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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. Larry

    You all sound like a bunch of whiny children.

    I don't claim to know everything, and I'll go further by saying none of you do either. I'll believe in my God and you believe in what you want. I'm not going to force you to believe what I do, and I expect the same degree of courtesy from you.

    Now please shut the hell up. Thanks.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Larry

      What is it that makes you believe in your god?

      August 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • neal

      HELLZ YA

      August 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • edwin

      Larry:

      Why do you think people will treat you with respect and/or courtesy? America is not a land of tolerance.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • SecularBob

      very christian of you

      August 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • gizmoidi

      Tell your friends to butt out of everyone else's affairs and quit with the judging then, huh?

      August 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      gizmoidi – How about everyone take a few steps back from judging everyone else. Some Atheist have done just as good of a job painting the Faithful with a judgmental brush as those extremist from our side.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Mark, while I certainly don't think all christians are bad, intolerant people, it's kind of hard to ignore all the fundies running for president and all the money religious groups are pouring into anti-gay ballot measures. If christians want to force their will on society, they have to expect that people will push back.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Well, I DO know everything.
      Well, everything in a narrow topic not involved with the subject of the article.
      OK, NEARLY everything about that increasingly narrow subject...
      Awww, forget it.
      I agree with you, Larry.
      To each, their first amendment guaranteed RIGHT to believe whatever they wish to believe in.

      August 21, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  2. Colin

    Did you know that there are scores of verses in the bible that talk about your d.ick and what you should and should not do with it, but not one verse about your brian and how you should and should not use it!

    Either god does not exist, or he is a 14 year-old boy.

    August 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • *frank*

      I'd rather have a brianna than a brian, but there's no accounting for taste in matters of the heart (or loins).

      August 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • Free

      "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;" Proverbs 3:5
      Generally speaking, the Bible frowns upon actually using your brain.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Free

      You said "Generally speaking, the Bible frowns upon actually using your brain."

      That isn't surprising as those that do use their brain tend to shy away from it. It's self preservation.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • Damon

      How could one without a brain even recognize that?

      August 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Fred

      "How to use your brian?"
      Son, you need to sit down and shut up. Let the grown-ups do the talking here.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Honestly, I have ZERO use for Brian. Nothing personal, Brian.
      I DO have a LOT of use for my BRAIN.
      And my wife and I have a WHOLE LOT of use for old blue.
      And none of that involves Brian OR Lance.

      August 21, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.
      the human"heart"(mind,brain, soul)is incredibly wicked,who can know it?

      August 22, 2011 at 5:52 am |
  3. nathaniel

    In God We F...

    August 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  4. Sick Christians

    And you wonder why every other religion think you're a violent bunch of barbarians??

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

    August 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • Christian Jones says he's like Martin Luther

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQyBvT66lPM&w=640&h=390]

      August 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Robert

      Actually, atheists are the most poorly thought of religion in the world.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Robert? Here's a clue: atheism isn't a religion. We just don't believe in ANY god. Can you understand that?

      August 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • humanbean

      What's even more sickening is to listen to the media w h o r e s clicking their cameras so they can publish this garbage and create more violence.

      August 21, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  5. Reality

    Your choice.

    FIRST-YEAR CON-TRACEPTIVE FAILURE RATES ( from Guttmacher )

    Percentage of women (men?) experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)

    Method
    Typical

    Pill (combined) 8.7
    Tubal sterilization 0.7
    Male condom 17.4
    Vasectomy 0.2

    Periodic abstinence 25.3
    Calendar 9.0
    Ovulation Method 3.0
    Sympto-thermal 2.0
    Post-ovulation 1.0

    No method 85.0"

    (Abstinence) 0

    (Masturbation) 0

    August 21, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  6. JR

    It's a shame people can't have intelligent conversation about religion. Looks like the hate won't ever stop.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      Atheists are such a small minority ,that when there is a forum such as this they all turn out.They are here being abusive to create the illusion that there is a lot of them.Nothing could be farther from the truth.This is the world wide web,7 billion people on the planet and atheists muster at best a few dozen?They are more to be pitied for their self deceptions than debated.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @herbert juarez

      About There are about 994,000,000 atheists and non-religious in the world. And growing all the time!

