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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. Dog Man

    Advice to Christians: Stop handing over ownership and control of your own life to invisible spirits. Be responsible for your own values, actions, etc. Dirty movies and playing with ones self are not really a problem at all, if you keep them in the correct perspective, as you need to do with alcohol. Learn to control your own life without magic, and you will be happier.

    August 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • papermusic

      right on. 🙂

      August 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Brett

      Once you have received Jesus into your life as Lord and Saviour, you will witness a life changing event. If you want to find the purpose of life and all that God has in store for you, ask Him to be your Lord and Saviour and you will be blessed beyond understanding.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • EvelynWaugh

      @Dog Man. I couldn't have said it better. Religion/God is for the weak minded .. Critical Thinking is very important and people that blindly follow are very dangerous.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • disgust

      Correct, EvelynWaugh. Critical thinking, not religion, will lead this world into a peaceful and caring one.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Dog Man

      Bret: Becoming born again is only a life-changing event to a weak-minded fool who has never found any other way to take control of himself, and hands over responsibility for his own life to an invisible sky daddy. I am just fine with my life, and enjoy running my own life, and being responsible to MYSELF for what I do or don't do.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  2. Jeus Is Lord

    @EvelynWaugh

    You said: "Well, Jesus wouldn't have created so many wars, public beheadings, torture, death, etc. Religion created that .. Belief in God isn't a problem .. Humans are the problem."

    This may come as a shock to many people, but God says that He created evil.

    "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." (Is 45:7, KJV)

    Does this seem unfair or unjust? Most people think so, but I believe that God uses these things according to His plan. I don't know everything, but I do know that God is infinitely smarter/wiser than I am. I trust Him and I place my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the ONLY way to Heaven.

    August 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • disgust

      and the bible also says, there are many gods. Read your bible..

      August 21, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Dog Man

      Why don't you learn to own and control your own life instead of handing over responsibility to some spirit in the sky? Pathetic moron.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • EvelynWaugh

      That's ridiculous. So, God created good and evil? Really? If God truly existed would we have so many children starving all over the world .. AND if the God you believe in is allowing children to starve all over the world .. IS he a God that you want to follow? If your God allows these horrific sufferings to happen .. He's not a god I want to believe in.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So what you're saying is that you are content to remain ignorant and believe that you will be rewarded when you die. You are content to ignore any knowledge that might help another person, but make you uncomfortable. Truly, you are one of god's chosen people.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Brett

      You said it right. Amen to that!!

      August 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • EvelynWaugh

      People that go to church to pray instead of doing something tangible .. is completely ridiculous to me. If you want to help for example the starving children .. DONATE some food, money, etc. That's a "Tangible" solution. Praying will get you nowhere.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • hoth20

      Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Dog Man

      My favorite religious nut excuse is the one where you write off all of the horrible things supposedly done by God by saying "he knows better than I do, and must have reasons for what he does that are beyond me". If there was any God as you think, and he was in any way loving, he would not let millions of children die of starvation and disease every year. So I'm sorry, but if he does exist, than he is a bit of an S.O.B. and I'm not going to forgive it or make excuses for him / her. In the meantime, I will control myself, and I do just fine with taking responsibility for myself, and not depending on the great spirit in the sky to control me. Own your own life, and stop being such a pathetic weakling.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Jesus Is Lord

      Dog man,

      I am definitely weak – but I am certainly not pathetic.

      Jesus Christ is you only hope.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @JisL No, you are indeed pathetic.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  3. JiminTX

    "Every sperm is sacred." -Monty Python

    August 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • disgust

      Don't waste a hard-on, Jack Nicholson.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • rufusclyde

      like

      like

      August 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  4. EvelynWaugh

    @Jesus is Lord. Why is it that when someone says they are Agnostic you automatically think they believe in Satan. They are devil worshipers? Agnostic means that you do not pretend to know. Agnostics do not believe in God, Jesus, Heaven, Hell, or Satan.

