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My Take: The Bible condemns a lot, but here's why we focus on homosexuality
The author writes that it's fine for Christians to take certain biblical condemnations seriously while ignoring others.
May 21st, 2012
10:00 AM ET

My Take: The Bible condemns a lot, but here's why we focus on homosexuality

Editor's Note: R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

By R. Albert Mohler Jr., Special to CNN

Are conservative Christians hypocritical and selective when it comes to the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality? With all that the Bible condemns, why the focus on gay sex and same-sex marriage?

Given the heated nature of our current debates, it’s a question conservative Christians have learned to expect. “Look,” we are told, “the Bible condemns eating shellfish, wearing mixed fabrics and any number of other things. Why do you ignore those things and insist that the Bible must be obeyed when it comes to sex?”

On its face, it’s a fair question. But it can be posed in two very different ways.

First, the question can be asked to suggest that the Bible’s clear condemnation of sexual sins can simply be set aside. The other way of posing the question represents a genuine attempt to understand how the Bible is to be rightly applied to life today.

In truth, those asking the question the first way really don’t want an answer.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

An honest consideration of the Bible reveals that most of the biblical laws people point to in asking this question, such as laws against eating shellfish or wearing mixed fabrics, are part of the holiness code assigned to Israel in the Old Testament. That code was to set Israel, God’s covenant people, apart from all other nations on everything from morality to diet.

As the Book of Acts makes clear, Christians are not obligated to follow this holiness code. This is made clear in Peter’s vision in Acts 10:15. Peter is told, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

In other words, there is no kosher code for Christians. Christians are not concerned with eating kosher foods and avoiding all others. That part of the law is no longer binding, and Christians can enjoy shrimp and pork with no injury to conscience.

The Bible’s commands on sexual behavior, on the other hand, are continued in the New Testament. When it comes to homosexuality, the Bible’s teaching is consistent, pervasive, uniform and set within a larger context of law and Gospel.

My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage

The Old Testament clearly condemns male homosexuality along with adultery, bestiality, incest and any sex outside the covenant of marriage. The New Testament does not lessen this concern but amplifies it.

The New Testament condemns both male and female homosexual behavior. The Apostle Paul, for example, points specifically to homosexuality as evidence of human sinfulness. His point is not merely that homosexuals are sinners but that all humanity has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The New Testament condemns a full range of sexual sins, and homosexuality is specified among these sins. In Romans, Paul refers to homosexuality in terms of “dishonorable passions,” “contrary to nature” and “shameless.” As New Testament scholar Robert Gagnon has stated, the Bible’s indictment “encompasses every and any form of homosexual behavior.”

Your Take: Rethinking the Bible on homosexuality?

Some people then ask, “What about slavery and polygamy?” In the first place, the New Testament never commands slavery, and it prizes freedom and human dignity. For this reason, the abolitionist movement was largely led by Christians, armed with Christian conviction.

The Old Testament did allow for polygamy, though it normalizes heterosexual monogamy. In the New Testament, Jesus made clear that marriage was always meant to be one man and one woman.

“Have you not read that He who created them made them male and female?” Jesus asked in Matthew. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” For this reason, Christians have opposed polygamy on biblical grounds.

Why are Christians so concerned with homosexuality? In the first place, that question is answered by the simple fact that it is the most pressing moral question of our times. Christians must be concerned about adultery, pornography, injustice, dishonesty and everything the Bible names as sin. But when my phone rings with a call from a reporter these days, the question I am asked is never adultery or pornography. It is about homosexuality.

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Christians who are seriously committed to the authority of the Bible have no choice but to affirm all that the Bible teaches, including its condemnation of homosexuality. At the same time, our confidence is that God condemns those things that will bring his human creatures harm and commands those things that will lead to true human happiness and flourishing.

In other words, we understand that the Bible condemns all forms of sin because our Creator knows what is best for us. The Bible names sins specifically so that each of us will recognize our own sinfulness and look to Christ for salvation and the forgiveness of our sins.

Christian love requires that we believe and teach what the Bible teaches and that we do so with both strong conviction and humble hearts. The Church must repent of our failures in both of these tasks, but we must not be silent where the Bible speaks.

Are Christians hypocrites in insisting that homosexual behavior is sin? We, too, are sinners, and hypocrisy and inconsistency are perpetual dangers.

The church failed miserably in the face of the challenge of divorce. This requires an honest admission and strong corrective.

