after the fetus developed some. The verses you quote are consistent with either view. If Paul wanted to condemn prosti-tution and ONLY prost-itution, he could have said "don't be a prosti-tute" or even "don't let your appearance be like that of local prost-tutes", but he didn't. He called long hair unnatural in men. Your elaborate interpretation stands in direct contrast to this black and white fact. I see you haven't address the divorce issue that Dudley brought up. I wonder why. Oh, and cite all those instances of 'unnatural' you found. I'd love to see what those reference! Basically, however, your post tends to instantiate the biblical interpretive hypocrisy that Dudley rightly decries.

      June 22, 2011 at 6:21 am |
  9. Charles

    One of the most well written pieces on the subject I've ever read. Obviously few, judging from the comments, with the brains and compassion to appreciate it.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • D Jones

      The writer actually draws a wacky conclusion... namely, "the Bible condemns a lot of things so why single out or focus on gays?" But the irony is that you don't see anyone trying the old "I was born this way" on any of the other sins. Can you imagine some guy," but honey you have to understand, I was born with a natural tendency to fool around and lie so you need to just accept who I am and love me for who I am." What sin isn't natural for us?

      June 22, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Rick

      D Jones: the sin you describe has a consequence that hurts another person, namely the spouse. Being gay doesn't have a similar consequence. Try again.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:54 am |
  10. Scott in Ca

    The author makes some interetsing points – but his basic premise is, he rejects the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. I always find it strange that people who want to reject the Scriptures still somehow, like this author, want to attach themselves to Christianity. Why is that?

    June 21, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • beelzebubba

      Any all-knowing, all-powerful god that wants us to understand his wishes only has to communicate it to each of us. There is no need for any misunderstandings, out of ignorance or out of malice. Simple. There is no invisible friend in the sky.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • Free

      No, he's basically saying that people are being uneven in their application of the Bible. They will travel a hundred miles to protest gay marriage, but accept divorce within their community without batting an eye. They will rant for hours about the possibility of gay clergy, but allow women to preach in church, something that Paul expressly forbad.

      To him, and the rest of us, Christians have let slip a whole lot of stuff that was originally forbidden, or supported as in the case of slavery, supposedly because their ever evolving culture lost interest in defending 'God's' law. Anyone who cannot see how the gay issue isn't just the next in this long line of concerns to be dropped is fooling themselves. Twenty years from now there are going to be a lot of people as embarrassed by this generation's bigotry against gays as there are southerners who are embarrassed of their grandparent's att.itudes towards African-Americans.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>” Twenty years from now there are going to be a lot of people as embarrassed by this generation's bigotry against gays as there are southerners who are embarrassed of their grandparent's att.itudes towards African-Americans.”

      Hmm.... As a African American from a family that had members who lived through that time I gotta take exception to the : “southerners who are embarrassed” part.

      From the stories that I was told by my parents, grand and great grandparent's... we were not treated too kindly up with the northerners either. Look at how many slaves just kept on going until they reached Canada. There were segregation laws in the North and the South. The race riots of Chicago and New York, all full of “northerners”. Check out the real story of the riots that were portrayed in “Gangs of New York” ...and then see the murder of African American count.

      Also there was one thing I remembered one of my Grandparent's told me. Down in the South they knew where they stood with certain whites. Up North it was more of an under current and often those anti-African American feelings were more hidden … out in the open but cut from the shadows. Some whites that appeared to be friendly in one setting were not the same in another.

      Do I need to go into African American slaveholders .. free African Americans that fought for the Confederancy …

      But, the first paragraph you wrote was “rockin' '


      June 22, 2011 at 3:19 am |
    • Free

      Mark from Middle River
      Thanks! 🙂

      I guess what I was trying to say is that we all feel a level of embarras.sment for the att.itudes of the generations that came before us. Somebody here, maybe you I can't remember, recently argued that the 50's were some kind of nirvana for being a kid. Way more freedom, bike all day, no fear of strangers; that sort of thing. But then I thought of that CNN story about the "Sissy Boy" experiment, and how there were so many younger people, I suppose, who were absolutely shocked at how accepted it was back then beat your kids. Beat them really badly, and regularly as well. A judge back in the 50s, maybe even up into the early 80s would have probably ruled killing a child during a beating simply an unfortunate accident, but not any more.

      Att.itudes change, and religion usually follows in pace. Beating your kids isn't preached as much in church as it was when I was a kid, and the anti-gay stuff will quite likely follow suit. The upcoming generation appear to be repulsed by the unadulterated bigotry against gays shining through the church's objection to same s.ex marriage, so I don't see young preachers opting to maintain the status quo for much longer. Like I said, in 20 years all of this will be a chapter in American religious history that people will be trying to forget, and the opponents of today who are still active then will be denying their part as much as some preachers today deny their objection to the Civil Rights movement.

