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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. AGuest9

    Maybe if Pastor Tims had a p0rn addiction instead of a coke addiction, he'd still be alive.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  2. Sowjourner

    There can be total healing and freedom from lust if you desire it. It took a long time but God took me there... a very long time..

    August 21, 2011 at 8:26 am |
    • Two Witnesses

      ...um......that's just "old age".....LOL

      August 21, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  3. worships the true god almighty

    Wow, what scripture quotes that? Armageddon will arrive as a thief in the night but first, all will be made aware of the truth and will have a chance to repent. In "Truth in translation", God's son Jesus was impaled on a "staros" which mean upright pale or stake. Your cross is a pagn symbol that predates Jesus' death all the way back to Egypt and their many pagon beliefs. King James added in many of the pagon customs and beliefs to bring society together as a whole. Jesus stated that many people will come to you in my name and I will say, get away, I never knew you. The Bible has been misinterpeted for thousands of years to control the masses.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Two Witnesses

      That is because the "powers and principalities" that murdered Christ were in fact, Pagan.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Two Witnesses

      Actually this is not correct. It is not "Armageddon" that will arrive "like a thief in the night". It is Christ. Armageddon is already here and we have been seeing the warning signs for decades. The reason Christ will arrive "like a thief in the night" is because most of humanity is too preoccupied with humanity to even consider jumping on the Christ ride out of here and away from Armageddon. 🙂

      August 21, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Alex

      Sir, people have been preaching that the end is here for several centuries.

      It has not arrived.

      I'm not holding my breath either.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • AGuest9

      "The end" comes for people every day. That was what the bible has been allegorically trying to say. Apparently, people were dimwitted back then and had to be scared to do good to others. Well, look at the Middle East today, little has changed.

      August 21, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  4. HIH

    sounds like a DNC Crusade not a Christian one

    August 21, 2011 at 8:23 am |
  5. A non-christian christian

    I like the way one of the Dr's said that it was harder to reach Christians because they always want their Christianity woven into their therapy. Umm.. no they don't. I consider myself Christian, but I don't buy the drivel that these born-agains and evangelicals spew. I did like the other Dr's comment however, that it was the 'deeply religious' they had a hard time reaching. Oh you mean, the hard-core fanatics? That was more like it.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  6. Two Witnesses

    You atheists are so convinced that you are right, and Christians are wrong and there is no God, but what if it is you who are wrong? Have you considered that? What are you going to do, if there is in fact a God, Jesus Christ and an offer of salvation and eternal life?

    August 21, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • JAB

      Yes we've considered that and you know what? Fear is a terrible reason to have faith. You can live in fear, I do not.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Atheist

      What would I do? Probably the same as you if you found out that one of the other 10,000 gods humans have created is the real god.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • Stevie7

      So ... god rewards people that gamble on his existence?

      Pascal's wager is a tired and illogical argument.

      What if the real god is Zeus, and he happens to hate Christians? Then you'll have gambled wrong and will suffer for all of eternity along with the atheists.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • Alex

      As an agnostic It doesn't matter wether or not I'm right or wrong in believing or not believing in the christian god. I will live a life of compassion and to try help my fellow man as much as I can. I think the guy called Jesus, who I don't believe ascended to heaven, would be content with my deeds. I'm not worried about going to eternal brimstone and fire because I didn't say the right prayer or worship the right way.

      I'll live my life free from religon, and still be a spiritually filled person who cares and helps his fellow humans.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Two Witnesses

      You didn't answer the question, you onlly postulated more diversionary gibberish. WHAT WILL YOU DO?

      August 21, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • Chris

      I'll take my chances.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • rufusclyde

      Pascal, is that you?

      August 21, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • AGuest9

      What will happen when your heart beats its last, your lungs collapse, and the last synapse in your brain fires? You will die. No bright light, no tunnel, no family waiting for you like in an airport. NOTHING, except decomposition. Then you will find that you are no better than every other animal on the face of the planet, and I think that's what scares many of you the most. You think you're "special". You're not. Death is the ultimate equalizer. It comes to the rich and the poor, the mighty and the meek, and ALL living things.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • JohnnyFive

      Ok, I'll answer- I'll burn in hell. And if the "true god" is one of the hundreds of others that people on this planet follow, you'll burn in hell. Either way, I'm staying out of it and living my life the way I think it should be lived.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • Daniel C