At the same time, this painful failure must remind us that we must not fail to answer rightly when asked what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. Love requires us to tell the truth.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of R. Albert Mohler Jr.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Gay marriage • Opinion

soundoff (7,995 Responses)
  1. Qev

    Why? Easy...HATEFUL people need something to hate.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  2. kenburch

    To summarize...Brother Mohler hates him some gays, and loves him some ribs.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • GALACTICA-CMDR. AIR GROUP

      Wit' some greens, an' some 'tato salad, sho' nuff!

      June 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  3. Be

    So I am thinking in a Darwinian evolutionary style, why because I want to pretend for a minute I don't believe in God just like many have done in their posts pretending for a minute they believe in God.

    So in the 2010 census it states that "The highest share of households with reported same-se-x couples – both married and unmarried – was in Washington, D.C., at nearly 2 percent. Washington was followed by Vermont, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Delaware, New Mexico and Washington state. On the other end of the scale, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming had the smallest shares, each with less than one-third of 1 percent." So while in perception polls Americans on average seem think 20 to 25 percent of us are gay or lesbian. I just asked my wife and she guess 40%. In non-TV reality land only 1% of us are. Since I can hardly think if a primetime TV show or news channel that doesn't have hom-ose-xual character or individual in it, I find there is no reality in media. Which is why I stick with the US Census and yes of course there are still people hiding in closets and the census is not perfect and for the sake of someone calling me out. Let’s just go with a more liberal source the Williams Insti-tute study (2011) that shows 3.5% of American adults are gay, lesbian and that includes bi-se-xuals who don't even help the hom-ose-xual movement in the long run. So let’s just round up to be nice to 4%, take the total us population that is almost 12.5 million out of 313-ish million. If we were to remove the bi-se-xuals and not round up all the time it would still be 5.3 million and about 800,000 are couples. There are too many factors to even try to calculate this down to true honest people who are attracted to the same se-x in the US or worldwide even for the above.

    What does that all mean in a Darwinian world since two men and two women can never procreate? When even the "animal kingdom" there is evidence for gays? Oh, wait we are part of the animal kingdom sorry I forget! Hom-ose-xuals will always exist, they may be highly skilled parents, good friends and worthy of respect and every other human right. However they will never create offspring without help from the opposite se-x that they are not se-xually attracted to and even the evolution of millions of years may not change that fact. Does that mean they are somehow lesser? NO IT DOES NOT! In the most drastic of all comparisons, say we evolved se-xually to be similar to bees and hom-ose-xuals were the worker bees there is still no future without the queen. Why can't we get along? We'll duh, you’re the workers and we are the queens, it is the law, nature made us this way! Oh, go cry me a river Barry B. Benson(Dreamworks Bee Movie go watch it)

    I apologize right now for anyone who I was unable to articulate my Darwinian dream and is offend, but then again Bzzzz!

    June 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  4. TC

    It's simple.

    False christians such as this author focus on gay people because this is the one and ONLY "sin" they know that they can never commit themselves. It's safe to condem others for things that can never affect you or your life.

    It's a funny "sin", though. The only one that harms no one, and does not distance anyone from God.

    June 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • ME II

      Umm... tell that to Ted Haggard, "Bishop" Eddie Long, etc.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Be

      That is to me like saying a mast-urbation never hurt anyone. It is better with por-nographic images, those image are often of distortions of people that are unreal. Which leads to ideas that ones spouse does not excite them any more. Which leads to divorce and children of divorce, which leads to lies. No person in court is going to say I want to leave my spouse because I started to mast-urbate. No they will say lies then their spouse might react with anger and hate, instead of love. Which children see and deal with many times for years after. No hom-ose-xuality never hurt anyone, I don't think you will find more than a few million that might agree with you there. I mean come on, just one example my son. Because he runs with his hands up in the air and has higher voice, kids bully him and tell him he is gay, however he believes he likes girls. Do you call that hurt or just bruised?

      2nd, God doesn't ever distance himself from his children, His children distance themselves from Him.

      June 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Be

      No matter what side you are on of this debate or most any debate, both sides have solid examples of real harm. No need to deny it or say you have harmed us more than we have harm you therefore you are wrong. Harm is often personalized. Rather God has spoken or not, this is a human debate.

      June 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Bet

      @ ME II

      Hom.ose.xuality didn't hurt those guys, hypocrisy did.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Be

      Bet
      I find no hypocrisy anywhere in the depiction of a gay man who chooses to portray himself through a gay accent or mannerisms. Those choices have trickled down to children who perceive they are being bullied because of the way they run, talk or act, even if there is no ill intent from the other child.

