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Can the Christian crusade against pornography bear fruit?
After avoiding talk about sex from the pulpit for years, pastors are now speaking out against porn.
August 21st, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Can the Christian crusade against pornography bear fruit?

By Ashley Fantz, CNN

Atlanta (CNN) - He is a good Christian, Michael is telling his two therapists. He goes to church most Sundays. He’s a devoted husband and father of two daughters.

“But when I would leave on business trips,” he says, “I knew I was going to get to be someone else.”

“Prostitutes, porn - I took anything I wanted.”

Sitting on a comfortable, worn couch, Michael glances out the window and sees a reflection of himself set against the parking lot of this suburban Atlanta office building. He fidgets, runs his fingers over his closely cropped blond hair and straightens his green tennis polo. He clears his throat.

Above his head hangs a poster covered in words describing feelings - angry, anxious, sad. On it is a big yellow cross.

Therapists Richard Blankenship and Mark Richardson wear solemn but empathetic expressions. Certified counselors and Christian ministers, they tell him they know how to listen and nod for him to continue.

“I’ve had a record of purity since March when I confessed to my wife,” says Michael, whose name has been changed by CNN.com to protect his privacy. “No porn, no masturbation.”

“Awesome,” Richardson says, leaning forward in his chair. “God knows you’re trying.”

This is Michael’s second week at “Faithful and True – Atlanta” a 16-week counseling program that, like dozens of others like it around the country, combines traditional psychotherapy with the Bible in an attempt to treat addictive behavior.

Blankenship, a devout Christian who once struggled with sexual abuse, says his own ordeal has helped him to treat and “graduate” nearly 500 Christian men and women with similar addictions in the last five years.

He says he has helped people achieve what he calls “sobriety,” which means resisting porn and lustful thoughts.

Though controversial in secular circles, much of the evangelical Christian world has been cheering this relatively new kind of therapy. Many believers, including many Christian leaders, consider it a powerful tool for fighting what they say is one of the modern church’s biggest problems: porn addiction.

A crusade is born

Not long ago, it was unheard of for a pastor to talk about sex from the pulpit.

Today, clergy are talking about porn.

Many evangelical pastors say they don’t have a choice. The Internet has made porn unavoidable; it’s everywhere. And porn, they say, leads to a lack of intimacy in marriage, threatening the biblical mandate to get and stay married.

In the past few years, Christian leaders have established online ministries to tackle the problem, hosting anti-porn podcast sermons and Web chats. The popular evangelical blog Crosswalk.com recently ran an article headlined “How many porn addicts are in your church?”

Christian publishers, meanwhile, have produced a wave of recent books on the subject, including popular titles like “Porn-Again Christian,” “Secret Sexual Sins: Understanding a Christian's Desire for Pornography” and “Eyes of Integrity: The Porn Pandemic and How It Affects You.”

Evangelical pastor Jeremy Gyorke recently came forward to talk about how porn has affected him. In July, the 32-year-old confessed his porn addiction in a sermon at Wyandotte Family Church, just outside Detroit.

“I’m part of a generation of Christians who grew up keeping your mouth shut about your personal life,” he says. “Goodness no, we didn’t talk about sex.”

“But now that we have a little say in the attitude of the church, we’re taking a different approach,” Gyorke continues. “We’re putting it all out there, saying you don’t have to keep secrets. Come forward and admit that you’ve made a mistake, and you can be healed.”

Gyorke said he confessed to his congregation after his wife caught him looking at porn and told him it made her feel inadequate. She wanted him to seek help and to be transparent as a man of God.

Gyorke ultimately decided that viewing any porn, even once or twice, is a problem for believers.

“It’s like a gateway drug,” he says. “You can’t just have a little look. If you look at porn, you’ve already given your heart and spirit away to someone who isn’t your wife.”

As he wrote his sermon on the matter, Gyorke felt tremendous anxiety. “I thought it would make or break me to them as their pastor,” he says.

But his flock reacted with empathy and support. Several congregants approached him afterward to say that they, too, felt that they’d acted against God by looking at porn.

Different interpretations

Though the words “porn” and “masturbation” don’t appear in the Bible, Gyorke believes the biblical verdict is clear. “Sexual immorality is mentioned a lot in the Bible, and that is what porn is,” he says.

He quotes the Gospel of Matthew: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

“Porn is lust, and lust is a sin,” the pastor said.

Many religious scholars say that such a view reflects just one of many interpretations.

“One school of biblical study says that desire is a problem and needs to be monitored as a serious threat to salvation,” says Boston University theology professor Jennifer Wright Knust.

But Knust points to scriptural passages that appear to endorse sexual desire, including the Song of Solomon, a poem that some scholars say depicts two lovers graphically describing each other’s anatomy in an ode to unmarried sex.

“This is not new. It’s a cherry-picking of scripture used to address what’s happening right now in popular culture,” says Knust, author of the recent book “Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions on Sex and Desire.” “The new thing is that it’s being used by so-called Christian therapists.”

Knust says the anti-porn trend in Christian therapy reflects new questions in broader society about what constitutes an appropriate relationship, about gender roles and rules, and about what marriage really means.

“People are concerned and confused, and want to know if God is speaking to us in our sexual roles,” she says. “Can we find answers in divine revelation? People have always hoped that there can be certainty in the Bible.

“There is no certainty,” she says. “It’s interpretation.”

XXX churches

A few weeks after delivering his confessional sermon, Gyorke organized a Sunday event at his church intended to help keep congregants away from pornography.

He gave out study guides with scriptural verses related to lust and showed a slick video from XXXChurch, the main Web-based group for the Christian anti-porn movement.

The video opens with a mock-pharmaceutical infomercial for a product called “Lustivin.” It raves about how wonderful the drug can make you feel in the short term but then lists some major side effects: premature relational difficulty, divorce, shallow relationships.

Craig Gross, a young pastor from California, co-founded XXXChurch.com in 2001. Its URL was meant to snag people who were surfing the Web for dirty pictures.

