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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. hippypoet

    god hates you, you will all die in the name of god, you will be punished for all your moronic sins against the human race. enjoy your high handed attemp at ruling the body while preaching idiosyncrasies!

    August 22, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • William Demuth

      Sorry Hippy, but as a poet one would expect your posting to have a discernable point?

      August 22, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  2. Rainer Braendlein

    Gospel of John, Chapter 2:

    13 And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,

    14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

    15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;

    16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.

    17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

    18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

    19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

    20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

    21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

    22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

    23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast [day], many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.

    24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all [men],

    25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

    August 22, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      It was fully correct that Jesus chased away the sellers!

      Imagine, any stranger would try to use your apartment as shop. Wouldn't you chase him away?

      Should God have no right to expel strangely behaving people from his residence (the Temple)?

      August 22, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • Glen

      Ok but what the molesting priests? You would think that would offend God much more than selling stuff and bingo.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Glen

      The Holy Spirit has forsaken the Roman Catholic Church, because of papacy and a lot of other heresies.

      Thus, any member of the RCC and even her priests cannot have faith, because faith can be caused solely by the Holy Spirit.

      Having no faith in Christ, the priests are not able to overcome their sinfulness and thus molest children. Besides they should marry, what the pope doesn't allow.

      Dont't equate the Christian Church with the RCC.

      RCC belongs to the devil.

      The Christian Church belongs to Jesus Christ.

      August 22, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • well

      Rainer, do you know that you are deluded bigot? I'm just wondering, because some people don't realize what they really are.

      August 22, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  3. William Demuth

    Hey, itf the Christians want to bear fruits, they should breed their CLERGY.

    August 22, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • rufusclyde

      Clergy do breed.

      Unmarried does not equal chaste.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  4. What that

    amazing isnt it..the amount of hate that is coming forth against christians!! Christians have always known that in the last days the world would hate christ more and more and those who followed him in turn. Jesus warned of this happening..and here it is. Very exciting to think that we are in the last days!! Praise be to God and to his son Jesus Christ!! I threw that last part in there because enough of you haters use jesus's name as a curse every day and in every way!

    August 22, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • rufusclyde

      What's amazing is all this hatred from supposed Christians, who bear false witness and play the victim. The world isn't going to end any time soon, unless you deliberately do it yourselves.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • William Demuth

      Christians manipulate.

      They lie, cheat and defraud BILLIONS of people.

      They have already destroyed the cilvilized world once, yet THEY claim persecutuion.

      I hope I live long enough to see them PROSECUTED!

      I believe crimes against humanity STILL holds the death penalty!

      We are gonna need alot of rope!

      August 22, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • think for yourself

      Speaking of hate, your all loving god wants to torture 5 billion of us for eternity. Sounds like your god is the real hater.
      And how is it exciting if you believe we are at the "end of days"? How arrogant is it to wish death upon everyone on Earth, just because you think eternal paradise awaits you and eternal damnation awaits everyone that doesn't share your belief? Sounds like the mentality of the terrorists that flew planes into the twin towers.
      And don't worry about the people using your god's name in curses. Blasphemy is a victimless offense.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • William Demuth

      think for yourself

      Exactly. That is why if he shows his Palestinian rear end in my world, I shall crucify him again, with a fourth nail right between the eyes so he STAYS dead,

      Damn Zombie savior is perfect for a cult of undead indiots

      August 22, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • NFeKPo

      You do realize that everything you post on the internet will be stored forever right? So in 100 years theoretically someone will look at that post and think "We are still here today so their rational must be wrong." A logical person would then start to question that belief and poke holes in the logic. Some advice: You should steer clear of claiming hard facts because when it doesn't happen you come out looking like an idiot. A perfect example is the group that said the world would end on May 21, 2011; now they look stupid (of course any rational person could have told you that on May 20, 2011).
      Besides isn't "The end of world claim" the same crap that was used during the dark ages.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • well

      What is amazing is the fundamental dishonesty of the angry atheists. All the evil done in the name of Christ lays at his feet.
      The tens of millions dead at the hands of the officially atheist movement of communism are always forgotten or brushed aside.
      The only officially atheist government system was the most violent and socially repressive political system ever.

      August 22, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Nick_

      You really believe that god will wisk away all the "believers" and leave us here to burn?? then you are a childish idiot with an I.Q. of no more than 80!