      August 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Poor herbie. Truth isn't decided by the number of people who believe in something. Remember the whole flat earth thing?

      August 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @david johnson
      ... and non religious...the indifferent probably well over 990,000,000 who do not by their indifference accept atheist theory , but atheists try to claim them to bolster their numbers.Atheism has always been the stuff of frauds.

      August 22, 2011 at 5:58 am |
  7. *frank*

    Verily, I cometh quickly when I watch porn.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Name*Maya

      You think it's funny you idiot! U say that because you are probably a nasty lonley man! Get a grip and stop making jokes of other peoples issues.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • No One Is Safe

      yeah, frank! get a grip!!!

      but not *too* tight a grip... that's a hella place to get blisters...

      October 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  8. Ha ha

    Ha ha

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l38blGqVeHc&w=640&h=390]

    August 21, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  9. Robert

    You would not dare place a Playboy inside a Qur'an would you, CNN?

    There is an answer for the power of any sin in any believer's life--the Holy Ghost.

    Romans 8:13For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
    14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

    1Cor 6: 11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Robert? Did you read the headline before you made your judgement? This is a story about christians, not muslims.

      August 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  10. Fred1

    You don’t need pron when you’ve got the bible. I especially like the story where Judah knocks up his daughter in law. Genesis 38: 11-30

    August 21, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      So tell us what it is all about.What is the why, the rest of the story?

      August 21, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  11. Ed Galbraith

    Each one of us is nothing but billions of indifferent microbes on a rock flying through an indifferent universe. Lighten up. Be nice, forget about the heaven/hell crap and enjoy your life.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • Robert

      Atheists are so silly. it is impossible that the universe came into being from a steady state of absolute nothing according to what we now know of science. And we now know that the universe had a definite beginning due to the observations of the COBE sattelite and Hubble telescope. Atheism is left as nothing more than a tiny irrational cult.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • Colin

      Good point Robert. So, to continue with your theme, where did the sky-fairy you bring into existence to answer the dilemma come from? And don't give the nauseating answer "he was always there" or you will have undermined the very assumption you used to deduce your magic sky-vapor.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • JT

      @Robert.....please quit trying to drag the rest of us down to your level of ignorance. It's ok if you believe in invisible nonexistent spirts but please keep your delusions to yourself.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Robert

      Cosmic background radiation is the furthest thing we can detect – also it is the oldest. This would be microwave frequencies, not optical wavelengths. We have nothing as of yet, that would allow us to see the beginning of the universe.

      Even if we could, it would not prove a god did it. And certainly not the Christian god.

      Cheers!

      August 21, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Robert

      Forget Jesus. The stars died so you could be here today! – Lawrence Krauss

      Cheers!

      August 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Robert

      @Colin

      Silly atheist. Everything that has a beginning has to have a cause. The first cause could only be self-existant, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, powerful, intelligent, and wise. The being theists call God. The material can't be eternal due to what we know of the laws of thermodynamics and the observations I've already noted. God is a Spirit, not material, and is the necessary first cause for all things.

      Nothing about atheism has any rationality to it whatsoever.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • NoMoreLabels

      @ Robert: Just because you cannot see what is out in space does not mean there is "nothing" there. There are stars born, maturing, and dying all the time. Religion encourages the need to cloak one's self in a security blanket which only belittles any argument presented by the religion–and they do it with a 2000 year old book. Get with the times and do some research or you will keep sounding ignorant.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Robert

      You can keep your 2000+ year old desert dweller bullishit – I'll take Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins and other modern day scientists. Are no god – not even just one!

      August 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Wow....

      August 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  12. 56vrar

    Religion does not compromise. Comply or perish in the name of (insert name of deity here), that is the option every human religion gives. Sadly, America is well on the road to being just like any nation of fundamental Islamist leadership: Oppressed.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Yeah, ...so you have never talked with anyone from a Muslim country? Not that countries like Iran do have Jewish and Christian populations.

      We can not even get Christians to all agree on the same interpretation of the Scripture ...almost coming to fist fights ...but some of you Atheist are worried that we are going to some how unite under a sole leadership.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Robert

      Every officially atheist nation has been a cesspol of mass murder and denial of the most basic of human rights. Consider the "rational atheists" Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and a dozen lesser known atheist tyrants who are responsible for the deaths of over 250 million people in the past 100 years.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Mark from Middle River

      The Christian Right does want to establish a Christian Nation. The do have a wishlist.

