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.
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?....................................... You have got to be kidding me. You dummys know gays dont go to heaven. Read your Bible.
why would they read the bible when they spend so much time and money having others tell them what to think?
It also tells you not to jugde. If you truley felt they were sinning you'd welcome them with open arms to the church the same way they try to invite every other kind of sinner.
The bible also says you should love your neighbor. if you feel people truley need god in there life. If you truly respect the idea that Jesus considered all men equal, and all sin and all need to hear his word, you would invite them, not try to shame them.
What makes the Bible more accurate than any other religious text?
if you take the bible literally heaven is going to be a very empty place
You go to church.... stop doing that and everything becomes so much easier.
church (crutch) is nothing more than drivel concocted to steal tax free money from fools! END OF STORY!
Racist writer. This is terrible and can not believe this made CNN. You sound like a satanist not a member of a religious community. Thanks for your opinion.
Isn't a satanist part of a religious community?
Do you know what "raciest" means?
I just wish Mr. Gross, as an author and a journalist – would have more respect for the english language. The word 'Truth' has a specific meaning. Reality. Fact. Something that can be Proven.
I don't mind you having religion. I mind but would not stop you from espousing it. But stop the false advertising. The Bible is Not Truth. It is a story. It is the source of a Belief. A Theory even. A Book (or set of books without continuity or style but I'm not one to nitpick). A Dogma.
Even, if you must – the Inspired word of God. But it is not Truth.
Please don't make that word meaningless by having it apply to something for which there is zero proof.
Good point...I have always been annoyed by the religious hijacking of the word "truth" to help provide a false buttress for irrational beliefs. I think of a belief in God as more of a "hypothesis" than a "theory." It is a guess that demands further inquiry and experimentation to attempt to prove or disprove. Unfortunately, further inquiry or experimentation is almost never done. "Theory" is also a scientific word that has been used and abused by the religious "truthers." A scientific theory is about as close to "fact" as we can get. Although, science always allows for the possibility of improvement or correction of a theory. A religious "theory" is a contradiction in terms b/c there is no evidence or experimentation that can prove or disprove it. Only the human espousing it with a false sense of certainty.
I liked the piece for highlighting christian hypocrisy but was shocked as I read on.
: "All are forgivable in Christ and, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, can be changed. Just remember that change does not happen overnight."
The writer has gay friends he too ashamed to take to church and he hopes that with love and a dose of church over time gay people can be cured. I feel we have met the biggest christian hypocrite ever. I just hope with love and a dose of church and of course lots and lots of time he is cured!
One thing is for certain, Mormons are blasphemers and will not be allowed in heaven. Oh, I'm sorry. Mormons believe they will go to planet Kolob when they die.
I believe that when we die, all the electric signals that our body had produced coagulates into the sky with all the other electrcial energy from all other life forms. That energy is released during thunderstorms & put into other lifeforms so instead of Heaven, we live in a soup of life.
Prove me wrong.
Animals don't survive lightning strikes.
There is no possible way fat people can get into heaven. Heaven is supposed to be a beautiful place. Fat people look nasty. How can heaven be heaven if when I get there I have to look at fat people. I'd rather look at g a y people than heifers.
A sin is a sin. Gossiping, lying, speeding, cheating are all sins. One is not any more of a sin than the other. We all sin. Even the clergy. Being gay doesn't keep you from having a relationship with God or keep you from heaven and more than any other sin does. We should focus on our own sins and not judge others. And if you want to get to heaven, accept Jesus as your savior. Pretending you never sin doesn't "earn" you a place.
Speeding is a sin? Really? Isn't a sin something unholy against God? Does God care how fast we drive? Did he specifiy this one somewhere? I seem to recall leaving to Ceasar that which is Ceasar's... Speeding seems to me to be in that realm.
Point being – people who need to define God and things that are immoral as sins because otherwise they have no internal moral compass – well, they scare me.