    August 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Dog Man

      The whole idea of satan, a horned red guy running around sticking people with a pitchfork and burning them in fire, is so silly, I'm always amazed that more don't see this.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Jesus Is Lord

      Evelyn,

      I never assumed anything about you. I too was an agnostic many years ago. I am a design engineer (electrical engineering) and believed that science held all the answers. I came home from work one night after struggling with a relatively simple design problem and turned on the tv. For the next 90 minutes, I watched as doctors tried to explain the intricate complexities of a human baby forming inside of it's mother's womb – all starting from an egg and a sperm. For me, it was a wakeup call. For the first time, I saw that the notion of evolution was ridiculous. We are not just a happy coincidence – we were created. My journey with the Lord started there – about 22 years ago...

      I also saw that God has a sense of humor. I had always used "science" to explain to myself why there was no God. God used science to show me otherwise. He's awesome!

      August 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Reality Check

      DogMan ... I believe most people don't actually believe any of that, they're just too frightened by indoctrinated superstltious fear that they are terrified to "admit" they don't actually believe it. I firmly believe most people are Atheists that simply "want" to believe & actively suppress their own common sense in the desperate hope it was actually true.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Dog Man

      Jesus is Lord: People FAR FAR smarter than you like Steven Hawking, Bill Gates, and many more don't believe in any invisible sky daddy. As a matter of fact, you won't find too many quantum physicists who believe in a God. Why do you suppose that is?

      August 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Jesus Is Lord

      Dog man,

      Read 2 Corinthians 4:4

      August 21, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  5. m

    you put a beautiful women in front of any man and that man will go for it. we really are just cavemen under our evolved refined features.

    August 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • itsjustme

      Ah, but does the woman "need" to be beautiful?:)

      There are women that I know who are 100% dogmeat, dumpy and frumpy...yet they have no lack of dates or male companionship....what it is is SELF CONFIDENCE...guys can pick up when women have "it" - ditto for men who are downright hangdog and ooogly - self confidence is where it's at.:)

      August 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  6. waitasec

    people like this are just an embarrassment to ethical behavior.
    he continues with his philandering because he believes he is forgiven...
    christianity in particular provides excuses for bad behavior, funny we use our
    own moral code to be able to discern that....so what is the point of religion? my guess it's to excuse bad behavior.

    August 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  7. pt6071

    The church still cannot come to terms with the fact that s3x is a basic human need, like food, water, and air. All they're doing is making people feel guilty for their biology, not unlike "pray away the gay"

    August 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • disgust

      It's part of their brainwashing, the cult. Food, $ex, fear.. Look at the few here. It works! However as psychologist will tell you, the more intelligent someone is, the less likely they will become trapped in these religious beliefs.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  8. mikea@google.com

    the Bible is the end all! God gave us 10 Commandments, people! not suggestions, not thoughts, but Commandmenst! hello! really? u believe that God doesnt exist and that the Bible is fake. magic? guess again. u dont believe? you will, one day.

    August 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • disgust

      ah, use delusional threats. That will work on those non-believers. As I stated, without fear, religion couldn't exist. Deny it's fear. you have the makings for a terrorist.

      Your anger is that you don't believe in what you say, but you must fool yourself by blocking out reason – a psychosis.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Steve

      No, not fake. Just a collection of mythological stories, interweaved with historical accounts. As with any such collection, pick the parts that are useful to you and be happy. That's basically what any Christian does; _nobody_ could live in today's world and take the bible at face value - given that it consists of stories recorded over hundreds and thousands of years, it's inevitable that some parts contradict each other and are not in any way applicable to modern society.

      In other words: chill out! 😉

      August 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  9. rufusclyde

    Is addiction to religion, or any other worldview, a sin?

    August 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • disgust

      we have sure witnessed the effects.. the destruction to human life..