      All religions are cults, look up the definition. I truly hope that all religious persons will read their holy text, and not just blindly follow it. The burden of proof rests on religious persons and Yahweh, if he is real. Prove that God is real and not just a figment of some ancient barbaric, cannibalistic Arab sand peoples minds. I bet you cant. I have seen less evil done at the hands of atheists than at the hands of believers.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • Frogist

      @TwoWitnesses: What do you mean what will you do? I don't know. Say hi? Isn't it a moot point what happens after you die? You expect us to convert? Would it even count or matter since while we were alive we didn't follow all the ridiculous rules Christians have set up in their religion? We didn't eat the cra-ckers or drink the blood. We didn't handle the snakes or wear the magic underoos. You expect us to have faith? There would be no need for faith if you already have all the proof you require which makes the whole faith thingie meaningless. You expect us to repent? If I didn't see the point in it while I was alive, what weird trickery must occur to addle my mind and heart that I throw away my whole life for a chance at your heaven? That just sounds like avarice or envy.
      Most likely if I'm still me and God's still your God, I'll ask a lot of questions he will refuse to answer, we won't get along and I'd be just fine existing or not without him.
      What would you do if you found out you were supposed to address God as Allah, or Joseph Smith was right, or Vishnu was your guy? Would you convert, repent or play by the rules? Fair's fair, right?

      August 22, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  7. inthespirit

    But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. Jude 1: 17-19

    August 21, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • The Lambly Winged Lion of The Gods Does Roar

      Intimacy between 2 consentualisms of adulthood may well gain a deeper felt relationship if both parties do partake in "po-rn-ware". Heck, for the 'reclusive' individual such "ographies" be it photos and/or videos gives them an avenue with which they can relieve their body's "naturalness" tendancies. The Theosophies of se-x-u-alism around "Monotheistic" religiosities is likened to falacies of lew-ed and las-civ-ious "Behaviourisms" unbecoming moral interpritations by godheads of secular revulsionisms.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • Fail

      @Lionly, did you write that thinking "consentualisms" was a word? Or did you write that thinking that you were oh so clever?

      Either way – fail.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • AGuest9

      You must be new here. Lambly makes up quite a bit of his/her vocabulary.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  8. HIH

    Where is this so called crusade being fought?

    August 21, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  9. Jack

    This story of sin v addiction would make someone that murdered someone a victim of society.. Where does personal responsibly start?

    August 21, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  10. richard

    To the atheists, I say this: I assure you there is a creator of our universe. However, that creator did not have a direct hand in your making. It is a misfortune that you attempt to introduce instability into the convicted and faithful. It is unfortunate that humanity has failed you. If you must renounce a savior and God, I implore you to dedicate your life to understanding the nature of the universe and how it brought you here. To leave this world and to not have understood your purpose is the single greatest tragedy that could befall you.

    To the faithful, I say this: God is in and of your own making, but it doesn't make the divine a work of fiction. Our species needs moral codes or civilization as we know it would fail. Heaven is very real. The bible was created as a tool to purify oneself and if at the end of times your heart is pure, you will walk eternally in the kingdom of heaven. A pure heart is a guiding light to those who are lost. Have patience, as they are as you once were. Do what you can to help them, but do not allow them to bring doubt into your own heart.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • AGuest9

      And you lie to us with your stories. When you're dead, you'll see who's right. It will be the atheists.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:26 am |
    • BKM

      Christians are such an odd, at times humurous, confused and lost amalgam of baseless "believers" who live and profess something that is 180 degrees opposite to the Jewish malcontent they wish to be a god. There is a light and there is a way but christianity must first emerge from the dark swamp of its wilderness before it can see the "kingdom" that has always been there.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Stevie7

      " It is a misfortune that you attempt to introduce instability into the convicted and faithful."

      I'm gonna go ahead and assume you meant convinced ... but why would the convinced be unstable in their faith? Are they not really that convinced? Not really that faithful.

      And why is it a misfortune to teach people to think for themselves. Did god give us a brain and then not expect us to use it?

      August 21, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • JustPlainJoe

      Dear Richard, For just 1 moment consider that your belief might only be a product of the randomness of who's mother's knee you were born to. If you were born 5,000 miles away, you would think different. And if that were so, your "universal" beliefs are just some personal self delusions.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • Atheist

      Richard, you might do well to take your own advice to dedicating "your life to understanding the nature of the universe". You could start with studying Richard Feynman regarding the nature of the universe and purpose.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • Chris

      Are you serious?

