September 19th, 2013
11:01 AM ET

Pope Francis: Church can't 'interfere' with gays

By Eric Marrapodi and Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors
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(CNN) - Pope Francis said the church has the right to express its opinions but not to "interfere spiritually" in the lives of gays and lesbians, expanding on explosive comments he made in July about not judging homosexuals.

In a wide-ranging interview published Thursday, the pope also said that women must play a key role in church decisions and brushed off critics who say he should be more vocal about fighting abortion and gay marriage.

Moreover, if the church fails to find a "new balance" between its spiritual and political missions, the pope warned, its moral foundation will "fall like a house of cards."

The interview, released by Jesuit magazines in several different languages and 16 countries on Thursday, offers perhaps the most expansive and in-depth view of Francis' vision for the Roman Catholic Church.

The pope's comments don't break with Catholic doctrine or policy, but instead show a shift in approach, moving from censure to engagement.

Elected in March with the expectation that he would try to reform the Vatican, an institution that many observers say is riven by corruption and turf wars, Francis said his first mission is to change the church's "attitude."

"The church has sometimes locked itself up in small things," the pope said, "in small-minded rules."

"The people of God want pastors," Francis continued, "not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials."

MORE ON CNN: New interview shows why the pope is so beloved 

The interview was conducted by the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal based in Rome, over three meetings this August at Francis' apartment in Rome.

The pope approved the transcript in Italian, according to America magazine, a Jesuit journal based in New York that initiated the interview and supervised its translation into English.

Advance copies of the interview were provided to several news organizations, including CNN.

Jesuits from around the world submitted questions to Spadaro. Francis answered them with the frankness that has become a hallmark of his young papacy.

To begin the interview, Spadoro bluntly asks, "Who is Jorge Mario Bergolio?" - Francis's name before he was elected pope.

"I am a sinner," the pope answers. "This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.”

The pope didn't mention any particular sins, and Catholic theology holds that all humans are sinners, a consequence of Adam and Eve's original transgression. Still, a pope describing himself foremost as "sinner" is striking.

MORE ON CNN: The pope said what? Six stunners from Francis

Offering new glimpses of his personal life, Francis said he prays at the dentist's office and felt trapped in the Vatican's traditional papal apartments. (He moved to a smaller one in a nearby building.) He has a taste for tragic artists and Italian films and keeps the will of his beloved grandmother in his prayerbook.

But it was the pope's vision for the church's future  - painted in broad strokes - that's sure to rile or inspire Catholics, depending on which side of the church they sit.

Here are some highlights:

On Women

In July, Francis said, emphatically, that the "door is closed," on women's ordination, a statement that disappointed many Catholic liberals.

But that doesn't mean the church should consider women secondary or inferior, Francis said. "The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions," he told Spadora.

Francis also called on Catholics to think hard about the function of women in the church.

"Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed," the pope said. "The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role."

On Homosexuality 

When Francis was a bishop in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he received letters from gays and lesbians who said they were "socially wounded" by the church, he said.

"But the church does not want to do this," Francis said in the interview.

The pope then recalled his comments in July, when he told the media aboard a flight to Rome, "Who am I to judge" gay people?

MORE ON CNN: Pope Francis on gays: 'Who am I to judge?'

"By saying this, I said what the catechism says," the pope told Spadaro. The catechism, the Catholic Church's book of official doctrine, condemns homosexual acts, but says gays and lesbians "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity."

"Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person."

Francis said that someone once asked him if he "approved" of homosexuality.

"I replied with another question," he said. "`Tell me, when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being."

Abortion, gay marriage and contraception 

Some American Catholics grumble that Francis has been largely silent on signature Catholic political issues.

"I’m a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis that he hasn’t, at least that I’m aware of, said much about unborn children, about abortion, and many people have noticed that," Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, said earlier this month.

Francis said that he's aware of the criticism, but he is not going to change.

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods," he told his Jesuit interviewer. "I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that."

But the pope said the church's teachings on those issue are clear, and he clearly believes in those teachings, so what else is there to say?

"It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time," Francis said.

False prophets and quick decisions

Only false prophets claim to have all the answers, Francis said.

"The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt," he said. "You must leave room for the Lord."

But church leaders, including himself, haven't always practiced humility, the pope admitted.

Many of the bad decisions he made while leading Catholics in Argentina came about because of  his "authoritarianism and quick manner of making decisions," the pope said.