      August 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  10. Rainer Braendlein

    The miracles, which Jesus performed, are a clear evidence for the truth of Christianity.

    Long before Jesus was born, the Old Testament yet existed. In Jesus all prophecies, regarding the Messiah, got fulfilled.
    Exactly this man, Jesus from Nazareth, even performed miracles, which additionally confirmed his divine commission.

    Jesus performed plenty of miracles in Palestine. After his ascension there were many people in Palestine, which were eye-witnesses of Jesus miracles and sermons.

    Now imagine the apostles, preaching in far off Greece. Assumed, the apostles had been liars or impostors, it had emerged within weeks, because people from Palestine had accused them to be liars (note that the ancient world was as international like our modern world, because of trade).

    Short after Christ's ascension the world was flooded with copies (still found today by historians) of the gospels and St. Paul's letters, where the miracles of Jesus are recorded. Assumed their had been any lie and deception, multi-tudes of people from Palestine had protested against the Christian Scriptures, but they didn't.

    Obviously it was all true.

    We have bulks of copies of the ancient Bible. No book has better survived like the Bible. That is a clear proof that the Bible is true.

    August 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • disgust

      Funny how all that was written years well after.. Simply stories is all. No different than stories created by volcano worshipers.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • pt6071

      Where to begin...
      1. Christianity and Bibles are widespread mostly because of Roman and European forced conversions.
      2. The New Testament is a loose collection of folk tales written at least 70 years after Jesus died. The Gospels contradict each other. And stories were rewritten to force them to fit prophecy.
      3. There is no independent corroboration that any of the miracles in the Bible. I'm sorry but all the "witnesses is Palestine" just don't exist.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • pt6071

      The Flying Spaghetti Monster has created a beer volcano in paradise for his believers, don't hate.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @disgust

      You are slow in the uptake, I have just proved the opposite by my comment.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • disgust

      No you haven't. However you haven proven to us here, you need a good therapist.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @pt6071

      Even if the New Testament had been written 70 years after Christ, the people of Palestine had rejected it (I assume, they even had burned the scriptures) when the records of Jesus' miracles had not been true!

      August 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Apocrypha

      I find it very confusing how many evangelical Christians have two completely different standards for religious and secular thought:

      Evolution: "It doesn't matter that there are huge volumes of evidence in favor of the theory. You can't -see- it happening, it hasn't been conclusively proven, and so it cannot be true!"
      Miracles: "It -must- be true! People say they saw it and wrote it down!"

      Why, exactly, does the Bible – a book written by fallible humans – get a pass and carefully planned, thought out and peer-reviewed research gets held to a enormously more rigorous standard?

      August 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Les

      Wrong. Jesus is one of many gods who have performed miracles. Mithra, Isis, Krishna..etc. were all "miracle" workers while they walked among men. Get over yourself. You do NOT have an exclusive claim to miracle workings. In your own Bible, Jesus warns us that he was condemned to death for saying he is the son of God. Nice? Note...he immediately follows that statement with "BUT I HAVE SAID you are GODS." It also says you cannot judge others. NEVER take a person to court,keep your women silent and NEVER pray in public. Your version of allows all these activities and denies the fact of your individual godhood. If you are going to be a Xtian, get it right instead of spewing nonsense.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Dog Man

      Rainer: There are countless tales in mythology of fantastic things happening, complete with witness testimony. A clue to you that these things are mere mythology, is that they NEVER HAPPEN ANYMORE! When is the last time a sea was parted, or scientists could find any hard data that someone who was dead for more than a half an hour was reanimated? How about burning bush that caught fire on it's own? Note that with the advent of science, we have seen zero evidence of these things.

      I find pompous people like yourself to be quite funny. Trying to espouse logic, while clinging to ridiculous beliefs that the world was created in a week, that dinosaurs never existed, that the earth was flooded despite the fact that there has never been enough water to do so, etc. Do you ever stop to think of how silly your religion is?