      August 21, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • alan

      @richard. If you take your own advice that you give to atheists then you would realize there is no divine creator. We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • richard

      You must try and understand that by accepting death as your end, it is you who ceases to live. I assure you that death is not the end. Your thoughts, memories, actions, and substance; everything that makes you who you are cannot be destroyed. It is as simple as this, if love is in your heart and you did great good in this world, your life will not end. You do not need to give yourself to a religion, all you need to do is either believe in a creator or spend your life diligently discovering the true nature of the universe.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • Qtips

      Someone on this forum (an atheist) wrote: "Wait till you die. Then you'll see who is right. It will be the atheists."

      There is some profound illogic here. If atheists are right about the non-existence of an afterlife, no one will be in this non-existent afterlife to declare victory (or defeat) in the Great Bet. Pascal's Wager is a gamble that theists can win, but never know that they have lost (or be seen to have lost).

      August 21, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • AGuest9

      Richard – "thoughts, memories, actions, and substance; everything that makes you who you are" are gone when you die. See, this what I mean. Religion seems to be this concept that people latch onto because they can't accept that every living thing dies. This whole "eternal life with god and the angels in some paradise" sounds great. But, sorry kiddo. This... is it.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • AGuest9

      Yes, Qtips – that was written tongue firmly in cheek.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • richard

      Alan, I took the road less traveled and I can tell you with certainty that there is a creator. In time the world will understand what I and others do, but that time is not now. I can tell you this, what you observe with your eyes is far from the true form of the universe. Not all forms of life evolved the same eyes as you or I. Our reality is the result of a genetic advantage in how we view our world, the planet Earth. Ask yourself why do all other worlds look lifeless, foreign, and inhospitable to our branch of life? Because our branch grew on a tree named Earth. If our branch had grown on Venus, Mars, or Jupiter, trust me when I say that Earth would look as much a wasteland as each of those planets are to us today. Try to remember we aren't so special, and that means that our eyes are one evolutionary solution to a very complex puzzle. They take us so far, but they are not the answer.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • richard

      AGuest9, why is it that you are so intent in killing the hope, happiness, and prosperity of others? Why do you seek to oppress those with faith? Why are you so bold and brazen to claim your falsehoods for fact while condemning the truth, that others hold within, as false? Do not rely to heavily on science, remember that it was created by the same race of people who created religion as fact. If it frustrates you so much that you do not have answers, then leave your mind open and go discover the certainty that you crave so much. Remember that science is a field of human observations, it is not universal fact. Also try to remember you are but a single life form in the whole of the universe, and not just the dominant species on planet Earth. What you see is not all that is, it is far from it.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • jimbo junior

      Richard, you're an arrogant a$$ hole

      August 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  11. Midleground

    Jesus WAS a Jew. The bible is not the be all end all, it was written by men, not by god. Catholicism is the one true form of Christianity, Protestants and Evangelicals are nothing but mindless right-wing Fascists who can't think for themselves and don't really care about what Jesus wanted. Jesus wanted us to help the less fortunate, all Evangelicals care about is helping themselves.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • inthespirit

      Jesus Christ is a Jew. Was implies no more? He lives and He will return.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • JohnnyFive

      Cool story bro.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Atheist

      Try reading up on Catholicism and Fascism.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • alan

      The RMC is a mythology with thousands of deities called saints .

      August 21, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • AGuest9

      Jesus died. The resurrection did not happen/was an allegory for his death. His body was moved by James and his henchmen to purport that he had "risen". There was no bodily ascension into heaven, it was -again- metaphorical. James used this to spread his power in the new church he wanted to create based on his brother's life and teachings.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  12. Gumby

    "I don't get it. Jews are hopeless sinners???"

    According to the Christians, yes. The Christians think they understand the ancient Hebrew Scriptures better than any Jew. Paul even writes this into the New Testament:

    2 Corinthians 3:13-18

    13 And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:

    14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ.

    15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.

    16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.

    17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

    18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

    Ha ha. Paul wrote this to justify the intentional mangling of Hebrew prophecy in order to manufacture Christ the Messiah.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • Gumby

      This was meant to be a response, not a standalone post. Oh well.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • Chris

      I believe Pokey is an Atheist.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  13. Jaybird

    How ridiculous. Visual images of nude people engaged in the act of uniting are just stirring up feelings of passion in that area of thought. Do not listen or adhere to foolish evil religious rhetoric! Religious people are demonic thus they claim action as wicked when it is just plain nature at work. Be natural not religious! Therein lies your perfect happiness. Go for it, get the goods in whatever fantasy imaginable. LIVE!