      Do you think that someones voice, stride and other physical characteristics are an actual manifestation of hom-ose-xual thoughts? But who knows right? Does the child have hom-ose-xual thoughts or not? Is there some sort of brain test I can run on each child to tell me with 99% sureness he or she is having hom-ose-xual thoughts? If not then because of fact that gay accents and mannerisms exist there are children who other children or even their parents may say are you gay?

      Children who have never had a hom-ose-xual thought in their life. Who because of the complex world we live in my also head down a path not of their choosing. They may in the end say I am better off for it. Rather this can be or should be avoided or not, still does not mean they didn’t experience harm.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Bet

      @ Be

      I was responding to ME II specifically. That's why I put @ ME II at the beginning of my post.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Regis990

      @Be Prove God is real.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Be

      @Regis990

      I can't prove anything to you but then again neither can you. However I could talked to you for hours as to how the belief in God has helped me and made me and others I see happy. I could invite you to live a law that is claimed to be given by God and you could see if it makes your life any better by living it for awhile.

      June 1, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  5. The Y

    Is this blog based on the christian religions not having any contradictions? Please someone who knows more about this tell me, with complete honesty and sincerity that their church and it's teachings have no contradictions with the bible or within it's own doctrine.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Be

      Humanity is full of condradictions, if there are some we deny them, if there are none we find some. For me that same goes with the Bible(a book inspired by God but written by men believed only upon faith to be Gods chosen), a Church(a group of people with common ideas about spiritually), a pastor, pope, priest, mentor, professor, sister, spouse, friend etc. for all are human, not perfect or without fault. Only if there is a perfect Being without contradiction, without fault, all knowing, all powerful and then He chooses a few humans to share absolute non-contradictional truths about the rules and laws of the universe/everything, could any of those for mentioned be correct.

      To me this also means while a teacher may give a lesson tailored to a class as a whole, when talking to a student individually he may give a different lesson on the subject tailored to just me. Same goes with if the class was 5 years old or the class was 50 year olds. Meaning a loving God would do the same, by giving one message to all but it is tailored to you personally. Then like all humans we invent or think we see contradictions where they do not exist why because some on not prepared to hear, some don't want to listen, others think they understand better than some others. Hence a big mess humans make of God. However there is no proof scientific or otherwise that he doesn't exist either and that His overall message is the same or has never changed. That He doesn't have some sort of blessing in store for every human that had every lived on this earth.

      He lives and is watching over us now, Jesus lives and is watching over us now, your ancestors live, there is life after death you will find no proof in science against it, you will only find proof by living. Listen to your heart and try communicate with God with full honest intent to find out, plead to Him or the universe to know. If you hear nothing it doesn't mean he went shopping or the person next to you is wrong. It is either you are not ready for that lesson YET or don't really want to know. However a wise and perfect teacher will give you what you want to know when you need to know it.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • The Y

      Be your first sentence makes the most sense. "Humanity is full of contradictions". Churches are made up of humans, led by humans and the followers are humans. If we just apply that simple theory – the acknowledgement that the church (any) is not immune from contradiction. Scripture can will contradict with reality. Scripture says many things about life that just don't make sense today. It is what we chose to discuss that becomes relevant. I am a believer, a believe that my life hear will only end one day for it to begin somewhere else. However, I don't believe we should take a book that was written in a different day and apply it to our lives today. This is about evolving, changing and adjusting.

      June 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Be

      The Y I agree with your last statement also, however I believe there is much wisdom in the words of the Bible that have helped me live a better life today. Just like any of the great Classic literature or in fact anyone who says something wise, their truth will continue on living by those who continue to feel the power of those words. I believe this means I can 'believe in the Bible' while at the same time, create healthy connection in my mind about how all wise teachings relate to the now and how that if God exists he is not dead and is still active is my life today, giving me the knowledge an direction for 2012 AD not just counsel from 12 AD or 2012 BC for that matter.

      If someone out there is following the words of the Bible or any religious holy book, scientific book, or any form of communication, culture, person question it! Honestly follow your heart, nothing else will set you free and to be able to as best you can say your convictions are your own! The biggest issue is that is not easy, it takes continually work everyday, every hour and will never end and at times you will fail. Just keep walking!

      June 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • SKw

      The human race is full of contradictions!!!!! God is not!! There is not one people group in the world that can boast of no contradictions.....God is God and we are people. Not to hard to answer.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  6. Znod

    Religion not a solid basis for anything.