      The Texas history books are rewriting history to give the conservative slant. The objective of this effort, is to create a Christian Nation, a theocracy with Jesus as Head of State.

      A huge campaign is underway, to convince the American people, the founding fathers never intended a separation of church and state. Thomas Jefferson's role as a founding father is played down. In some cases Jefferson is smudged.

      Expect an attack on the 1st and 14th Amendments. The founding fathers will weep.

      Most of the Tea Party are for a Christian Theocracy. The Tea Party is in bed with the Christian Right. A vote for any Tea Party candidate, is a vote for Christian Right domination.

      The Republicans are the puppets of the Christian Right and the Rich.

      You will see an amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman. The repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell", will be in grave jeopardy. Gay rights will dwindle and die.

      Roe Vs. Wade will be reversed. Women will once again be forced to seek back alley remedies. Men will be forced to buy condoms on the black market.

      Stem cell research will stagnate. The hopes of damaged and sick people will be dashed.

      All scientific research will be scrutinized by the Christian Right. "If a theory is in agreement with Scripture ", will be the new metric. Get use to hearing "God Did It". No one will dare question otherwise.

      P_ornography will be illegal. The Religious Right will decide what is p_ornographic , as well as what is art. You will watch television programs approved by the Evangelicals. Lots of reruns of "Growing Pains", starring that Evangelical darling Kirk Cameron. Thank you Jesus!
      WoW! Did I just see an article on this somewhere today?

      Creationism will be taught in public school, most likely alongside evolution rather than instead of, but no guarantees.
      Vouchers will enable parents to send their child to religious schools. Funds to public schools will dwindle. Quality education will be out of reach for the masses. The finite amount of money, will be spread too thin. But what does it matter? It is the will of God.

      Little Johnny will believe in talking snakes and Zombie Messiahs. The rest of the world is spending their time learning real science and math. Good luck Johnny. Can you say: "Would you like fries with that?"

      State-sanctioned Prayer will be in our schools. The Christian Right think they know better than the Founding Fathers and want to tamper with the Bill of Rights. They want to amend the U.S. Const_itution, so that the Government would legally sponsor and take over the activity of prayer. Only the one true god, the Christian god, will be given homage. The non-Christians will be allowed to put their heads down on their desks, during the morning worship. They can contemplate their damnation, for not accepting Jesus.

      $ex education will consist of abstinence only. Studies have shown it is a worthless concept. But, it will please Jesus.
      The war against unions, commenced during the Bush administration, will continue.

      Jesus will be the Head of State! He will be represented by an empty chair at the head of the leadership table. Only the Evangelicals will be able to hear His voice. They will tell the rest of us His will. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

      We will be slaves to a make believe god. If it wasn't so sad, it would be funny.

      Cheers!

      August 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • 56vrar

      Unlike the Crusades or The Spanish Inquisition, which handed out ice cream to non-believers.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"The Christian Right does want to establish a Christian Nation. They do have a wish list. "

      Yeah David, but it is the same as ordering a pizza. Each Christian sect, denomination or order will feel that theirs is the correct interpretation, with none willing to bend. Just like saying we all want pizza, we understand and agree that we want a pizza.... now what are your toppings. 🙂

      Next thing... its Jerry Springer. 🙂

      August 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • trentos

      Robert, your god wants to burn the 5 billion non christians for all eternity. "He" sounds like the tyrant to me; "he" puts the people you mentioned to shame.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Mark from Middle River

      But, we don't all want pizza. And I am not trying to force everyone to have the kind I like.

      One of your Teabagger people ( Can't remember who) made the statement, the people who go to the polls control the government. That is so very true. If only the people who want pepperoni go to the polls...we will have only pepperoni.

      In 2010, the Dems did not go to the polls. We got what we got.

      I am not paranoid. I am concerned, with reason. The company Rick Perry is keeping, want very much to rule the nation.

      Cheers!

      August 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      David, the scenario is to explain why it would be extremely hard to create a Christian Right theocracy. Many Atheist think of all Christians as “lockstep” where as you can barely get Christians to agree on everything within a single denomination, so explain how do you figure this grand Christian theocracy would come into being? Think that the Catholics will bend to the Baptist interpretation or the Lutherans to the Methodist? If you throw in Seventh Day Adventist and Mormons, then it just increases the odds of such happening.