    August 21, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • William

      Your reply reeks of bigotry and shows you vile contempt of those not like you. Read the words you use.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • JoeK

      William, how can that be? only religious and the political right are bigots ... Liberals and atheist are enlightened (sense the sarcasm in my words?)

      August 21, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  14. inthespirit

    Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God. Because God does not intend for us to be bound to anything/anyone but Himself, addiction is a sin. Because we sin and need salvation, Jesus Christ died for us all and to those who believe, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to be the person we were created to be. To you who do not believe, I encourage you to read the Bible before you discredit your Creator.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • Jaybird

      Religion is BONDAGE! Release your spirit from the abominable oppression! Free your mind and soul from the shckkles that bind you! Run! Flee the evil temples of man! STRIP DOWN and let yourself be free! Run naked in the wind, RELEASE the seed of passion! Taste the sweetness of life as it runs from the port. Ah yes, to thine own self be true. Unload your deposit to one who's hungry for the taste of your essence or just let fly, the passion honey nectar then gush through the portal of man. Gush, gush, until you are drained, emptied of all desire until it returneth in haste.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • Atheist

      A god that "does not intend for us to be bound to anything/anyone but Himself" must be the ultimate narcissist.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  15. paul

    Well, if they care so much about po rn, which everyone looks at including so called Christians and preachers, etc. Let their congregations not do it. Others that are not of their brand of religion or none should be left alone. Religion should never be forced on anyone. That is the grave mistake that the GOP is doing. It only makes them religious Tyrants much like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda does.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • AGuest9

      As much as the extreme right claims to hate the Middle East, they really are trying hard to turn this place into it.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • Chris

      Please don't compare people who are open about their religion and speak about it with others to the Taliban. I'm sure you understand how completely insane the Taliban's leaders are. It's just not fair to say that.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  16. Two Witnesses

    CNN puts these stories up, not for the story itself, but to give other pagans and atheists a voice to spew their vile hatred of Christ and CHristianity. You foul demons don't even realize the fatality of your actions and words. It is really quite pitiful how you squirm so much, stomp your feet and raise your voices in your extremely vociferous and rabid denial of Christ! That to me just shows me the awesome Truth and Power of the Gospel, because EVERY WORD that you speak, every action that you take, every thing that you will do in the coming Apocalypse has already been written, and I have already been warned about you. What you say does not sway my faith one iota. In fact it only STRENGTHENS it, because whether or not you realize or accept it, you are fulfilling Biblical prophecy by these very words.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • happily sinnin'

      Are you stomping? I hear stomping.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:09 am |
    • Two Witnesses

      The sound you hear is indeed stomping, but it is not me. You might do yourself a favor and try to understand the nature of the Beast that is fast bearing down upon you.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:12 am |
    • RockTripod

      I'm not knocking your faith, I just think you're insane.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • paul

      Much to your surprise you do not need to be of a specific brand of religion to follow Christ. DID HE EVER SAY, DO THIS RELIGION?...No, didn't think so. All he said is Do this in REMEMBRANCE of me..and proceeded to break bread in pieces and drink Wine (Yep, the alcohol type that is all they had way back when). Religious fanaticism is just as bad as no belief in God. You'd do better being Spiritual than of any religion brand. Religion is man made for purposes of control. Once you learn that, you'll be free.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • happily sinnin'

      You're gonna' be late for church! Get off the internet and press you clothes!

      August 21, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • William

      Notice the replies you received and many of the comments on this. Your point is proven.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • Jaybird

      Shouldn't you be getting ready for the rapture? So, STRIP IT! Run out into the yard, prepare for BLAST-OFF!!! LOL!!!

      August 21, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • TheRationale

      Your Beast is no match for my Spaghetti Monster.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Sally

      Foul demons? Wow, gee, and here I thought said Christ loved EVERYBODY, believers and non believers alike, and oh there was that thing about not judging your fellow man, leaving that to God.

      Yeah, so much for that, huh? I don't think Jesus likes people who speak as you do about other human beings, just sayin', given that he SPECIFICALLY told you to LOVE them and show compassion.

      Yeah, real good christian YOU are. Great example.

      August 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • jimbo junior

      Two Witnesses, you are an arrogant, insane a$$ hole

      August 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Frogist

      @The Rationale: I see your Spaghetti Monster and raise you a Pikachu. Fair warning... I have a thunder stone and I'm not afraid to use it.

