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.
Another spiritually bankrupt author...
There's no such thing as "spiritual" or "the holy spirit," so it's just people who have opinions you disagree with. If there was a "holy spirit" more of the people that claim to have it would be in a lot more agreement over god's nature and will. Saying that god is on your side and not theirs is the same logic that terrorist suicide-bombers use. Nice.
Prayer changes things .
how do you know?
Prayer changes things
Prayer changes lives
Not that I know of, and the fact that you repeat it, does not make it any more true.
You say it is proven and I am asking if you have a reliable study that can attest to your claims.
Of course not. It is totally irrational to believe in an organized religion. That is why you need to have faith. With faith you can accept as truth that which is totally irrational.
Millions of people over thousands of years have met the living God in life changing prayer. Not enough evidence for you? God bless
Nope. Do you accept all the claims of alien abductions? Same principle.
just sayin, how many different gods did they meet exactly, or was it just the one you are trying to prove?
Even if prayers did work, which they do not as far as I know, they still wouldn't prove the existence of your god.
Anyhow, I was wrong when I said that prayer does not affect people–it does. In fact, you can look up the Harvard prayer study (web.med.harvard.edu/sites/RELEASES/html/3_31STEP.html)
I have not met any aliens, I have met the living God, not the same principle at all. God bless
Was he wearing pants?
So you are the name thief fascinated by pants. We might have known. God bless
That may be all and well for you, but there's no reason for anyone else to accept your premise based on your word, or the word of any other believer.
So you're accusing me of stealing a name? Whose name?
Why are you such an ugly person if God makes you so happy?
You outed yourself, now methinks thou dost protest a little too much. God bless
And now you've lied again, when you claimed this little exchange happened in a different thread. You lied. You will lie about others, and you lie about God. You are liar.
YEAH.......try telling that garbage to a grieving mother...................Jacka$$.....Keep your prayers away from my family or I'll get a PFA against your God....
If you believe in God and the bible you also believe Gods judgment is final there will be no debate about it.No one will say I think you are wrong this is the way it should be.
I dunno. You take out all the fat christians and there's not that many left in some parts of the country.
Take out all the qu eers as they spread AIDS, there won't be any of them either.
Let me guess, you thought you actually said something clever when, in fact, you didn't even make sense. Retard.
right back at you. I could not have described your comment better.
I dont know if any of this is true, I just trust what ever the people in Salt Lake City tell me. I cant think for myself.
Prayer changes nothing.
Prayer changed my life ! Praise God
His views are Biblically sound so people who agree with Biblical Christianity will support his position. Those who reject the Bible will reject his views. No resolution is to be had between those who follow the Bible and those who reject it. And the beat goes on... as it has for thousands of years.
xcept that he doesn't get to say who is and isn't going to make it. Other than that your right...
Cant we all just get along? Cant we all just live and let live? Why do we force our thoughts and beliefs on others? If you're an athiest, keep being that and don't force it on others. If you're a christian, keep doing that and don't force it on others or expect others to be interested in it because you are. Amen.
Beliefs matter. Beliefs have behavioral consequences. What YOU believe matters to ME. I have seen enough people hit the wall at 400mph to know to stop pretending that belief is a personal matter.
Adam-What great justification to try to force your idiotic beliefs on the rest of us. You believe what you want and leave me out of it.
Explicate yourself Jim.
If you believe that if someone sneezes near you, that that action is an attempt by a supernatural agent of nefarious motive to eat one's soul, and the only way to prevent it is to immediately smother the sneezer.... THAT BELIEF MATTERS. Beliefs matter insofar as one ACTUALLY believes what one SAYS to believe. I want to know who ACTUALLY believes that, as that effects me, my family, my community, my country, and my species. This person's "idiotic" beliefs necessarily foist themselves upon others, yet you chastise ME for having the honesty to admit that not all beliefs are created equal? I don't know WHAT you are getting at, but I would be willing to listen to you try to clear up your flippant dismissal. Thank you.
Gregory Adamson, are you saying that we shouldn't openly discuss ideas because some people are too sensitive, insecure or weak to challenge their own beliefs?
If you're a qu eer keep AIDS to yourself. Too late on that one Gregory. Qu eers the folks that gave the world AIDS.
Gregory Adamson, Do you honestly believe beliefs can be forced on someone? People either accept information and therefore believe it or they do not. Have you ever really thought about it? Could someone force to believe that gravity doesn't exist, or that the sun is blue?
I can understand the fear of losing yourself in someone else's beliefs. That comes from not truly knowing yourself, or having a firm grounding in the the truth. All you need to do to find freedom from that is accept truth, no matter what form it may take. Then it doesn't have to be personal opinion, rather it can be empirical.
Love does no harm to one's neighbor. If two people love each other, then they do no harm, therefore they need not be judged. God does not need humans to do, not do, say, not say anything. Humans are so full of their own self righteousness, telling others how to live. Humans need God, they need connection, they need love. So, regardless of the details of one's belief system, love is really the only command of God. Love one another. Period.
gods are not real.
What you refer to as "love" is nothing more than biology. As if thats not enough , there is also no god.
Trust me... I'm the devil.
Just another religous guy passing his judgement. Nothing new here. The only issue is that if there is a god, then god will decide who wins and who loses at the pearly gates. I do like his inclusanry stance about gay people, even as he vilifies overweight people but the bottom line remains, he doesn't get to choose.
I just know that God allows Mass Debaters in heaven, how do you think he keep's his gates so pearly...?
you have failed.
