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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. Dan

    There is on item that bugs me about this article and it't the photograph. While I could really care less that the bible is being used with what appears to be a Playboy magazine; it strikes me as a double standard because I'm doubt that both CNN and the author has the balls to use the same photography technique using a koran. Just one of lifes litte irratants.

    August 22, 2011 at 6:49 am |
  2. Sparky

    People can, and do believe all kinds of crazy stuff. Fine, just stay out of my life, and stop trying to shove your beliefs down my throat. I couldn't imagine what a friend of mine went through growing up in a houseful of religious fanatics! His parents and his mother's parents all lived with him and his two sisters, and it was, in his words, "Pure Christian hell!". He and his youngest sister made plans to get out of there as soon as was possible. His sister, who was 14, but looked and acted much older, took off one day, and didn't come back into this area until she was 19. My friend talked his parents into letting him join the military at 17, and he went off to 'Nam, eventually, and came back here at 20, after being hurt in "combat" (A car wreck, actually). He was back almost a year, and engaged to his wife before he ran into his mother at the mall. They have zero contact with the family to this day, the older sister is even further out there than his parents were. His younger sister and he have great kids, and are very happy atheists.

    August 22, 2011 at 6:40 am |
    • Michael

      The mistakes made by your friend's parents are "human" mistakes that are in no way isolated to Christianity. The notion of making everyone around you think the same way you do starts in the earliest of stages in development. Just as you would like to make everyone around you "happy athiests". The problem isn't Christianity, it is man. There is nothing that we can't screw up.....even our relationship God the Father. Religion is merely the organization of men with common beliefs, but in no way should man's ability to distort, confuse and decieve be ignored. There is not one organization of men that exists that does not exhibit to some degree a level of corruption, but that is our folly, not God's. For example, if a person collecting money for the salvation army decides to take it all for themselves it is not the salvation army that is bad it is the individual that stole the money. Your friend's parents were a bunch of fanatical cooks.....that's NOT God's fault; He gave us the free will to become whatever we want, even if he doesn't like it.

      August 22, 2011 at 7:14 am |
  3. Joxer the Mighty

    Wow, some of you people suck, and some of you just have your heads stuck in your own particular sandbox. If you are an atheist, don't come to the belief section of CNN just to tell believers how stupid they are. You don't know what they have been through that caused them to believe. I myself am the opposite of an agnostic. I believe there is a God, but I think it's possible that there isn't one and everything is just an accident. And other believers, Jesus told the disciples that if people didn't welcome them and want to hear what they have to say, they should shake the dust off their sandals and leave them in their sin. Stop trying to argue with people who have hardened their hearts against God. You are doing no good.

    August 22, 2011 at 6:20 am |
    • Dan

      Interestign take on belief.

      August 22, 2011 at 6:46 am |
  4. herbert juarez

    @colin
    Please do not put words in my mouth ,i nowhere said the acts committed were acceptable,only that Lot was not culpable ,as you would have people believe.You focus on Lot as an active participant or an instigator, is a lie.

    August 22, 2011 at 6:12 am |
    • herbert juarez

      misplaced comment.
      belongs back two pages.

      August 22, 2011 at 6:19 am |
    • masterbutcher

      why can it not be written that breathing is a sin so that i may watch sheep passout due to their own inability to think for themselves. religion, that was so last century.

      August 22, 2011 at 6:27 am |
    • Fred1

      Of course Lot is an unconscious participant in the story, it was written by men. You man not approve of the acts; but, god apparently did because children from illegitimate couplings were blessed by god and prospered to create 2 entire tribes
      And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. 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.
      Genesis, Chapter 19, Verses 37-38.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  5. Mark

    I bet you wouldn't put a Playboy magazine on a Koran in a picture CNN?

    August 22, 2011 at 6:06 am |
    • m

      No, but it is hilarious that they did that photo. As a former believer in the 2000 year old story book. I love the fact that it is riling some of you delusional morons up. Get over it, it's no different than 'cat in the hat', dummy.