      Sadly, people will take them at their word, and ignore the evidence to the contrary, but that's all par for the course within Christianity, it seems.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  11. Tyler

    Decent message. I applaud you for making the argument much more complex that these things usually are, quoting Leviticus and asking what he big deal was? Your article was well written and engaged with the issue of a better, higher plane than most pro-gay theologies or exegesises (new word) that I've come across, even when right now I disagree with your conclusion (but I'm also a Canadian, so we already have SSM and our fight for that aspect of gay rights is over). anyways, thanks for not taking the cheap way out and opening ourselves up to the concept that things aren't always as cut and dry as weight think they are. Peace bro.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  12. Christ is King

    This man does not take the Bible to be literate. It is unfortunate. Everything in the Bible in absolutely true from cover to cover and contains everything you need to know about living and dieing.

    June 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Friendly

      Are you joking? Do you beat the women around you that cut their hair? Do you ignore all science and technology that take the value of Pi = 3.141592653... etc or Pi = 3 (from the Bible)? Do you ignore the science that exists in the Bible that is simply incompatible with observations that we've made today? Do you put to death those that wear polyester? Do you fly in planes? Those things are all forbidden. Do you shave your facial hair? Do you trade your daughters as slaves?

      June 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • rigel54

      Perhaps you meant literal. Also, since the Bible contradicts itself countless times, such literal belief is not possible.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Friendly – I am typing this out on a iPhone so forgive my grammar. Your questions are placed as if everyone interprets the scripture the same way. It is the same as sayin that every Muslim interprets the Koran in the same way. If all Christians were in total agreement and lockstep with the text then I can understand.

      Chances are that there are Christian sects that would say yes for all of your questions but do you define all of us Christians by one or two sects? The same is the the gay and lesbian issue. There will be some that preach against it and there are others that not only do no but the preacher that Sunday is gay.

      All Christians do not believe exactly the same.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Christ is King

      You said: "Everything in the Bible in absolutely true from cover to cover and contains everything you need to know about living and dieing."

      Notice how many denominations of Christianity there are (~ 34,000). Each denomination can show you scripture, that "proves" they understand the wants of Jesus/god.
      All of the denominations could not be correctly interpreting the bible. Many are contradictory.
      Many of these denominations believe only their members will be saved.

      If the Christian god exists, and He is all knowing and all powerful and all good, why didn't He provide a bible that could not be misinterpreted? That everyone's comprehension of His wants would be the same?

      Since God's purpose in creating the Bible is to guide human beings towards a knowledge of God, and to help them lead moral lives, Christians must be certain of the meaning of the Bible.

      ambiguity – a word or expression that can be understood in two or more possible ways : an ambiguous word or expression.

      "There are in excess of 1,000 Christian faith groups in North America. They teach diverse beliefs about the nature of Jesus, God, the second coming, Heaven, Hell, the rapture, criteria for salvation, speaking in tongues, the atonement, what happens to persons after death, and dozens of other topics.

      On social controversies, faith groups teach a variety of conflicting beliefs about abortion access, equal rights for ho_mo$exuals and bi$exuals, who should be eligible for marriage, the death penalty, physician assisted suicide, human $exuality topics, origins of the universe, and dozens of other topics.

      The groups all base their theological teachings on the Bible.

      Generally speaking, the theologians in each of these faith groups are sincere, intelligent, devout, thoughtful and careful in their interpretation of the Bible. But, they come to mutually exclusive conclusions about what it teaches.
      Further, most are absolutely certain that their particular interpretations are correct, and that the many hundreds of faith groups which teach opposing beliefs are in error." Source: Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance

      If the bible is ambiguous, then it cannot be said to be "inerrant" or "true".

      The Christian god is very unlikely to exist.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • Friendly

      That's fine River... but you're agreeing with me. The fact that it's a story that literally every single person can have their own interpretation for.... means that it's not the end all be all like Christ Is King is implying... He cites the "Bible" as if we can just look to the Bible for answers. We can't. It's all interpretation and speculation. And to imply that the book is perfect and that we can get everything we need from it is absurd.

      We can get everything we need from it? Yeah... our society would look nothing like it does today with only the Bible. There'd be nothing. We'd still be stuck in the land mass of Europe/Asia and Africa. We'd have never progressed beyond wooden rafts. We'd have no Internet to be talking to each other through.