“Ten years ago, when I wanted to bring the church up to date, everyone was like, ‘This won’t work. People will be confused about what you’re doing,’ ” Gross says.

“It was controversial at the time, but the church is always behind the times,” he says. “We should have had a XXXChurch.com in the late 1990s if we really wanted to get ahead of this problem.”

The site was slow to catch on for its first few years, but now gets millions of clicks a day from IP addresses around the globe, Gross said.

This year, XXXChurch sponsored Porn Sunday, a national anti-porn event that included hundreds of churches across the country screening a video starring Matt Hasselbeck, who's now quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, and other Christian NFL stars.

Soundbites from the players speak to the struggle between porn and faith.

“Sex is an awesome thing that God designed,” Hasselbeck says in the video.

Jon Kitna, a Dallas Cowboys quarterback, talks about surfing the Web and getting deeper into porn sites. “[You] see this [link] and it leads you to a link to this … ” he says. “And pretty soon, I’m into a world that I never really knew existed.”

For $7 a month, XXXChurch offers porn-detection software that fires off automatic e-mail alerts to a subscriber and his or her chosen “faith buddy,” a kind of whistle-blowing system designed to keep Christians from going astray.

Achieving “sobriety”

But some Christians have gone much further in their attempts to tackle porn addictions, literally rearranging their lives.

When Jeff Colon, a self-described recovering porn addict in Kentucky, confessed his addiction to his wife, she told him to get help or find a divorce attorney.

It was the early 1990s. Christian sex addition counseling was unheard of. But Colon’s pastor - to whom he’d also confided - called other church leaders and learned of a Christian counseling retreat called Pure Life Ministries, a kind of Christian compound that includes a chapel and all-male dormitory on 44 acres in western Kentucky.

Today, Colon is the president of Pure Life, which he credits with saving his marriage.

He says the program has cured thousands of men of their porn addictions through a six- to 12-month program of one-on-one or group therapy sessions.

The live-in program costs $175 a week. Men must move to the campus and live alone, with wives having the option of talking to Pure Life counselors by phone. Most insurance plans don’t cover Pure Life - a moot concern, really, because most program participants quit their jobs to relocate.

That’s what Colon, who was working as an elevator repairman, did. “I don’t regret it for a second,” he says. “It was a hard time not because I lost my job or had to move from my family. It was a tough time because I had nearly lost my connection with God. That is what’s most important in life.”

Pure Life’s curriculum relies heavily on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, which stresses that if one lives “by the Spirit,” he will not “gratify the desires of the flesh.”

The scripture goes on to say that those who gratify the flesh “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Women are not allowed on campus during the initial phase of treatment.

“People who don’t follow Christ aren’t going to get what I’m saying, but it was like intense Bible study that helped me understand how selfish I am as a sinner,” Colon says. “Basically, you have time to talk to God, and for him to show you the way to sobriety. And I’ve been sober for 17 years.”

For Colon, sobriety means abstaining from looking at porn, masturbating and performing any other sex act not involving his spouse.

“You learn that lust is just a state of mind,” he says. “If you lust for someone other than your wife, what you do is replace that lust with prayer. And you have a heart change.”

Indeed, Colon says that God was central to his recovery.

“I know secular people don’t get it,” he says. “But if I had a sponsor who was just another person, a person who is fallible, telling me to stay clean, it’s just not as powerful as God telling me that.”

“Women … drowning in this addiction”

Men aren’t the only ones who have started thinking that way about porn.

According to the creator of accountability2you, a Web-based service that dumps all the pornographic material someone surfs into his or her spouse’s e-mail inbox, roughly half of his 10,000 monthly subscribers are women.

“The Christian Church has started to realize that we’re sexual, too, and we are just as visually stimulated as men and we look at porn,” said Crystal Renaud, author of the recent book “Dirty Girls Come Clean,” a memoir about her own addiction to porn.

For the past year, the 26-year-old with punky-streaked hair has led Christian women’s porn addiction counseling sessions. Her Dirty Girls Ministries website has 450 members.

“I’ve met women who will lock themselves in a room and look at porn all day, ignoring their kids or their jobs,” she says. “I feel like I can relate because that’s all I cared about, getting my high. There are so many more women out there drowning in this addiction, you have no idea.”

Though there are few statistics to support Renaud’s claims about the extent of the problem, Christian media outlets like Today’s Christian Woman have recently run stories about women consuming porn, often theorizing that the habit starts with explicit romance novels.

Renaud has received a sexual addiction counseling certification from the American Association of Christian Counselors, though she is not licensed by secular organizations like the American Psychological Association. She promotes a five-step program she’s devised called SCARS - Surrender, Confessional, Accountability, Responsibility, Sharing - which encourages women to confess to each other about their desire to look at porn as a means of saying no to it.

In her memoir, Renaud writes about becoming a chronic masturbator and porn addict at age 10, after stumbling upon a dirty magazine in her brother’s room. It was a confusing, scary experience, she writes.

“My mother made it very clear what the parameters were when it came to sex, and there wasn’t a discussion beyond that,” Renaud said. She describes her relationship with her father as rocky, but wouldn’t elaborate.

In high school, Renaud was a leader in her Christian youth group, but she was also interested in porn. “I felt so bad and I wanted to stop looking at porn because that wasn’t what the Bible instructed,” she says, “and I knew God didn’t want me doing that.”

When she was 18, Renaud arranged to have sex for the first time at a hotel with a person she met in a Christian chat room. She says she went to the hotel but broke down in tears in her room and left before meeting the man.

“That was my rock bottom,” she says. “I remember being there and sobbing, thinking, ‘What am I doing risking my life to meet someone at a hotel I don’t even know?’”

Renaud said that she depends on God to keep her clean and that God is a kind of sponsor or monitor. When she wants to look at porn or masturbate, she and God have a kind of conversation, and the desire passes.

