July 5th, 2012
01:11 PM ET
My Take: Will there be gays in heaven? Will there be fat people?
Editor's Note: Craig Gross is the pastor and founder of XXXchurch.com and is the author of seven books. He just turned 36 and is no longer a hip 20-something pastor from California.
By Craig Gross, Special to CNN
After Anderson Cooper came out this week, I posted a link on Twitter to a story that included this quote from Cooper: “I love and am loved.” As I said in my tweet, Cooper is one of my favorite journalists. I was honored to once be on his show.
After I tweeted I got e-mails and a direct message asking the same question: "You still like him now?"
I was saddened by that reaction and started thinking: What would happen if we read the Bible and, instead of highlighting certain passages, we took it all for what it is - truth.
In 1 Corinthians, the Bible says don't indulge your body with food or sex: “‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,’ and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage
I deal with people who indulge their bodies with sex. I’ve done it for 10 years with XXXchurch.com, helping people caught up in porn addiction.
If you indulge your body with sex via pornography, affairs, strippers or hookers, and your secrets are exposed, you will not be preaching on Sunday. Sexual sin is not tolerated in our churches. If clergy are caught in these things, they’re disqualified.
What if you indulge your body with food? Well, then you can pastor some of the largest churches on the planet and have the most successful broadcasts on the religious channels and sell a lot of books.
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Same biblical passage, same sin. Why is one accepted and one rejected? Why is it that religious folks want to camp out on a few things rather then all things?
Why do they believe that the gay guy goes to hell but the fat preacher who builds some of the largest churches in the world makes it to heaven?
I have no problem bringing my fat friends to church; they fit right in. Our Los Angeles church has doughnuts to eat during worship service, which makes the hymns we sing sound so much better.
My Take: Why many Christians focus on homosexuality
I coached my son's soccer team last year. My assistant coach is a lesbian. My son became great friends with her son, and my wife and I have become good friends with his mom and her partner. We played on three teams this year with them and have spent time in each others’ homes.
Could I bring them to church? Absolutely not.
Most evangelical Christians don't have gay friends. We just have gay stereotypes and we base our beliefs on a few biblical passages, ignoring passages about things that people in the church really struggle with, like food and other addictions.
The problem is that the church has only one answer for homosexuality: Don't be gay. Come as you are, but you'd better not be gay. But you can be fat.
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Most Christians believe you should just help your friends to not be gay when, in all honesty, only Christ can do that.
I love my lesbian friends. Let’s say I share Christ with them and they accept Jesus - or maybe they already have. Where do they go to church?
There is no way I would send them to an evangelical church, because not everyone would treat them the way they should be treated. But if they attend a gay church many Christians look at them as crazy.
People will push you to take a stand one way or the other on homosexuality, but no one has ever asked me to take a stand when it comes to fat people.
The goal shouldn’t be to change anyone's sexuality. Ultimately, I believe homosexuality gets blown way out of proportion in our churches. If we would all see gays as fellow sinners instead of “others,” there wouldn't be a need for gay outreach, because they would already be incorporated into our community based on a shared need for Christ.
God loves gays and Jesus is for them. God loves the fat preacher. Homosexual activity and overeating are both sins - just like speeding, gossip, lying and cheating. I think I did all of those just today.
All are forgivable in Christ and, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, can be changed. Just remember that change does not happen overnight.
Have you ever seen someone lose 100 pounds overnight? The process takes time. When it comes to the Lord, it’s nothing less than a journey of sanctification.
And wherever you are at on that journey, I think there should be a place for you at church. Because there’s probably one in heaven.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Craig Gross.
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.
If fat people aren't allowed into heaven, American christians could be in trouble.
Perhaps they should attend to the beam in their own eye before they start condemning the motes in others.
Um, I think that was sort of the author's point. We ALL fall short of God's glory.
Sorry. My comment was more in response to the comments than the article.