That won't happen again, Francis said, as he begins to steer the church in a new direction.

He didn't offer an exact course, but he said change will come. Sooner or later.

"Many think that changes and reforms can take place in a short time," he said. "I believe that we always need time to lay the foundations for real, effective change. And this is the time of discernment."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Culture wars • Gay rights • Pope Francis • Vatican

soundoff (3,625 Responses)
  1. James

    Talk is cheap! The church must be deperate for money! Pope Francis' "welcoming of Gays and Women" IS NOT THE SAME AS ALLOWING EQUALITY!!!!!! There is no change in this declining Catholic Church!

    September 19, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Sara

      There's no change regarding their positions on ethics and sin, but the change in emphasis at this point has an effect on some very real policies. For instance, it has been common for the church to fight for special rights regarding what benefits must be offered to same-s.ex partners and spouses at iits hospitals and universities, or whether birth control should be covered. When a de-emphasis like this occurs on something like ho.mo.se.xuality, you don't see the church marrying two men, but you do see someone's partner getting health insurance when one partner works at the local Catholic hospital. For many people, this is big news.

      September 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  2. Woody

    The human is but a mammal and religion is man made . The Human mammal has been on the planet for about 1,000,000 years . Our religions today are but 2,000 years . All books even holy books were written by none other than human mammals that liked stories from a time the human mammal did not understand science .

    September 19, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Dippy

      Woody, don't put a damn space before every period. It really makes you look stupid. Are you?

      September 19, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
      • Miss P

        Dippy, grammer is hardly what's important here... I am not sure you should be making such a comment with your name.

        September 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Woody: so are ethics also a human-made concoction to be jettisoned when inconvenient?
      why all this clamoring for "rights" if there is no such thing – much less such a thing as justice?

      September 19, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Barry

      I hear what you're saying Woody, but when you make obviously incorrect statements like "religion is 2,000 years old, it makes it tough to follow your argument. Just sayin'

      September 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Chuck

      Clarification: Christianity is 2000 years old. A number have been around for thousands of years before Christianity.

      September 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      That's nice. But those writers weren't trying to do science; they were attempting to address philosophical, ethical and moral issues. And those are all worthy topics that should be addressed.

      Go read the Sermon on the Mount and tell me what you object to in it.

      September 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • conrad

      Religion didn't come into existence with the Bible. And there are more religions than just christianity. I have no doubt that the human experience of spiritual insight has been around as long as humans have. It may not have always resulted in the fomation of a codified religion, but people have been 'spiritual' forever. And even if it were possible to wipe out any trace of religion today ... soon enough a new one would emerge because it isn't based on human imagination so much as it is based on the very real, very human, spiritual experiences that are the basis of most religions in the world.

      September 19, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  3. Melissa

    I like this pope. Mind you, I still consider religion more trouble than it's worth, but this pope has a brain in his head that he actually uses.

    September 19, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Laura

      I'm not sure that religion is the problem – people in general are the problem. There is plenty of trouble caused in the name of religion – but there is just as much caused simply because people are mentally unstable, or just plain hateful.

      September 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  4. Uthor

    This Pope is remarkable. More and more, he seems like a great gift to the Roman Catholic church, and to Christianity in general.

    September 19, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  5. Umm, no

    I'm pretty sure the federal reserve owns the Catholic Church by now. All the elites meet together in secret to collaborate against you stupid sheep. They make deals behind all your backs so they can survive what's coming to this earth. Accepting gays and lesbians won't save you then.

    September 19, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Ed

      Accepting of the person and not their acts. Let he who is among you without sin cast the first stone. No one did!

      September 19, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  6. Lawrence of Arabia

    Does that mean that he isn't going to call out sin anymore? That isn't something to brag about. That's the marks of a false teacher.

    September 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Sometimes, it pays to read the actual article, instead of just looking at the pictures and making a fool of yourself.

      September 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      false teacher – false God....match made in heaven...

      September 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • sam

      FFS go read the entire interview he gave and stop pulling nonsense out of your ass.

      September 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • Momo

      oh please ...