A crusade’s critics

The father of Christian-based porn and sex addiction therapy has a word for this “pray-away” method of sobriety.

“Hooey.”

Dr. Mark Laaser pioneered the Christian response to porn and sex addiction in the 1980s and chides counseling centers like Pure Life for what he says is their near-total reliance on prayer.

“Alcoholics don’t wish really hard to not be addicted to alcohol,” he says in a phone interview from his busy therapeutic practice in suburban Minneapolis. “The field of addiction is much deeper than opening your Bible.”

He’s pleased that more Christians are openly talking about pornography and sex addiction, but Laaser says he’s concerned that some Christian leaders and therapists are confusing sexual sin with sex addiction.

“Men come dragging into my office because their wives have caught them masturbating and labeled them addicts, or they’ve had one affair and they are now looking to have their affair excused by addiction,” he says.

“One affair doesn’t mean you’re a porn addict,” Laaser says. “Looking at porn occasionally doesn’t make you a porn addict. Those may be poor decisions, but they are not necessarily caused by clinical addiction.”

Porn is estimated to be a multibillion-dollar industry in America alone, banking at least 10 times what it did in 1970, the first time the U.S. government evaluated the retail value of the nation’s then-fledgling hardcore film, television and retail market.

During that same decade, Laaser had become the porn industry’s ideal customer. He was constantly on the hunt for it.
As a devout Christian, he spent a lot of energy trying to keep his porn a secret, especially from his wife, Debbie. His guilt distanced him from her emotionally, he says, and began eroding their relationship.

At the time, there was virtually no established psychological research, or mainstream therapy, for sex addiction. So Laaser reached out to secular 12-step programs, using Alcoholics Anonymous’ framework as a guide to reaching what he called sexual “sobriety,” abstaining from sex outside of marriage and avoiding masturbation.

“I remember thinking I wish my problem were drinking because I could get help easier,” Laaser said.

By the late ’80s, Laaser says, he was on the road to sobriety, combining therapeutic methods he’d learned while pursuing a doctorate in psychology from the University of Iowa and a divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.

“It began to seem very evident to me that secular therapy does not work as effectively for Christians,” he said. “And that’s because the secular world … to us as Christians, seems less moral. Sex is everywhere in secular society - television, film, billboards. It’s just so much a part of life that it is excused.

“Christians just aren’t going to seek out a secular therapist - they won’t seek therapy at all if they don’t have some aspect of Christianity woven into their treatment.”

In 1992, Laaser authored the first book on Christian sexual addiction, titled “The Secret Sin.”

“The Christian church, both Protestant and Catholic, is experiencing tremendous turmoil in the area of sexuality,” it began. “The problem seems epidemic.”

It sold barely enough copies to stay in print.

In 2005, the publisher changed the title to “Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction,” and Laaser added chapters on Internet porn. It has sold 75,000 copies.

In Laaser’s care, a patient will undergo psychiatric evaluation, just as he would in the secular world. Laaser wants to know if the patient has any symptoms of depression, ADHD or anxiety. He says many sex addicts suffer from other mental health issues.

“You may need to go to a meeting every day, or connect with a sponsor; you may need to check in with this office once a day,” he said. “Every client is different, but we’re essentially helping them establish boundaries and restrictions.”

Some secular therapists have warmed to this kind of approach.

“The deeply religious were a group that were hard to reach years ago because they had extreme shame connected with their addiction,” says Tim Lee, a licensed social worker in New York with a specialty in sex and porn addiction treatment.

But Lee and Pennsylvania sex therapist Dr. John Giugliano, both members of the Society for Sexual Advancement - a national nonprofit think tank of licensed sex therapists - worry that therapy can become overly focused on dogma and ignore the patient’s real-life issues.

“If you spend your time in session talking about what God thinks and what the Bible says, you don’t get to understand what the patient thinks and what happened in their life up to that point that explains why,” Giugliano says.

Even within the world of Christian therapy, some counselors criticize the methods of other religious counselors.

Richard Blankenship, the Atlanta-based Christian therapist, studied under Laaser in the early 2000s. When Blankenship set up his practice in Atlanta to treat sex addicts, he used the same name as Laaser’s ministry, “Faithful and True,” adding only the word “Atlanta.”

But Laaser wants to make it clear that he has no association with Blankenship’s practice and doesn’t agree with some aspects of Blankenship’s program.

Blankenship doesn’t rely enough on psychological expertise, Laaser says. Laaser objects to a therapist telling a patient that an addiction may be patterns repeated through generations, as Blankenship does. And Laaser disagrees with Blankenship’s habit of connecting a patient’s addiction to a biblical character’s family tree.

Abraham’s family tree

For the rest of his therapy session at Faithful and True, Michael circles emotions from a list that Richardson and Blankenship have provided. He circles “anxious” and then describes a fight he had with his wife about his infidelity.

Blankenship responds to Michael’s description of the fight by saying that addiction is generational, mentioning the Kennedys and the Fondas.

Then Blankenship queues up a PowerPoint presentation on a laptop, showing Michael a family tree he has designed around the biblical story of Abraham.

It has a lot of boxes. There are several pages.

Abraham, Blankenship says, was a guy who committed some sexual transgressions, like fathering a child with Hagar while his wife was barren. Ultimately, God forgave him.

Michael starts talking about his own family. He describes a difficult upbringing with a father whom he said was philandering and verbally abusive. He says sex wasn’t talked about at his house when he was growing up.

Before the session ends, Michael is assured that there’s no reason to think that he won’t kick his addiction. He’ll be on a new path, Blankenship says, toward “sexual integrity.”

The 90-minute session comes to a close with a prayer.

Blankenship and his co-counselor Mark Richardson lower their heads.

Richardson asks that God look after Michael. He asks God to bless this therapy process. Michael is heading out into the world, he says, heading back into a culture of temptation and lust and ungodly ways.

