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.
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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.
Gays will go into their own domain.
You better hope so. Over half the country is now obese. I now quote from a factoid I saw at the bottom of the screen on CNN. "If current trend continues, by 2030 60% of the american public will be obese". There ya' go.
Since Jesus said few people will go to heaven (Matt 5).. I guess that means not many Americans! Woot woot!!
Craig Gross, your interpretation (equating being overweight with being sexually immoral in terms of sinfulness) is seriously, seriously in error.
The entire verse in context:
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[b] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit 1 Corinthians 6
Corinthians were attempting to reason that immoral sex (freely available at Corinth), was spiritually neutral because the body needed to be 'fed' in this way, just as the stomach needed to be fed.
"Gluttony" is a sin, but being overweight doesnt mean you are a glutton.
And no, I am not overweight. I am a competitive athlete with a BMI of 26.3
Thanks Chad, that is important context of the scripture cited by the author.
Here's a better question – do rich people go to heaven?
The bible doesn't condemn wealth. Abraham (whether you believe in his existence or not) was wealthy according to the bible but he loved God. Jesus never necessarily condemns riches. He does say it is hard for a rich man to get into heaven, not because of his wealth, but the love for his wealth overcomes his love for God. That is just the biblical truth of the matter. Whether you believe it or not, that is the correct christian stance scripturally. Not pressing this belief on you of course
Abraham, David, Solomon, Noah, Joseph of Arimathaea
Exactly, the Bible doesn't say (as is commonly mis-quoted) that money is the root of evil... it says the LOVE (translation obsession with) of money is... it's not about what you have or don't have, what you do or don't do, that's called "religion". Jesus didn't die so that we could have a "religion". Christianity is about your relationship with Jesus, it's about your heart longing to do His will as you realize that you are a sinner with no power aside from Him.
But what of Matthew 19:24, isn't that quite blunt in its candor?
New International Version (©1984)
Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
That says it is extremely difficult (in the context of the Bible I believe this means in our Nature as people who commonly love money it is extremely difficult... but also in the context of the Bible through Christ all things are possible)
Of course there will be gay people in heaven. The Bible does not condemn h o m o s e x u a l i t y when it is put in historical and cultural context and is read using reason, as Jesus did.
Please include scripture verses to back this up. Thanks!
Jesus said to the self-righteous hypocrites–who thought they were better than everyone else–that those 'they' considered sinners were entering the kingdom of heaven ahead of theml
Atheist Hunter – I can't provide verses that don't exist. The Bible does not condemn h o m o s e x u a l i t y when it is put in historical and cultural context and is read using reason, as Jesus did. If you disagree, please provide verses that you believe condemn h o m o s e x u a l i t y,
So the Bible says it's a sin to be born gay. What if it said it was a sin to have red hair? Would all red-heads be banned from church, unless they shaved their heads? What a cartload of crapola!
"What would happen if we read the Bible and, instead of highlighting certain passages, we took it all for what it is – truth."
As an attorney might say in a court trial ... "Assumes facts not in evidence."
In fact, there is considerable evidence that portions of the Bible are allegories, that is, made up stories to teach certain values. That's hardly the stuff of "truth."
All moral choices are a choice. Who you sleep with is a choice. It is not about orientation it is about choice.
We are all born with a sin nature. We choose our sin that we give in to. Do you feel the same about pedophilia? If not explain?
Actually, it's a sin to be born. Harsh, I know. It’s bad news! The Christian scriptures attest to this condition. Isaiah states that even our righteous acts are as filthy rags (literal interpretation is menstrual rags). Adam's guilt corrupted all of humanity. The second Adam (Jesus the Christ) took away that sin and made a way to remove the judgment of sin (through repentance and faith). That’s good news or gospel.
The bible does not say that it is a sin to be born gay. Notwithstanding the original sin argument.
Will there be gays and fat people in heaven? First of all, you must ascertain whether there's actually a heaven.
When over 2 billion people are confident it exists with absolutely no proof whatsoever, it has to come into the discussion. Then again, if Heaven is real, it better not have any of the religious nutjobs or Hell seems like a lot more enjoyable.
"If we would all see gays as fellow sinners instead of “others,”"
This article made a nice attempt to try to show that religious people cherry-pick, which of course they all do. But it fails from the start because the author, while claiming he has gay friends and would never take them to an evangelical church, still believes that those friends of his are sinners for no other reason than they are gay.
Essentially, like every other indoctrinated religious person, this author falls into the trap of religion that says being gay is like all these other "sins" that you can simply choose not to do. In other words, he's simply perpetuating the "It's a choice" argument.
Nothing new, moving on.