      August 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  11. JoeMahma

    .

    It's in human nature to lust. Get over it.

    .

    August 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  12. martog

    Ten reasons you might be a delusional catholic!
    1. You believe that the pope has personal conversations with God (that nobody else ever hears) and is infallible when speaking on matters of Church doctrine. You then wistfully ignore the fact that Church doctrine changes and that former popes therefore could not possibly have been “infallible”. Limbo, for example, was touted by pope after pope as a place where un-baptized babies who die go, until Pope Benedict XVI just eradicated it (or, more accurately, so watered it down as effectively eradicate it in a face saving way). Seems all those earlier “infallible” Popes were wrong – as they were on Adam and Eve v. evolution, heliocentricity v. egocentricity, and a host of other issues that required an amendment of official Church doctrine. You also ignore the innumerable murders, rampant corruption and other crimes committed over the centuries by your “infallible”, god-conversing popes.
    2. You reject the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours. You are blissfully (or intentionally) blind to the fact, that had you been born in another part of the World, you would be defending the local god(s) and disdaining the incorrectness of Catholic beliefs.
    3. You begrudgingly accept evolution (about a century after Darwin proved it and after accepting Genesis as literally true for about 2,000 years) and that Adam and Eve was totally made up, but then conveniently ignore that fact that your justification for Jesus dying on the cross (to save us from Original Sin) has therefore been eviscerated. Official Church literature still dictates a belief in this nonsense.
    4. You disdain native beliefs as “polytheist” and somehow “inferior” but cannot explain (i) why being polytheistic is any sillier than being monotheistic. Once you make the quantum leap into Wonderland by believing in sky-fairies, what difference does if make if you believe in one or many?; nor (ii) why Christians believe they are monotheistic, given that they believe in god, the devil, guardian angels, the holy spirit, Jesus, many demons in hell, the Virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel, thousands of saints, all of whom apparently make Earthly appearances periodically, and all of whom inhabit their life-after-death lands with magic-sacred powers of some kind.
    5. You bemoan the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don`t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees or the 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf (or the dozen or so other slaughters condoned by the bible). You also like to look to god to for guidance in raising your children, ignoring the fact that he drowned his own – according to your Bible.
    6. You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that God impregnated Mary with himself, to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to “forgive” an ”Original Sin” that we now all know never happened.
    7. You disdain gays as sinners, but have no problem when Lot got drunk and committed father-daughter in.cest (twice) or offered his daughters to a mob to be gang ra.ped, or when Moses, time and again, offered his wife up for the “pleasures” of the Egyptians to save his own skin.
    8. You believe that your god will cause anyone who does not accept your Bronze Age stories to suffer a penalty an infinite times worse than the death penalty (burning forever in excruciating torture) simply because of their healthy skepticism, yet maintain that god “loves them”.
    9. You will totally reject any scientific breakthrough that is inconsistent with your established doctrine, unless and until it is so generally accepted as to back you into a corner. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you of the deep inanity of your silly faith, some priest doing magic hand signals over bread and wine is enough to convince you it is thereby transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus because of the priest’s magic powers (or “sacred powers” to the extent you see a difference).
    10. You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to Lourdes, Fátima and other magic places and prayers in general. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. The remaining 99.99% failure was simply “god moving in mysterious ways”. The fact that, if you ask for something repeatedly, over and over, year after year, sooner or later that thing is bound to happen anyway, has not even occurred to you. A stopped clock is right twice a day.
    11. You accept the stories in the Bible without question, despite not having the slightest idea of who actually wrote them, how credible these people were or how long the stories were written after the alleged events they record occurred. For example, it is impossible for Moses to have written the first five books of the Old Testament, as Catholics believe. For one, they record his death and events after his death. In fact, the chance of the Bible being historically accurate in any but the broadest terms is vanishingly small.
    Heavens, I could not fit them into ten. Maybe, if they pray hard enough to their sky-fairy, the Catholics can turn them into 10
    .

