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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. SamIAm

    So many 'evangelical' atheists with axes to grind with any & all things religious. So instead of believing in god(s), you believe in the power of...what exactly: sarcastic insults aimed at anyone who doesn't share YOUR beliefs?

    Sounds like a disturbingly religious mindset to me.

    September 15, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Fauz

      Well, atheism is indeed its own religion, despite what they will tell you.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:20 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Because you said so?

      Sorry, that is the way YOUR mind works. A billion superst.itious folk can call not believing in fairies a religion and it will not make it so. You may as well say that not believing in Santa Clause is a religion. It is EXACTLY the same thing. It makes no sense to anyone with any sort of rational thought.

      September 15, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • CalgarySandy

      Atheism is not a religion. We do not gather together once a week to get a fix of the dogma. We are not interested in converting anyone especially the kind of people who blindly, without thought or research, follow some path set out for them by their parents and their church. Boring and disinterested in any kind of interesting conversations.

      I don't hate people who are religious and I have no use for bigots who tell people that there is only one path and they are on it. This is part of the reason I threw off the Fundamentalist path the second I ran away from home. I was sick of the abuse; spiritual (I was demon possessed as a young child because I wanted answers that made sense. I was told I would go to HeII for not being Baptist enough, I guess.), physical (of course. They beat the demon out of you. Well, not out of me. I needed many beatings and none worked unless losing all respect for the religion and my mother was the intent.), intellectual (No questioning what the male elders said. No dabbling in science and other ways to look at things.) Psychological (If I did well, Jesus did it or me. If I did badly I was an evil person. Public humiliation) So, I have some very real complaints and I know that Fundamentalists still raise their kids with a heavy hand and threats of damnation. So, my beef with radicals is both the bigotry and the child abuse. Moderates. Love them. Love them in all religions. I wish I could believe but it is simply not possible. Some shrill idiot giving me a hard time will never win me or any other well educated person.

      For the most part, it is true that Atheists know more about religion because they research everything instead of swallowing the dogma without question. Way too many Christians never think about what they are doing. They just show up and get their fix and "facts" once a week. They do not read the Bible with any kind of critical eye and that is, to me, stupid. How can you believe in something when you know nothing about but what you were told by someone with a huge bias? I don't understand the indifference to understanding.

      September 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @calgary
      We regularly kick the snot out of "atheists" on Bible knowledge.In fact the youngest believer has the ability to show the godless,where the bear does his business in the buckwheat.If you are canadian ,as in calgary, don't you have your own news network?

      September 15, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      CNN did some some questions on religion. The Atheists took the trophy, easily. It is easier to study and learn if someone is not hanging over you telling you what to do and what to think. I was raised a Baptist and read the KJV every year until I fled the abuse. Then I read it in good translations.

      CNN has a global outreach. All are welcome. Anyhoo, Canadian news channels are not as volatile. We don't hate each other like Americans do. We don't try to destroy democracy with primitive forms of Christianity. So, it just is not that much fun. For the real wing-nuts in the world you have to go American.

      September 15, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • simon says

      @CalgarySandy
      You are quie right, besides that there is no "we" in atheists.

      But then again people are seen as groups to quickly. The basis of every person is that he/she wants to forfill the basic needs and become happy. People will act and threat other people in the way they a raised. We should all stop this religion/culture wars and conflicts, stop thinking in boxes. Join hands and make the world better, no matter where you are from, your religion or culturral background.

      September 16, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Jeremy

      @ CalgarySandy – I am so so sorry that you experienced such hypocrisy and abuse. It is especially horrific to hear that you received most of that from the 'Christians' who were family members or leaders at your church. They will have to give an account of their actions before God, and this is how He views such actions:

      Mat 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
      Mat 18:2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them
      Mat 18:3 and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
      Mat 18:4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
      Mat 18:5 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,
      Mat 18:6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
      Mat 18:10 "See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

      I know that God loves you, and longs to meet with you. He knows your past, he knows your heart. He knows that you have been wronged. I tell you, if you believe as Paul said, Rom 10:9 ... if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.'
      Those around you who said otherwise were wrong.