Look after him, the therapist says, keep him on the right path.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Sex

soundoff (3,536 Responses)
  1. belunan

    Biblical regurgitation is a social disease.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:31 am |
    • Andrew

      Pro islam? The hell?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:41 am |
    • ScienceSoma

      Common Sense sounds a bit like the Norway bomber/shooter. Unfortunately, the ideas of those who espouse common sense are rarely sensible and often not common.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:03 am |
    • Mom of Three

      Common Sense has none.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:35 am |
    • nofed

      All your ideas come from religion one way or another buddy. lol

      August 21, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • nofed

      Your ignorance is social disease more then the bible.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • queenbee

      common–the internet and news blogs works just like tv–if you do not like the topic–you don't have to read it or watch it–plenty more topics or news blogs to choose from–stop thinking the internet is for your personal enjoyment. I like a lot of topics and so do a lot of people–but grown ups do not think the world revolves around them–if you do not want to discuss religion–then go to the politics section or try another news blog or ...the internet is so vast there is no call for your personal whine about what CNN serves up as if the job is to please YOU and only YOU personally. Grow up.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • Jesus

      Going to the Bble for wisdom on such matters is akin to seeking out child molesters for some wisdom in raising a child. Just read Deut. 21. Women are objects to possess, without the same value as males. People waive the Bilble around as a source of wisdom, but those same folks NEVER READ ALL OF IT.

      August 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Rob

      Jesus, Deut 21 says the opposite, you do not own a woman. It says that if you marry a slave, you should not treat her like property and sell her. Don't believe either side when they quote scripture. Read it yourself and make your own decision. Look it up. Just google Deuteronomy 21.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Pope Benedict

      Religion is the biggest scam in the 6.000 year history of the universe!

      August 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Great line. Most Worthy as a lead-off comment.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  2. mocha moore

    that's all we need is another holy roller as a president. telling us what we should be doing and mixing religion with politics..separation of church and state...rick perry = UGH shoving endless c rap down our throats whether we want to hear it or not

    August 21, 2011 at 3:24 am |
  3. Internet

    I found this article hard to m@sturbate to.

    -The Internet.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:14 am |
    • mocha moore

      LMAO

      August 21, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • Jesus

      According to evangelical Christians, they call that a sin. They'll also have a few ham sandwiches a week, but ignore Leviticus which declares such partaking of a pig as an "abomination" and against God's will. The problem with these evangelicals is that they NEVER READ THE ENTIRETY OF THEIR BIBLE. All they do is cite the parts that they either like or which support their particular point of view.

      August 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Rob

      Jesus, you are cherry picking scripture and taking it out of context (and yes, Christians do it too). You display little understanding of the scriptures you are quoting. Friends, I encourage you to read the texts yourself. Don't listen to me, or other posters. Find out for yourself.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • sameeker

      @Rob – I have faith in Christ; however, I do not belong to any organized church because of the same cherry picking that you mention. Every preacher that I know pounds on the scripture in Malachi about donating money to the church. They ignore the part where Christ said that the wealthy should give all that they have to the poor. That applies to the churches also, with their huge, tax exempt, magnificent buildings. Why not sell them and give the money to the poor? Jesus did not even have a building. It is all a money game and I will be glad to get to heaven where AI won't have to see those greedy preachers, who will not be there.

      August 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • G Culver

      Now that is funny! Maybe will start some rational thought about what a non- issue the article represents.

      August 21, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Josh

      There is a new study out that found that 19% of straight guys have no interest in ever getting married because they find that p0rn+m@sturb@tion is "good enough" and wives are not worth their hassle.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  4. mocha moore

    It's not for some Christian to tell me what I can or can't do with my life, but they keep trying. Christians=Hypocrites

    August 21, 2011 at 3:13 am |
    • CRC

      I guess you haven't heard, hypocrites are everywhere. I'm surprised that Christians are telling you what to do. I am a Christian and I don't see any of them telling other people what to do. Where do you live and work, it must be an unusual place. From your tone it sounds like your intent on a selfish life so all I can say is enjoy it while you can, it will be relatively short and then there will be hell to pay. Like I say, it's your choice so choose wisely.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:21 am |
    • biblebull

      ikr?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:24 am |
    • montyhall

      MOCHA MOORE

      It sounds like you had a bad experience with "religion" MOCHA – for that I'm sorry. No one is attempting to tell you what to do and I'll agree that I am still frquently a Christian who is hypicortical – the difference today is I admit it and call it sin and ask for forgiveness. I try not judge others (or even myself). Best!

      August 21, 2011 at 3:25 am |
    • CRC

      Mocha, live how you want to. I really don't care. You will answer to God one day for all you have done and you will bow your knees before him recognizing Him as God. BTW the Bible has not been rewritten at all. You have some serious problems. You want to ignore God, go ahead. God gives us opportunities everyday and he will judge us for the decisions we make. Good luck on your miserable life.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:26 am |
    • Andrew

      CRC, if you're the type of person who will get into heaven, from a god who seems as self-serving, egotistical, and requiring some sort of sycophantic praise as you describe... I'd be much happier 'suffering' in hell than a lifetime of utter torture in heaven surrounded by the likes of you and a rather disturbing evil god.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:30 am |
    • montyhall

      CRC
      "You have some serious problems." in my opinion – sounds (very) judgemental. I'm just guessing that's what non-believers find hypocritical of Christians (and with statements like that – who could blame them). I know I fall VERY far short of the cross.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:39 am |
    • Pope Jon

      CRC, read your posts, you say you are not judgmental, yet you talk down to mocha moore and seem to take joy in telling mocha moore about how they are wrong going and you don't care but in a very snarky way. If that's not judgmental, I don't know what is.... I don't think your god would like the way your behaving....

      August 21, 2011 at 3:39 am |
    • Majestic_Lizard

      This article has no medical or scientific basis.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:44 am |
    • Clint

      CRC, AKA christian troll.