      August 22, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • tallulah13

      Well? Atheist isn't a political system. It is simply the lack of belief in any god. What you don't seem to get is that the reason these dictators were so dead-set against religion is that they didn't want a rival authority system. It's strangely akin to the systematic destruction of other beliefs by the christian church.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  5. eideard

    What backwards, ignorant fools. Science should define a special American disease called the Christian neurosis.

    August 22, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  6. siskind

    Since when does this country have a designated religion. These idiots say keep government out of my life, then what the ______ is this garbage. Same with abortion, gays etc. This country was based on freedom of religion not an imposed religion as is being attempted. It was not set up as freedom of religion if only only suites you. Back off before another Hitler is created. We had George Bush the great crusader that was near enough for me.

    August 22, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • Say What?

      Hitler didn't believe in God.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • William Demuth

      Say What

      Hitler was a DEVOUT Christian, his own writings PROVE it.

      He was in fact the flower of Christianity

      August 22, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • well

      Hitler was probably not a Christian. He used Christian imagery in speeches to his primarily Christian nation. In private writings he was generally very anti-Christian. It is always amusing how so many Atheists will take Adolf on his word, then jump through countless hoops to disown the declared atheists, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.

      August 22, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • tallulah13

      Well? You don't get to decide who is christian and who is not. That is between an individual and his god.

      August 22, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • tallulah13

      Oh, poor Well. Do you not see the hypocrisy of your own post? You are taking Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot at their word. Why don't you accept Hitler's word? Is it because it makes your religion look bad? Do you think your god needs you to lie to protect his feelings? Didn't your god say something about bearing false witness?

      August 22, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  7. Josh

    There is a new study out that found that 19% of straight guy have no interest in ever getting married because they find that p0rn+m@sturb@tion is "good enough" and thus wives are not worth their hassle.

    August 22, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • Walker

      That's probably true in some cases. ...

      What I do in the privacy of my own home, is my own business, not any church. My wife and I get along fine, we both enjoy a bit of "visual stimulation" (I don't know the list of words that get you blocked here) from time to time, and both engage in self-satisfaction on occasion when the other isn't in the mood. Does that wreck the marriage? Not if you're open with each other. How do I know this? 45 years with the same woman.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • William Demuth

      You have obviosuly never seen my wife!

      August 22, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  8. Rainer Braendlein

    @Dude – Would Ghandi have used violence as Jesus did – No – Jesus preached violence with a sword

    It is fully correct to punish criminals. Assumed Osama bin Laden would resurrect, I would kill him again, if I had the power for that. I would even kill Muhammad, who was also a murderer.

    Murderers need to be exterminated. That is fully okay!

    August 22, 2011 at 8:13 am |
  9. Dude - Would Ghandi have used violence as Jesus did - No - Jesus preached violence with a sword

    Dude

    August 22, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  10. Rainer Braendlein

    Dude!

    There were people, abusing the Holy Temple as marketplace. This people were dispersed by Jesus.

    Obviously the Temple-police had failed to do their job. Thus, Jesus had to help.

    It was all correct, what Jesus did, even very laudable.

    I praise everybody, who fights criminals. Can there be a worse crime, than to use the Temple as marketplace?

    August 22, 2011 at 7:48 am |
  11. kate

    i think it is high time we come clean. remember the question the Lord asked Adam 'Adam, where are you?'. The question is still echoing today. Something like this and wife/husband battery needs to be aired and talked about. True spiritual freedom comes from acknowledging what is being hidden and breaking losse from them. i don't expect the "Expert Commentators" to agree with me on this anyway. Chikena!

    August 22, 2011 at 7:45 am |
    • Dave

      Spoken like a true moron.

      August 22, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  12. Bo

    Hi! guess it doesn't matter if people are up and posting, I've a memory problem with my cell phone, and it takes too long to load this page, so wii talk to you later–I hope.

    August 22, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  13. Rainer Braendlein

    Mark 16: 16: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

    Regretably either people emphasise faith or people emphasise baptism.

    However, solely the combination of faith and baptism makes overcoming Christians.

    August 22, 2011 at 7:37 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      The gospel of Jesus Christ:

      1. Jesus has borne our sins on the cross. Just believe it (I hope the Holy Spirit gives you faith!).

      Now you need the power of Christ, in whom you believe.