      August 22, 2011 at 6:33 am |
  6. Not a preacher just a guy

    Who here has read and remembered the entirety of the bible?

    August 22, 2011 at 6:00 am |
  7. Frank

    I quote Our Lady of Fatilma "more sould will enter Hell through sins of the flesh than any other cause" The Devil knows this, consequently he will use every means at his disposal to trap mankind

    August 22, 2011 at 5:41 am |
  8. Gabriel

    Naomi , you are a moron , you don't get the gods message but devil

    August 22, 2011 at 5:00 am |
  9. Gabriel

    Naomi , you are a moron .... you don't get the message of god but the devil ..

    August 22, 2011 at 4:58 am |
  10. Wanderingbear

    THERE IS NO GOD!! GOD IS A FAIRY TALE!

    August 22, 2011 at 4:55 am |
    • beowoofwoof

      Must you yell to make your point?

      August 22, 2011 at 5:39 am |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      And where is your proof that God is a fairy tale?

      August 22, 2011 at 6:06 am |
    • SomeGuy

      Well, there is no Christian god because Genesis CLEARLY never happened. If Genesis never happened then there is no original sin. If there is no original sin then there is no need for Jesus. If there is no need for Jesus then clearly he was either mythical or deluded. Besides all of that, the burden of proof lies upon the person making the claim and the religious are the ones making a claim that something outside the observable universe actually exists. Without any evidence for this claim must be rejected and theists have not one shred of evidence, despite their insistence to the contrary. If you don't care about the veracity of your beliefs than I can only wish you well while you play in your sky castles. If you do care, you might want to open a book that isn't numbered verse by verse.

      August 22, 2011 at 6:25 am |
  11. Mona

    The comments are better than the article! Thanks for the entertainment everyone, I can't stop laughing......

    August 22, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      This is more often than not, on the Belief Blog that we can out write most of their writers, hands down.

      But so often it is like the Roman Colosseum in Gladiator.

      Each day both Athiest and the Faithful come in and I am waiting for one day the required login will be "WE, WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE, SALUTE YOU!!"

      August 22, 2011 at 3:26 am |
  12. materblaster

    Who says masturbation leads to unproductivity? Why, I can type with one hand like I am doing now.

    August 22, 2011 at 2:23 am |
  13. materblaster

    You have hands you have genitals. They go hand in hand (pun intended) This guy who is in the article slept around too. That's between him and his wife. What does it concern you if someone else plays with them self? Is your god going to strike us down? You Christians are silly. There is no god.

    August 22, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      As you athiests so love to ask us, where is your proof?

      August 22, 2011 at 6:08 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      The proof does not fall on us Atheists...the burden of proof falls on the people making the claim. Until you can prove your 'god' exist(s)(ed), we will continue to dismiss it.

      August 22, 2011 at 6:37 am |
  14. Mike S

    Let me preface this by saying I'm agnostic, don't believe in god, but anything is possible. Let people believe what they want, just keep it away from me. But I want to respond to people throwing out examples such as: The human body is too complex to have formed from evolution or where did the universe come from, both must have come from god because none of you can explain it. We've really only had a couple hundred years to examine these scientific questions and already have way more theories that have actual facts and clues backing them up that evolution did happen and the universe did bang, etc. Do we have all these answers, no. But each day we learn more and prove these systems did evolve this way. We fricken discovered that light can be bent by the curvature of space. That time is a something and is not some abstract measurement. What facts has the bible or the quran provided? NOTHING!!!! Explain why you have faith, because you read about it in some book that men wrote? Give me a break. Until I see a burning bush, the sea parted, or Jesus coming down from heaven...science > god.

    August 22, 2011 at 2:04 am |
    • Spiffy

      Before I was an Atheist I was an Agnostic. I see it is a stepping stone really. What I find wrong with Agnosticism though is that most Agnostics are simply agnostic about God. Why shouldn't they also be agnostic about invisible unicorns or fairies? If anything is possible why not those things?