      I did not accept this faith without thought, as you think many have done (though I'll admit that some have done this) and neither have I done so without researching the matter. I believe Jesus lived, died and rose from the dead, and that he is indeed God. Even ancient secular accounts (Lucian of Samosata, the Babylonian Talmud, Josephus [first century Jewish historian], Tacitus A.D.64, etc. ) attest to his existence, and crucifixion, while also writing that his followers continued to worship Him and believed that he was raised from the dead. He was executed, and was placed in a tomb, though the tomb was found to be empty three days later. I ask you this: why was the tomb empty? Some say the tomb was not empty, but if that were the case, the Pharisees could simply have displayed his dead body whenever someone spoke of his resurrection. That would have put a quick end to such beliefs. Others have said that his disciples stole his body, then proclaimed His resurrection in the hope of continuing the new religion. I hope to answer this presently.

      Why did many of his followers testify to having seen Him after his death? Fair enough, they were surely in a traumatic state, as their master, the one whom they believed to be the messiah, the one whom they had followed for 3 years, leaving aside their work and families, had just been killed. All hope seemed lost. Perhaps some had strange dreams or hallucinations during this time. But how does that account for his appearance to over 500(!) at a single time, in the same place? When Paul recorded this event in his first letter to the Corinthian church, he said that some of that group of 500 had since passed away, but that many were still alive, and thus could be contacted and their claims could be heard and verified from their own lips. Not only that, but Jesus was reported to have eaten and to have drunk with several of his followers at once – surely it is unlikely for multiple people to have the same vision at the same time, whilst being even more unlikely that a spectre could consume food and drink before their eyes? Furthermore, 11 of his 12 apostles were martyred in different places throughout the Roman empire for their belief that Jesus was the Son of God and that He had risen from the dead. Only John died of natural causes. Certainly, many have died for a cause they believed to have been true, when it actually was not. However, would you say that, each one of the 11 martyred men, who really had stolen the body of Jesus in the first place, would be willing to die for a belief they themselves knew to be false? I think we must admit that his disciples truly believed Jesus to have been raised from the dead, and were willing to die for Him, sure of their salvation through His victory over death.

      I believe I have a true, wonderful relationship with Jesus, who loves us unconditionally and created us so that we might come to know him and have fellowship with him. God is not a tyrant, or spoilsport, but a loving Father, who adopts us as His OWN sons and daughters, that we might dwell with him and share in the inheritance of Jesus Christ.

      I beg you, if you want to know the truth, and are willing to open your heart to God; He will reveal himself to you if you earnestly seek him. More than anything else, I pray that you come to know Him, as I have, for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

      John writes in 1 John 4:9-10: In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
      In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

      September 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • uh

      "they were surely in a traumatic state, as their master, "

      master now huh? Funny but the book tends to push the free will thing but being slave to a master just shows how gullible and weak minded you are.

      Run....Run as fast as you can away from this cult!

      September 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Jeremy

      @ uh – my friend, we are bond-servants – not slaves. I never said that we are slaves. I simply acknowledge that Jesus is Lord over my life, and it is my heart's desire to serve Him! That's what I meant. 🙂
      If you have any other questions, please ask.

      September 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • uh

      "we are bond-servants"

      Again slavery with no free will. Keep showing how sick you're cult is to everyone.

      September 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  2. Andrew

    What a mess. Replacing one problem with fairy tales. Make things worse, these people will.

    September 14, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • SamIAm

      If it helps them put their lives back together, why does it matter so much to you? Non-religious folks also engage in escapist thinking and self-manufactured myths to help them find meaning in life, gods or no gods. Everyone is an existentialist. You're merely making a value judgment as to which myths are more sensible or socially palatable.

      September 15, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Sam, for example? I'd like to know which myths you believe I buy into?

      September 15, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • Esteban

      @Mark,

      I believe in God and I am not Him. The good news is, we get a choice to serve God, money, cars, houses, spouses etc...