    August 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • JoeMahma

      That's brilliant.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • mikea@google.com

      LOL! 10 reasons! LOL! I am a Catholic Brotehr and Christ DOES exist! the Bible is the END ALL! 10 Commandments!

      August 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • itsjustme

      Many denominations will *leave it at that* if you have had a prior marriage dissolved by divorce or a civil annulment.

      But not the Catholics. You're required to go through a lengthy and expensive canon annulment before you can walk down their aisle again to be remarried under their roof.

      Positively nethandral. Maybe you split up with your spouse for a reason you do not wish to disclose - it is none of their business why you and your spouse split up and you choose to keep it that way.

      But...give 'em enough long green and that annulment will be signed sealed and deilvered before you can say "pass the collection plate." Go figure.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • joe

      +1 as a well-reasoned critique of christianity

      -1 as having very little to do with the article.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • NotQuiteRight

      Thank you.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • EvelynWaugh

      The Catholic Church changes their beliefs according to what's fashionable at the time. When they lose Parishioners and donations they change everything. So for me the Catholic religion is a joke.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • GZ

      This was the best post I've ever read on CNN. I Will be saving it for a long time to come. Thanks!

      August 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • martog

      to Mike@google.com: Gee, that was a well thought out rational intelligent well spoken reply with lots of evidence to support it.
      Religious nut bag me thinks you might be.

      August 21, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • ChristineF

      That was one of the best posts I've ever seen on here.

      August 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  13. Popcornmom

    Great article. An addiction needs to be treated as an addiction. There are deep issues to be discussed.
    The slamming of Christian on this site is insane. We are given free will to believe that we experience to be truth. If an atheist chooses to not believe, that's their right. Stop slamming Christians because of the belief they hold. Its just ridiculous and close minded.

    August 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • disgust

      you're right.. Xtians/muslims, all the same. Just wish they'd let kids be kids and quit brainwashing them. Then again, the brainwashing won't stick as well if not begun during childhood development.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • JamieIRL

      Seriously? You're going to take the "stop pushing your view on us" road? That's really funny coming from a Christian.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • NotQuiteRight

      Christians get slammed because of the silly, delusional beliefs they have, and the fact that they can't seem to stop opening their pie holes to show the rest of us exactly how delusional they are. If you believe in religion, you believe in delusion, that's the bottom line.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Hear This

      Your are mistaking the criticism of beliefs with the criticism of the people who hold them. The Christian belief system is one of many beliefs on this planet, doesn't matter if it is religious or not. Now that the internet has taken hold as a global forum for the discussion of ideas that people can access outside of their local social and religious construct, religion is a good as dead. Welcome to the future.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  14. papermusic

    Science created man, man created god, god created an ego, and the ego started killing everyone who disagreed.

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

      God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs. Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • onlysomeguy

      You have that backwards. God created science - along with everything else in our plane of existence.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • NotQuiteRight

      It would probably be more accurate to say god created GREED instead of ego. They are closely related, but greed is more prevalent in our societies, and is the one trait that god really must have used to make us in his image.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • papermusic

      @onlysomeguy bla bla bla. That is such a easy explanation! God created everything! and apparently created the destruction of intellectual design.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  15. itsjustme

    IF we evolved from monkeys, then why are there still monkeys?

    Discuss.

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

      What grade are you in?

      August 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • papermusic

      read a science book fool. Do you think that because things evolved from another that the previous design would become obsolete? The world is filled with complex organisms, but why do we still have those silly one celled organisms?

      August 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • rufusclyde

      If my daughter descended from her grandparents, how can they still be alive for her to visit? Discuss.

      Speciation via cladogenesis is when a population splits in two (or more), and each new population evolves independently of the other. Neither is required to go extinct. Next?