      August 22, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • Mike S

      Not the same way i look at it. Anything is possible, but I view the unknowable as untrue until proven otherwise. No one can "known" there isn't a god, but it's damn unlikely given the evidence.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Mike. The other day on some discovery channel show said that the evolutionary jump in Humans, to our present form in the short amount of time that evolutionary theorist have declared, would be like a tornado ripping through a junk yard and in from the flying derbies and wind a fully assembled operational 747 be sitting in the tornado's wake. Some scientist say it is possible and say it is impossible.

      You see, you might not believe that miracles happen but I know I do and with still unanswered scientific questions out there I think most folks feel safe about their Faith.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • Mike S

      As far as unicorns go, there could have been some mutant horses 10000 years ago that a few people saw and told their fellow cavement about but Chief Ragnar laughed and then it became fairy tales. Not likely obviously, about as likely as god.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:22 am |
    • Mike S

      So because of our CURRENT lack of evidence, you're saying that proves god? I'm sorry but that is laughable logic. They have been studying this for what is a tiny bit of time compared to the time primates walked the earth and have shown incredible links between the primates and you say there is no way we evolved? So look at the fossil record and all of the evidence so far, now compared that to your magic thesis. Who would win in this arguement. I know you "don't" want to believe it but even without a smoking gun video of ape evolving into man, even with what little we may have yet uncovered, it's still better than your zero.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:30 am |
    • Spiffy

      @Mark then try to imagine the kind of tornado that would have had to create God.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • John from Az

      Who says Unicorns never where? I read that there is a theory that a unicorn could of maybe been around, that the "horn" part could of been like hair fibers which when the horse died, would decompose. I believe anything is possible, did some kids in the late 1800's early 1900's (I forget the time, but there is a movie about it) claim to of taken pictures of fairies?

      August 22, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • Bizarre

      Mark,
      That Boeing 747 canard is also called Hoyle's Fallacy. It has been thoroughly debunked many times. If you are really interested, you can read "The Blind Watchmaker" and "Climbing Mount Impossible" by Richard Dawkins.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • Spiffy

      If you believe that then you are deluding yourself.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:46 am |
    • Bizarre

      John in AZ,

      Yes, the Cottingley Fairies caper of 1917. Even Arthur Conan Doyle was taken in. In the 1980s Elsie and Frances admitted that the photographs were faked using cardboard cutouts of fairies copied from a popular children's book.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Bizarre- It appears that the evolutionary biologist do not accept this line of thinking and the intelligent design folks accept it.

      You have stated that I should read Dawkins to accept your line of thinking. That read my favorite author to prove my point, line of thinking..... sounds pretty much like religious speak. 🙂

      All good though

      August 22, 2011 at 3:17 am |
    • Tim S

      @Mike S. You seem like a very logical person. Trying to prove there is or is not a God would be futile. However, let's say that I believe in God and you don't. When we die, we both can't be right. So if you're right and I'm wrong, when we die, we just get buried somewhere and decay. If I'm right and you're wrong, I go to heaven and you go to hell. Seems like an easy choice.

      August 22, 2011 at 3:19 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"So because of our CURRENT lack of evidence, you're saying that proves God? "

      I am not sure I am who you are speaking to but that Science has not answered many questions that have been with us for an eternity and that I have seen things that I know I can not explain just puts me, like many, into the Faithful columns. Truthfully though, to prove God would eliminate the need for Faith and on that option I would pass.

      August 22, 2011 at 3:22 am |
    • Chris H. perth

      The jump your referring to happened over millions of years. In this time there where many different variants of humanity. You seem to think that a few million years is some insignificant number. We have seen evolution happen with our own eye's as nearly every damn thing on this planet is a transitional species. You may try and argue the difference between Micro and Macro but in most cases lots of little changes add up to be one big change.

      August 22, 2011 at 3:27 am |
    • Bizarre

      Mark, "That read my favorite author to prove my point, line of thinking..... sounds pretty much like religious speak."

      Not really... I guess that I'm just tired tonight... and lazy... and put off by beating my head against brick walls refuting misconceptions and fallacies, so I passed it off onto the researcher writers.