    June 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • steel

      That is correct – why? Because all religions are carried out by people....people are not perfect. However there have been some amazing people on this planet like Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, who can show us that a life of giving is a possibility.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  7. Be

    Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. How is religion fiction? To me that is like saying, 'Hom-ose-xuality is romantic or se-xual attraction or behavior between members of the same se-x or gender' is fiction. Truth to me is they are both non-fiction because I believe I am not sleeping and life is really happening.

    To me you are better off stating God is fiction or Santa Claus is fiction, however it is hard to deny that the meaning or spirit of both is not found through out the world. Even atheists believe in the "spirit" of giving if even if they don't believe in a magic man in a red suit. In the same way you can have "a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values."

    June 1, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • SKw

      No depth to anything you write....even the science world or national geographic would not be this boring

      June 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  8. Brandon

    I'm so glad religion is fiction.

    June 1, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  9. Dr Winthorp

    In Canada several years back – the gay and le-sbian league, joined forces with Namba (the group that believes they can have s-ex with children).....they had one goal in mind – to remove the age of consent. You really need to worry about who is doing what in your own camp – before pointing at others

    June 1, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      What in the million names of God are you talking about?
      NAMBLA is an American organization – they are headquartered in New York and San Francisco and serve US pedos only.
      The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's official standpoint regarding NAMBLA is that they "deplore" their goals because they "const.itute a form of child abuse and are repugnant".
      Yes there were recently reforms to Canada's age of consent laws – since 2006, the age has been 16 instead of 14, with exemptions for s.ex between 14-15 year olds and partners up to 5 years older.
      This was prompted by a much publicized incident in which an American predator from Texas was caught with a 14 year old boy he had lured over the internet. Becuase the boy insisted everything was consensual, the 31 year old couldn't be charged. Now he would go to jail for a very long time.

      So unless you've got sources to cite, I suggest you refrain from making baseless accusations, trying to conflate hom.ose.xuality with pedophilia.

      June 1, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      You're an idiot...we have strict laws against that here! It's always easy to tell when someone is making up stories...they don't back it with the evidence of where those stories came from. Enjoy your delusions little one!

      June 1, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Jen

      You are such a liar!!!! I lived in Canada until a few years ago and that is simply not true. You just can't stand the fact that gay marriage has been legal for years there and there have been no DIFFERENCES WHATSOEVER.

      No plagues, no earthquakes sent by god, no people asking to marry their dog or their sister, NOTHING!!!

      June 1, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Bet

      This is typical of the lies told by some christian churches to instill fear. None of what you are saying is true.

      Unfortunately, most people don't think to question what they hear from the pulpit because they've been trained from birth to believe whatever their church authorities tell them. This applies to a lot of other areas as well, government, science, education, private corporations, the media. Don't believe everything you hear just because someone's an "authority".

      June 1, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • TC

      Prove it. Use only reliable and verifiable sources.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • GALACTICA-CMDR. AIR GROUP

      C'mon, IT'S CANADA! Only good things to come oot 'a Canada are back bacon and Tim Horton's doo-nu.ts.

      June 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Galactica
      What about hockey, basketball, maple syrop, electric wheelchairs, electron microscopes, ginger ale, insulin, the jolly jumper, roller skates, pictionary, pacemakers, zippers, walkie talkies, retractable beer carton handles, kerosene, JAVA, green garbage bags,,,,,

      June 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • GALACTICA-CMDR. AIR GROUP

      Sorry, just going for the cheap laugh. But, what's a jolly jumper?

      June 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • GALACTICA-CMDR. AIR GROUP

      May be a quibble, but basketball was invented by a Canadian-American, but at the YMCA in Springfield, Ma.ss. (I love Wikipedia.)

      June 1, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You don't have any kids, do you?
      A jolly jumper is a kind of bouncy harness for infants. My daughter loved being in that thing when she was a baby!

      June 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Dr

      Sorry to say – but this is true. Can give names if permission is given

      June 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • GALACTICA-CMDR. AIR GROUP

      Oh. You mean a Johnny Jump-Up.
      You're right. No kids. Never had the patience, nor the inclination.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • GALACTICA-CMDR. AIR GROUP

      Just my opinion. Canada can have hockey back. Not a sports fan. What turned me away from sports? THE CHICAGO CUBS!

      June 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Bet

      @ galactica

      Oh, the Cubs. They have broken my heart so many times.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • GALACTICA-CMDR. AIR GROUP

      September, 1969, Bet. The nose-dive to end all nose-dives.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Bet

      *sobbing* Pass the gin, please. I'll never get over that one.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • GALACTICA-CMDR. AIR GROUP

      Could've been worse. We could've been Seattle Pilots fans.