      September 19, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  7. AE

    “The battle for the Bible, of which h-mos-xuality is the last front, is really the battle for the prevailing culture, of which the Bible itself is a mere trophy and icon. Such a cadre of cultural conservatives would rather defend their ideology in the name of the authority of scripture than concede that their self-serving reading of that scripture might just be wrong, and that both the Bible and the God who inspires it may be more gracious, just and inclusive than they can presently afford to be.” - Peter Gomes

    September 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Russ

      @ AE: and yet the same Jesus who ran off the conservative hypocrites told the adulterous woman he was defending from them to "go & sin no more." Seems Gomes & Francis are missing that balance...

      September 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
      • AE

        Do you think that woman never sinned again?

        September 19, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • Disciples

          Do you think the woman continued to live an adulterous life even after the Lord told her to "Go and sin no more"? Where did you find that? Did peter gomes write that?

          September 19, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE: so your argument is that sin is ok because she sinned again?
          are you claiming that's what Jesus wants?
          why then did he die to save his followers (permanently) from it?

          September 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
        • Disciples

          If she continued to live an adulterous life , wouldn't that be disobeying God's word? especially when she was specifically told to 'sin no more'.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
        • AE

          "Do you think the woman continued to live an adulterous life even after the Lord told her to "Go and sin no more"?"

          I don't know. The scripture does not tell us.

          And the scripture also doesn't tell us being gay is the same as that woman living an adulterous life.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
        • AE

          –If she continued to live an adulterous life , wouldn't that be disobeying God's word? especially when she was specifically told to 'sin no more'.–

          We have a God of mercy. Have you ever disobeyed God's word?

          “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment."

          I get angry at people sometimes, despite my best efforts not to. And according to Jesus in God's eye this is sin.

          Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
        • Disciples

          Jesus said, In the beginning he made them male and female, what man has joined together let no man put asunder. Why did Jesus say this? What was the purpose of Him stressing on the sanct.ty of marriage.

          Look, I wholeheartedly believe we ALL are sinners, not one of us is better than the other and without God's grace and forgiveness we will not have eternal life. To be forgiven, I need to accept I am a sinner and repent of my sins. God is the ultimate judge of all mankind, but looking at the scripture it is pretty clear what God intended for the inst tution of marriage as being sacred. Before you jump, I am also against divorce and adultery and for nication and all other the sins.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE: you said "Scripture doesn't tell us that being gay is the same as the woman living an adulterous life..."
          so what do you make of the vice lists in 1 Cor.6:9-11 & 1 Tim.1:9-11?
          and if we aren't called to change, why does Paul say: "such WERE some of you" (1 Cor.6:11)?

          September 19, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
        • Disciples

          One more thing, why do you keep quoting peter gomes? Why are you not quoting Jesus in this post and what Jesus said about this topic?

          September 19, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
        • AE

          But being gay does not equal being se.xually immoral and adulterous. And if one is honestly born gay, how can you call that sin?

          What about people that are born inter-se.xed? They have both male and female genitalia. What does Jesus say about them?

          What does Jesus say about loving others (tax collectors, prost.tutes, gays?)?

          September 19, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
        • Disciples

          "They have both male and female genitalia."

          –I don't think there is a clear answer to that situation, I will not judge a person's right to marry someone who have both male and female genitalia.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
        • AE


          –@ AE: you said "Scripture doesn't tell us that being gay is the same as the woman living an adulterous life..."
          so what do you make of the vice lists in 1 Cor.6:9-11 & 1 Tim.1:9-11?
          and if we aren't called to change, why does Paul say: "such WERE some of you" (1 Cor.6:11)?–

          1 Cor.6:9-11
          "Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse se.x, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit."

          Timothy 8-11
          "It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, s.ex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God."

          (New International Version)

          We are called to change. But trying to force h.mos.exuals to be heteros.exuals is not the kind of change Jesus commands of us.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
        • AE

          Are any of you tempted to sleep with a man, but since your interpretation of the Bible says to not do that, you resist that urge?

          And do you think God is pleased with your resistance to that urge to sleep with a man?

          September 19, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
        • Disciples

          "Are any of you tempted to sleep with a man"

          –What does the Bible say about temptation and giving in to temptation, what about self control and saying NO to temptation?

          September 19, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
        • AE

          Resist temptation to sin.

          I don't have a temptation to sleep with men. Do you?