      August 22, 2011 at 3:35 am |
    • Magic

      Tim S - "If I'm right and you're wrong, I go to heaven and you go to hell."

      This is another tired repeti.tion of Pascal's Wager - thoroughly refuted since the 17th century.

      - What if the real "God" is Allah, or Vishnu, or Zeus, or any of the other of thousands which have been dreamed up over the centuries? Some of them are very jealous and vengeful and will relegate you to nasty places for not worshiping them. You'd better cover your butt by believing in ALL of them and fulfill all of their wishes and demands.

      - What if the real "God" prefers those who use logic and reason and punishes you as a silly sycophant?

      - What if the real "God" detests those who believe something just to cover their butts in eternity?

      August 22, 2011 at 3:42 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Not really... I guess that I'm just tired tonight... and lazy..."

      Same here Bizzare.

      See a Atheist and a Christian can be on the same page of thought 🙂

      August 22, 2011 at 3:59 am |
    • Tim M.

      Mike,

      Faith in creation to Christians is the same belief that Science will eventually find all of the answers to these questions. Why do the two have to compete. FAITH is not a bad word, you either have it in Religion or in Science.

      August 22, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  15. PopeJon

    I'm sorry Naomi, you are making a really bad name for your religion. Listening to your reasoning of death and destruction makes me want to run away from your religion even more. Honestly, if I had an employee that openly talked you do I would fire you because you creep the hell out of me.... I would not want you representing anything with my name on it....

    August 22, 2011 at 1:43 am |
    • Naomi

      Why is your name Pope Jon? I don't want to be emplyed by you. Face the facts on this planet like a man. You are too naive. If people live like you, no Jew or slave would be rescued. Why are the Western boys so feminized nowadays? Shame on them!

      August 22, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • PopeJon

      Reverse it and that's my real name, get it? Obviously I'm getting to you because your trying to offend me by emasculating me. Nice try but sorry I really don't bruise so easily. And I promise I wont loose any sleep over you not wanting to work for me....

      August 22, 2011 at 1:57 am |
  16. Free Thinker Seeking Reason

    Ugghhhhh... Articles like this are absolutely sickening. Religious zealots justify their piousness based on extremist viewpoints of worst possible outcomes. Suggesting that viewing p*rn will necessarily lead to engaging in prosti-tution or s*x addiction is ridiculous. Like many pleasurable activities that enhance and celebrate the human condition, it is best done in moderation and responsibly, not unlike drinking alcohol. Excessive behavior of any kind can lead to real problems, but self-banning all forms of such pleasure is NOT the answer for the average person, and suggesting otherwise is irresponsible and downright oppressive.

    People have the power not to be so gullible as to buy in to these ultra social conservative mind control games. Think for yourself!! Your happiness depends on it!!

    After reading this story, my wife and I watched Curiosity on Discovery Channel tonight. The show was about the science and joy of the female O. Wonderfully and very tastefully produced, I highly recommend it for anyone needing to clear their mind from the nonsense presented in this annoyingly long and rather offensive religious diatribe.

    August 22, 2011 at 1:41 am |
  17. Brian

    ?

    August 22, 2011 at 1:38 am |
  18. A saddened person

    I can't believe the hate that everyone is spouting. Not from the Christians, but toward them. You people are just like the "holier than thou" hypocrites you are attacking. How many of you REALLY know a REAL Christian? All you spout is what you read on CNN or on the web sites, but I bet you have no personal experience with one. I have met hundreds if not thousands of Christians, and they are not as hateful, spiteful or close minded as the posters here. I bet you wouldn't have the guts to say the hateful things to a persons face. Prove me wrong. Come to my house!

    28619 Oakden Court
    Huffman, TX 77336

    But, I bet you are not truly as bold as you seem behind an anonymous post. I'm waiting.

    August 22, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • PopeJon

      Read my posts bellow. Are these people responding to me real Christians? Because if they are, I see a lot of close mindedness going on. Thanks for the invite but your about 2000 miles to far away.

      August 22, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • PopeJon

      Oh and reverse my name and become not so anonymous...