      These people want to live in biblical times. I'm serious, there are a lot of people that still live that way. They're all in the Middle East and I'm sure they'd be happy to have yoyu.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • Chip

      Dang it! I love crawfish boils. I guess I am going to hell! hahahaha

      June 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Scott in Ca

      I see lots of people saying "there are contradictions in the Bible'. Why don't you claim your money. There is an organization that will give $100,000 to anyone who can show any contradiction in the Bible. Have you ever claimed your money? (I doubt it),

      June 21, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Peter F

      The Bible is not an academic textbook, though many approach it as such. It is a narrative that comes together through a large collection of ancient Israelite manuscripts which illustrate the progression of God's work in and among the Israelite people. The idea of truth is that the message and the meaning of the text is to say that we are a fallen people, corrupted entirely by sin. However, God loves us regardless. He goes out of his way time and time again to save his people and bring them wholeness and the joy of being a part of his kingdom work.

      The Bible is not trying to prove a 7-day creation, just as it is not trying to prove a multi-billion year evolution. The Bible is not making a claim of being completely detached from humanity and a sinful world. Certainly war was never a part of God's plan. At the end, the lion will lay down with the lamb. The Bible also does not try to biographically follow each and every major figure in Israel's history. It is a faith story. It demonstrates man's faith (and lack thereof) in God, and God's faith in humanity. So when we talk about truth, we need to recognize the truth of which the Bible speaks.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • I_get _it

      Scott in Ca: "There is an organization that will give $100,000 to anyone who can show any contradiction in the Bible. "

      Well, if this organization exists, they sure don't advertise the fact.

      Are you sure you are not confusing it with the $1,000,000 reward that the James Randi Foundation is offering for verified evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. The reward is unclaimed.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • Tim D

      Except, evidently, how to spell "dying"

      June 22, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • tallulah13

      Scott, iIf you google "contradictions in the bible" you get sent to several sites. Here's one of them:


      Please send me the link to that organization. I could use the money.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:28 am |
  13. donny

    can gays enter heaven? hmmm

    June 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • Aaron

      Maybe you fanatics should ask God, rather than speaking for him. hmmmmmm

      June 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Friendly

      Well this gay doesn't believe in heaven, and doesn't care if you think I'd get into it or not.

      I'm very pleased that we have freedom of and freedom from religion in this country. If you want your religion to be the rule of the land, go to the Islam Republic of Iran. I will not have the free United States turn into the Republic of Christian States because some Christians want to use their muscle to tell others how to live their lives.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • CBinky

      Since all one has to do is repent just a millisecond before they die and whammo they are in heaven, heaven will be full of odious people whose only redeeming quality is an impeccable sense of timing.

      And if heaven is full of people I spend my time avoiding here on earth, then what is the point?

      June 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Friendly

      """And if heaven is full of people I spend my time avoiding here on earth, then what is the point?"""

      I want you to know how much I enjoyed this line. I'll be stealing it and using it in lots of places. Lots of ignorant people like to attack me and tell me I'm going to hell. What a beautiful line to reply with.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      John 3:15 – that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him

      John 3:18 – Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son

      In my view Jesus has only required a few things he was questioned by nebecaneza.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You asked: "And if heaven is full of people I spend my time avoiding here on earth, then what is the point?"

      Every other week, you get to fan god and chant how wonderful He is. I envy you.


      June 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Reality

      Mark, Mark, Mark,

      One more time:

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospels being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      June 21, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Reality. Oh so so sorry. The original poster asked a question about if Gays and Lesbians can reach heaven so I gave him the scripture I look too when folks ask me these questions. You are not a person of Faith so not sure what yah' writing on about but I guess its more of a challenge to my beliefs than an attempt to help the original poster.

      Interesting, what is more important to you my friend.

      June 22, 2011 at 2:29 am |
  14. Jim Bradford

    Bunchofidiots how do you get incest from Adam and Eve?

    June 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Friendly

      Jim, lol, you're kidding right? I really want to think you're kidding here.

      Adam and Eve had kids... Who had the next generation of children? Adam and Eve's kids. With each other. Or worse yet, with their parents.

      Yeah, that's the hot steamy story of the Bible. Mother/son incest. But man oh man, are gays gross or what. We should treat them differently because we're prudes that live in tiny cardboard boxes.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Jim Bradford

      Friendly where in the bible does it say their children had children with each other?

      June 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Aaron

      The best known incest in the Bible is Lot "knowing" his daughters after Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed when they thought they were the last people in the world. There are gaps in whom the children of Adam and Eve married. A passage in Genesis states that the sons of God came down and basically married the daughters of men. That's about the only thing that points to whom Adam and Eve's children may have married.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Eric G

      Really? Adam and Eve had Cain, Able, Seth and "other sons and daughters". According to the story, they are the only people. So, if the second generation had offspring, it must have been with each other or their parents because there were no other people.

