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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. T

    Where's your inside story against the Muslim religion? Oh, that's right. You'r afraid of them so you pick easier targets.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • TheSelfRighteousShallBeDamned

      A wee bit judgmental for a Sunday morning, eh supreme Christian?

      August 21, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Muslims aren't posting here. Maybe they're smarter than Xtions.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • rufusclyde

      Yeah CNN, why do you never cover Muslim extremism? Oh, you do? Never mind.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  2. mike

    Religion is a disease on this planet. I still struggle knowing that people still believe in this stuff. It is a method of control and a money making pyramid scheme (vatican). I long for a world where peace and harmony exist FREE FROM RELIGION AND ITS BS BELIEFS.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Only if they would pay property taxes. Boom there goes the deficit.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Egyptian-American male

      Hi Mike,

      You obviously feel very strongly about your views. Folks who are religious have worldviews that attempt to answer the big questions in life. You also have a worldview that you believe is right while other ones are wrong. You are doing the exact same thing that you want to get rid of. The reality is that you have a belief system that is religious that attempts to explain the big questions. It is not possible to get rid of life views since that means we would have to eliminate yours as well. Thank you.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • nobody

      This day will arrive. I just hope you are one of the ones that is called by Jesus during the rapture when everything will be put "back in order." Ridiculing something you only abstractly know is ignorance.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • fda

      I was offended by the photo. I don't see why that filthy magazine designed by a full time adulterer needs to be touching the book written by God. And sure its interpretation, but masturbation although natural, is a diversion from a persons spouse. It is a lie because I would think most spouses would be angered to find their spouses attention elsewhere. And prayer does help. As per the critics statements on alcoholism, yes, prayer can replace it. In fact, the gospel is at the core of the 10 steps and most alcoholics do wish their illness away.
      God bless.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • AGuest9

      You mean the guy rotting in the ground who was used by his brother to found a world-wide religion, which eventually overtook the oppressive Roman empire?

      August 21, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • AGuest9

      Or, fda, it's because the wife is never interested.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  3. Pope Benedict

    It is ok to talk about s_x, to have, s_x, to think about s_x, but it's not ok to watch s_x. That is the law! It's also not ok to use the word in coments on CNN web sites in articles about s_x, so you have to be a tard and spell it with an underscore.

    Actually i'm glad the religious addicts are spending their energy on this subject instead of trying to convince everyone the universe is only 6,000 years old and god put sea shells on the tops of mountains to trick us into thinking that evolution exists. They lost tha battle and they will lose this one too because s_x drive is a biological necessity that cannot be eliminated with relicious stupidity.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • SCAtheist

      And man walked the earth with the dinosaurs. (see Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a T-Rex)

      August 21, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • nobody

      oh my, who said S was suppose to be eliminated? You miss the point. Having S with your wife is fine. Going around to different women is "animal" and of course by breaking this law we get what we deserve. A society that has no honer to wife, children and family.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Pope Benedict

      @ nobody – I'm not really pope benedict. It's not "animal" to have multiple partners. It's not immoral either, but it can be used against you if you're married. But it's not very safe when 25% of adults have herpes. It's not usually good for relationships, but it works for some people, great for them. Adults are supposed to behave by using their brains, not by animal instinct, or bogus morality designed for kids and the ignorant.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • AGuest9

      Really CNN? h0m0_sap1ens is not allowed? GROW UP!
      -----------------------------------
      It's more of the same "we can't be descended from animals, we're special" nonsense.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:14 am |
  4. albert

    These so-called "Christians", are too far removed from what the Bible teaches. There parishioners do these things based on the church leaders examples. Too many lies along with Pagan traditions ad Greek mythology are taught in the churches today (Christmas, Easter, Eternal torment in Hell, etc.) This evil plague called religion must go. God is judging this evil as we speak. That is why so many are being exposed in our time.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • TheSelfRighteousShallBeDamned

      They've gotta keep their tribesmen in a constant state of frenzied fear and riled hate.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  5. ReligionIs4Dolts

    Hey, this is God. I'm going to make your women so hot that your mouths will water, butterflies will churn in your stomach, and you'll notice other harder physiological changes, too, but DON'T LOOK at them, DON'T TOUCH them. That's SIN! I made it for you, but it's a sin to enjoy it. HA HA HA! What a sick, twisted, sadistic F__K I AM! HA HA HA!

    August 21, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • SCAtheist

      And I'm going to get my rocks off by burning all of you in hell forever anyway.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • rufusclyde

      You might as well face it, you're addicted to love.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Pope Benedict

      @ ReligionIs4Dolts
      – I couldn't say it better!

      August 21, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  6. TheRationale

    I don't think you have to be Christian to relate to how a lot of these people feel. It also doesn't take the church or any religion to make you feel guilty about liking po-rn. Of course you're going to feel disloyal. And for the spouse, wouldn't you feel astronomically unspecial/inadequate?

    However, being so strict about s-ex might be a factor in these problems to begin with.

    The one thing that bothered me in this article is the fellow who left his job for this counseling, not because he felt bad with his wife, but because he felt bad with God, which he said was more important. That's not healthy.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • nobody

      you have it wrong. God is most important than your wife who is a "sinner." That's not to say that you don't love your wife. I love my wife very much, and she loves me. But God, even to Jesus, was the "Father", the "One".

      August 21, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Sally

      TheRationale- nope.

      No, I don't feel inadequate or threatened if my husband watches p0rn. No, he doesn't feel inadequate or threatened if I watch it. No, I do not care if we go to a bar and he comments about how hot the bartender is. Heck- if I happen to be not in the mood, I will suggest he go pop in a movie and rub one out.

