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.
The Silmarillion has a more interesting creation story than the Bible.
Praise the illuvatar!
I have always believed that Jesus preached to accept everyone no matter who they are. I believe if you are a person who tries to follow the Golden Rule will be going to heaven. I do not believe you have to be "born again" since I have been to heaven and am not "born again". My heart stopped during an operation and I had a vision of heaven. I fully expect to be returning when it is my time to go.
I'm sorry but only atheists will go to "heaven".
You don't know a thing about your christian religion. Neither it's history or what actually happened.
Psssst, there is no god so relax and enjoy your life. Religion poisons 'everything'.
I don't have to study religion; I know what I believe- the Gospel according to Nancy
Nancy, that has NOTHING to do with Christianity. If you do in fact care about living a good life, one which abides by the Golden Rule, and one which gives consideration and care to your fellow human beings, then you need to get as far away from theism as you possibly can.
It sounds like you are a good and decent person. Good luck to you! May you find truth and goodness in this, the only life we are certain of.
Believe me I am not a fan of any kind of organized religion
Nancy, pay no attention to these misguided people. For people who believe in nothing, they sure seem to be drawn to every story with a religious component to it. You know the Truth in your heart.
What an amazingly stupid article
I like the article where you can call the hotel and tell them to take the trash out of your room, by trash I am referring to the Gideon bible that's placed there....its garbage. Straight G A R B A G E.
In the New Testament, there were a couple of groups of people who were pretty sure that they had truth figured out, that they knew the mind of the Almighty, and they used that to judge and condemn those around them who did not meet their standard of "holiness," often declaring who would, and would not, be able to enter into heaven. They were the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Christ had some pretty harsh words for them. Wonder what he'd say to the people who exhibit the same behaviors today?
they might be labelled as wolves in sheep's clothing.
LOVE the Lord Your God with your ALL and your NEIGHBOR as YOURSELF – Your Neighbor being those left BEATEN by the Side of the Road – The Orphan, the Widow and Those in PRISON – Those who are HUNGRY and Those Need Medical Care. For to help the LEAST is to Serve the CHRIST. If WEALTH is your Burden like an Over-Loaded CAMEL you may find it DIFFICULT to Pass through the Narrow Way into the KINGDOM. You CLING so TIGHTLY to What YOU have and What YOU hold DEAR that you cannot see JESUS in the EYES of someone who is NOT Just Like YOU.
it is an absolute shame to call that hypocrite a pastor. he hasn't a clue.
That's one opinion. Another is that it's an absolute shame to call you a human.
Wonderful article. People forget.....do not judge, lest ye be judged.
That's only partly true. Read 1 Corinthians 5:12 where it says, (NLT) It isn't my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.
So what do you think he's trying to say...hmmmmm seems so hard to decipher?
Oh, and let's also not forget......"Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone." It's pretty much as simple as that.
"It isn't my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. "
The Biblical condemnation of homosexuality is based on human ignorance, suspicion of those who are different, and an overwhelming concern for ensuring the survival of the people. Since the Bible regards homosexuality as a capital crime, it clearly assumes that homosexuality is a matter of free choice, a deliberate rebellion against God. We have learned from modern science that people do not choose to be gay or straight; hence it is neither logical nor moral to condemn those whose nature it is to be gay or lesbian.
Yes, and don't forget the one where we're reminded that we will be judged by the standard with which we judge...whew we'd better be careful!
@Praise – so your savior is Paul (or an author of a letter who claimed to be Paul), and not Jesus? Interesting to see who's words you give more weight to. I'm guessing you cherry pick which passages fit your current outlook the best.
"Yes, and don't forget the one where we're reminded that we will be judged by the standard with which we judge...whew we'd better be careful!"
That's why you'll be in hell for lying about gays while fueling the hatred and bigotry towards this group.
So Janet, by your logic you're saying that modern science supercedes the intelligence of God? Really? I think modern science has shown that we don't have a clue.
to Wow: well said–you cherry pick to see what fits your current view. That is the whole story with religion today.
"So Janet, by your logic you're saying that modern science supercedes the intelligence of God? Really?"
It might help if you actually knew what you were talking about. Duh! Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."
PTKJ – oh no, it's much deeper than that. There is no god. No Christian god, no Hinud god, no Islam god, no Buddhist god, no Greek, Roman or Aztec gods. Judging human behavior based upon the presumed wishes of a Bronze Age Palestinian sky-god is the height of inanity in the 21st Century.
I have been to heaven and her name was Irene..will never forget her.....she was heaven.
God does not see one sin as any different than another. It is only man who trying to say this one is worse than that one.
@CRH – then your god sees wearing poly-cotton blends on the same level as murder? That's one messed up god you've got yourself.