We are all sinners. No one alive can claim not to have sinned. Even clergy are guilty of some kind of sin. The difference is that forgiveness can be earned, depending on your dogma, by accepting that fact and embracing your deity. Accepting the penance they lay out. Doesn't matter if you call him/her God, Yahweh, Allah, whatever. It's all taught the same way, and the beliefs are remarkably similar. Don't condemn others for doing things you don't understand, or you fear, and you will be in a better place.
Only, Jim – if you're a believer.
I can claim to never have sinned. I've made mistakes. But I've never offended some all-powerful omniscient being that created the Universe. I strongly suspect if some such being exists – it is as unaware of my existence as I am of it.
here's a question to the writter.......how about people born with a thyroid problem? they are how "god" created them and they are viewed as "fat" and unhealthy even though they fight it each and every day. so how about them do they qualify for heaven? they are no different than gay people, they were born that way.
He was referring to people who eat too much. Not medical conditions that affect your body type.
But – and I think this is critical – in the Christian worldview, a sin is something you're supposed to repent of, and stop doing. Or at least try to stop doing. Being gay goes a lot deeper than just who I date. It's intrinsic. It's who I am. I'm also female, Scandinavian, a little too altruistic for my own good and quick with a bad joke. I can't imagine NOT being any of those things. In short, I'm not going to repent of my life, or my 17-year marriage to the most wonderful woman in the world. If the Christian god expects me to, well, there just isn't room under his banner for me.
I say if there is a God, it's not the one we've read about. If I were to invision a God, it would be all-inclusive to all it created. But I am nothing. And my vision means nothing. I have a limited perspective, from a tiny planet, part of a young species. Why does God have a punishment? We live in God's design, and this is our fate? I don't want to be in a dimension with one that punishes it's creations. Hey, and at one time, it enjoyed animal sacrafice.
I don't know about fat people or gays in heaven, but I'm sure there will be a special place in hell for all the baggers and birthers.
I think it would have been funny if Obama had said,"You can't prove I DON'T have a U.S. birth certificate."
Craig, you could have made your point with about 500 fewer words. Too much yak, yak, yak.
when I read this networks debauchery, I cringe in desperation. Never has their been a TV NETWORK that could go deeper than Jerry Springer to get its point of ignorance out to the public! CNN is a masterpiece of STUPIDITY!
Do you have anything to back this rant up with? A quote from the article you disliked, or a general message that you took from it that you find so abhorant. I for one found the article interesting. I am an atheist, so I cringe when the author is being dogmatic and insisting that we are ALL sinners who need "God's" help, but I greatly credit him with being willing to think beyond what the organized churches have been pushing for the last millenia, and actually come up with a selfdeveloped principle of faith, which from an outsider seems a lot closer to Jesus's original message than what the mainstream of religion is pushing.
All at once I liked and didn't like the article, but I would hartly find it the contemtable drivel you read. So what set you off?
Thank god for debauchery or you'd have nothing to complain about this morning :p
YEA, at BRC...my 65 years plus tells me that you are black and racist! Why don't u try plugging Tim Geithner's left earpiece up ur sphincter...its in the middle of ur butt and that way we see eye to eye on mddle ground!
For starters, I think this response came from a troll who borrowed the original poster's handle. IF it didn't, then you are either a troll yourself, or you are closed minded to a degree that would make a clam envious.
As for the post itself, wrong on all counts. Young white male who thinks that bigotry of all sorts (including racism) are intentional ignorance, detrimental to our future as a species, adn relaly about the only thing a person can engage in that makes even less sense than religion. Glad to see you've spent those 65 years developing keen an4lytical skills; the fact that you've been around this long yet can still acheive this level of flagrant ignorance pretty much proves my point. As a side not, I have no idea what the second half of your tirade is even supposed to mean. Maybe it's an insult from before my time, if so- "ouch, that really hurt" feel better now?
The older I get the more I wonder how grown adults can still believe in mythology and fairy tales. When I look into their eyes I picture a small child's brain stunted by some sort of barrier to critical thinking and any form of research methodology. It is one of the saddest, most self-indulgent, egotistical things ever instilled in mankind. It is a meme that will circle the earth and seek refuge in the brains of the weakest and least equipped to deal with fear, reason, and common sense. It is like the lottery; a direct tax on the poor and meek-minded.
