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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. Paul

    With that I bid you all farewell until another day of banter comes upon us.....

    August 21, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  2. Paul

    Thanks 21k for that insightful rhetoric. A fool has said in his heart that there is no God. Keep believing in yourself..

    August 21, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Amazing. The bible says you're a fool if you don't believe in the god the bible tells you to believe in. Gosh, that's convincing. Who needs facts when you've got an argument like that!

      August 21, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Free

      Jesus also warned that calling anyone a 'fool' is a ticket to hell there buddy! Of course, Paul wouldn't know that he said that, seeing that he never knew Jesus.

      August 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  3. Jake

    I don't understand why CNN is even talking about religion – ANY religion. Are they a religious website? I would just stick to the news, and let each religion worry about its beliefs, without secular interference and bias.

    August 21, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • disgust

      Glad they do it. It is news. More importantly it helps remind us of how disgusting religions are.

      Here is one, look it up. Recently the pope sent a vile of blood, blood from the previous pope, to mexico. Why? So that the catholics there would kiss it. <– puke. And we let these people around kids?

      August 21, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  4. 21k

    atheist, don't do it, don't go over to meet paul. he's likely some type of reprobate, axe murderer. you'll end up with your skin peeled off, or in pieces in the basement freezer. can't trust these red-eyed xtian devils.

    August 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  5. Hope

    Does the word Christian bother people so much that just reading the word sets them off? If you dont want to hear anything about Christianity, or any other religion, then maybe you should not read or comment about the subject at all. What do u care one way or the other? Let it go.

    August 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • disgust

      It worries me that you people brainwash your children with your cult. Let kids be kids, please. Or is it the brainwashing sticks longer if you start them young?

      Without fear, religion couldn't exist. Deny it's fear, and you have the makings for a terrorist.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Haime52

      So poisoning your kids against Christianity is not brain washing? Because YOUR version of the truth and world view is the only one that counts?
      If you are not Christian, you cannot understand how these people feel and so your comments are ridiculously redundant.

      August 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I don't know if you are aware of this, but christians can be very intrusive into secular lives. I've had several teenaged "elders" come to my door to tell me about their particular brand of christianity. I've been yelled at by street corner evangelists. I've had religious tracts left at my door. Major political candidates are brandishing their religious as a personal selling point. Discriminatory legislation has been proposed and passed through the efforts, financial and vocal, of christians. Athletes constantly give credit to their god of choice, sometimes over the more useful efforts of their teammates. There have been posters on this site who just out and say that it's their duty to bother us with their religion.

      If christians wish to be left alone, they should stop trying to force themselves into the laws of this secular nation and into the lives of this secular nation's people.

      August 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Don

      Maybe you should take your own advice!!! GET the hell out of our lives and you can do as you please!!!

      August 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Fred1

      @ Haime52: I know exactly how these people think and feel because I was a Christian. I grew up in the deep, black, hopeless hell of a god fearing Christian family so I’ve paid for my right to mock them. And don’t use big words you don’t understand. Look up redundant.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  6. Scott

    Its interesting when one thinks about history and all the delusions people held about dieties. In ancient Greece there was a religious sect of women who would go to parties and orally pleasure the guests... They saw it as a religious duty. Why can't chrsitians be more like them? Wanting to spread joy and pleasure, instead of always looking for someone to persecute.

    August 21, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • itsjustme

      Haha. Leave it to the MEN to make up that "sect."

      August 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  7. *frank*

    Christians are terrified of the human body lol.
    Also, they dress funny and eat stupid foods like bundt cakes.
    They've really overstayed their welcome on our fair planet.
    Liquidate them.

    August 21, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Hey, I like bundt cake! Can you at least spare the bundt cake?

      August 21, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • NextUp

      Let me get this straight... you're in support of the murder of people of faith? I forgive you... and thank God that people as liberal as you probably don't believe in guns anyway. How do you plan to liquidate me? Feed me tofu or other plant life?

      August 21, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • jeebus

      that's going too far. you make fair minded people look bad when you say things like that.