      2. The power of Jesus' death and resurrection is dedicated to us at Holy Baptism. Our old man of sin dies together with Jesus and we resurrect together with Jesus to a new life. By Holy Baptism all bars of space and time disappear, and we get involved into Christ's sacrifice.

      August 22, 2011 at 7:38 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Note:

      Baptism is much more than a symbolic act. God acts at every baptism. God is the invisible Baptist. We get born out of Water and Spirit.

      August 22, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      A Church, which is led by the Holy Spirit, will surely teach correctly about baptism. Seek such a Church. It is very im-portant to join the right Church, because the Holy Spirit is present solely in the Church, which teaches right. The Holy Spirit is essential for you and the Church, because he causes the faith. Nobody is able to believe by nature or by natural power. You need the help of the Spirit.

      August 22, 2011 at 7:41 am |
    • think for yourself

      "You better behave, or Santa will not bring you presents this year"

      The only difference between god and Santa is we eventually tell our kids that Santa is not real, but we do not tell them that god is fake as well.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • rufusclyde

      Note: You've been proselytizing the exact same posts 24/7. You message is flat out wrong. The article is about a Christian solution to Christian behavior. All parties are Christians. They've all been baptized and professed their faith. Yet they still sin. In all likelihood, you sin too. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:34 am |
  14. 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 22, 2011 at 7:29 am |
  15. Bo

    Good Morning! Are there actually people up and posting now?

    August 22, 2011 at 7:28 am |
    • illuminati

      No one said it was people that are posting.

      August 22, 2011 at 7:31 am |
    • AGuest9

      Not all of us go to bed. Some go to work.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  16. SpiderBaby

    But, but...the Bible does not mandate that one get & stay married. ok, carry on.

    August 22, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • illuminati

      Looks as if you never read a bible.

      August 22, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • illuminati

      The Bible also never said there was a mickey mouse.

      August 22, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • gary

      bible is nonsense, myth, ... god is pretend

      August 22, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  17. Just Wondering

    Just wondering why we never see articles like this about Islam or Judaism?

    August 22, 2011 at 7:17 am |
    • illuminati

      It would be offensive to the arabs and jews. Since Christians are not united and a large group they are a good target.

      August 22, 2011 at 7:34 am |
    • AGuest9

      1.) Not sure. They're all made-up, too.
      2.) Evangelicals are more fun to watch?

      August 22, 2011 at 9:01 am |
  18. TruthPrevails

    Food For Thought To Everyone (copied from atheists.org):
    Bible theory inconsistencies.
    • If God is all-powerful, why did He take 6 days to create the universe, resting on the 7th? Why didn't He just snap his proverbial fingers and create everything all at once, and not need rest afterwards? Doesn't sound so all-powerful to me.
    • The great flood: Why not just kill the people, and not all the animals? 40 days seems like overkill, doesn't it? Why torture the damned by drowning them slowly, instead of killing them in a blink with the all-powerful hand of God? After God killed all the people on the planet, why not make a better human, instead of allowing the species to continue after it had proven itself unworthy?
    • Why do other planets and stars exist? Whole galaxies? Why did God go to such extents to make us disbelieve the Bible?
    • Why are we here? If it is "to serve god", why does God need to be "served", and why can't we do it from heaven?
    • We have free will, but God already knows who will sin, who will accept Him, etc, for all eternity (since he has perfect knowledge of the future). He has in effect known you would be reading this article since the beginning of time. Given that, why not just send our souls (and those of our descendants) to Heaven or Hell, depending on what He knows we'll do?
    • Why does God care if he is praised? He is this all-knowing, super being, why does He care if we mere humans give him credit for creating all this?
    • How can anyone justify the fact that this merciful, loving god is sending all non-Christians to Hell, no matter how good they are? However, terrible people, including Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer, could go to Heaven if they accepted God before death
    • Why does this wonderful, forgiving God hold Adam's sin over all our heads? Why must we all pay for this by being permanent sinners? Again, God made the rules and this is God's choice, so you're going to have to explain why God CHOOSES to hold this incredible grudge.
    • If God was so angry, why didn't he just kill Adam and Eve and start over? He killed a lot of other people in the Bible for less.
    • Where did God come from? How did He get created? Why is it a valid argument to say that He "always existed", but an invalid argument to say the same thing about matter and energy?
    • If God is trying so hard to be near us, why doesn't He show himself? I mean, really, show himself to all of us? Why have there been no miracles since the Bible (note, I mean REAL miracles like the spontaneous end of disease or hunger)? Why not show yourself by giving all humans perfect knowledge of your existence (like angels) if it's so important to be praised by us?
    • Hell is used by many as a good reason in and of itself to practice religion. Hell, in theory, is so bad that the mere possibility of its existence – no matter how small – warrants prayer to God. This implies that religion is a self-serving decision, not an exercise in humility or praise. In other words, greed. Yes folks, one of the seven deadly sins. Furthermore, since God can apparently read minds, He will easily see through your futile attempt at deceiving Him and send you to Hell. Therefore, by this argument, prayer is useless; you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
    • Why believe the Bible over other stories of gods, like the Greek gods, Roman gods, or Celtic gods? They also answer all the questions, just like the Bible, and they all have the same corroboration (none) so why believe one over the other?