      June 1, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  10. Paul

    Mandarax: That just brings us back to that tired old lie that people who don't believe in god commit more crimes and immoral acts
    Reply;
    I never said that. Even Christians commit crimes, in fact pretty much most crimes are committed by “so-called” Christians, as there are more of those than atheists.
    The point I was making is that mankind in general have messed this planet up, as most humans are following Satan. Even ‘so-called’ Christians don’t follow God’s word and are just as bad, if not worse than atheists. I work with criminals and most claim to be Christian.
    This is in fulfillment of a Bible prophecy 2 Tim 3:1-7, which indicates we are living in the “last days”.

    June 1, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • al

      Paul your comment has as much substance as a five day old bowl of Kraft dinner.....thanks we will pass

      June 1, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It's been "the last days" for 2000 years.
      "This generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled"
      Matthew 24:34
      The biblical definition of a generation can be found in Psalm 90.
      "The years of our lives are 70; and if by reason of strength they be 80 years, yet most of them are labor and sorrow; for life is soon cut off and we fly away."
      26 Psalms 90:10
      This is confirmed in the Gospel of Matthew.
      "Therefore all the generations from Abraham down to David are 14 generations; and from David down to the Babylonian captivity are 14 generations; and from the Babylonian captivity down to messiah, are 14 generations."
      – Matthew 1:17
      Matthew is using the Psalm 90 definitions of Generation in order to tell a specific chronological story.
      Even we we put aside that argument, there is further scripture indicating that the "End Days" were expected shortly after Christ's zombification.
      “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.”
      —1 John 2:18

      Christians have been waiting on tenterhooks for the Second Coming since the Bible itself was written, but It would appear that the much lauded Jewish carpenter has been thoroughly dead for 2000 years and will remain so.

      June 1, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Bob

      Terrific post, Doc. Reminds me of what a great pyramid scheme religion is, while all that supports it is fear masked behind silly rites and silly robes.

      June 1, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  11. echogood

    HEY, maybe that Southern Baptist seminary president can weigh in, since he TEACHES this for a living? I consider this a valid theological question, and it's seriously amateur night here in the comments section.

    If the Bible tells me that in order to be good I have to disobey my own conscience, then how would that be dealt with from a technical, theological perspective?

    May 31, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Paul

      The conscience is molded by what we expose it to. For example if a person is bought up in a violent household, or plays violent games. This dulls the conscience to violence. Whereas if we expose our conscience to good principles, it helps us to live a better life. In other words our conscience can be deadened or scared.

      So if we expose our conscience to God's Word it will have a positive effect on our life. Sadly even 'so-called' Christians show little regard to God's Word and thus lead a hypocritical life. Atheists often point to these bad examples to prove Christianity does not work. This has little impact on those who know the truth and are not hypocrites.

      June 1, 2012 at 2:08 am |
    • WASP

      @paul: "For example if a person is bought up in a violent household, or plays violent games. This dulls the conscience to violence."

      so by what you are saying, all the violence in the bible is bad for a person's concious.......well that's good to know. it explains why most christians haven't read their bibles. lmao

      June 1, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Bet

      I saw priests and nuns slap, punch and spa.nk children as young as five for simple things like talking at the wrong time or giving an incorrect answer.It was an everyday occurrence. I was terrified of them and of god. I used to lie in bed at night and cry for fear that I would die in my sleep. I'd try to stay awake because I was so afraid that god would hurt me or send me to heII. This started when I was five or six years old.

      Other parochial schools do the same, one that I taught at used spa.nking to discipline and we all had big pad.dles in the classroom to instill fear. It was not "tap on the but.t" spa.nking either, it was abuse. I never used mine. I just could not do it.

      Violence does leave a lasting mark. Especially when it's done in the name of a loving god.

      June 1, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • GALACTICA-CMDR. AIR GROUP

      At the Catholic schools I attended, nuns would swat kids across the knuckles with metal-edged rulers. I remember one nun made me stand in the hallway for yawning and stretching in class.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Bet

      My sixth grade teacher used one of those metal rulers. I had a couple of good nun teachers who actually enjoyed teaching and weren't cruel, but the majority were abusive bullies.