      No, I don't think it's natural at all to be so insecure about one's spouse. I don't think most people are hardwired for monogamy, and were my husband ever to slip up and cheat, I doubt I'd freak out about it that badly unless he wasn't safe about it. I think society has created this, and i think it's a darned shame

      August 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • TheRationale

      @Sally
      Hm, I should've worded this better. I mean to say I can very easily understand why people would feel the way I described. Of course if neither person is bothered by it then clearly there's no problem. I'm just trying to say I understand where such people would be coming from and that I don't think being Christian or not dictates such feelings.

      @nobody
      That's rather disturbing to hear.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Frogist

      @nobody: My condolences to your wife.
      @Sally: I feel much the same way about pr0n. We aren't bothered by the other person's use of it. But I think I get what The Rationale means that those feelings aren't dictated by religion so much as comfort levels, self-esteem, tradition etc etc. I know I would be very upset if my husband were to cheat on me by having se-x with another person, and he has said the same about my infidelity, because we have an agreement between us that such behaviour is not ok for us. I don't blame society for that, just our personal preferences. I know there is overlap but I don't really care where that discomfort came from because I am comfortable with my relationship situation.

      August 22, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  7. Mike

    That is probably the most offensive photos ever published on this site.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • QWERTY

      Sorry it offends your mythological views of the universe. As for me, I don't like the article at all. Religion is a disease. No need to keep spreading it.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • TheSelfRighteousShallBeDamned

      You're right – the Bible is blocking the babes

      August 21, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Me

      I know what did playboy do to deserve being in the same photo as the bible?

      August 21, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • rufusclyde

      Personally, I find se-x-ual misconduct by the clergy far more offensive.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Let's throw the Koran in there, maybe layered with a Penthouse

      August 21, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • mike

      the bible is no more credible than a super man comic.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • tony

      why? they are both tree based, wood has become paper for two audiences

      August 21, 2011 at 9:44 am |
    • AGuest9

      Like that bible laying on top of my stack of science books next to the computer so I can look up these arcane references people throw out? "Well, you know what Ezekiel 5:7-11 said, don't you?" No, I walk around with enough equations and policies in my head, I don't need to add fairy tales.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  8. Zach

    I could care less about what followers of a mythology have to say. God is almost certainly not real. Time to move past your fairy tales people. They are one big thing that is holding humanity back.

    As for why I say almost certainly not real, I'll give you a Dawkins quote from his book The God Delusion.
    "I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden."

    August 21, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  9. Me

    Why would a god make p0rn if it is a sin to look at p0rn?

    August 21, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  10. TheSelfRighteousShallBeDamned

    What about the pedophile Catholic priests, Mormon bishops, etc? We read about them almost daily. It seems the Christians should focus on their own closet before prying into others'. Typical hypocrisy.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  11. quesara

    why is this article even considered news? i'm tired of cnn presenting trash like this. this is not news, not relevant, and does not contain healthy views.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • rufusclyde

      Maybe if you looked hard enough, you'd see that lots of newspapers and news websites have sections on religion.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • QWERTY

      Agreed. Religion is a disease.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  12. Hawkeye1012

    If the 12 disciples were all smokin' hot blondes in halter tops, wouldn't that solve BOTH problems?

    August 21, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • rufusclyde

      What's wrong with redheads?

      August 21, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • AGuest9

      Mmmmm... Nothing at all, rufus, nothing at all...

      August 21, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  13. Dobro

    I love how all those religious fanatics of the republicans and the tea party advocate minimal federal government involvement yet want to have complete thought control over everybody.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  14. Martin

    When is someone going to start a program for folks addicted to religion? These people are pathetic.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • rufusclyde

      I wonder if the NIH would fund a grant on addiction to religion? LOL

      August 21, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • Dzerres

      Great point! Religion is the root of a lot of society's ills and there's some serious addiction going on there.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  15. Hawkeye1012

    Superman could kick Jesus from here to Saturn and back. Fact.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Ramon F Herrera

      ...but I would never do that because it is a sin.

      -Signed: Superman

      August 21, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Ramon F Herrera

      The Bible is mightier than the kick. :^D

      August 21, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Fact

      You're right, and Jesus would take it gladly if it meant you'd be saved. No other god that's ever been presented to humanity would die for you like Jesus did.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  16. Brian

    To everyone here that has never suffered an addiction to anything congratulations. For the rest of us I applaud a man or woman who can admit that there is something in they're life that has power of them and looks to find a way, any way to overcome it. Just look at our wonderful actors and actresses who go to the Malibu rehab to kick the habit over and over with no progress. Something is missing.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • TheSelfRighteousShallBeDamned

      I'm addicted to flogging this blog, just like all of you fellow trolls. Better call Jesus ye sinners.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  17. SoPoJim

    Thousands of men cured???? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    August 21, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • AGuest9

      Sure, just ask Bachmann's husband.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  18. mike

    Christianity is like Greek mythology. its a bunch of hooey.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • dr elf throwback

      Todays Religions are tomorrows Mythologies, During the days of the Greek and Roman empires their Gods were as real to them as our Gods are to us today, Yet today we find their Gods a silly idea Given a few thousand years our ancestors will laugh at the silliness of people following God/Jesus while they follow the deity of their day.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  19. Reed

    Sin and addiction are separate, addiction is a manifestation of sin. Most (nearly all) Christian counselors call addiction a sin. The idea is not that you can just "not sin" but that each of us has a weakness that we need to confess troubles us and need to confront honesty.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  20. NReptilian

    Bible is the New World Order! Check Youtube "Reptilian Hulk Hogan" for New World Order info.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:20 am |
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About this blog

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