As Christian clergy we proclaim the Good News concerning Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons and publicly apologize where we have been silent. As disciples of Jesus, who assures us that the truth sets us free, we recognize that the debate is over. The verdict is in. Homosexuality is not a sickness, not a choice, and not a sin. We find no rational biblical or theological basis to condemn or deny the rights of any person based on sexual orientation. Silence by many has allowed political and religious rhetoric to monopolize public perception, creating the impression that there is only one Christian perspective on this issue. Yet we recognize and celebrate that we are far from alone, as Christians, in affirming that LGBT persons are distinctive, holy, and precious gifts to all who struggle to become the family of God.
In repentance and obedience to the Holy Spirit, we stand in solidarity as those who are committed to work and pray for full acceptance and inclusion of LGBT persons in our churches and in our world. We lament that LGBT persons are condemned and excluded by individuals and institutions, political and religious, who claim to be speaking the truth of Christian teaching. This leads directly and indirectly to intolerance, discrimination, suffering, and even death. The Holy Spirit compels us:
-to affirm that the essence of Christian life is not focused on sexual orientation, but how one lives by grace in relationship with God, with compassion toward humanity;
–to embrace the full inclusion of our LGBT brothers and sisters in all areas of church life, including leadership;
–to declare that the violence must stop. Christ’s love moves us to work for the healing of wounded souls who are victims of abuse often propagated in the name of Christ;
–to celebrate the prophetic witness of all people who have refused to let the voice of intolerance and violence speak for Christianity, especially LGBT persons, who have met hatred with love;
Therefore we call for an end to all religious and civil discrimination against any person based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. All laws must include and protect the freedoms, rights, and equal legal standing of all persons, in and outside the church.
Really, go read Romans 1 and try again. Where do you come up with this stuff?
"Really, go read Romans 1 and try again. Where do you come up with this stuff?"
That is the letter over a 100 pastors signed as an apology to the gay community. By the way Romans 1 was about worshiping a pagan god using sex or did you skip over #23. LMAO! It has nothing to do with being gay.
Ha. Yeah Right, you need to consider changing your name to Yeah Wrong. Where did you find that interpretation, the book of Second Opinions? Plenty of other BIBLICAL content to confirm that it is sin. But the good news is that it is your choice to do or believe however you like. Best wishes!
"Plenty of other BIBLICAL content to confirm that it is sin."
Actually there is none, nowhere in your bible does it condemn the saved loving respectful long term relationship of a gay couple.
LOL this just shows that the bible should be renamed "The Big Book of Multiple Choice".
So VERY true!
Jesus was and has always been jewish, not christian, islam, budhist or any other religion. That being said. Everyone is welcome in heaven. All this bickering and fighting is dumb. God loves everyone.
"God loves everyone."
...some are just more equal than others.
I can appreciate the statement "God loves everyone" but there is only one way into heaven. Jesus pointed that out. God put much the equivalent in the 10 commandments. By the Christian rules, you do not go to heaven without being Christian. I don't get how the simplest of direction can be interpreted any other way... btw: I don't buy any of it.
Yes everyone is welcome to heaven and everyone is invited. But you can not go there by being a good person or by just believing in it. The devil believes but he will be cast in the lake of fire one day. How do you get to heaven? By accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior. You admit your a sinner and believe that Jesus shed is blood for your sin. Then you ask him to be your savior! That's it! If you don't accept him as your savior, you will cast in the lake of fire as well because you have not accepted his free gift.
Did god love the innocent egyptian infants when he murdered them?
You really believe that "accepting Jesus Christ as your savior" is more important for getting into heaven than being a good person? Your God is vain....
"If you don't accept him as your savior, you will cast in the lake of fire as well because you have not accepted his free gift."
So this "free gift" is conditional on accepting Jesus as your savior, or master(?), and the consequence of not accepting is eternal torture in a lake of fire (technically that's extortion.) This hardly sounds like a gift, let alone a free gift.
Drstrangepork: that is a bizarre perspective. If a christian misreads his bible, is he the only one to go to heaven? If a buddhist follows what god said to buddha is he a sinner? If a devout Hindu worships God with all her heart and mind, will God caste her into a fiery pit for all eternity? Don't be a child. What is wrong is your ridiculous interpretation of the bible, not God.
An infant is not accountable as well as a small child. When they reach an age of understanding then accountability come in. Some way with people that were born with a mental illness. They can not be accountable so thus they will go to heaven. As for the good works gets you into heaven. No. Your a fool if you believe you can go to heaven without Christ help. Faith with out works is vain. If you think you can use God as a fire escape from hell and then live a life of sin, you are in for a rude awakening. And second if you really believe that he DIED for YOU.....why would you not live for him? It just makes sense. So if someone says they got saved And there is not a change in there way of living, then I don't believe they truly got saved. Or else they would live for Jesus with a life of Thanks.
"What is wrong is your ridiculous interpretation of the bible, not God."