Fail-FUnny, you are the one who is calling himself "Fail".
yeah, that's totally hilarious............
Fail-And just plain smart too. One word arguements always win the day...
Seems like everyone is up in arms about whats going to happen to you when you DIE....You should be more concerned about living in the present...thats hard enough....
Anderson Cooper rocks as a journalist and speaker. I don't care what his orientation is.
While it think it is great to point out the hypocrisy of religion, I find it troubling to once again see someone who is supposedly an educated, rational thinking person regurgitate a corrupted, mistranslated, outdated, book written by a bunch of long dead men in bathrobes and edited by rich old men as the "word of god".
And now, you feel better I bet for expressing yourself... of course, till the next CNN religious article pops up.
.........Looks like some of have different addictions to feed....
It's unfortunate that you feel this way. One day you'll have to account for your comments and blatant denial of the Bible and of God. This is a simple truth.
Your so lost- You are another "religous" zealot passing your opinion as the word of god. Sorry to tell you but if there is a magic spirit gohst in the sky, his book says he makes the choice, not you
"One day you'll have to account for your comments and blatant denial of the Bible and of God. This is a simple truth."
No it's not a simple truth because there have been hundreds of gods, various religious books but it doesn't mean this one is any more true than Mithra! All hail Mithra All hail Zeus!
@Your [sic] so lost,
"One day you'll have to account for your comments and blatant denial of the Bible and of God. This is a simple truth."
And your verified evidence for this is....?
(also, what's your excuse for using "your" when you mean "you're"?!)
Yes Alicia, that is what one does in the comment section. They comment. As for addictions, do you know the meaning of the word Irony? As far as simple truths.... Apparently they arent so simple. You may believe you belong to the "true religion". A few million others think they do. And yet a few million more think you are both wrong. What about the millions of people that were born and died prior to your so-called saviors birth? Are they just out of luck? Do you really think you, of all the billions that have inhabited the earth, you, have figured it out. Only you and people like you have seen the "truth". Everyone else is misguided. If you really believe that, then its no wonder you are so easily led around like sheep by those who would shield you from reality.
@Your [sic] so Lost,
I thought so.
Next on CNN Will their be gay people in Narnia?
I think it's already full of them. I just reread the stories as an adult and most of them are pretty gay.
Try a little harder to shape your religion into what you want it to be.
It's like the game's we used to play as kid's where the biggest kid gets to make up the rules of the game. If they are a little overweight they are going to choose non-running or less athletic rules to win, if they are taller it's likely going to be something that involves jumping and grabbing something, whatever will give them an edge versus the competltion. With religion, the white guy see's god as a white guy with white hair reaching out a hand to help out white guys everywhere. People self identify with their God figures because it makes it easier to believe you are important and special in this universe and thats a nice feeling, just like winning a childs game. But is it truth? Is it real? Not a single scrap of substantial evidence exists to support the supernatural God theory, but neither is there evidence supporting the theory that in a game of tag the jungle gym is "safe", it's just an assigned property to explain how we humans want to play our games...
You can ditch Christianity/Judaism/Islam/Mormonism/etc. & join my god – she accepts everyone & yes, you will be in heaven!
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.
SORRY, As a Buddhist, there is no 'god'. Buddha NEVER claimed the existence of a god, it negates the entire reason to be a buddhist as you will never reach awakening with thinkning of a 'god' in the conventional sense. Buddhists are concerned with the true nature of reality, not whether or not a GOD exists.
And you know this as a fact, how?.... you must have enlightenment that none of us do.
Alicia, what are asking about specifically?
According to the GOP and the Taliban, only the 1% will get into Heaven
The GOP AND the Taliban? What's the difference?
Do you know why all kids – like the ones on the soccer team mentioned herein – automatically go to heaven? It's because they've not had enough time to seriously take up sides against each other's prejudices. During their youth, we use religion to guide them, but as they begin to grow up, we switch our guidance over to our political beliefs. We pick and choose the parts we use on them. But they know what we're doing, and they know something is up with that. Once they are grown, they come across people who absolutely hate each other for a plethora of reasons. After they realize it's all due to politics and religion, they know they must take sides and most do so. Then, their automatic ticket to heaven is automatically withdrawn. Human adults are so mixed up and full of judgmental crap, it's no wonder we all want to see everyone unlike our own selves get sent straight to hell.
I still remember my Presbyterian Sunday school lessons on this particular subject. In all his wanderings and talks, the ONLY thing Jesus ever told people they might be cast out of his Father's house for was failing to care for the poor, the sick and the hungry. Even if we can repent all the bad things we do in life and be forgiven for them, where is it written that we can repent and be forgiven for all the good things we failed to do in life? I don't remember ever seeing that anywhere in the Bible.
So, genek, done that animal sacrifice yet this week that your bible demands of you ? Your Jesus said those naughty bits from the OT still apply, so go get that goat and knife it soon or you might not get your heaven ticket.
Seriously, just toss the bible and follow the Golden Rule, and the world will be a better place for it.
James 4:17 identifies the not doing good as sin [So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.]
And Romans 14 says that any action that is not from faith is sin.
First John 1:8-9 is clear, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
So sin is not just doing wrong, but also not doing what is right. What a wonderful truth that I can confess not just my faults, but also my inability to do enough good to merit the mercy and grace of Jesus.
Seth-I find it sad that you need a magic book to tell you that yhou should do good because you want to "merit mercy". Most of us do what is right because it is the right thing to do, not for our own self interest. This shows the utter hypocrasy of most religions in general and Christians in particular.