This is the most ridiculous,sad,and prejudiced article Thinly veiled insults on certain preachers who are larger.He has gay friends he wont take to church!!! ABSURD!!!We are humans God wants us to love each other.Gay, Fat, Alcoholic etc..Im shutting off cnn and switching to something not so obviously bias.
I think you have just managed to very angrily agree with the author. He's not condemning fat people, he's saying stop condemning anyone. Remember the ti-tles are made to draw you in, they're usually more incindiery than the actual article.
Fat people can't get to heaven. Their souls are too heavy to float. And their excuses are to much BS to bear.
But fat is more buoyant than lean body mass. hee hee butt fat 🙂
Will there be fat people in heaven? That sounds like a question a three year old would ask, right after asking why santa claus is so fat. Just think for yourselves. Don't depend on an an anceint book. Don't depend on some self-appointed 'spiritual leader'. Just think.
If you want to enforce your rules on yourself, fine. But you have no right to apply them to anyone else, even others of your faith. You are not without sin therefore you make a lousy judge. Stick to judging yourself and what sins you think you've committed and quit worrying about the rest of us. You'll have enough trouble saving yourself.
The Bible has no one single interpretation. Who decides which interpretation is right? Aska a Catholic and an Evangelical that question and see how radically different the answer is. Who's right then?
The Bible is so horrifically altered from 2000 years of politically motivated re-writes that it isn't even the same book as it was in 200 AD. Have you read the Greek? Have you read the Hebrew? Did you know that Christianity is a sect of Judaism and to deny that is to sever the link to the same God you claim speaks through the Holy Word? Do you follow every law in Leviticus and Deuteronimy? Or just the ones you like? Have you given up all your worldy wealth and turned your back on your family like Jesus instructed?
No. You haven't. So shut your mouth, work on your own problems for a while. Clean up your side of the street before you complain about your neighbors.
Mr. Gross, what a confusing world you must live in, to have to separate your church "friends" from your real life friends. Perhaps thinking about that might help your own spiritual growth.
Well, I think fat people do go to heaven, but they have to pay for two seats on the way up.
Somebody asked the question: Will ugly people get into heaven. Please, God. Don't let Whoopi Goldberg in!!
Why don't you post your photo, Mr. Universe?
Most pastors think that by starting church that they only need to preach to the congregation. Why do you think Jesus Christ preached to the general public by preaching outside the church? He told his 12 disciples to do the same. He knew that the church at that time was corrupt. (He got angry when they started selling items in the church). I think it's safe to say there are quite a few churches today that do the same. I know of one in particular. They told two of their members that they were no longer church members because they did something wrong. Those people were the one's that needed forgiveness and the church kicked them out. As I said before, it's not the righteous that need God, it's the sinner. This is the problem with most churches, they think that if you go to church, you will go to heaven. Not true. Church doesn't make you a good person, doing good deeds makes you a good person. Following the teachings of Jesus Christ makes you a better person. "He who is without sin, cast the first stone" should be written above every church in this country. It's these people who would cast the first stone are the ones that need the church. The church is the body of Christ. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
You are not the righteous. You are the sinner. Jesus didn't want YOU to help the sinners. He said he was the only one who could. Let HIM do it. You take care of your own sinful self.
The church is the body of Christ.
Not so much, pal. The church is a clip joint erected to get as much cash flow from the congragation and keep the priests and pastors, if not fat, at least portly. I do not understand those that want to commune with their version of a god can not do so in a beautiful area of the world and at the same time commune with nature and cut out the middle man.
There is something fundementally wrong with the statement, "we are all born sinners". Just doesn't make sense that God would create a universe, then flood it with what he hates. Sounds bi-polar. But then again, we're talking about a quantum-spirit, that seperates itself into three, but is still considered one.
Only Adam and Eve were born without sin. Every one else after that was born in sin, as you say. God didn't create you, your parents did. And God does create evil. Read the story about Jonah and the whale. Read the whole chapter.
There are many things that bother me about the "we are all born sinners" mentaility (like the fact that it is defeatist and ignorant), but one of the big things is that it is part of a pretty obvious control scheme.