      August 21, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  8. Jesus_is_Lord

    @21 k, there are many things beyond our scope of understanding. The spiritual realm is UNSEEN, REAL and does not depend on anyone's OPINION. My advice, learn more about Jesus and accept him as your Lord and Savioiur, he is a loving God and wants each and every one of us to know him.

    August 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • itsjustme

      Suppose I tell you I am Pagan, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or Wiccan? What then?

      August 21, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So in other words, your opinion has no bearing on the Spiritual world. Your advice about Christ has been rendered moot.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Free

      If it's beyond our human scope to understand then how do you supposedly know so much about it?

      August 21, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • 21k

      to "jahsus is lowrd!" : as a recovering catholic, i've likely had 10 times more religious indoctrination as you have. enough to see the light that it's all just a great business model, and not worthy of anyone's time, effort or donations. see, when you tell me that i should keep an open mind to think your way, you ignore the fact that my way of thinking is just as valid. here's some advice: next sunday, stay home, read the paper with a cup of joe , play with the kids. once you break free, you'll know i'm right

      August 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • asrael

      My advice, JIL: stop giving unsolicited advice...

      August 21, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Fred1

      God gave us pain, science gave us anesthetics.
      God gave us sickness, science gave us antibiotics

      August 23, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  9. itsjustme

    Sure - it's bigotry - they pull their kids out of our public schools and set up "homeschooling" or send their kids to "Christian schools."

    This is also what the Orthodox Jews do: they segregate their kids.

    This is wrong.

    Wrong because the world doesn't work on that principle - you will be mixing and mingling and working with people of all denominations. Also of all colors and all races.

    This is polarizing us as a people. This is getting to be worse than the Hatfields and McCoys and worse than the Sharks and the Jets.

    August 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • disgust

      No worry. tI's up to us to bring our kids up right, without the cult. Kids talk with one another and that's all it takes. Just the possibility that doubt exist in xtianity is enough to break the child from brainwashing. We must start early or expect another cycle of xtian clowns to put up with.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Fred1

      Well I am an escapee from one of those Christian hell holes, woops, I mean schools and I have spent my entire life trying to repair the damage they did

      August 23, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  10. J.

    WWJD? He wasn't married. What did he do? He was a man, a human (and some claim an incarnation of god too).

    August 21, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • itsjustme

      You actually buy that that Jesus was unmarried?

      NOT LIKELY.

      You were married off in your mid teens or maybe a tad eariler - it all had to do with puberty and coming of age and the shortened longevity rate.

      Unless Jesus was mentally/physicially disadvantaged, it is NOT likely he remained single.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Scott

      Its also highly unlikely that anyone would have even listened to a grown man in that day that didn't have a wife. He would have seemed impotent and powerless and no one would have taken advice from a man like that.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  11. dpmol

    oh, the guilt & sin of it all.

    August 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  12. Jethro

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCzEFvU2YKc&w=640&h=390]

    August 21, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  13. Michael Enfield

    Christian, far-right, conservatives are damned to eternal "no-fun" for fun on earth; when they get to heaven for following their obsessive "no-fun, living by misconstrued, so-called gospel agenda they'll cultivate new customers cultivating protein by worms and other parasites preparing the living earth for new life!

    August 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  14. Jethro

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkMF3bjGa0E&w=640&h=390]

    August 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Scotsman

      There are cultures in this world , which are seriously behind the times.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  15. tree beast

    (second comment) get up, cut your grass, get some exercise, anything but this(this is a lame use of energy).

    August 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  16. TRH

    Hey, Christians....leave it alone. Stay in your churches and worship your mythical man in the sky....it's your right. The rest of us will live in reality and deal with what must be dealt with in an intelligent manner. We don't need your brand of morality and we especially don't need your bigotry and intolerance. We don't need a book to define to us what is right or wrong.

    August 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • geraldh

      Where does the article force you to take the counseling? If you don't want to hear about what Christians choose to do don't read the article.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • mattc1981

      It's funny that you are characterizing christians as unintelligent when my 5 year old nephew can structure better sentences than you.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      TRH. Where does it address secular folks in this article?