      What I am saying is David, I can understand the concern but the irrational fear is confusing. I remember when I was young that my father told me that all the whites in our community woke up every morning trying to figure out how to kill me and our family. He used to point out a neighbor that jogged as him getting ready for the big race war. The thing is that being the only African American kid in school I soon learned something, that I hold on too. While some wanted to cave my head I found that the white kids had just as much hate for other whites that some had for me. That one was Polish, or another was Italian. The class envy and hatred was something that my father never told me about.

      While you are worried about the Christians one day uniting to vote in a Christian country I just see the constant bickering and distrust within the Faiths.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • CM

      Mark does not follow history. The Nazi party was a minority party, but they had more numbers than any other one party, louder voices, and fiercer devotion that scared everyone into submission. I'm not saying Christians are all Nazis, I'm pointing out that there is plenty of precedent for a minority group to bring an entire nation into submission. Evangelical Southern Baptists could easily accomplish the same... giving other Christians just enough "we're on your side" to prevent revolt while cracking down so hard on non-believers as to terrify everyone into silence.

      It could quite easily happen. There is plenty to fear from the politicized Christian right. Saddam held power in Iraq for decades despite being of a minority sect of a religion whose various sects routinely murder each other. Majority cohesion is not necessary for one small lunatic group to seize control of a government while you make excuses for them.

      August 21, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  13. Jesus Is Lord

    From reading all these hateful comments, I can see that what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14 is true:

    "You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it."

    That gateway to life is Jesus Christ. He is the ONLY way to the Father in Heaven. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent, obey and be saved!

    August 21, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • 56vrar

      Ah, this is true because? Because the Bible tells us so! I prefer "Oh The Place You'll Go" by Suess.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Is the the same person who was calling themselves "Jeus Is Lord" earlier? If so, congratulations on getting the spelling corrected.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • NoMoreLabels

      Congrats! You brandish that thing like a true Christian–good luck with that!

      August 21, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Nookster

      Less and Less people are practicing christians in the U.S. That means less children will be indoctrinated from birth with this nonsense. Very few people involve themselves in organized religion in adulthood that were'nt raised in it. Hopefully people in religion will be relagated to a small minority of mostly wackjobs.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • trentos

      Trentos 18-21-13: "Thou shall give 10% of your money to the Church of Trentos, or thou shalt perish and be tortured for all eternity."

      No evidence exists as to the validity of this statement, just like the babble you referred to.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Jesus Is Lord

      Jesus also promised that prayer would work, He would be back in the 1st Century and did not deny the fact that the earth is flat, when tempted by Satan.

      There is no evidence that Jesus ever actually existed.

      Cheers!

      August 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  14. Chris

    OMG, If Christians spent even half of the time/energy they spend worrying about what others do actually doing something productive imagine what we could accomplish. Stop trying to control people, you of all people should be comfortable in the self's ability to govern its actions, and you should be the most at peace knowing they will be punished for their wrong doings. Quit trying to dictate others actions/thoughts/beliefs.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Chris, the article says that they are helping folks that have identified themselves as Christians. Do not act so scared, they are not targeting you, just those that come to them for help.

      Good Grief dude.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  15. Fred1

    You don’t need pron when you’ve got the bible. I especially like the story where Lot knocks up his 2 virgin daughters after god destroys Sodom and Gomorra for being naughty

    August 21, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      based on your post I don't think you've ever read that story.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • Colin

      Herbert, have you worked out yet why a failure to disprove your god means it exists, but no other religion can make the same claim for their god(s)?

      August 21, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @God is because God is,He doesn't need your acknowledgement to exist, and He has offered you all the proof you will ever get in His Son Jesus.If you do not believe the Law and the Prophets, you will not believe a man returned from the grave.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
    • Colin

      Thank Herbert, I'll take that as a "no."

      August 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Herbert, I admire your conviction, but wishing just doesn't make it so. You may be okay with the lack of proof, but don't expect the more rational-minded to play along.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      I know who I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him until that day.I have all the proof i need ,and God is more real than you are or will ever be.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • Fred1

      @herbert: what part of the story did I get wrong?