      Of course CRC never sees any christians behaving badly, in a christians eyes, no christian can do any wrong......

      August 21, 2011 at 5:10 am |
    • nofed

      If the bible said NOT to jump of the roof you would go jump? dont be ignorant certain ideas in the bible make biological sense when it comes diet and health.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • Jesus is fiction and you're kinda slow

      Nobody is goping to heaven, it doesn't exist. I know this with absolute certainty, because I dies for a short period, and was brought back with drugs that the paramedics had. Know what I saw during those short minutes? The same thing everyone else who ever passed on did... NOTHING. There is nothing after this world. I have had the experience, I have seen it with my own eyes, but I bet you Christians will come up with some interesting fiction as to why and how your BELIEF trumps my EXPERIENCE. Have at it, Jesus people- I'll be here, knowing for a FACT that you are mistaken.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • Jesus

      Jesus is fiction, there is something after death – DECOMPOSITION (unless you're cremated).

      August 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • SmarterthanU

      Christians=Hypocrites=phonies=crooks=manipulators=liars=idiots

      August 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Rob

      You cannot prove Heaven, God or Jesus does not exist. You can believe it to be true, or not, but you can't prove it doesn't exist. Logic rules say it's impossible to prove a negative. Thinking otherwise is just breaking the logical rules many people think believing in God breaks. But, it's just the opposite.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • keylargo

      give it a rest montyhall, you're getting on my nerves!

      August 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  5. Prezence

    mannnn what a bunch of bull**** these christians need to get of their high horse and stop thinking lust is a sin and all that... come on we live in the 21st century nobody has time for your prudeish crap anymore

    August 21, 2011 at 3:11 am |
    • mocha moore

      Christians do their p0rn behind closed doors then call everyone else out on the floor for it. more holy than thou

      August 21, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • CRC

      Actually it's not about what Christians "think". It is about what God teaches and if you want a relationship with Him and you want to be saved from your sins you need to follow his book called the Bible and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour. If you don't want to do that that's your choice but you will have a relatively short crappy life and then all of eternity to pay for it.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • montyhall

      I'm on no "high horse" brother... I didn't write this article. This is how "we" (Christians) choose to live, no one is saying you have to do this, you have your free will too...

      August 21, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • mocha moore

      CRC who is hand feeding you this crap? what are you a gambler, alcoholic, drug addict, ex con? stop repeating what you hear. How many times over has the bible been re-written from it's original writings? To allow man to not feel as guilty?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:20 am |
    • Majestic_Lizard

      CRC, everything you say is just stating the obvious on the intellectual level of a third grader student, yet pretending to be profoundly wise.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:46 am |
    • Prezence

      CRC if I have to hear another speech about being saved from whatever the hell I need to be saved from I think Im gonna hurl. This is why I have trouble respecting this religion because by and large christians will never be satisfied till they have forced their religion down everyones throat and everyone will then be "saved." I live a great life and I dont go to church and I dont buy into all the propaganda that comes along with believing in god because if god was against the things mentioned in this article women would not look so good and men would not have d***s and right hands

      August 21, 2011 at 3:52 am |
  6. John R

    It's Saturday night and CNN comes up with another divisive article on religion. I hope that the demographic of those commenting are such that you're in the younger set, and may not understand that a reporter can write pretty much anything they want on subject matter like this, essentially creating division, intolerance and outright hate where there basically wasn't any...all in the name of page views and the ad revenue that comes with it.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:10 am |
    • Pope Jon

      Christianity both historically and currently does an excellent job at creating division, intolerance and outright hate where there basically wasn't any.... Just the idea that you wont go to heaven if you don't believe in Jesus no mater how moral or good you are pretty much says it all right there. Basically your not going to heaven unless you are in the special club. In all fairness, pretty much all religions require you to join their club in order to get to heaven. So the real question is, how do you know you joined the right club at the end of the day?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:20 am |
    • ssolilrose

      Pope Jon,
      Paganism totally believes there is multiple paths to a better afterlife.....just sayin'

      August 21, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Frogist

      @JohnR: Yes, the research, the interviews, the showing multiple sides of a complex issue.. it's all a plot to make people hate Christians. LOL!

      August 22, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  7. Johnny

    I wouldn't even trust a Christian to change the batteries in the remote, let alone this.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:05 am |
    • mocha moore

      LOL

      August 21, 2011 at 3:09 am |
    • nofed

      I wouldnt trust you to write a CNN comment lol

      August 21, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • Leonard

      So true.they do not believe in batteries since they are not in their bible

      September 18, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  8. TheTruth72

    I think you are missing the point as well. I won't argue about Adam and Eve because it would be a pointless conversation on both sides. But when I say lust, I am talking about looking at po-rn or thinking about a person se-xu-ally when they are not your partner. Fornication is another subject and I won't get into that. I'm pretty sure you are mixing up attraction and lust.

    August 21, 2011 at 3:02 am |
    • TheTruth72

      Oops, that was to Andrew way below.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:03 am |
    • Unknown

      But what about the person who has "lust" is single?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:04 am |
    • Andrew

      It's not all that pointless, see while you would never be convinced that your bronze age mythological beliefs about the creation of the universe are wrong, since I can rebut (with peer reviewed journal articles no less) any claim you make, in rather stunning detail, those who are not so well versed on the subject who read the dialogue could be swayed to the side of science. It's for the benefit of others, not the already horribly misinformed.