Hopefully this enlightens you (note that I say this not to argue or debate but just to shed light on the true christian position, or what should be) Biblically and spiritually I believe that being gay is a choice but with an asterick. I as a christian believe that we all are sinners by nature including me. Even to this day I am a sinner. But I don't think as sinners we all face the same temptations, I dont have the temptation to be gay. I do however, have a temptation to be very agrressive. When I am angry I want to lash out at people, other people are more conserved. So I would say that we do choose to sin, however we dont always choose what sin we are tempted with. Note: I love gay people and so does Christ. I would never condemn one
Actually the author specifically mentioned ho-mose-xual activity. It is not a sin to be gay. I agree completely with the truthwilliams' reply.
I believe that sin is a manmade concept and that religion uses it to try to guilt gay people into thinking they need to apologize for who they are. You say it's fine to BE gay, but never, ever, ever....ever should you act on that, because THAT is the "sin".
Please. That's just as two-faced as the whole "hate the sin, love the sinner" line. Plus, if you say it's okay to be gay just not to act on it, you're essentially saying that acting on what you are is a sin so by definition you're saying it's a sin to be gay. Just so that's clear.
Which of course means when somebody says they only hate the sin, they're in fact saying they hate the sinner as well.
Humanity is whacked in so many ways- but the most whacked humans work for CNN. If there was a God- which there is NOT- (where is he/ is he Earth God only? does he have board meetings with all the other Gods? if he exists- HE SUCKS at his Job.. and we should immediately elect a NEW GOD..– but He/She/It/ Puppy Dog// Kitty Cat- whatever the heck it is- would certainly tell Craig Gross he did NOT make the team due to the stupidity of this article. It's ok Craig- maybe you can go to Gay Heaven with Anderson Cooper. I hear it's over on the Pink Cloud. Dumb idiots!
js, are you actually that unhappy or was that just BS? Not thankful to be alive or what?
Speeding is a sin? Wow. There's no sin. A God of love cannot "hate" anything; it's an oxymoron. The whole bible is a cherry picked selection to begin with written by men and women, each with their own subjective views and agendas. Four books were picked out of dozens and dozens of gospels to serve the views of Constantine. You don't need to study mythology, study history.
This must be the greatest ignorance of how Scripture was compiled that I've ever read. Yes – study history. And begin by throwing out your Dan Brown books and read real history. A tiny tiny tiny very tiny bit of knowledge (did I mention tiny?) is a dangerous thing.
A loving father with just punishments.
When I posted about a mental illness I was referring to something like paranoid schizophrenia or dementia. These are
very difficult to manage and hard to recover from. I was referring to very serious mental illnesses that rarely ever have
a cure. I apologize for not making that clearer in my post. Have a wonderful evening everyone. GOD BLESS!
If there is a hell, it's populated by hateful, intolerant, bigots, like this author.
YOU DO NOT SEE MANY SKINNY PREACHERSq
I agree, we don't, but we don't see many repented gay people living for God.
I heard Rush will be there, so yeah tubbies teleport to Heaven
I think I'll just get the ticket to Nirvana instead
Someone should tell those performers who play with venomous snakes that in the esoteric doctrine, the word "snake" designates an initiate, in other words someone who possesses secret knowledge. It could save their benighted lives.
Seriously... IF there is a heaven, our bodies won't be going with us.. or do we really think our souls are fat/thin/black/white etc? Why would a God care what we did to our bodies during our time on Earth as long as the spirit housed within was devoted to him? Really, do you think if he exists that he has a log book – "Oh, well, Ginger just had ice cream, no heaven for her".
Utter nonsense – Rev Gross you are scaring the ignorant people.... that's not a kind thing to do ... no heaven for you either!
While i agree with the premise of your argument, i feel you are slightly "off-base" here. While I don't think what you "do to your body" is how you will or won't get to heaven, i think if you truly appreciate what Jesus allowed to be done to His body, then you would take care of your's. It's highly unlikely that you would appreciate what He has done for you, yet do things to your body that show you don't care about it. Now i'm not saying fat people won't go to heaven, because there are numerous reasons why someone would be fat, but I don't believe you can truly say you love the Lord but sit around all day doing nothing and drinking a 12 pack of soda and eating McDonalds everyday. If you love the Lord, you'd want to be a good representative of Him, and try to be Like Him as the Bible says we should. And I don't recall anywhere in the Bible where it says Jesus stuffed himself beyond being stuffed everyday. Again, i'm not saying fat people don't go to heaven, because that's not my call, i'm not God. it's not about what you do or don't do, it's about your heart, and if your heart is focused on Him, then by default you will do what He has commanded us to do.
From dust we were created and to dust we shall return. The body is SUPPOSED to be the TEMPLE of the HOLY SPIRIT. See why God cares for our bodies? Our flesh is self destructive and loves to fulfill the lust of it instead of allowing the Holy Spirit guide and lead us. We are suppose to leave Holy for God is Holy, but again, because of our weakness, we fail God day by day.