    But wait! There's more! Let's talk Jesus!
    • What was Jesus' purpose? Common answer: "to save us from our sins." Why have a son (why not God himself), and why did he have to die for our sins? Why didn't God just "save us" himself? He is God, right? He can do whatever he wants, so why the whole Jesus thing?
    • Another response is to say that Jesus gave God a sense of what it's like to be human. Jesus did not give God a sense of life as a human. First of all, since God is all-knowing, he already had such a sense. Second, you can't get a sense of being human by walking around being the son of God. In order to know what it's like to be a human you need to go completely through life as a human. You need to fall in love, get married, have kids, pay taxes, and, most importantly, fail at something (which theists maintain did not happen, see #3). This response leads us to believe that God has no idea of what these basic principles are like.
    • Jesus was also supposed to be 100% perfect. Then why aren't we all Christian? He didn't do a perfect job of converting people (that was his purpose, right?), He didn't do a perfect job of spreading the message of peace (crusades, holy wars) despite a PERFECT knowledge of humans.

    A perfect, all powerful being can only do something with perfect results. Ergo, either God did not intend to save all humans, rather a precious few, or he is imperfect. You choose.
    • "Jesus was God's intermediary." Why does an all-powerful being need an intermediary? He could give us all perfect knowledge of His existence with a snap of the fingers. Surely he could just, I don't know, talk to us?
    • "Jesus chose to die to take our place?" Nope. God made the rules, he can change them. He didn't need Jesus to save humans, all he needed to do was forgive sin. All God had to do was change his mind!
    No, Jesus was neither useful nor needed. He did nothing God himself couldn't have done better, quicker, and easier.

    Now, in synopsis, here are some interesting "facts" about God.
    • He knows the future, so he has known forever that Humans would be created, that he would flood the Earth, that he would send Jesus, and that most would reject Him. In effect, he set up his "children", whom he supposedly "loves", for that eternity in Hell.
    • He knows that, since Adam, billions of good, loving, hard-working people are spending an eternity in Hell because of ignorance and God's vanity, which He could reverse instantly but chooses not to.
    • He created awful diseases by the score and unleashed them on "his children" without care (even those who love and obey Him). He could cure all (God-made) diseases by snapping his fingers, but he won't.
    • He made the rules, and has the power to change them at will, but won't. In a snap, he could change everything, make all souls of good people go from Hell to Heaven, but refuses to do so.
    What does this tell us about God? Well, there are only four options that are not contradictory to the above facts:

    • He is not nearly as powerful as we think he is – unlikely, because if he exists, he is strong enough to create the universe (even if it did take him 6 days)
    • He is stubborn to the point of malevolence – improbable, because he knows the future. Stubbornness implies unwillingness to change in light of new information, but an omniscient God would know all the information right from the start. Therefore, this option only holds water if God exists, but is not omniscient or all-powerful.
    • He is inherently malevolent – Logically flawed, just as a benevolent god would not unleash disease, pain, hunger and torment on his people, so would a malevolent god be loath to give us children, sunsets, and chocolate.
    • He is nonexistent, and the Bible is a work of fiction laden with massive flaws in logic, because it was made up by flawed humans over a period of time in an effort to subdue the masses. Any way you slice it, common sense and a little education always brings you here

    August 22, 2011 at 7:06 am |
    • illuminati

      Mere humans can wonder forever why God does things. They will never figure it out. So to them with their imperfect logic God must not exist.

      August 22, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • kate

      I am so sorry that you feel this way. As we say here in Nigeria, 'O ma se o'. You have no idea what you are missing. If you choose to see, God is right there with you.don't allow OLD CLUBFOOT deceove you that God is accountable to you or doesn't exist. Have a nice day.