      August 21, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Marlye

      Right on, TRH. F8ck xtians.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • TRH

      @mattc1981:

      My response was structured to make a point. I think it's pretty good, frankly. What's more, I think you do also. I pushed your buttons and you responded with an insult. Oh, by the way...if your 5 year-old nephew is truly that brilliant you should contact Mensa America.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Truth is not opinion

      @TRH, you act as if you are the bigger person by saying Theist have the right to believe. Yet you do it with insult riddled statements. There is no reason for you to comment as it has nothing to do with the story. I would like to know what scientific proof you have that our God is mythical, yet a random reaction of nature caused everything? Even Einstein, though not a Christian, was a thiest. According to you though he isn't intelligent. If you are going to say every Theist isn't intelligent (which is what you inferred) then you should remove every theist and their ideas from your course of study. So please remove Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Gottfried W. Leibnitz, Albert Einstein, Charles B. Thaxton, Nicholas Copernicus, Sir Francis Bacon, Johannes Kepler, and many many more (I am adding a disclaimer that I am not saying all these men were Christians, just theist. The fact that they believed there was a god of any sort goes against your mythical man statement).

      August 21, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • Jessie

      The older I get, and the more I study the Word of God, alone The more I cannot soatmch 'christian' books.I am finding that I am more interested in the original languages (Hebrew, Greek) that the Word was penned in (via the Holy Spirit) before it was 'translated' and the cultures and customs of that day.Knowing these things really open up The Scriptures. The more I read 'christian' books, the more I realize no can be MY Holy Spirit.Me+ The Holy Spirit + The Word of God = Wisdom and Knowledge.I cannot 'trust man (0r woman for that matter)' for my interpretations of the Word. Because it may be tainted with 'humaness'. Ewwwwwwwww HA HA! Seriously though.I am shocked at what "christian book stores" call "christian reading" .Seriously.I wonder how many of those books Jesus would pick up and read?I don't think you are being 'judgemental' or 'critical'.I think you are just being honest!!Laura

      March 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  17. Dina

    These screwed up people are the ones who think they should be running the country and legislating how the rest of us live.

    August 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Dina. Unless you get ..maybe Betty White with maybe Morgan Freeman as Vice President, to run for office, .... I think your statement will be said on both sides. No one wants the other party in charge and can give you a host of reasons to back it up.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  18. Kurt

    This is the stupidest thing I have ever read. Fulfilling natural desires does not make you a sinner. Period.

    August 21, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • geraldh

      the call evil good and good evil.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      "Period"

      Oh well, I guess all discussion should halt right here and now... Kurt has spoken...

      August 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • geraldh

      Honey, I'm going to look at some p o r n and fullfill my natural desires then I'm coming to bed. Is that okay? So wives should be fine with this I guess according to you.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • jeebus

      yes, geraldh. that is correct. if it feels good, do it. you see, there's an answer for using p o r n in ways that enhance relationships.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Da King

      Kurt, you are your own judge?

      August 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  19. Scott

    I would bet god would rather we spend more time having se.x and less time kilIing each other. Maybe god created po.rn to take our minds off what our neighbors are doing; keep everyone pre-occupied with something so they'll just leave other people alone. All you christians, by your own definition are such horrible subjects of god... Who are YOU to question his creation? He created our bodies as they are, to function as they do and he gave us the free will to decide how and when we use our bodies in the act of se.x which he also created. How DARE you question his judgement! If he gave me the right and abilitiy to sp,ank it 20 times a day, then it obviously was his intent that I do so or he would not have made me thus. To suggest he was flawed in his construction of me, my desires, and my ability to function is to suggest YOU know how my body should be used better than he. That takes some major stones christian.

    August 21, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • geraldh

      Hey and maybe he created murder to decrease the surplus population. We can twist any evil around to make it sound good. The affects of p o r n are addictive behavior. Non-social behavior, broken marriages, lost jobs. It is not of God.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • tallulah13

      One could say the same thing about religion, gerald. I think that people with addictive personalities can become addicted to any behavior, to their personal detriment.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • jeebus

      that's good stuff, geraldh. if only most christians could provide the answers that you do, then we wouldn't have so many problems in the world. keep it up (pun intended).