      August 22, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • Spiffy

      That tree out front is pretty ugly.

      August 22, 2011 at 1:43 am |
    • A saddened person

      PopeJon, if they are spouting hate, then no, they are not Christians. They are either Trolls who what to further damage the Christian community (which is like arguing with themselves on this site), or they are seriously misguided (I.E. The Westboro "Baptist Church").

      Please don't judge real followers of the teachings of Christ with the people who do crazy things in the same name. They are more opportunists than Christians.

      I would not attack someone for their beliefs. I have had many discussions with people of different or no religious backgrounds. Funny thing is, we are always respectful and always leave as friends.

      I really wish we could all just get along 🙂

      August 22, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • Spiffy

      What do you consider hate?

      August 22, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"I really wish we could all just get along"

      Great quote from a famous King 🙂

      August 22, 2011 at 1:51 am |
    • A saddened person

      Yes, the tree to the left of my house is owned by my neighbor (a rental house). I agree it is ugly.

      August 22, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • PopeJon

      You are obviously a good person religion or not. Naomi puts a bad taste to your religion. I've met to many people like her. Blood thirsty in the name of religion. She wants war and you wounder why there is so much war. Christians need to take a hard look inside their own religion to answer that.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • A saddened person

      Hating a person for any reason is hate.

      I dislike posting verses because non-believers will not believe anywhere, but for my belief, hate is the same thing as murder.

      1 John 3:15 – Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. KJV

      Basically hate is wrong, and with hate in you, you can not enter Heaven.

      I do not put people down for their beliefs, or treat them differently for having them. We have a discussion of each of our beliefs, and my job is done. I am not the Judge and jury, I am just a messenger. If you choose not to listen, it is not my job to "pound it in".

      There are things that people do that I believe is morally wrong. It is not my job to make you walk the straight line as I see it. God gave you free will, and who would I be to try to override that?

      At my church, we accept anyone. For example, people spew hate for Christians for not "liking Gays". Well, the church is for the sinners, and not the saints. If someone is gay and want's to come to our church, then they are more than welcome. We will accept the person with open arms. During the sermons, they may hear things that they do not like and feel convicted about, but that happens to everyone.

      There was an old saying "Hate the sin, not the sinner".

      I wish the Christians you meed are like me and truly follow the meaning of following Jesus.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>> "Christians need to take a hard look inside their own religion to answer that."

      Jon, while this is true there has been a lot of hateful and violent things have been said by Atheist towards Christians on this same thread, earlier today. One Atheist actually stating that they should declare "war" on Christians. I think your plea for Christians to look inside at our violent nuts should be followed with a pledge that you reasonable Atheist will look inside at your own violent nuts.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • A saddened person

      Jon, I agree. There are too many crazies out there. Saying all Christians are like this is like saying that all Muslims are terrorists. It just simply isn't true. The sad thing is, most people who have time to post on threads like this just like to argue.

      If you have any questions for a real christian, let me know. If I don't know the answer, I will research it for you. (I won't shove anything down your throat, just give my beliefs if you want them). If you don't, that's cool too. I still hope you have a blessed day.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • Spiffy

      What I find usually what Christians consider hate is usually something that just opposes his/her's belief or challenge their way of thinking. What I hate to see from Atheists is a call for a war on religion. I would like to see everyone Atheists but I'm not going to kill you over it. I might get a little annoying but I have been able to make Atheists out of two of my Catholic classmates.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • tallulah13

      Sad, while I'm happy for you that your are trying to emulate Christ, the fact is gay people aren't sinning. It's your book that's mistaken. Gay people are being exactly who they were born to be, and it makes me sad that people use a book of bronze age fables to try to make them feel guilty.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • PopeJon

      A saddened person, As I said your a good person and I have met many like you. I just wish there were more. I made the mistake of reading and letting the bad examples her get to me and now its really late. But no worries your posts have not fallen on a deaf ear.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • DrPhibes

      I would strongly advise against posting your real address to a public forum.