It's indoctrination 101- take away the subject's sense of self. Remove the sense of pride (religion makes is clear that pride is a naughty naughty thing), accomplishment, and if at all possible self worth, to create an internal vaccuum in the subject, then offer whatever indoctrination you're pushing to fill the void.
It's very similar to military indoctrination (break down then build up), except the build up phase in the military training is designed (for the most part) to instill GOOD things, like adaptability, resilience, a drive to function as part of a team, and the constant and unending drilling in of honor and integrity (wether some soldiers actually internalize it or not is a different discussion, but they push it hard). It's designed to build strong individuals who have the ability to act on what they know is right.
Religious indoctriniation does instill some good values, but I feel that it lacks the component of personal integrity and responibility, and defaults to an unquestioning and unwavering defference to an outside authority, "god", but since "God" doesn't really interact with people, they tell you to listen to the church in his stead. It is clearly designed to build followers, who believe their eternal soul relies on doing what the church says (doesn't work on everyone, most people take what they need form the church and keep their own ability to make decisions in their lives, but that doesn't change what the system is designed to do). I don't understand how people can 1) not see that design or 2) continue to trust the church once they do.
@Rick – So God creates evil, and punishes the wicked? This will eventually lead to "God works in mysterious ways", right? Because that sounds cruel to my mortal ears.
@BRC – Thanks. The whole breaking down/ building up makes sense. Not to mention the 'reinforcement' given by the concept of hell. And the devil is always laying tricks to get you away from God. You can literally drive yourself insane thinking seriously about it.
Yes it can. I have tried very hard to read the bible, but I can make it at most 5 or 6 pages before I just start laughing frustration at what I'm reading and have to take a break for while. You have to set aside a part of your brain to get through it, and I can't see how or why that's ever a good idea.
As a story though, The Old Testemant is pretty exciting. The New Testemant, after Jesus was rose, is most boring part.
BRC – well said – and that about sums up the whole religious issue.
How can I describe Disneyland to a Martian? Or can a pig ever be made to appreciate a fine pearl necklace? Or can a dog be made to understand what is Holy? NO, no and no. These things are impossible to make happen and so it is with some of you.You have no concept of spiritual matters. Thank you, Rev. Gross. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Bravo!
"Or can a dog be made to understand what is Holy?
I think you just described yourself.
The Bible doesn't say what weight we need to be. It talks about gluttony. Just because someone is considered by the world to be overweight doesn't mean they are a glutton. Many "fat" people eat less than thinner people. There are many people who are considered not to be overweight who are gluttons. They're body just works differently and they don't gain weight.
Right. They are born with a propensity to gain weight. It's not necessarily their choice or their habits, but they way God designed them. Kind of like s*xual orientation...
Most fat people are fat because they over indulged at some point in their life. Just because they are eating less now doesn't make it ok. They need to exercise. Most fat people I have seen continue to eat in private, just not in public.
How do you know what do if it's done "in private"?
Edit: 'what they do'
No such thing, as fat person eating a little. If somebody has low metabolizm they should start working out to increase it so they stay same weight, instead of eating more and blaming on slow matabolizm.
It's that simple !
Sara, how kind of you to tell overweight people what they need to do. I'm sure they NEVER thought of eating less and exercising more! What insight! You're a friggin' genius.
I'd be more respectful of Sara if she actually know that it's "metabolism". She's not a doctor; she just plays one on the internet.
Craig, saw your debate vs. Ron Jeremy at JMU about 6 years back! You both did a great job articulating the issues. Thanks.
So could someone tell me how speeding is a sin?
Well, if you're recklessly disregarding the safety of yourself or especially of those around you, you're endangering them...certainly not a good thing.
Alexandr, this blog is so full of sarcasm and ridicule that it's hard to identify a serious question. But presuming yours is a serious one:
Speeding might be covered by the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill". Endangering your life and health or that of another is an extension of that command. Driving at a dangerous speed does just that.
We r to obey the laws of the land and speeding is against the law so speeding is a sin.