Why quibble, why not just a 'ridiculous God'?
At Ethan – you totally missed the point. Your 'all powerful' god murdered a bunch of innocent children in an unsuccessful extortion attempt. Please explain the context in which murdering children as a coercion tactic is loving.
What jesus, I submit he didn't exist. There is no evidence anywhere of the existence of the one you call Jesus. There are no writings by him and there is no one that is a contemporary of his that acknowledges him by name in any writings. None of the writers in the bible were any of his 12 disciples. Paul, who never met Jesus is the one who lays out all the rules of christianity and there is a reason for this, bet you all don't know what it is.
Man is doomed to hell because of sin. The only way to pay for sin is to spend an eternity in hell. Jesus paid for that sin by taking the punishment for you. This is how God shows his love for us. John 3:16 for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
It all comes down to men love there sin a little too much.
Can't answer my question, can you, Ethan. Way to avoid the hard stuff.
Your god isn't loving. He's sadistic. He created everything, thus he created that lake of fire for people who didn't play by his rules. Your god chooses to allow people to suffer infinitely for finite crimes. That's only loving in the same way an abusive parent claims to love a child while beating them for not perfectly following the rules they made up.
Your one of those idiots who probably has the kid that screams and throws himself on the floor in walmart because he you didnt give him everything he wanted at the moment.....or was one of them. " oh no jonny please dont do that. please get off the floor.....please dont throw that. jonny please dont do that. oh well i guess he can have what he wants." hes 4 years old. he dont get to decide that until hes out of your house. you brought him into this world, why wouldnt he obey you when your taking care of him. feeding him. wiping his butt. taking care of him when hes sick. thats your job as a parent. what kind of an idiot allows there child to continue to disobey them.
And would you consign your child to ETERNAL TORTURE for not loving you?
Epic Analogy Fail. A parent disciplines a child so that the child will correct the behavior and learn. God punishes after the fact when there is no chance to correct behavior. That's a truly awful comparison. The christian god punishes simply for the sake of punishment.
I've often thought the same thing. The problem is we start listening to people instead of God. Pretty soon thereafter we become religious, then our relationship with God and what he REALLY is saying to us disappears into a cloud of laws and judgement.
That is a fair statement. God is one thing and religion is another.
"The problem is we start listening to people instead of God."
Sorry, I don't understand. How do you listen to God?
Try looking at it this way. God created gay people. He wants them to be happy just like everybody else. If you don't let them into your church, then you are going against God. That's it. That should end all discussions about these idiotic gay issues. Who cares what the Bible says. God did not write the Bible, men did. God creates people. Respect all of them, no matter who they are.
Thank you, Brian. I love how you explain, in depth, how you are right, and don't just say that someone is wrong without backing up any evidence of it.
Yoshi, you are 100% RIGHT. I find it very sad that people don't want to accept this very simple fact. The ones who scream like banshees and tell us that God hates GLBT's are frighteningly anti-gay and anti-Christian.
When? When? When? When will people ever understand that no one deserves to go to heaven and that everyone deserves hell? We are saved by grace and grace alone. You admit your a sinner and you believe Jesus died on the cross for your sin. That he arose the third day and you accept him as your personal savior. That's it! Anyone can go to heaven. But you don't make it there by being a good person. Only by the shed blood of Christ are we saved and through repentance and grace we are made whole. You can be assured of your salvation people.
What does this have to do with being gay?
"no one deserves to go to heaven"
"We are saved by grace and grace alone."
"You admit your a sinner and you believe Jesus died on the cross for your sin. That he arose the third day and you accept him as your personal savior. That's it! Anyone can go to heaven."
Wait, I thought it was "grace and grace alone"? Now you're saying that it is grace and belief and repentence and acceptence. So it is being a "good person," by believing, etc., that gets you into heaven and not grace alone.
By Gods grace he has offered a free gift of salvation. You obtain that gift by accepting Jesus as your savior. How can you accept him as your savior if you don't believe in him and how can you not repent when you realize he died for you?
This is mythology that was made up thousands of years b.c.
If you have to do something to "obtain a gift" then it's not a gift, is it?
Why doesn't God simply "save" all who die?
If God refuses to let even ONE good person into heaven on the grounds that he's not Christian, I will start the rebellion that overthrows him.
I never realized how much work it must be for people to believe. Tell me something. How do you accept a free gift that someone is giving you? You reach out and take it. God can not force you to accept it. He gave man a will. You have to choose to accept it. Sounds a little bad when you say why doesn't God just save me. Why do I have to do anything.
A gift is not free if not accepting the gift results in an eternity of torture.
"How do you accept a free gift that someone is giving you?"
- Are there any other imaginary, fantasy gifts that you accept?
- This is not a "free" gift - one must relinquish logic, reason and reality to believe it. Perhaps those are not important to you and are easily forfeited.