      August 22, 2011 at 4:12 am |
  19. PopeJon

    Mark from Middle River,

    Why do Christians want to plaster the 10 commandments all over public buildings if they don't follow the 10 commandments themselves? Like I said, no Christians marching in the streets ever day over our 2 wars.... I smell big fat hypocrite....

    August 22, 2011 at 1:23 am |
    • Naomi

      We do. In fact, we have more than 1,600 commands to keep. Jesus enables us.

      August 22, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • Naomi

      Leaving Muslims in darkness is greater evil than causing wars. Secular Westerners are selfish pigs. Everyone must have access to the Bible, freedom and human rights, not just you.

      August 22, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • PopeJon

      Sorry, no protests yesterday, or the day before that or the day before that....

      August 22, 2011 at 1:29 am |
    • PopeJon

      You can justify killing people. I will never do that.

      August 22, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • Naomi

      Jon, are you stupid? If you refuse to fight for your homeland, leave USA. You are living on another's sacrifice. Unless you're Amish or Quakers, be slave to Arabs or Chinese because that's what you want.

      August 22, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • PopeJon

      I just don't get how you can pick and choose your morals to suit your beliefs... So the true meaning of Christianity is spreading the word even if it means killing a lot of people? and I'm stupid? Really?

      August 22, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • Naomi

      Jon, yes, you are stupid. You didn't study law and you are naive. The world is not that simple.

      August 22, 2011 at 1:40 am |
    • PopeJon

      What law are you talking about? Do you have no morals? I think not.....

      August 22, 2011 at 1:45 am |
    • PopeJon

      I posted this in the wrong place.... I'm sorry Naomi, you are making a really bad name for your religion. Listening to your reasoning of death and destruction makes me want to run away from your religion even more.

      August 22, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>"Like I said, no Christians marching in the streets ever day "

      Like I said in a previous post, how many causes are out there where folks feel that the entire populous should be as outraged as they are and marching every day? I work at a medical center and there are how many of those Lance Armstrong type of plastic wrist bands that folks feel that we should be wearing because "we care"? You can be against the war and not marching down the street every day or even at all.

      As long as this generation remembers 9/11 the defense argument if not the revenge argument will work for most folks. Heck its ten years and they are just clearing the street level at ground zero. They will point to a decade of not being attacked as their justification that killing a bunch of enemy is better than letting him kill your friends and family.

      So, I think that the Christians that hold protest vigils outside of the prisons when a criminal is about to be put to death, is an example of Christians using the "cast the first stone" lesson.

      August 22, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • PopeJon

      And people with wrist bands and ribbons on their cars, dose any of that do anything? No. Its all just a fad, fashion... Makes you look good and someone else is getting money for it in their pocket. The 2 wars going on are far more horrific and tragic then anything going on here. Christians are not the only ones guilty. We did end the Vietnam war protesting in the streets. And now we are just numb. But my point is if you fight so hard to put the 10 commandments on my court house why are you not fighting so hard to end these wars that clearly violate the most important and absolute commandment, thou shall not kill?

      August 22, 2011 at 2:11 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"The 2 wars going on are far more horrific and tragic then anything going on here. "

      I know four people who are now listed as terminal with Cancer. I know another who has AIDS.

      We can spend all night debating on what is happening over there to the suffering going on here. Do not try to lesson the suffering of those who are right here and your neighbors.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:24 am |
    • Ed

      Don't you think that if some follow at least must of the 10 they will be much better

      August 22, 2011 at 3:14 am |
    • fak

      Oh please, You think anyone cares about Christians to start wars for them? This isn't Helen of Troy we are talking about here. Afghanistan is about 9/11 plain and simple. Iraq was about money. If anyone cared about Christians we wouldn't have websites like this http://www.christianpersecution.info/

      August 22, 2011 at 3:32 am |
  20. Vic

    @Pope Jon Ecclesiastes 3:3..the bible speaks of how it is ok to kill its a time for everything

    August 22, 2011 at 1:23 am |
    • PopeJon

      Sorry, no good. 10 commandments clearly say its not, hypocrite.....

      August 22, 2011 at 1:25 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.