      August 22, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • Roger

      If we can never know why God does things because of our imperfect logic, then why do we think we know what he wants?

      August 22, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • VenomFangX

      If God is all-powerful, why did He take 6 days to create the universe, resting on the 7th? -you

      God could have made the world instantly, but chose to make it in 6 days to set up the calender week and the sabbath rest pattern for the human race. The Bible says God declares the end from the Beginning. The six days of creation are about the six thousand years of human history, that end in the 7th thousandth year of Jesus return to the Earth and the promised rest for God's people. Think about it, on day 1 God separated light from darkness, just as man and God were separated in the 1st thousand years of human history. On the 2nd day God established the flood waters, just as in the 2nd thousandth year, God flooded the world. So on and so forth.

      • The great flood: Why not just kill the people, and not all the animals? 40 days seems like overkill, doesn't it? -you

      A flood leaves evidences; the world today is covered 3/4 in water and the 1/4 that is land is covered in sediment layers and trillions of dead things as fossils. This is a testimony throughout all ages that God has judged the world and will again.

      • Why do other planets and stars exist? -you

      "The Heavens declare the glory of God". They demonstrate His power.

      • Why are we here? -you

      Kindly notice the atheist doesn't have an answer to this question. We are here to love God, and to be loved by Him. We are here to participate in existence with God, and to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.

      • We have free will, but God already knows who will sin, who will accept Him, etc, for all eternity (since he has perfect knowledge of the future). He has in effect known you would be reading this article since the beginning of time. Given that, why not just send our souls (and those of our descendants) to Heaven or Hell, depending on what He knows we'll do? -you

      Have you seen minority report? Arresting people before they do anything means you are arresting the innocent. God allows time to unfold and then judges us accordingly.

      • Why does God care if he is praised? -you

      Because nothing else is worthy of praise.

      • How can anyone justify the fact that this merciful, loving god is sending all non-Christians to Hell, no matter how good they are? -you

      God makes it clear that 'All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23), and 'there is none that doeth good, no, not one.' (Psalm 14:3) and 'but we are all as an unclean thing, and all our good works are as filthy rags'. (Isaiah 64:6) Your problem is that you think "goodness" is relative rather than absolute. How dare we call anyone "good" when compared to an absolute standard of goodness? It is precisely because non-Christians deserve to go to Hell, that they do.

      • Why does this wonderful, forgiving God hold Adam's sin over all our heads? Why must we all pay for this by being permanent sinners? -you

      Payment for sin is death and Hell. Jesus took the punishment for Adam's sin so that you don't have to.

      • If God was so angry, why didn't he just kill Adam and Eve and start over? -you

      Because that would prove sin was more powerful than God, and that God was unable to fix the problem. God instead took the initiative to redeem Adam and Eve rather than destroy them, through Jesus Christ.

      • Where did God come from? How did He get created? -you

      God always existed. God is Eternal.

      • If God is trying so hard to be near us, why doesn't He show himself? -you

      He did when He became a man (Jesus).

      • Hell is used by many as a good reason in and of itself to practice religion. -you

      That's unfortunate. Hell is just a reality that God tells us about and can be avoided through repentance and faith in Jesus. Whether or not Hell is a motivating factor is irrelevant; it is real.

      • Why believe the Bible over other stories of gods, like the Greek gods, Roman gods, or Celtic gods? -you

      The Bible is the word of God, and God demonstrated this to us through fulfilled prophecy (look up Bible prophecy).

      • What was Jesus' purpose? Common answer: "to save us from our sins." Why have a son (why not God himself), and why did he have to die for our sins? Why didn't God just "save us" himself? He is God, right? He can do whatever he wants, so why the whole Jesus thing? -you

      Jesus is God. Just as you are human and your father is human, Jesus is God precisely because His Father is God. Jesus is God's only Son, and shares the same nature as His Father. It would be like saying "you are the son of your father, so why didn't human come instead?". The sentence doesn't make sense. Both you and your father are human, just as Jesus and His Father are God. The reason Jesus had to become a man was because of the nature of God and the nature of man; God required a perfect human to shed sinless blood in order to redeem humanity. Don't understand why? Maybe it's because God is a bit bigger than you and His ways are not like our ways.

      http://www.youtube.com/VenomFangX

      August 22, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

      GOD is GOD, while the Gods are Gods. Now the crux of Life regarding man and woman "hoods" are veiled in rather obliquie parsnips of lateralized indignations. We are "as" a claymationed articulation none the fancier. Either one fears and/or loves the Gods created by GOD; or you say to yourself and even toward others, "There is no god."