I've read the books, and head the sermons (drival included) and the best I can come up with is GOD (by all it's 9 billion names) will hopefully overlook, (forgive my shortcomings) and go on about the business of the universe. Therein is my "faith" and thankfulness. It's been a wonderful life.
The author starts off by criticizing people who cherry pick parts of the Bible, then proceeds to do exactly the same thing.
Why not mention Sodom and Gomorrah from Genesis? Did the Bible ever mention God destroying cities because their residents were all fat? No, it didn't.
CNN needs to get off of a subject that they are clearly incapable of offering an unbiased narrative on. How many of CNN's staff is gay? At last count, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Don Lemon, and Anderson Cooper. That is significantly more than the national average of about 2%.
I respect Cooper's decision to separate his career from his politics, and I wish CNN would stop trying to sell this as something that we should all be concerned about, when in fact it is a minute issue that ultimately boils down to about 2% of people paying 2% less in taxes. The last I had heard, we have a real unemployment rate that essentially makes it so that seven times as many people are making almost zero income...that is a far larger issue, in almost everyone's opinion.
Ahh...I see. So it's cool to discriminate against "2%" (source?) since most people aren't a part of that 2%. I bet if you counted yourself among them your POV would be a little different.
IIf this is a question you are asking then your whole line of thinking is off base. Instead of taking a poll and deciding (for Jesus – as if any of us is qualified to make that decision) why not read and STUDY the Bible for yourself, instead of cherry-picking out of iit what you want to hear to justify your life choices. If you truly STUDY the Bible (not go to church one hour a week or serve the homeless or DO this or that – but STUDY) then you will KNOW the answer for yourself. Christianity is not a "religion", it's not about what you DO. It's about your relationship with the one who died on the cross – and if you have a relationship with Him, as it says in the Bible, the Holy Spirit will convict you of what is right and wrong – but in order to have the Holy Spirit, you must seek the only one who is worth seeking.
It's not about what you DO, but about your heart, and if your heart is in the right place you will seek Him and his Spirit will convict you of right and wrong as you study His Word.
Not really. It's more of, "You do exactly as I say, or I send you to a place of burning and pain and fire and torture for all of eternity." That kind of relationship.
That's not what my Bible says.... and if that's what you believe, then you obviously don't have a relationship with the one who created you and showed you mercy by his act on the cross....
This doesn't sound like he wants to torture me.....
New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
God is a God of forgiveness, if he wanted to "torture" us for disobedience, we'd ALL already be burning in hell... What he wants is for us to change our hearts and repent, and if you do that, then by default, you will do the right things (not all the times, but when you do the wrong thing, you will repent again as his Spirit shows you you are doing the wrong thing. If you love HIm, you won't continue to do the same sinful things.)
Demetrius, if your heart is truly with God, then wouldn't this be reflected in your actions? Or put another way, what is the point of virtue and closeness to God if not to do good works? Doesnt it make sense that God puts us here for this very purpose? Not everyone is given gifts equally. The same is true of the gift of faith.
Mike, is that not what I was saying?
Craig Gross, I agree with you. Everyone is a sinner. If we are not committing se-xual sins (whether hetero or ho-mo) we are committing other sins (like gluttony) which are considered sinful for the same reason.
There is an inconsistency in tolerating the sin of gluttony, but not the sin of se-xual indulgence. There are many other similar examples. Not meaning to contradict your argument in any way, but the truth is that the problem isn't only in pointing out se-xual impurities, but a general blindness to other forms of sin. More importantly, there's a blindness even among believers of the greatness of God. This blindness leads to spiritual pride, a characteristic well loved by the deceiver.
God hates sin more than we do, yet loves us more than we love each other. Our way as religious communities should move in the same direction. However this requires two things. First, patience and love on the part of parishioners recognizing we are in this together, though our journeys are different. Second, coming before the Lord with humility and a desire to follow in His ways.
No, everyone is not a sinner. You think everyone is a sinner. Many people don't subscribe to your biblical definition of sin.
manbearpig, it kind of goes without saying that I am discussing the faith that the author describes. This is all a part of how discussions go among non-trolls. You discuss a topic and not just the particular thing that you want to say that is completely off topic.
Perhaps you don't like the word sin. Maybe you could at least acknowledge that people often do stuff that is not good. Most of these not-good things are pretty self-evident. Often men do not-good even when they start off trying to do something good or they don't realize the full effect of the choices that they make and how those choices affect others. Like lying, cheating, gossiping. These not good things come about due to different reasons – pride, greed, lust, etc. Now are you saying that you don't believe this?