      I believe we all have to make a choice and stick to it. For me, all things material (and even human) have let me down over the years. Tough to believe in something that will do that to me...

      September 15, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • CalgarySandy

      Well Sam. The Fundamentalists I grew up with took me apart over and over for not being what my Mom and the Church wanted. They caused so much damage to a very sensitive and depressed child that it took me 20 years to be able to stomach Christmas music. I have never recovered, despite years of therapy, from the results of being told I was demon possessed for questioning the Bible. The beatings and later abandonment for not being saved enough ruined my life. I don't believe in any myths.

      Not everyone who is a Christian is one because they needed to put their lives together. Many people go to the Church their grandparents and parents did. They accept it whole as delivered without thought and then just parrot what they are told without thinking about it or doing research.

      If the Fundamentalists would stop cramming their religion down everyone's throat all the damme time and praying in comment streams there would be fewer assaults on them. If they can tell me I will go to HeII then I can tell them there is no HeII. And I will never shut up about the child abuse as long as I have breathe in me. It is wrong to tell a child they will go to HeII. My mom would say it was her job to make sure I did not go by forcing me into a mold I did not fit. I swear on The Voyage of the Beagle that I will stop going after Fundamentalists when they stop their proselytizing and abusing their children.

      September 15, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  3. yeah yeah yeah!

    Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
    robert heinlein

    September 14, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  4. augustghost

    CONTROL FREAKS...Period

    September 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  5. Really?

    CNN really has a "belief blog"? What a joke.Its a great way to alienate atheists,

    September 14, 2011 at 7:39 am |
    • jeffrey

      I'm an atheist, but I still like reading another perspective.

      September 14, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • MarkinFL

      How does this alienate atheists? I thought it was a special entertainment section just for us...

      September 15, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • CalgarySandy

      I am an Atheist and I have made a life long study of religions and the whole idea of even having a religion. It is simply impossible to understand a people without knowing about their beliefs be they religious or political. I also enjoy the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. What motivates me is the chance to learn new things or enhance what I already know. Many people are motivated by their values; which come from their belief systems. If you want to understand Western history from 0 to the Enlightenment you have to know a great deal about all forms of Christianity. You should also study Judaism and Islam for a full understanding. I actually think that the study of belief systems is more interesting to Atheists as we are not warned off learning by anyone. Do you know why the Amish are the way they are? Study the Reformation with Bible in hand. If you want to understand the Middle Ages you need to suspend disbelief and accept that what they believed, crazy or not, affects how they life. I would go so far, as a holder of an Honor's degree in History along with Graduate School, as to say you cannot understand much of anything in a culture if you are unable to see past your own dogma. Fundamentalists can never understand an Atheist but an Atheist can understand a Fundamentalist. There have always been wing-nuts.

      September 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • God2

      I'm with Markin. This is classic entertainment.

      September 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  6. King James Bible Society

    King James Audio Visual Bible – and it is free at http://kingjamesbiblesociety.org

    September 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • AlexK

      I would actually prefer if you made a real version of the bible. You know like how it was originally written. Like with the meanings and intentions that were put in it when it was written. I'd prefer if you guys had that instead of the version that has had dozens of pages removed and dozens of stories changed.

      Why is there a King James version of the bible? Do we have the Barack Obama version of the ten commandments? Religious texts can't have versions without falsifying the message. There can only be translations.

      September 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  7. Larry

    Replacing lustful thoughts with...prayer? Yup, that should do the trick...

    September 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • lu

      That could be disturbing

      September 13, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Skipper

      Yup! Hasnt worked out very well for quite a few Catholic priests, so I hear.....

      September 14, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • SamIAm

      If they had said "meditation" instead of "prayer," would you have been equally dismissive? Very little difference between the two practices, psychologically speaking.

      September 15, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • CalgarySandy

      It depends on how you pray whether it is equivalent to meditation. If you are groveling and sniveling or begging and whining I suggest you learn to meditate. If you are praising then, ya, it could be meditative.