      Were you born this way or did you take lessons?

      June 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • Unbeliever

      Seriously, have you read it? Where else would the other kids have come from. Not to mention, Lot's daughters got him drunk and slept with him. That is in the bible. Incest. Anyone who truly gets their values from this collection of ancient fairy tales would truly be a monster. Rules like not killing each other and not stealing from each other were codified long before the ten commandments.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Friendly

      Nothing but silence and crickets from Jim. He's trying to figure the math out on this one still. haha.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  15. niittymaki

    Actually, 'Satan' is the best friend of the church. After all, he's kept it in business all these years!

    June 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
  16. Mark from Middle River

    Bunch – I can hear and understand your anger but at the same time knowing that there are tons of gay and lesbian Christians out there that serve and are faithful would you consider them to also be brainwashed? These are ones that can preach and give the gospel and have not or will not accept the wall that some Christians attempt to place between them and the Father in Heaven.

    To me, that is where I find my fight in this issue when I see straight Christians attempting to put such a wall between those who are Christian and LGBT and God. The atheist input in this matter is worthless at the most because this is often Christian vs Christian.

    June 21, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Mark from Middle River

      You said: "The atheist input in this matter is worthless at the most because this is often Christian vs Christian."

      Oh contraire! The atheist view calms the dispute between Christians, by pointing out that their differences are moot, since god does not exist. Any such disputes are akin to arguing if Santa puts on his left or right boot first.


      June 23, 2011 at 12:34 am |
  17. Inrealityhere...

    I hope CNN will post my previous comments. They really could save lives : )

    June 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • Chip

      Save lives? I guess you are excluding the suicidal gay teens who might be reading your post. Their lives don't count.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • LinCA


      If "Your comment is awaiting moderation." it won't ever be posted. There are no moderators only automated censoring. You post must have had a forbidden word in it.

      The following words or word fragmets will get your post censored (list is incomplete):

      To fix that you can break up the word by putting an extra character in, like consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      June 21, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  18. Inrealityhere...

    I don't hate gays, thieves, liars, greedy people, adulterers or any other sinners. I share my faith with them because I believe if they don't repent and follow Christ they will spend eternity in hell. In fact I love them enough to tell them what I believe is the truth. I know I am far from perfect but continue to learn and allow God to change me. Of course it's their right to reject what I say and I wouldn't badger them about it either. I guess if the tables were turned I would want someone to tell me the way to heaven. After all, if I'm wrong there is no loss but if they are wrong and never believe they lose heaven for eternity. What's worse is if they have children who follow in their steps.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Friendly

      Enjoy living your life in fear of going to hell. That's really loving of God. While you're worried about that, I'm being a productive member of society.

      As a gay man, who you're scared that children may be following in my footsteps: I aced my way through highschool, worked full time since I was 14, put myself through college completely on scholarships, secured internships all throughout college, had 5 different 60K+ jobs waiting for me when I graduated. I'm debt free and I can live and work wherever I want in the country.

      On top of that I'm active in my community, I volunteer, and when I settle down I have ambitions to mentor students struggling with math, as algebra and early calculus are my passion and I love helping others to learn. I'm curteous to others, I gain trust from most people immediately due to my warm and sincere personality (which turns out to be very useful in the world today).

      How terrible that someone might look up to me! Because at night I go home to my loving boy friend. It's so sad that my life can be full of so much good... and people like you get to come in and look down on me. You pity me. You "don't hate me", but you hate my life style.

      Inrealityhere... I pity you. How sad that you live your life by such a pathetic and false construct. How sad that such petty, insignicant things will blind you from brilliant people and opportunities. Sad, really.

      June 21, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Yay for you Friendly. You sound like a good role model and a welcome member of any enlightened community.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Chip

      At first this seems like a self richeous, condescending, post, but I honestly think you mean well. My concern would be that you would have a child raised with this message that discovers they are gay during puberty. Imagine the pain that your message would cause that child when they realized that they are attracted to someone of the gender. That isn't something you just prey away and I know many gay Christians who have tried.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • TruthLove

      @Friendly ... Living in Christ is about being forgiven, set free, and secure. We don't have to live in fear of Hell. Words don't do salvation and a regenerated life justice. God loves you the same as He loves me and desires to be in fellowship with you. It would be sad for people to consider their lifestyle choices a barrier to knowing the love of Christ. I don't want to be divisive and I am no judge, I just want people to know Jesus and the freedom He brings. If you can overlook the hurt and judgement from others, I encourage you to know the Lord.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  19. Chris Dressel

    "Opponents of gay marriage aren’t defending the Bible’s values. They’re using the Bible to defend their own."