      Anyway, I still don't get what's wrong with thinking about someone else s-xually, or what's wrong with p0rn. As long as you're not looking at it 24/7, and can still function productively, it seems pointless and silly to rail against. What's so bad about "lust"? What's so bad if even your partner looks at it, I mean, we all have those feelings, so it seems counter-intuitive to demonize them.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:09 am |
    • TheTruth72

      Either it's forn-ica-tion, which I won't get into because that topic won't get either side to cave in. Or it's one-sided lu-st and ends up being a waste of time and most likely money. The sin aspect of it just refers to something that God doesn't want done. Can you tell me why He might not want lu-sting done? Check out the story of David in the Bible and when he lu-sted over a lady and had her husband killed. Then pro-ceeded to have children with her. I'm not saying it could lead to something that ser-iously immoral, but I'm sure you have heard of worse in the news.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • TheTruth72

      @Andrew I don't have lustful feelings anymore Andrew. Isn't saying we all have those feelings a bit strong? I have asked for those feelings to be taken away and they were. Jesus is great isn't He?! I am still attracted to females, but I do not lust over them.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:19 am |
    • Andrew

      I don't base my evaluations on 'right and wrong' on extreme actions of individuals. I don't consider drinking wine to be bad, but if someone has two bottles a day, that's a different issue entirely. I'm not talking about extremes here, I'm talking about the idea of 'lust' in general. And you might consider mast-rbation to be a waste of time, but you might consider my obsession for making green tea properly (Warm the teapot with boiling water, empty it, place the tea leaves loose leaf into a tea pot, use roughly 80 degrees c water and steep for no more than a minute 10) a waste of time and money. But it makes me feel good, and happy, to have a pot of brilliantly brewed green tea. Just like it makes me feel good and happy to c- m. I don't consider that a waste, but apparently you do. But why should your standards be applied to others, what's so good about your standard and what's so bad about mine?

      And while I've got my doubts as to you 'eliminating those feelings', I feel a better word might be 'repressed' in the same way Ted Haggard represses his hom-s-xuality, but I can't really substantiate that, so I'll say MOST humans have those feelings. And I fail to see what's wrong with those feelings.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:27 am |
  9. Jman

    Good Article.

    August 21, 2011 at 2:57 am |
  10. Unknown

    In my opinion, images of s3x, which is eventually considered p0rn, has more respect and dignity to human life than images of violence. It is only natural. If they really cared, they would go after images of violence more.

    August 21, 2011 at 2:52 am |
    • TheTruth72

      The act of being naked is natural. What about the act of lusting over a woman? I don't mean an attraction. I mean wanting to have se-x with her. Why don't I take it a step further. Wanting to have se-x with her and she doesn't know it.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:55 am |
    • Andrew

      I believe there are a good number of supermodels who are quite ok with people they don't know and have no idea about wanting to sleep with them. Why should that be considered a bad thing again?

      August 21, 2011 at 3:00 am |
    • TheTruth72

      @Andrew Oh, I don't know. Maybe you should ask that child starving in the street right by your house that could've used the 2 dollars you just spent on internet time lusting over women. Get my point? You probably don't because your too prideful to realize your problem and admit that someone besides yourself might be right for a change.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:07 am |
    • Andrew

      The hell? Dude, I typically spend more time making tea in a day than I do j-rking off. I spend vastly more time reading, vastly more time cooking, vastly more time playing with my dog, vastly more time doing virtually everything else in my life than j-rking. And my time certainly isn't so valuable that it costs me 2$ every time I fa p. You could say "well you should spend less money on food and instead give it to the starving child. Do you really need to make home-made mapo tofu when potatoes and corn could feed you just as well?"

      Seriously, the "why don't you help the needy instead of mast-rbating" defense? I waste so much money in so many aspects of my life, I have a f- ing 8 cylinder engine car which kills me on gas mileage, that the idea I'd be helping humanity by j-rking less is patently absurd.

      So how's this, why don't you go outside right now, in the dark at midnight, and find a poor person on the street. Take them in, and feed and clothe them, rather than talking about p 0rn on a CNN news site. I don't care about the "poor starving child" on the street enough to do so right now, I prefer the warm house and company of my very wonderful dog... but then again, I'm not saying "why don't you help others instead of waste money by j-rking". So why don't you help others instead of waste time posting lame arguments on the internet? If you're going to be self-righteous about wasting time online, it's best if you do so without looking like a hypocrite.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:21 am |
    • Frogist

      @Truth72: What exactly does it mean to be attracted to someone but not want to have se-x with them? I'm not sure I understand the difference. And not to be cruel or anything, but I seriously would not want to get into a relationship where a guy has trained himself not to want to have se-x with me. That kind of attraction has the appeal of dry toast.

      August 22, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  11. petridish

    The 9-11 terrorists were abstaining from masturbation as well.

    August 21, 2011 at 2:39 am |
    • Hilo, HI

      They were in a strip club getting lap-dances the night before, actually.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:03 am |
    • Scott

      If that isn't a far stretch of a comparison, I don't know what is. And yes, they were at a strip club the night before.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:29 am |
  12. Frank

    Why does it matter for Evangelicals? Once saved always saved actions don't mean anything . . . I of course don't subscribe to that practice what you preach and it does matter what you DO.

    August 21, 2011 at 2:37 am |
  13. Brian

    Is this a giant commercial disguised as an editorial? Seems to me. Christians mainly but all religious people have it so easy. They do something against their religious faith and ask forgiveness. Why follow a religion if your going to commit sin and then get forgiven in the end anyway?

    Its almost like a scam. It makes religious people feel they belong to something better than they are which makes them feel good about themselves that they are part of that. Its like being an American until they go to war with your birth country and then, amazingly, your on the other side fighting. After they get caught they ask forgiveness and go back to their lives before the war. Except Christians do this on a daily basis. I can only think of one word that fits...hypocritical.

    August 21, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • BillInLA

      Brian,
      I grew up Catholic. Moved away from it. Most Catholics I know have the good sense not to take themselves, Jesus, or the Pope this seriously. What makes these people newsworthy is the dog-bites-man characteristics of the story. Most people of most Christian faiths aren't this nutty and extreme about their beliefs.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:41 am |
    • Brian

      In my experience, even the most tame Christians can become so upset at the idea that the Bible is not a real collection of true history. It is a book. Trust yourself to be a good person, you do not need someone to tell you are a good person.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:55 am |
    • Jim

      Your jaded view of forgiveness in Christianity belies a misunderstanding of repentance (that's also prevalent in some Christians) - one of the key steps in repentance is turning from the sin. Now, that does NOT mean that we'll be unforgiven if we commit it again, but it does imply that if one is not working hard to break free of a sin, they won't achieve full repentance.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  14. Roland

    This is a sad truth but it is killing our soul. Fear God, love God, obey God.