      September 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  8. bluemax77

    Not a prayer...!!!

    September 13, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  9. The Bobinator

    This is the single most pathetic thing I've ever read.

    September 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Adam

      LOL

      September 14, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Skipper

      Yet, you read it.... AND stuck around long enough to leave a post.....

      September 14, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • Hotmama42

      I totally agree with you and it's not the power of prayer that will lead you into a straight path.

      September 15, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  10. More Propheter than that Prophet guy

    An all powerful being gives you an unrelenting desire to bust a nut, but then determines that this is wrong and you shouldn't do it. Sounds reasonable. This 'god' you chuckleheads have made up sounds so petty, jealous, and hypocritical that it sounds like god is just like man. Hmmm. Funny that. If there is a god I imagine him to be more like Shaft who is so much more than a man. He is Shaft. Cool, relaxed, and not worried about everyone's sh-t. Live life and just follow one simple rule: be good, kind, and loving to all you meet. I think any god would just want that from the flock. What you eat, where you pray, and where you put your private bits is all very insignificant to an all powerful being I am sure. Organized religion is a scam. Get it? Have faith, believe, and love, but stop supporting war mongers and rapists with too much bling already. GET WITH IT SHEEP!!

    September 13, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  11. salman

    religion should be a bond between man/woman and his/her deity(ies). if a man wishes to engage in such behavior, let him. if a woman wishes to engage in such behavior, let her. when judgement day comes in the abrahamic religions, we won't be responsible for what some kid did in his free time. we'll be responsible for what he did. i'm pretty sure that's how it is in all other religions. stop worrying about other people. worry about yourself, and your children until they're 18!

    September 13, 2011 at 1:51 am |
  12. Daniel

    The problem I have with religion, namely Christianity, is the need for the rest of society to believe in their beliefs. We'll do what we want and you can do what you want. Is that fine?

    September 12, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
    • Rusty Shackleferd

      Doesnt every other religion/belief do that, no just Christianity? Islam seems to be doing it in the middle east...

      September 12, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      Mostly Christianity and mostly Fundamentalists still go in and destroy cultures. Judaism does not want any converts. They make it very difficult though it can be done. Jewishness is tied to Jewish blood. None of the Eastern religions like Buddhism or Taoism do this though they are happy to welcome you if you find them. I see I need to learn more about Islam as I do not know about it.

      September 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  13. apostate

    Jesus is powerless against the pr0n.

    September 11, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  14. joseph

    INlVT2 http://7NPfUwUyxSs0472.com

    September 10, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  15. geogen

    6Ci7mS http://dbcwX8HtRXecyDY3.biz

    September 10, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  16. CSX

    I DARE YOUand you did not do it. I DARE YOU TO LET PLAYBOY TOUCH A QUORAN! DO IT!!!"CAN YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE????? BE BRAVE OK I WILL>........QUORANPLAYBOY SEE THEY TOUCHED......YOU DO IT. MAKE A PICTURE.

    The unbelief blog of the lost continues to attack Christianity showing that it is the true religion. I am waiting for the photo.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • smiley

      Why Quran? As a Muslim, I am horror-struck to see the Playboy magazine placed inside the Holy Bible, which is blasphemy according to Islam. It is mentioned in the holy Quran to respect all the Prophets right from the Prophet Abraham to the Prophet Mohammad, as well as four Holy Books to guide the humanity, sent by Allah to the four Messengers David Zabur(Psalms), Moses Torah (Torait), Jesus Injil (Bible) and Mohammad (Quran). The Prophet Muhammad is the last Prophet, who is called Seal of the Prophets (Khatim-un-Nabieen). Religiously speaking, every Muslim is a Christian, every Muslim is a Jew, but every Christian is not a Muslim or Jew a Muslim.