      August 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  17. happily sinnin'

    C'mon up and tell us all about how dirty you feel for some self love, sinners! We'll walk you through it. What the hell?

    August 21, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  18. nofed

    Atheists and Christians are ignorant alike. For Atheists their ignorance comes from the fact that most of everything in philosophy or science or morality comes from religion. even the fact of the belief of no god originates from the concept of a god. Christians have their ignorances in bible interpretation. Both Atheists and Christians miss interpret the bible. Here is how. Alot of the Bible has theory that works in practice on scientific biological basis. one example is kosher food. As it turns out kosher prep of food kill parasites in meat. why is this important? read Dr Clark if you want to know why eating meat filled with parasites is healthy. This is just one example of many in the bible. Are you Atheist going to deny science even if it has theory in the bible?

    August 21, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • Zeus

      Please explain how science comes from religion. Talk about ignorant...

      August 21, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • Two Witnesses

      Wait a second...is there some other realm of existence between "atheists" and "christians".....??? Is that possible?

      August 21, 2011 at 8:09 am |
    • Jeffrey

      and much of it might have been relevant advice 2000 years ago before refrigeration was available

      August 21, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • nofed

      The Concept of empty space comes from the concept of non presence of god. This led to concept of zero in math.
      . early greek culture. Also look up sacred geometry.

      Your ignorant just look in the mirror dumazz

      August 21, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • nofed

      Jeffrey, Just because your meat is refrigerated and preserved so are the parasites in the meat. chances you have worms or parasites in your body. modern medical culture doesn't deal with parasites hard to detect in your body. There are hundreds. so you are wrong buddy.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • Chris

      I don't misinterpret the Bible, I just don't read it.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • TheRationale

      Zeus is pretty spot on.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:03 am |
  19. John

    Christians wear the crest of tools.

    If you want redemption, try taking responsibility for your actions rather than by the creation of a God who very conveniently and ironically offers everlasting redemption. If people would put their faith in humanity rather than some God, this world would be a better place to live and our existence wouldn't languish in peril so often.

    August 21, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • Two Witnesses

      But that's not what the Bible tells us!

      August 21, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • paul

      More than that, your own Personal God inside and part of you already. The Bible is just a book, external and highly manipulated and changed. Find that and you'll know that religion is not even a part of it. But this concept is way too much for some that are looking outside for things instead of where it really is which is inside. Look at Sages, Saints and Good people and they have all done this. Not some TV preacher or even at the local church. Muslims bow 5x a day to some brick box with a meteor stuck on one side, the box is empty. All religions do this, they rarely point the right way.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  20. Pray this Prayer

    The ILLUMINATION OF
    CONSCIENCE predicted by O u r L a d y in Garabandal in 1961 will take place soon to
    save the world.

    The Warning is taking place to:

    1. Prove to all that God exists.
    2 Bring everyone to J e s u s and the Way of Truth.
    3. To help save us before the final day of judgement by giving us a chance to ask for
    forgiveness for the sins we have committed.

    What will Happen?

    TWO COMETS WILL
    COLLIDE IN THE SKY.

    The sky will turn red, it will look like fire & then you will see a large cross in the sky to
    prepare you.

    Everyone over the age of 7 will experience a mystical encounter with J e s u s C h r i s t which will last
    anything up to 15 minutes.

    Pray this prayer to be prepared: Oh my precious J e s u s,embrace me in your arms and allow my head to rest upon your shoulders so that you can raise me up to your glorious kingdom when the time is right. Allow your precious blood to flow over my heart that we can be united as one.

    August 21, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • DC

      What have you been smoking? Seems to be good stuff.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • Gumby

      Cuckoo. Cuckoo. Cuckoo.

      August 21, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • nofed

      There is a comet coming. not sure what will happen. there is alot manipulation by many people. like psy ops. look up "elenin"

      August 21, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • Atheist

      Pray this Prayer and Two Witnesses have conceived these ideas in some kind of obscene intimacy that CNN will highlight next week!

      August 21, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • AGuest9

      Sounds like the plot of the 1986 movie "Night of the Comet". Everybody over 16 on the earth dies, or something like that. (Ironically, all of the power plants kept running, the bodies weren't a lot to deal with, there was still food, etc.

      August 21, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • jimbo junior

      Wow, just WOW!

      August 21, 2011 at 11:13 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.