    What would Jesus do? Christians define as followers of Christ.

    August 21, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • Brian

      All religion can be summed up like this. If you prey to god, you get three answers. YES, NO, and WAIT.

      YES it happens, rarely actual result.
      NO, nothing happens.
      WAIT, God works in mysterious ways, or something like that.

      Religion is a giant Commercial playing repeatedly over and over. The more you read or see it, the more you need it to tell you what to think and how to live. Take a look inside of yourself. You will see you do not need a two thousand year old book to tell you how to be a good person. You can do that all by yourself. I do it everyday. I respect my wife, I work hard, I help people, I love my friends and family. I did not read that in a book, It comes natural. I know there is no God or Jesus, or Allah, Buddha, or what ever you call your God.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • Roland

      Matt 5:28-29 (NIV) [Jesus:] "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."

      August 21, 2011 at 2:54 am |
    • Andrew

      Well clearly if the bible says it, then it must be true. We must all band together to slay Voldemort! Oh, sorry, wrong fictional book. I have a hard time distinguishing between fiction, apparently.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:02 am |
    • ssolilrose

      Fear or love, for both cannot exist at the same time. Not true fear and true love....

      August 21, 2011 at 3:04 am |
    • Brian

      As an educated adult you believe in things like this? do you believe your home gets electricity from a special machine made by God? I bet a fraction of what is in the Bible actually happened. Turning water into wine? Seriously, as a person that can reason logically, you do not find that to be somewhat unlikely? If not then you are truly lost. Walking on water, talking bushes, fire and brimstone; it must be god because there is no way that someone from that time could have just...made it up! Exaggeration wasn't even available then.

      Religion is a form of control. It controls you to fall in line and to not question what you are given, or why it is being taken away.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:10 am |
    • biblebull

      @Brian
      the sad thing is that im a 15 year old kid and dont believe that crap, yet many adults do, what kind of a world is this???

      August 21, 2011 at 3:33 am |
    • Andrew

      biblebull, if you have to ask that, it shows you're still a bit naive 😛

      -A "mature young adult" (See: Lie)

      August 21, 2011 at 3:43 am |
    • nofed

      Brian, your dumb. their are concept in religion that are common sense and you follow them daily.

      August 21, 2011 at 7:56 am |
    • Aleta413

      What Would jesus Do? Same thing as Mickey Mouse or any other fictional character I suppose

      September 28, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  15. TheTruth72

    I was add-icted to po-rn for many years. It was only when I told Jesus that I did not want to live like that anymore and to take that temp-tation away, that the add-iction left. I mean it left instantly. I'm serious and not kidding around. I'm att-racted to women still, but I do not have the desire to check out po-rn on the internet anymore. I'd rather be doing something more pro-ductive and helping out humanity. By the way, all sin is, is pushing God away by doing something He doesn't want you to be doing. Sin doesn't have to be add-iction in all cases. In fact, just looking at po-rn once and never again would not be con-sidered an add-iction, but it would still be sin because you were lust-ing after someone.

    August 21, 2011 at 2:32 am |
    • TheTruth72

      The same happened to me for video games, but I won't go into that anymore because it doesn't have to do with this article besides add-iction.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • John R

      'Like'.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:14 am |
    • Sally

      Please tell me, why did God give us those desires to begin with if it is a sin and evil? Why would he doom us like that? If he loves us so much, why would he allow such things to happen?

      August 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Truth72: Firstly, I'm pretty sure se-x addiction and video game addiction have not been acknowledged as real by any psychiatric associations. I personally believe such addictions are possible. And that addiction behaviour can be transferrable between different activities because it is a personality issue. It certainly is not a "sin" issue to me anyway. So I think you would have to explain why you think you were addicted to pr0n and video games. But it would make sense that you would be addicted to two different activities, and are now possible addicted to religion. It seems to be the popular thing these days to claim both of those addictions to condemn harmless activities that certain elements consider unseemly due to the increasingly puritanical views of an older generation. In other words, it's the old se-x and violence two-step. Puritanical views are on the rise and that's where they attack first.
      What you are describing as your miracle moment where your addiction just magically went away is exactly what the certified therapists are saying is dangerous about this school of thought. You can't pray the issue away. It rarely works for real addicts who need real help. And for those who think it worked, it probably was that they weren't addicted in the first place. Not knowing your situation, I can't say for sure. And I'm glad if you've found a way out of destructive behaviour if indeed that was your situation.But as I've said, the occasional wan-k or pr0n session is not destructive.

      August 22, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  16. BillInLA

    “People who don’t follow Christ aren’t going to get what I’m saying, but it was like intense Bible study that helped me understand how selfish I am as a sinner,” Colon says. “Basically, you have time to talk to God, and for him to show you the way to sobriety. And I’ve been sober for 17 years.”

    No, not true. You show the intellectual arrogance of the typical true believer. We get it completely. These are your beliefs. Fine if you want to live by them; hallelujah for you. If you end up being a good person by telling yourself that you are talking to Jesus and that Jesus is talking back, good. Just drop the pretense that you are actually more aware than the rest of us. This is just your way to make yourself follow your beliefs.

    August 21, 2011 at 2:30 am |
  17. Justin

    Whatever floats your boat. I myself enjoy Po-rn and intend to keep watching it. They have the right not to just as I have the right to. Good article though.

    August 21, 2011 at 2:23 am |
    • TheTruth72

      Oh, I enjoyed it too, but what is it accomplishing in your life and in other people's lives? I had Jesus take away my temptation and desires for po-rn away for that reason. It they left instantly.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • Sally

      Thetruth:

      It provides enjoyment, entertainment and pleasure, of course! And some very happy and healthy couples (such as myself and my husband) use it as a bedroom tool. No wonder y'all are so psychologically devastated.