      June 1, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  12. echogood

    OK, no one seemed to be able to answer my question: If I concede that god is REAL, but my conscience says that he is WRONG, how do Christians respond? So far I've gotten Legalism, also known as the Appeal to Authority ("god is real, so he's absolute!") which I reject because my conscience won't be silenced by theory when there's religion-generated misery right in front of me.

    I've also gotten an irrelevant statement: "your conscience is evidence of God's spirit, so he must exist!" Sure, let's pretend a psychotic God creates creatures with consciences that are destined (preordained, if you will) to be unable to tolerate the rules he'll then place on them. That still doesn't help me come to a conclusion that God is a moral authority.

    My question is meant to illustrate the case for Atheism. The universe is a better place if an oppressive God with monstrous beliefs and preferences is FAKE, than it is if the god exists and defines morality as OPPOSITE of what our conscience dictates.

    This is usually the point where Christians make a "pride" accusation, and walk off. But if my god-given conscience is the highest evidence of that god, and it accuses that same god of immorality, a) how can that god still be considered a moral authority, or b) how can I ignore that mandate to conscience which comes directly from the spark of god in all of us?

    It's not pride, it's humility to bow to my sense of right and wrong, no matter who tells me I'm worthless and amoral for it. The big problem here is not my morals, which are fine, and not my conscience, which is perfectly healthy. It's God. God's the problem. Take God out of the way, and I know how to be good, and I know right from wrong. Put God back into the picture, and I struggle to reconcile his rules with my sense of justice.

    The problem is always and forever God. If I have to choose between god and justice, it's going to be justice every time.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • JWT

      Go with right and wrong. It trumps mindless belief everytime. And if you are wrong about god then I will stand with you and we caln tell god he is a moron together.

      May 31, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Paul

      In order to answer your question, I need to know how your conscience conflicts with what God says?
      I notice you point to religion generated misery. That’s true of course, but that only indicates that the religion you looked at does not follow God. Jesus said you will know them by what they do.
      God does not pre-ordain anyone; we are in fact created as free moral agents. God wants us to make an intelligent choice to serve him or not. But we will reap the consequences of our decision.
      The conscience acts as a judge within us, it either condemns or excuses what we do. But just as if any judge is going to be good at his job, he needs proper training. If you own a Chrysler car and need it tuned you would consult the manufacturers recommendations and would not consult a chainsaw manufacturer.
      The Bible is mankind’s manual from our manufacturer, I would suggest having a close look at it.

      June 1, 2012 at 2:37 am |
    • salt

      no one reads these long notes....so sad you took all this time to write all of this amazing stuff

      June 1, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • Bet

      @salt

      If you didn't read it, why did you bother to comment? You must enjoy trolling.

      June 1, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Sher

      Where does your sence of right and wrong come from how did you arrive at it. How did you develope you sence of justice. What if a person's sence of justice demands that he come and shoot you down and that his sence of right and wrong demanded that it was right to shoot you and what if he had serveral million people who agreed with him, to what / or whom do you address your grivence ( guess since your dead it wouldn't matter) Your thinking is that might makes right that who has the power at any point makes up want is right and what is just. You then are a slave to who ever has that power. That is totaly sad and dark and I am glad I am not in there with you.

      June 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • GALACTICA-CMDR. AIR GROUP

      First off, never buy Chrysler. I like my Toyota Camry.

      June 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Bet

      @ Sher

      I don't need god, the bible or religion to tell me that hurting other people is wrong. It comes from inside me, and I developed it all on my own. It's called empathy, and people develop it as they learn that their actions affect other people.

      The argument that without religion, god or some book to tell you what to do that you'll develop into a mass murderer, a thief or some other horrible person is simplistic and false.

      June 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • salt

      Bet – get a life....take the garbage out......dust your house.....go visit some friends, we are worried about you – cause you never leave this blog

      June 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • GALACTICA-CMDR. AIR GROUP

      Now I know why he's called salt. He raises people's blood pressure.

      June 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Bet

      Poor salt. He doesn't have anything to say, but he doesn't know it.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  13. echogood

    Or, in a nutshell: the Bible DOES contain moral contradictions and rules that lead directly to human suffering. God has CLEAR rules for living, and they are provably antisocial and destructive of the human soul.

    Christians deal with this contradiction by either ignoring the rules (liberal christianity) or ignoring and denying the suffering they cause (conservative christianity). Atheists deal with this by refusing those rules on the grounds of their inhumanity.