- "Free gift" ? In contrast to a "gift" that you pay for?! It's a redundant, ignorant phrase from tabloid ads.
someones giving you something. you dont get it unless you reach out and take it. duh
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. James 4:4 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him. John 3:36
Says someone who likely has no friends.
What does 'friend of the world' mean, anyway – just someone who doesn't have the same outlook as you do?
I think you mean someone living in a fantasy world. Texas hasn't been a "Republic" since, what, 1844?
Scince there is no heaven or hell, isn't it a moot point?
This has to be the most stupid argument I have ever seen posted. I don't think people in America know how to think any longer and use solid reasoning........and that goes for those that call themselves pastors as well. I am a person who believes in Christ.
How so? I thought he did a good job of using scripture to back up his point. Could you explain a little more about why you think this is a stupid argument? I like Jesus too.
I think this question has gotten all muddled up. Lets separate it into two categories. Are you a believer in the Christian faith or are you not? Christianity condems many things, not just h o m o s e x u al i t y. In the Christian mindset many natural things like lust, jealousy, selfishness, premarital s e x, and h o m o e x u a l i t y are condemned as sins. In the Christian worldview everyone is born with genetic predispositions or tendencies such as anger, h y p e r s e x u a l i t y, or h o m o se x u a l desire. The goal is to control these parts of yourself in order to align with the teaching of the Bible because man is in a "fallen" state and should aspire to be like Christ. If you are a Christian then abide by the rules of your religion. If you are not a Christian then don't because it doesn't matter to you.
Belief is simply trusting in that for which there is no proof. Belief in God or belief in the nonexistence of God is still belief. God's existence cannot be proven (people have tried and no one accepted it as absolute) or disproven (you cannot prove a negative). Christians need to stop trying to force others to abide by the same rules they do and athiests need to stop bashing people for choosing to believe something.
Did you actually just compare anger to homosexuality?!? Wow. Here's a question for you – anger's negative affects on the self and others is visible and obvious: what harm does homosexuality cause?
You must not have understood my post. Literal interpretation of Christianity condemns many things. No one has the right to criticise another religion unless it is harming other people. Christians believe that h o m o s e x u a l i t y is wrong. That is what they believe, I am not asserting it is right. I am just saying we need to respectfully disagree with each other if possible.
I am not gay, but I also don't respect people that judge others based entirely upon some ancient text that also happens to condemn, for example, poly-cotton blends. You should have to use an ancient mythological text to defend your morality.
Some xtians use to argue (correctly, if one actually reads the book) that slavery is moral according to the bible. Should that view be respected as well?
Yes, we get into heaven or go to hell one at a time: "You got to wallk that lonesome valley, you got to walk by yourself. Ain't nobody else can walk it for you, you got to walk it by yourself," Carter Family, 1931. God' covenant with the Jews was between Him and a group. His new covenant is with individuals, not Christians as a group.
@wow: what harm does h o m o s e x u a l i t y cause?
Just off the top here's 3:
1) Gay Bowel Syndrome
2) Higher-than-average AIDS infection rate
3) Higher-than-average Hep-C rate.
Prob more, but these are 3 of the biggies.
If being gay is a "sin", it;s the ONLY sin that is God-given, innate, and harms no one at all. Doesn't that seem like an odd kind of sin to you?
"Just off the top here's 3:
1) Gay Bowel Syndrome
2) Higher-than-average AIDS infection rate
3) Higher-than-average Hep-C rate.
Prob more, but these are 3 of the biggies."
Here I'll use your stupid logic.
Top 3 for Straights
1) Cardiovascular Disease is the world’s number one killing disease. About 29.34% of annual worldwide deaths are cause by this disease.
2) The second deadliest disease in the world and represents 23.04% of annual deaths worldwide is Infectious and Parasitic Diseases. .
3)Ischemic Heart Disease represents 12.64% of annual worldwide deaths.
Oh and by the way 70% of AIDS are spread by straights. Duh!
"Christians believe that h o m o s e x u a l i t y is wrong."
The experts have proven them wrong. Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."
African American heterosexual males have a higher incidence of disease as well when engaging in heterosexual sex. Do you also argue for banning marriage for black heterosexual males?
Fail. Try again please.
Straight poor people also have a higher rate of STD's. Perhaps @b4 would like to prevent poor people from having sex as well.
Or mabye, @b4, you could come up with actual harmful reasons, not easily preventable ones that apply to everyone anyway.
@b4 – still waiting here ....
If angels are androgynous, then being gay or straight would not matter in Heaven. Just be happy you made it!
I gotta say, I'm sick and tired of celebs coming out and the world crumbling around because of it. Who the hell cares that he is gay. Let's focus on the good he has done in his lifetime. If he ever did.
Sean, you are an award winning idiot.
Only Mormons and Saddam Husein get into heaven. That's already been established.