Whatever you have to tell yourself to make you feel better. Occams razor states its more likely you have personal issues related to Christianity than it is than your theory that the majority of the world have stunted brains. Maybe if you faced the real reasons behind your beliefs you'd realize how absurd those statements actually sound to anyOne who doesn't agree already.
It does make me feel better, but that is just the byproduct of putting all of my beliefs to an equal methodology of critical thinking and scrutiny. Yes, it feels good to have come to a conclusion that has suffered through this scientific process and is closest to the "truth." And yes, I have seen the damage that Christianity has done to many families but I never allow that to affect my methodology...I let the Bible speak for itself! It is a collection of writings that was cobbled together by the Council of Nicea, written by multiple authors, containing collections of parables, stories, fables, myths, rules, laws, petty bigotry, tribal rivalries, lessons in life, morals, etc. that tell a story of a few small bands of nomadic middle easterners. Why would I believe it is all true and worthy of worship? Wouldn't that violate Occam's razor?
I tried to become an atheist, but it didn't work... When I read the Bible, it's just full of life and challenges... Much better than being an atheist... Maybe you think you're enjoying your life because you're young... But sooner or later... There will come a time when you stop and think about life and what's really behind everything else you see and feel around you... God bless us all... 🙂
I'm not young at all. I enjoy my life tremendously. I don't need to have some sky-daddy to explain what science does not yet know; I'm fine with not knowing.
If you do, fine. But you have no business assuming you speak for anyone else, least of all your god.
Rain– Do you know how I know you are being dishonest? Because you say that you "tried" to become an atheist. Not possible. This is an attempt to be clever by a less-than-clever human. There is obviously a lot of baggage in your brain that needs serious thought. Unfortunately, the Bible will not provide you the help that your critical thinking faculties so desperately need. Also, what about the Bible being full of death and destruction? Did you skip over those parts? How many first-born were killed by your God? How many towns razed to the ground? Maybe the Bible is the only book you've read. I suggest you crack open a few History and Science books to start with.
Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. I'm so tired of Christian hypocrites. You wouldn't take your gay friends to church? Why not? Because you'd be embarrassed to admit you have gay friends? Sounds like that's what your church needs – a good dose of the real world! Be a leader; not a follower.
Church is all about following
Yes be a good little sheep. Do as you are told. BAAAH...BAAAH
Sheep are unbelievably stupid creatures.
Follow the instructions the jews who wrote the bible tell you.
Let others think for you...
What a puppet
And living in Scotland does not make you a Scottsman.
fatg people will be in heaven a lot quicker because they die sooner
The hypcrisy. Funny that overweight people are demonized because they don't want to do anything about their weight and there is something they can do about it, but gay people are gay because their brains are wired that way. But now, they're being put in the same category! You pitiful stupid Americans.
Not according to the Bible.
Gay people don't have to act on their desires. Fat people can put down the donuts and gay people can keep their pants on.
Bob is Captain Ass hole/Dodney Rangerfield/herbie.
Michael- And what in the world do all Americans have to do with this? You just blew you credibility. Last time I checked there were 300 million of us with 300 million opinions. Please think of our diversity of opinions and our freedom of speech before you lump us all together.
@ Terri and Bob – being born gay is no more immoral, wrong, or a sin than being born left-handed or black.
Oh...Wait...It wasn't that many years ago that religious nutters said that being left-handed was a sign of the devil, and being black was the mark of Cain.
This is simply one more thing that your god got completely wrong.
I was pointing out that just because someone is gay doesn't mean they have to act on their desires. I'm left handed and I do many things right handed. I prefer my left hand, but it doesn't mean I can't use my right. Just because you're born gay doesn't mean you have to engage in intercourse with people of the same gender. Many people practice abstinence. I'm also not religious. But for the sake of the article if we assume God exists then being gay isn't a problem because you don't have to live in sin. Being gay isn't a choice, but who you sleep with is.