    Luckily, the only thing that happens when societies ditch their religious heritage and start making rules that benefit the most people, rather than rules that please God, the only things that actually result are social progress and a higher standard of living. If God was really mad, he'd have nuked Scandinavia, but instead he allows the most secular nations on Earth to also prosper as the happiest and healthiest places to live.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Redemption24

      Hey you have just won a one ticket to the holiday capitals of the world....North Korea, Syria, Somalia, Congo, Iran....fools like you who live in a country founded on Christianity...have no idea what its like to live somewhere – where there really is NO freedom....only two words come to mind for you – Dumb and Dumber

      June 1, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • Paul

      Are you suggesting the Atheists government, China, actually looks after it's people in justice and love. Cares for the environment and has never committed atrocities aginst it's people?

      Atheism also has a dark side when it rules. So too Christianity has a dark side when it rules.

      The Bible says that man was not created to dominate over others, but all are equal and should deal with one another as brothers.
      Only our creator has the right to rule, as creator he knows what is best for us. And, actually we are in no position to challenge that.

      June 1, 2012 at 2:50 am |
    • Tim

      Maybe you could go to a cave and hear your own echo!! no ones listening here.....total agony

      June 1, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • Know What

      Redemption24,

      Guess what, Lloyd, the United States was founded more along the lines of ancient Greek democracy and the ancient Roman republic and the concepts in the Magna Carta and many other governmental philosophies than it was upon Christianity. Sure, many of the founding fathers had a Christian background, but they took great pains not to have ANY religion rule this country.

      June 1, 2012 at 3:18 am |
    • Know What

      Guess what else, Lloyd,

      The Ten Commandments:

      1: Have no other gods – NOT A LAW
      2: Make no graven image – NOT A LAW
      3: Don’t take the name in vain – NOT A LAW
      4: Honor the Sabbath – NOT A LAW
      5: Honor thy father and mother – NOT A LAW
      6: Thou shalt not kill – NOT UNIQUE TO CHRISTIANITY (long pre-dated it)
      7: Thou shalt not commit adultery – huge number of Christians commit adultery by LEGALLY remarrying
      8: Thou shalt not steal – NOT UNIQUE TO CHRISTIANITY
      9: Thou shalt not bear false witness – NOT UNIQUE TO CHRISTIANITY
      10: Thou shalt not covet – NOT A LAW

      June 1, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—"
      – Treaty of Tripoli, 1797

      June 1, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Jen

      Most European nations and Canada are secular nations. Want to live in those places? I've lived in the US and Canada, and Canada is way better!!!! Indisputable! (thanks to the lack of religion)

      June 1, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Bet

      Redemption24 is a sock.

      Look at the posts from redemption, redemption24 and salt. They all say the exactly the same things and are posted within a few minutes of each other.

      Nothing but a troll. Do not feed.

      June 1, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • GALACTICA-CMDR. AIR GROUP

      Lloyd...I like it. He probably doesn't get the reference, though.

      June 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • steel

      The founding fathers were Christians – duh!!! ouch on the brain

      June 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Bet

      @ steel

      Some of the founding fathers were christians, not all. But they were very specific that the US be a secular nation.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  14. echogood

    @Simon - "try and listen, OK?" somehow, it turns out the christians are the ones not paying attention in this convo.

    All you're arguing for is legalism. God EXISTS, therefore he defines morality. This is a terrible argument, also known as an Appeal to Authority. Also, you "don't know anyone who knows God loves them who questions the Bible's morality" - really? So your friends' consensus that they don't need to worry about who they hurt, that's enough for you, is it?

    I don't buy it. You can only make this argument if you either a) deny morality entirely, and agree only to play by the rules, whatever they are (i.e. God's the authority, so right and wrong only exist in context of God's interpreted will - legalism in a nutshell), b) actually redefine morality so that "good" things conveniently match up with whatever it is you think God said, no matter how hurtful (swaping good for evil and vice versa), or c) utterly denying the harm that these evil rules cause.

    If you DON'T question the morality of the Bible, I think you're a bad person, full stop. You have a personal relationship with a deity? Good for you. You have evidence that you believe? fine. You heard and saw God? OK, sure, I'll allow that for the purposes of argument. So you feel strongly that there's a being out there who's powerful and real, and is interacting with you, and I'll concede that. But what you can't do is convince me that this existing, living God is GOOD. That creates a problem. "He's real" does not equal "he has a moral authority" - why would that be true?

    I'm basing my lack of belief not on YOUR behaviour or anyone else's, but in the idea that IF i've come to the conclusion that the God spoken about in the Bible really is an evil, destructive influence, AND IF the things that please him lead to misery and death, THEN it's far more logical to NOT BELIEVE in this god than to have all kinds of anxiety about disagreeing with him.