    HERE HERE!!! Said perfectly.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Brian

      Agreed! youre the man, jon! expose the hypocrisy....

      June 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      So when someone does good works in society and they state that it is because it is what they believe to be a positive Bible value, is the same true?

      June 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Shaina

      Couldn't agree more. Very well-written, well-reasoned article.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • Free

      Mark from Middle River
      People can do the same good works as a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, ... whatever, as you do as a Christian, right? Wouldn't that lead you to think that people do good works somewhat naturally, and that the various religions and philosophies are merely frameworks for this? Maybe most people actually do need a framework to keep them on track, but to argue that any one of them is the only 'true' way to live is like trying to argue that any one cultural cuisine is the only way people should ever cook. Sorry, but it's ridiculous.

      June 22, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>” People can do the same good works as a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, ... whatever, as you do as a Christian, right? Wouldn't that lead you to think that people do good works somewhat naturally””

      Ahh,.... THANK YOU Free !! EXACTLY …. I totally agree “HI-FIVE”

      The thing is, if you believe that people can do good works … “naturally” then the inverse becomes a rock solid belief. … then folks can do BAD WORKS !! ...naturally …

      In other words the argument that some Atheist put forth that religion is the source of all the ills in the history of man ...falls flat on its face because man and woman can and do bad things ...Naturally !! That means that Religion is not the fault … human nature is.

      Come on … Hi-Five !! Come on .. come on... 🙂


      June 22, 2011 at 3:01 am |
    • Free

      Mark from Middle River
      I agree with you that it is silly to say that religion is responsible for all the world's ills, but I can't give you a hi-five because religion does have a way of getting people to go against their natures and cause harm to others when they really don't intend to. They will do things that their conscience tells them is actually wrong and unjust simply because they are told by some religious authority that it is good and what God wants. Most Christians I know, for example, tell me that they would support gay marriage if it were not condemned by the Bible as they believe it is. They recognize that the only justification for blocking it is religious.

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

      So, how about I just give you a pistol finger point instead?

      June 22, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  20. Wade

    Again, make excuses for your sin. Read your Bible throuoghly! Just because you attend some seminary doesn't make you a theologian. Geez.

    June 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Jon

      Or you. Geez.

      June 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Or any of us to think only we are clever and enlightened 🙂

      June 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • Friendly

      Wade, my man. Great response! Way to respond to all of those paragraphs of text and analysis and examples and actual quotes from the Bible. Way to dismiss it and tell him to read it. I'd better 100 dollars, right now, that I (an Atheist) could school you under the table with my knowledge of the Bible, NOT TO MENTION, poor Jon here who actually studies the Bible on a regular basis.

      But no, your one sentence and "geez" just tore it all away. Plus we all know that all US Citizens are actually required to live based on the teachings of the Koran. I mean... the Bible. The Christian Republic of America. That's what we should name the country where we put you Bible-loving nutjobs.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Mark from Middle River:
      "Or any of us to think only we are clever and enlightened."

      Clever, enlightened AND good looking................
      There are so few of us.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Jimmy-James

      Um...actually him graduating from seminary at one of the most prestigious divinity schools in the nation DOES consider him a theologian. It is you who have not achieved such scholastic merit who is not said theologian.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Dan, TX

      Friendly, you are not alone. I have walked in the footsteps of Jesus in the Old City and felt the power of the human spirit in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at the site where Jesus was crucified, and I prayed at the Western Wall for the people of the world to put god to rest and embrace our love for each other that comes from our shared humanity. God and religion have been useful (despite some murderous abuses). We have outgrown religion, it is time to move on and simply care about each other because we are all brothers and sisters, not because we are children of one of the many gods we feared in the past.

      June 21, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • Aaron

      @ friendly you dont seem to be to friendly to people who dont share your ideas or point of view. How does that make you any better than them?

      June 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Dan, TX

      Yes! Read up on Secular Humanism. You may find its concepts, pleasing.


      June 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • D-TX

      @DanTX "It is time to put God to rest..." Just wow. I am a Christian. I believe people have a right to live their lives how they see fit. If their beliefs don't line up with mine, IT IS OKAY. I will pray for them, but I will not attempt to restrict how they want to live their lives.
      Please grant me that same right. You may say it is foolish and folly. But don't I have a right to worship the God that I believe in? Don't I have the same right to live as I please.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
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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.