          September 19, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
        • Disciples

          Some people are tempted to lust, get into a adulterous relationship etc. Temptation is not an excuse to sin.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
        • AE

          Yea, but being gay isn't defined by temptation to be adulterous or based on lust.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE:

          1) you are mistakingly pitting mercy against justice, but the cross holds the two together.
          the cross tells us two things simultaneously:
          a) we are much worse off than we want to admit (I deserve death)
          b) we are much more loved than we ever dared hope (he died *in my place*)

          you are only wanting b) w/o admitting a). yes, Jesus loves the tax collectors – even saying the prosti.tutes will get in ahead of the Pharisees (b/c the Pharisees think they get in by "being good"/self-righteousness instead of by grace). but at no point does that mean Jesus celebrates the evil of prosti.tution OR exploitation (which tax collectors were known & hated for).

          2) "being born gay?" many alcoholics are born with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, does that mean they should say "well, God made me this way. pass me another beer"? Genesis 3 makes it clear: we are all broken in various forms – all effects of the Fall. but blaming God for what we've done to ourselves... well, that's exactly what Adam & Eve do ("it's this woman YOU gave me... it's the snake YOU made...") – and how does God bring the truth to light there?

          3) 1 Cor.6 & 1 Tim.1 are speaking directly to this issue.
          here's a helpful exegetical article: [just take the dots out of "ho.mo.se.xuality" & "prosti.tution"]

          September 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
        • Disciples

          "I don't have a temptation to sleep with men. Do you?"

          –Sleeping "outside" marriage is WRONG.
          –Marriage is between a man and a woman.
          –The only place like I said earlier that I will not judge is people who are born with both male and female genitalia.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE: I don't know what version you posted there, but it's not NIV. it reads much more like a paraphrastic interpretation than a word for word transliteration.

          like i said, read the article. Robert Gagnon is one of the leading scholars on this topic. there's a link in that article to his scholarly piece if you really want to get into the Greek.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
        • AE


          2) But being born gay doesn't mean you live against God. An alcoholic has to decide for himself if he wants to live with the consequences of drinking alcholically or to live sober. The method of using God to get sober doesn't seem to change people's se.xual orientation.

          3) 1 Cor.6 & 1 Tim.1 are speaking directly to this issue of references to temple prost.itution. Religious leaders were sleeping with young males. It wasn't an anti-ho.mose.xuality stance.

          If you are going to be a priest, don't cheat on your wife by sleeping with young male prost.itutes! That doesn't mean you should judge consenting adults love for each other.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE: we are called to change – but the change is not "trying to force ho.mo.se.xuals to become hetero.se.xuals" as you falsely attribute to my position. no, the real issue is our fundamental identi.ty. the g.ay lobby would have us believe that there is nothing more fundamental to your identi.ty than your se.xuality. the Bible not only clearly teaches that is not the case, but it teaches that ANYTHING other than Christ as your foundational identi.ty is necessarily idolatry.

          resist the urge? sure. but that's just window dressing. falling in love with Christ first & foremost... that's the agenda.
          to get that means we don't say "well, i'll be a Christian if you'll let me do ABC..." it's a failing to see what Christianity is. to become a Christian is to realize your real god is whatever comes after that "if..." – and to see Christ's love increasingly become that unrivaled desire of your existence.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
        • AE

          –Sleeping "outside" marriage is WRONG.
          –Marriage is between a man and a woman.
          –The only place like I said earlier that I will not judge is people who are born with both male and female genitalia.

          That's fine. That is not how all Christians feel or believe. We do have gay Christians within our midst, and they pray to and our helped by Christ just like you.

          And they get married under Jesus' name just like you did/will. And Jesus shows up and helps them. Despite of their se.xual orientation or your insistence he is opposed to them.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
        • AE


          You don't need to be a heterose.xual to do that.

          September 19, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE:
          regarding your above responses to me...
          2) you are delineating b/t orientation & action. i can walk that path with you... but you're still missing my point. read my above remarks regarding identi.ty.

          3) you clearly didn't read the article i posted. Gagnon rather exhaustively demonstrates that claiming these passages refer to temple cult prosti.tution is implausible. seriously, go read it.

          September 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE: you said: "you don't need to be hetero.se.xual to do that" – to do what?
          too many threads here. to what are you referring? change?

          September 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
        • AE


          September 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
        • AE

          - what are you referring? change? -

          Yes. Peter Gomes said he was gay. Where did he sin?