    Luckily, God is both a silly, unlikely idea AND also immoral. If God was real and provable (say he made TV appearances and actually ran things in person) we'd have a problem. The world would not look like the 700 Club, or your "loving" church community.

    It would look like Stargate. We'd be desperately looking for a gu-n big enough to cap a God.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • GALACTICA_CAG

      Can you say "Apophis?"

      June 1, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • Redemption24

      No one reads the longer notes dumb dumb.....blah blah blah....camel dung is what comes to mind

      June 1, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • Bet

      @redemption, redemption24 and salt (since it's obvious that you're the same person posting under different names)

      Actually, you're wrong. Lots of people read the longer posts. They're the ones with attention spans longer than a flea's.

      June 1, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  15. Rixhard Sutherland

    What is this Holiness Code thing? There's nothing in the New Testament about it.

    May 31, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  16. GALACTICA_CAG

    And if Jesus endorsed killing gays, he should also have included clowns and NASCAR drivers.

    May 31, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  17. builder101

    Why don't you expel all divorced people from your church? Why don't you stop marring divorced people?

    I am completely ok with any and all church's that do not not allow gays or never want to preform gay marriages, what I do not understand is why churches want to take away any Americans civil rights just because that set of humans believe differently. Church's are judging and condemning their fellow American's with their Hate, yes hate – there is no other word sir.

    May 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • GALACTICA_CAG

      And if Jesus endorsed killing gays, he should've also endorsed killing clowns. And NASCAR drivers.

      May 31, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • steel

      Being gay cannot be compared to having your husband cheat on you and remarrying.....get a point for once

      June 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Bet

      I think salt and redemption have another new screen name. I'm betting it's actually gman from a few days ago.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  18. martin

    Jesus endorsed killing gays, Matthew 5:17-12

    May 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Matthew 5:17-12"

      If you're trying to say to follow Leviticus you would be wrong. Christians don't follow Leviticus anymore, it's part of the Holiness Code, a ritual manual for Israel's priests.. So are you going to tell women now they have to marry their rapists and all the other sins listed in that particular scriptures? Duh!

      May 31, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Lisa C

      That's not true. And I hope this is your way of a sick joke.

      May 31, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • GALACTICA_CAG

      The other day I had a (real-life) friend, who is Christian, who posted on his Facebook that he thought the Bible would be better if Leviticus were omitted from now on.

      May 31, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  19. limbodog

    None of this explains to me why christians feel the need to force non-christians to follow their religious decrees. I can accept that hypocrisy runs rampant in any group, but I cannot understand the need to force your views onto others who do not share them using the power of law.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • SLArbiter

      It's based on the idea that some of them have that part of their mission to be good christians involves spreading their belief and making people live as they do (in effect, saving them from damnation). The fact that other people might not ascribe to the same faith and as such consider their religious views irrelevant matters not one bit. "Do unto others" goes straight out the window when it comes to spreading the faith.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      SLA: It seems to me that evangelism is the height of arrogance, and rudeness.

      May 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Redemption

      Yaaahh – Sam and Bet are up from their medicated naps!! Ready to run the blog all night again guys? You guys are so awesome and dedicated...you getting paid? Guard the wall!!!

      June 1, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • Bet

      @ redemption the sock puppet

      Obvious sock is obvious.

      June 1, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  20. jl stolm

    If Christians are all so Helbent on the "Laws of the New Testament" then why are they so insistent on displaying the Ten Commandments in courtrooms?

    May 31, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Be

      Because many Christians understanding of the New Testament is that Jesus tweaked the rules God asked us to live by. A simple understanding is basically Jesus tells his followers to continue the living the 10 commandments along with his updates to the law but there is no need any longer for animal sacrifice and the other laws that God gave to Moses that had been carried on down to that time. It was that everything in the Old Testament was now garbage and it also does not mean those who profess to follow Jesus pick and choose which pieces of the Old Testament were to continue or not. Basically you follow what Jesus says in the New Testament, but because there is a lot there and people often try to simplify it.

      You can break the Ten Commandments into 2 parts per Jesus:
      1-4 to love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength
      5-10 love your neighbor as yourself (neighbor = everyone)

      June 1, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Be

      Correction " It was NOT that everything in the Old Testament is now garbage and it also does not mean those who profess to follow Jesus pick and choose which pieces of the Old Testament were to continue or not.

      June 1, 2012 at 10:49 am |
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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.