      The sublimely subliminal ramafications of endangering and/or acquiescing the psyche or soul or mental abyss cannot be without a solidarity of wanton ambience. Love therefore the lovers of the doubting Thomas kinds and never give a second thought to such around those arbiters of doubting insurmountabilities.

      Let them cleave to their unbeliefs in GOD and Gods and of godly men. Their dutied diligence is where and when they will be rewarded to justifiably become part of the Holy Ghost which in Truth is the Nothingness that reaches and found rooted in Inner Space and is cloven outwardly to Outer Space.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • Bobs your uncle

      Very nice! I love it! I never thought of those details quite like that.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • chris

      If you read the Bible, you may be surprised to learn that various men in the scripture ask God similar questions. His answer is generally "who are you to question what I do". The point is that just because we don't understand why God does something does not make it less valid or God less real. His ways are not our ways (also in the Bible). Secondly, God gave mankind "free will" to do whatever we like. We are free to choose to walk in the path he shows us, ignore him completely, or write stupid posts.

      August 22, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • AGuest9

      I'm not sure why anyone would have to ask such questions about something that doesn't exist?

      August 22, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • Scott

      @TruthPrevails; actually your logic and reasoning is that of a child. You keep trying to make up points to connect the dots as to "why God did this when in fact He could have done that" which makes no sense. It makes as much sense however as to why did you go to the store instead of the restaurant in that order? It's an question only you can answer. Anyone else would do it differently. So really, I have come across guys like you that ramble and skew what the Bible is saying but you do nothing but come across as a moron. And you also repeat yourself. Your writing skills and critical thinking skills are poor and at a high school level of education.

      August 22, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Scott: Where exactly do I take credit for this? I do believe I posted where it came from (atheists.org)...go and condemn the person who actually wrote the article. Do not judge me for what you as.sume to know, you have no clue and are the one who really looks like the moron.

      August 22, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  19. pearl lady

    Frustrated, you are absolutely correct, but confusion between kill and murder or false accusations that Christians try to force their "religion" on people while they themselves are hypocrites because they do not perfectly keep the law is not the pb. here. This dialog has been nothing more than pearl casting. There's no reason to get frustrated any more than one should be frustrated when getting no response from a corpse; resurrection is a supernatural work. The only pearl worth casting before a corpse is the sure and certain hope of the resurrection. The passage of a person from death to life is up to HIm, and until He does a supernatural work we should keep our pearls for those who God has already raised and bring the Gospel to those who have yet to make that passage. We should not be frustrated when those who serve the accuser twist scripture and bring false accusations against us. He accused God of being a liar in the garden, and he is still busy at work bringing railing accusations against God's people night and day. He will stay busy in his work as accuser until he is bound forever and ever.

    August 22, 2011 at 7:01 am |
    • PopeJon

      You want to plaster "thou shall not kill" all over my court house, not "thou shall not murder". So honestly you cause your own hypocrisy, not me. clean up your house and make it clear what you mean. not to murder and not to kill are not remotely the same. Not to murder gives you a lot of excuses to go kill who want and get away with it. So which one is it?

      August 22, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  20. RamboJimbo

    I applaud there peoples efforts. It will improve their lives and their marraiges. For all the commenters telling Christians to stop telling others what they do, all of these men and women are Christians INSIDE the church looking to improve themeselves. As is should be.

    August 22, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • AGuest9

      They are doing good by ignoring the fact that they are humans with needs? That doesn't sound healthy. Do they also tell themselves that they shouldn't eat or sleep, either?

      August 22, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • PopeJon

      That would be great until you read all the posts from many "Christians" posting here telling everyone exactly what to do and how wrong they are if they don't do what Christians do... Its like someone addicted to anything, they cant leave it alone. A lot of you Christians just cant leave it alone not to tell everyone else how wrong they are about how they live their lives and how wrong they are not to be Christians.... Some dance around it and are condescending using nice words... Some can only speak in scripture and some are just down right mean and nasty about it..... But its all the same message. If your not one of us, your not a good person. Now that's not showing love and compassion....

      August 22, 2011 at 9:06 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.