      September 10, 2011 at 3:44 am |
  17. Mark

    There is no god. Christians, Muslims, Jews, all are just adults who still believe in an "imaginary" friend. Evolution is not a "theory" but a provable fact. Religion POISONS everything. All cultures have it, but that just proves that it has had a role, (a sideline role of a human trait that may or may not have helped with our survival.) Evolution gave you folks in "christendom" a brain, use it and read Richard Dawkins

    September 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Bart

      Who are you kidding? Evolution is a provable fact?? You're saying humans evolve from apes? The gap is just tooooo big between a human and a monkey. Where the heck is the in between??? Theres the chimpanzee than comes the human straight away?
      I ask you again, where is the in between? Got lost somewhere? For your info wise guy, the brain of a baby is hundred times smarter and more complex than of an ape.

      For the third time I ask you then, where is the in between of the human and the monkey if u say we evolved from them?

      September 9, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • CSX

      It takes more faith to believe in evolution. All this design, more than a Toyota, yet YOU KNOW TOYOTA WAS DESIGNED.

      The Cross happened. The cross saves.

      September 9, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • anthony

      bart actually evolution is a proven fact, because scientists have observed, with their own eyes, micro evolution in insects, (a breed of butterfly slowly evolved into another breed) and if micro evolution is seen and recorded in that short time, then obviously macro evolution is fact, and we did not come from chimps, that is the one thing people constantly say and it only shows their complete lack of knowledge on this issue, chimps and us both evolved from another now extinct species. evolution from one species to another is so slow that it can not be seen in any lifetime. and the entire theory of evolution is what brought about the theory of genetics and dna, and that means you are saying that those are also myths, but we all know they are visible facts. just like a velociraptor was an early form of a bird, we know this by looking at its dna (which we now have), they had feathers and their closest genetic relative alive today is an ostrich. and just another fun fact, there is more evidence of evoluttion than there is graviity, and when something reaches its point of being a widely used theory that is used by every scientist that specializes in biology it is known as a fact, especially when there is absolutely no evidence proving otherwise, and the only kind you can find is most likely on some creation site that has been proven false by the entire scientific community. point being said, you are not a scientist, you obviously know nothing about genetics and therefore the only authority any intellectual person can trust is a person that is trained and specializes in that field, which you are without doubt not one of them!
      next i suppose your going to say that the unicerse is only 6000 years old even tho that can be disproven by simply looking up at the night sky...... those stars you see, the light takes hundreds of thousands of years to reach us, and when you see that light from them, you are seeing what they looked like thousands of years ago when that group of photons was thrust out by that star/galaxy, which than takes several light years to reach us, which also means you are looking at the past, thousands and hundreds of thousand of years into the past! science is fun isnt it? so id suggest not throwing out your opinions when your book claims the earth is flat and you can see the edges of it when standing on a tall unspecified mountain, it clearly has no scientific merit. hearing you is like hearing a drunk passenger on a plane telling the pilot how to fly a plane, and its quite irritating. forgive the lack of caps n stuff, im half asleep, and just out debated the hell out of you!

      September 12, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • xenophilius

      Listen, Anthony, atheists aren't the only scientists in the world.

      Sure, you might be able to prove evolution happened. But what then? Why don't you prove that it is within the realms of the possible for all of this to come from nothing. First, the universe had to have popped up out of nowhere. Then a perfect cell had to come out of a pool of slime. Then that cell had to go through gradual mutations to become what we are today. The probability of this happening is rather low–in fact, it is virtually impossible. But of course, without God in the equation, you have no choice but to believe that we got incredibly lucky. I would write down the probability of all of this happening (without considering the universe itself popping into existence), but it would take a larger number than CNN's servers could hold, so I won't.) Here's a good article about it:
      http://www.dyeager.org/post/2008/04/probability-evolution

      September 13, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  18. Mr. Garrison

    Yeah right. It'd be easier to stop the sun from rising.

    September 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  19. shirogami

    Funny thing is, if they put that Playboy magazine inside the Quran, some CNN.com editors would be as good as dead.

    September 9, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Packman

      No kidding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CNN are a bunch of hypocrites!!!!!!!!!!!!

      September 9, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  20. Adam

    is this a joke?

    September 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
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About this blog

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