      Genesis, Chapter 19, Verses 30-38.
      30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.
      31. And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:
      32. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
      33. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
      34. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
      35. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
      36. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
      37. And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.
      38. And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Ben-ammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      so Lot was unaware of what happened?"...he perceived it not..."one would have suspected from your original post that Lot was actively seeking after his daughters.According to the account given ,where is he culpable?

      August 21, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Colin

      I don't know HJ, but let's think it through. Old Lot gets an ere.ction, penetrates his own daughter, ejaculates and fathers her child. He does the same thing the next night with his other daughter.

      If you were on a jury, would you buy the "I thought it was the Olsen Twins" defense?

      August 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      What can you tell us about the Moabites and the Ammonites, the rest of the story?What is that all about?

      August 21, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @colin
      it appears you and Onan have a lot in common.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @colin
      two questions
      1.since Lot was unaware of the proceedings, how is he guilty of anything?
      2.since you mention court, what law was broken?

      August 21, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Colin

      Sorry HJ, if you are prepared to accept a grown man having drunken $ex with his own daughters as acceptable, I am afraid furhter discourse is pointless. I suspect there is nothing you will not justify if it is in the "Good Book".

      August 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @colin
      unable to answer the questions?
      The recorded account shows that Lot was not a willing participant in the matter,if there be guilt it must be assigned to those who deceived.
      The story speaks of the origin of two peoples who opposed the Hebrews on their journey to the promised land.There is more.
      The Law was not given for another 5 centuries.

      August 22, 2011 at 6:07 am |
    • herbert juarez

      @colin
      You have a nasty habit of putting words in other peoples mouth, no one said the acts committed were acceptable.Lot ,by the very testimony of the story was not culpable in the matter.Replied previous, but cnn put the reply on its own thread two pages ahead.Same basic response,little more information.

      August 22, 2011 at 6:17 am |
  16. Hitler was Christian but Christian deny it because he was their hero

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNN-M4wMbT4&w=640&h=390]

    August 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Isn't that the Boy Scout pledge hand gesture? Hmm... and the Boy Scouts were around earlier than Hitler and his crew. I think you did more to prove that the Nazis were Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts.

      Hmm...uniforms....

      August 21, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Well, the Scouts don't allow atheists or gays to participate, so there's your proof right there that Hitler wasn't an atheist.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • LinCA

      @tallulah13

      You said "Well, the Scouts don't allow atheists or gays to participate, so there's your proof right there that Hitler wasn't an atheist."

      While that is true for the US organization (BSA), I'm pretty sure other national organizations aren't as bigoted. I'd be surprised if the German scouting organization discriminates (anymore).

      August 21, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hitler had persons in his inner circle who were. Hitler attached himself to so many things, from the occult to sci fi , to embracing other cultures that he felt might have had the keys to victory.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Scouts 101

      The Scouts is grounded in christianity

      August 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  17. Headdesking

    So, let me get this straight. Because people are lusting, which is condition that is naturally built into us (whether you think that it came from "Be fruitful and multiply" or millions of years of evolutionary adjustment) people want to procreate. To avoid premarital procreation or because your spouse is not consenting, you "Self-start".

    You would think that church leaders would be thanking people for jerking it, since it prevents the things they hate most: premarital relations, abortions and divorce.

    But would it make more sense to create a rule not explicitly given in the Bible to make your life harder? Apparently so.

    *Headdesks repeatedly*

    August 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  18. Martin More yet another christian - a Catholic

    Christians have never been bale to conclude what it is to be a Christian because the man they follow was confused himself. Why, he asked, about to die, does God Creator allow this to happen? Well Jesus, because you never promoted the Torah and you're a self-fulfilling blaspheming rebel that deserves to die!

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

    August 21, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  19. Realist

    Hey everyone. Cool show on right now! Discovery channel. Inducing org–asm on Curiosity.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Realist

      8pm est

      August 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Geez....Chances are he is going to give a pop-quiz at the end of the show. 🙂

      August 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Thanks for the reminder.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
  20. AC

    equalrights
    Why didn't they place a Playboy inside of the Quran, instead of the Bible?
    Exactly. Please get rid of that disgusting and offensive publication.
    Let us read Playboy in peace.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:00 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.