      August 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • itsjustme

      Disgust: it's supposed to be a bleedin' JOKE. Lighten UP.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • steve88

      when you make a troll statement, you're not supposed to say you're joking/trolling, it's less funny noww
      haha

      August 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • oh boy

      Why do we have stingrays and manta rays there there the same species? One chose to stay low in sand and the other moved into deeper waters. There the same, one chose to evolve the other didn't. Why do we have cats and lions, there the same species. One is domesticated loving house cat the other is a voracious untamed killer. Why do we have a bike and motorbikes, someone put an engine in one.... it's evolution. Our ancestors chose to move (hunting) longer distances while our other ancestors chose to stay in trees.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Les

      Actually evolution indicates that the primates including man descended from a common ancester NOT from each other. Time to study up so you can make a better informed opinion based on FACTS. The great apes (man, ape, baboon, chimpanzee, etc.) are all descended form a single ancestor.

      August 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  16. David Johnson

    I have looked at adult p_ornography. I bet every man has. I am not addicted, nor did it destroy my marriage. Actually, I get bored easily. Once you've seen 1 naked person, you have pretty much seen them all.

    I bet this is true of most men.

    Any addiction, threatens the afflicted's well being.
    The housewife who finds her comfort in food, threatens her health and her marriage. Let's outlaw food!
    The religious nut, who is addicted to Jesus, is in danger of insanity and losing their spouse. Let's outlaw religion! Amen!
    Certainly alcohol, ruins more people's health and marriage than any other addiction. We tried outlawing that once. People still drank. Prohibition just fueled organized crime.

    Let's look at a list of addictions:
    •Alcoholism
    •Drug
    •Food Addiction
    •Gambling
    •Internet
    •Nicotine
    •Prescription Drugs
    •$ex-P_orn
    •Shopping
    •Work Addiction
    Would you make each of the addicting things illegal? Force everyone to do without, because some in society can't handle them? Pfui!

    The evolutionarily ancient limbic system, buried deep inside our brains, fires up when we are watching something we take a fancy to. Structures like the nucleus acc_umbens, involved in pleasure and craving, are at the heart of that system.
    Source: sciencefocus.com/feature/psychology/human-brain-hardwired

    Can you say EVOLUTION?
    Humans, whose brains are functioning correctly, control themselves. We should know when we are "full", of either food or $ex.
    Stop worrying about the words Bronze Age men put in the mouth of Jesus. Control yourselves and enjoy your life. It is the only one you will ever have. Self-flagellation can also become an addiction.

    Cheers!

    August 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • itsjustme

      You can also become addicted to a PERSON.

      How many nutter relationships do we know of where it's an on and off thing with couples? Plenty of us know couples who have rocky on and off relationships. That could be an addiction, too.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  17. disgust

    ....Without fear, religion could not exist... Deny it's fear, you have the makings for a terrorist.

    August 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Or, deny the whole convoluted, contradictory, foolish mess and live a happier life.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • steve88

      huh?

      August 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  18. Drinker

    Why is war ok but watching people have s3x evil? Maybe churches should start discouraging their followers from joining the military....

    August 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  19. Kerry Berger

    Crusaders are busybodies who are mixing their devout religious beliefs in a matter that is a psychological condition and that these unlicensed people are trying to provide therapy whilst pushing their anti-port crusade is unconscionable. When are authorities going to clamp down on this pseudo-nonsense therapy?

    August 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  20. EvelynWaugh

    If you read the Old Testament which is the true version of the Bible. Religion doesn't look to good. It has been rewritten to become a more accepted version of the Bible .. Which to me doesn't make any sense.

    August 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Actually, that's part of the confusion of the New and the Old. In the New, Jesus says I give you these two commandments. Does that mean the throw away the ten in the OT, given by what seems to be a very hateful, spiteful and jealous god, and take up the free-thinking "god loves you" hippy who claims to be his son?

      August 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • lorkathack

      The true version of the bible?? What does that mean?

      August 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
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About this blog

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