      August 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Thetruth,
      Is there anything else in life you enjoy that does not have any other specific benefit to you or anyone else? Like a good television show, reading (other than your bible), going to the beach, watching sports? Should we stop those activities as well? I guess if your po-rn habits are negatively affecting your life then you should either change them if you can or try to quit them. Otherwise, so what?

      September 28, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  18. Rational Human

    This is not worthy of news, other than to cover fundamentalists wanting to impose their brand of authoritarianism on others.

    August 21, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • JLS639

      Um, everything they described was voluntary. How is that authoritarian?

      August 21, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • ssolilrose

      JL, because if you do not do the "voluntary" things, then they doom you to their self proclaimed hell. Therefore not all that "voluntary"

      August 21, 2011 at 3:00 am |
    • Hilo, HI

      addiction, exploitation -these are newsworthy topics

      August 21, 2011 at 3:28 am |
    • Scott

      Hyperbole. If christians wanted to impose their will on you, the article would be calling for criminalizing p-rn. Unfortunately, it is not. It is merely describing the desire of Christians to stop looking at it. That is their choice to do. You are the one who decided to read the article.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:33 am |
    • Frogist

      @Scott: Of course, because Christians are well-known for keeping their religion out of the political system. They would never impose their skewed ideas of morality onto others. Like say with gay marriage. This type of "therapy" is a symptom not a cause in itself. It's a symptom of a conservative shift in discussing and thinking about se-xuality that is going on in the abortion debate, no-cost birth-control, planned parenthood etc etc And it won't be contained. It never is. It fuels the ridiculous double standards of male/female, gay/straight, Christian/non-Christian "sin" and "forgivness" that is currently going on in our politics.

      August 22, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  19. bu

    ALL Religion is a disease of the Mind! Be part of the cure, not the problem!

    Help cure the religion disease!

    August 21, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • TheTruth72

      Oh, I agree. Just have a relationship with Jesus. It's all you need!

      August 21, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • ssolilrose

      Having a relationship with the God and Goddess is all you need.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:57 am |
    • Andrew

      Nah, Jesus was too much of a 'good boy' for me, I'd vastly prefer a relationship with Loki, now there was a god who knew how to have fun. Or maybe I should date Dionysus, he certainly knew how to party.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:58 am |
    • gerard

      Repent or die.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:03 am |
    • ssolilrose

      We're all going to die hun......

      August 21, 2011 at 3:35 am |
  20. tallulah13

    The desire for s-ex is hardwired in humanity. I think that the religious desire to repress se-xuality is a fool's mission, but if they feel the need, who am I to say they can't.

    August 21, 2011 at 2:03 am |
    • TheTruth72

      I think that you don't really have a debatable point in your sentences there, but here's the thing. Christians will probably agree with your first statement based on the crea-tion of Eve. God told Eve that her child labor would now be painful since she sinned. So, maybe this implies she had kids before then? Christians don't mind that there is an act of se-x to produce offspring. What they do mind is how else it is being used. I think that 20-30 years of TV have done a number on you to believe that it is OK to lus-t.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • Andrew

      ... Truth, you are aware that the story of Adam and Eve is just that, a story, yes? It never happened. There was no Eve. But I'm curious about why it isn't ok to "lust". What's so bad about it? I mean, who does it hurt? As long as all partners are ok with it, "lusting" seems entirely victimless and hard wired into us as humans. You seem to be saying the rough equivilent of "it's bad because it's a sin", but to anyone who doesn't share your idea of "sin", you have a far weaker case than you claim tallulah does.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:56 am |
    • CRC

      I noticed a mentioning of Adam and Eve and some serious confusion over them. Yes they did exist abut 6000 years ago when the universe was created. Eve could not have had children prior to sinning otherwise that child would still be alive today because it would have been perfect like Jesus was perfect. If you believe you can pick and choose Biblical truth you should just throw it away and live like you want to because you won't go to Heaven teaching blasphemy. Anyway it's your choice, do as you please but remember you will pay for bad decisions or be rewarded for good ones.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:12 am |
    • Pope Jon

      CRC, 6000 years? I wont even get in to Africa but what about proof that tribes existed on this continent over 20,000 years ago? How am I supposed to even have an adult conversation with someone that thinks the Universe is only 6000 year old? Seriously, how? I couldn't even read past "6000 years ago when the universe was created".

      August 21, 2011 at 3:30 am |
    • Andrew

      6000 years ago when the universe was created? So you believe in a god who requires sychopantic praise, AND one who orchestrated the universe to appear far older as, what, a test of faith? The mere fact that we can see stars from far more than 6000 lightyears away means god must have apparently been trying to make us all think the universe is far, FAR older than 6000 years. The alternative is, of course, saying the entire universe has a radius of 6000 lightyears, but if that were the case, you'd find the earth would be more a collection of atoms in a very hot plasma than an actual planet.

      I never understood how people could possibly believe the world is only 6000 years old. Their approach to radiometric dating, for instance, is akin to the old physics joke regarding the HUP. "So Warner is driving on the Autobahn and a cop pulls him over for speeding. The cop asks 'do you know how fast you were going' and Warner responds 'no, but I know exactly where I am'." While it's true that it's really impossible for a radar gun to detect the absolute exact relative velocity of an individual, there's such a thing called "uncertainty". We know measurements to within certain orders of precision. What young earth creationists seem to do is pretend that if uncertainty exists, it has no limits. It's like saying a cop pulls you over for going 200mph and saying "well, because your radar gun isn't perfect, it's possible I was really going 50".

      Young earth creationism really is an affront to basic, well, science reason logic and facts in general.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:40 am |
    • Nestle

      CRC

      Best troll ever, nuff said.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:36 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.