The book of Romans instructs us to respect the governing authorities and follow laws – if we don't respect man's laws we won;t respect God's laws either . Speeding is breaking the law, endangering self and othersfor willful pleasure or due to being perpetually late – all fleshly sinfullness
The book of Romans instructs us to respect the governing authorities and follow laws – if we don't respect man's laws we won't respect God's laws either . Speeding is breaking the law, endangering self and othersfor willful pleasure or due to being perpetually late – all fleshly sinfullness
I suppose that's technically true....except for the fact that many speed limits are set artificially low for the purpose of revenue generation by incompetent municipalities trying to balance their weak, pitiful little budgets.
So how is it a sin when you're driving at an appropriate rate for the design & conditions of the road but the speed limit is set artificially low for the purpose of revenue generation? Who's doing the sinning? Hmmmm?
Well, there are degrees of sin. If you exceed the limit by one mile, will God condemn you to hell? It may be a venial, trivial mistake, but not very serious in the grand scheme of things. On the other hand, if you are going 150 in a school zone, you're ocmmitting a whopper.
Speeding might also be considered a sin in that you are breaking the law. Jesus preached that you had to follow the laws of your land, give to Ceasar what is Caesar's, etc. Specifically these passages speak to law breaking as a sin:
Rom 13:1 Obey the rulers who have authority over you. Only God can give authority to anyone, and he puts these rulers in their places of power.
Rom 13:2 People who oppose the authorities are opposing what God has done, and they will be punished.
Rom 13:3 Rulers are a threat to evil people, not to good people. There is no need to be afraid of the authorities. Just do right, and they will praise you for it.
Rom 13:4 After all, they are God's servants, and it is their duty to help you. If you do something wrong, you ought to be afraid, because these rulers have the right to punish you. They are God's servants who punish criminals to show how angry God is.
Rom 13:5 But you should obey the rulers because you know it is the right thing to do, and not just because of God's anger.
James 4.17. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin
Personally, I like Romans 13:5. Do what is right BECAUSE it is the right thing to do, not because you fear God's anger. This is what bothers me about some Christians, and why they don't understand atheists like myself. Doing what is right only because it is right, not out of fear of punishment or promise of reward. If only more religious people followed that concept, it would be a better world.
If a municipality thinks they can rely on balancing their budget by lowering the speed limit, townies need only follow the law to show them how foolish a plan it was. If the townies speed anyway and get caught, we could argue who the incmpetent was.
Has anyone measured the Pearly Gates to see if they're wide enough for fatties?
they don't enter through the Pearly Gates. they enter through the handicap ramped gate via their Rascals.
I watch Anderson Cooper (doesn't everyone), but sheeple, there is no heaven, no god, and in fact, I don't exist either.
I post, therefore I am.
To Craig Gross. As far as your lesbian friends are concerned, they are in more need of the church than your "fat" friends. It's not the righteous that need to hear and understand the word of God but the sinner.
Someone missed the point
Sounds to me that his gay friends are doing just fine with your church. In fact, his fat friends who actually go are probably dangerously close to death from heart disease. Funny how things work, huh?
I have a short story for everyone:
Chuck Colson, implicated in the Watergate scandal during President Nixon’s administration, pointed out the difficulty of several people maintaining a lie for an extended period of time.
"I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, and then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world – and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.
You don't know that the 12 men said anything of the sort. What they supposedly said wasn't even recorded until years later, Rain.
If all you have is the Bible to prove God exists, you lose the case. Not sufficient evidence.
There is a differnece between a lie and a delusion, delusion have no trouble lasting a person's whole life. And as stated above, what Jesus and the Apostles REALLY said is very likely lost forever in antiquity and interpretation.
And OJ still maintains his innocence. BTW, the bible was indisputably written some 50-200 years after the life of JC. Not sure that's the most accurate source of info.
@mack, the bible was put together 50-200 years ago. the actual written word was taken from multiple scriptures written by the Apostles during the period of their lives. multiple books were left out, and it is said to be believed that there are still books yet to be found.