      August 21, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Scott

      Comparing p.orn and mas.terbation to Murder? lol.... I don't need a book to tell me that doing something to someone without their consent is going to bring bad things to me and should be avoided. And you probably can 'twist any evil around', but see the problem there is... YOU are defining evil, not HIM. Again... YOU obviously think you know better than God. And yes I know you can point to your book and say "God says..." problem is, that book was written by a MAN, probably one like you that wants to control others. And you'll counter and say "God told him to write it..." but we'd only come to that conclusion cause a MAN told us so. All the other religions of the world, past and present, were created by man as well. And that you think your little brand of fantasy is any more real than any of the others shows the depths of your delusion. Then men that instructed you had it right cause GOD told them to write the book... but it was much the same with all the other relgions. A man said "God said..." and others chose to believe them. I bet, if there is a god... he'd rather you believe in yourself than him.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  20. Paul

    Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. Revelation 14:10

    Those of you who spew hatred toward Almighty God and His people should be wary of His presence. If you pay close attention to the things of this age you will see that God's Word and prophesies are coming about. There will come a time when you call to Almighty God and He will not be found. Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
    Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

    August 21, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • jeebus

      i reject your fear based opinion. your threats of violence are reprehensible.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Dude, what are you doing posting it. You could make tons of cash preaching it. You just laid out the perfect lead up to the collection plate, and could be on your way to the bank by now.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The Ancient Egyptians believed that when you died, you travelled to the Hall of the Dead. There Anubis weighed your heart against the feather of Ma'at. Ma'at, the goddess of justice sits on top of the scales to make sure that the weighing is carried out properly. If your heart was lighter than the feather, you lived for ever. If your heart was heavier than the feather then it was eaten by the demon Ammit, the Destroyer.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Ken

      You've got it all wrong friend. please submit to the great and only FSM, before it's to late. It is only through him that you can be saved.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • mattc1981

      You didn't capitalize His name in the third word of your post. Seeing as how you are projecting Him as a ruthless God, I think you should let a little tinkle out and beg for mercy.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Atheist

      Do you think Paul talks like this around the house?

      August 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Paul

      It's not my opinion friend. "It is written"

      August 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Paul

      Atheist, come over and we can have coffee and continue the conversation. As for me and my house, we serve the Lord. Matt, sorry for the grammatical error. I know I am forgiven though..... Remember that Jesus really is alive and well and ready to meet you. He can meet you now with forgiveness or maybe you want to continue to believe in yourself, and continue to have s ex with yourself and roll the dice......

      August 21, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • 21k

      you xtians keep thinking that by citing various chapter and verse of the bible, it will make the passages seem more authentic, and have some sort of authority. it doesn't matter. it's all made up bs, by some old arabic men who decided to split off their tribes, and needed to keep their people in-line. later, over many hundreds of years, scribes wrote the rest. it's just a bunch of crap. oh, i got that from BOB: 24-7-hut-hut-hike.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The thing about the ancient egyptians? It was written as well. Must be true.

      August 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • jeebus

      paul, you really need to give it up. you're getting hammered! lol

      August 21, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • buckup

      @paul I wrote, therefore it is written: you are wrong by leading people astray with your rant, your opinion of god.
      So what? Just because it is written?? It is still an opinion.

      August 21, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>"i reject your fear based opinion. your threats of violence are reprehensible."

      Jeebus. When another poster said they wanted to go to war with Christians, you were silent then, why?

      August 21, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • jeebus

      @mark from middle river: i'm very sorry, but i must have been eating my lunch and missed that post. i reject war. please accept my apologies for not speaking up earlier.

      August 21, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • buckup

      @paul, where in the bible does it say coffee can be served? do you also provide opium or hashish or khat? I know wormwood is a no-no in the bible. Pork is a flip-flop.

      August 21, 2011 at 6:15 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.