          September 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE: instead of engaging the content, you've simply posted a webpage with very thin & overused (and largely poor) arguments. I'm giving you a link to a peer-reviewed biblical scholar. now, certainly you can find other peer-reviewed scholars to press your point, but at some time we'll get down to substance. so let's go there...

          look at Gagnon's responses to your arguments. he gives 15 reasons why this is a bad argument. even just peruse the bold headings. he's exposing your link's poor argumentation – it's anachronistic, it fails to see the plain sense of the text, it fails to see the inter-testamental links (pointing back to the OT), etc. for example, your argument claims there are no external references to "soft" and yet Gagnon gives you citations of just that.

          September 19, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE: watching the link you posted below with Peter Gomes... where did he sin?

          1) he admits Paul had a different view (which you do not) – i.e., 1 Cor.6, Rom.1, 1 Tim.1, etc.

          2) he delineates between Paul's view & Jesus' view – despite the fact that the Bible claims the SAME Holy Spirit that is "the Spirit of Jesus" (Acts 16:6-7) that Jesus sends to remind the disciples (& all believers for that matter) of all he said (Jn.14:26) and guide them into all truth (Jn.16:13). does the same Holy Spirit contradict himself?

          3) now, see how this issue is not merely topical, but interwoven to the fabric of who God himself is? your view of the Holy Spirit (as well as Jesus himself) necessarily is lost for you to hold this position. this is what is so problematic with such exegetical gymnastics: if the same hermeneutic is applied to all of Scripture, you lose the basics of the faith (substi.tutionary atonement, the historicity of the resurrection, the nature of the Trinity, who God is, etc.).

          SUM: in an attempt to bypass these texts, you throw the baby out with the bathwater.

          September 19, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
        • AE

          I prayed on the matter. Trust me. I believe the Holy Spirit has moved me to a church that welcomes gays and invites them to commune with God.

          And Jesus shows up to our services just like He probably shows up to your services.

          September 19, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE: so do you believe the same Holy Spirit that wrote the Scriptures is leading you to ignore them?

          September 19, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE: and to clarify: I also attend a church where g.ays are welcome & invited to commune with God. but that communion includes calling us *out* of our sin into an ever increasingly transformed life with him (2 Cor.3:18).

          to co-opt the phrase: welcoming... without affirming sin.

          September 19, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
        • AE

          so do you believe the same Holy Spirit that wrote the Scriptures is leading you to ignore them?

          No. I simply have a different interpretation than you.

          The same Bible that was used to support slavery in this country, is the same Bible that was used to oppose slavery in this country.

          September 19, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE:

          1) it's not a question of *my* interpretation, but the original author's intent.
          you are elevating your interpretation over the clear intended meaning of the passage.
          that's not *my* interpretation vs. *yours*... that's just poor biblical scholarship.

          2) there is one MAJOR difference between your approach & Martin Luther King, Jr or William Wilburforce... they both appealed TO the Scriptures (which clearly teach that racism is wrong) to challenge cultural conservatives who *claimed* to believe in the Bible. the g.ay lobby does not have that luxury... because (as your Peter Gomes readily admitted) the Bible clearly teaches it is a sin.

          3) which, again, leads to my major concern for you: in order to affirm this method of interpreting the Bible (hermeneutic), you will necessarily – if you are consistent – lose the central tenets of the faith.

          that's not to say "you can't be g.ay & get into heaven" – no, certainly EVERY sinner brought into heaven has equal need of the blood of Christ. but it is to say – g.ay or not – if you read the Bible that way (and are consistent), you WILL necessarily lose the central tenets of the faith (i.e., substi.tutionary atonement, the historicity of the resurrection, etc.). and – unlike the topical discussion of the g.ay lobby – that IS a matter of salvation.

          so, maybe the better question is: do you read the resurrection with that same method of interpretation? do you believe Jesus is *really* the Son of God, lived the life you couldn't, died on the cross, and rose from the grave? or are those things also... just a matter of "your interpretation"?

          September 19, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
        • AE

          1. We don't even have a clear picture of who the author is is some OT and NT books, inlcuding 1 Timothy. Any claim of knowledge of original author's intent is purely speculative.

          It is a matter of *my* interpretation vs. *yours* interpretation. I don't know anything about you. Why should I trust your understanding? I have access to people I see carrying out God's work in helping others.

          God is alive and present today. Not something we simply read about. The Bible that points to God. And makes clear that access to Him is available.

          2. The Bible has very little to say on h.mos.exuality. Jesus says nothing. It doesn't seem like God is concerned about it as much as you.

          3. Right back at you.

          The central tenets of the faith: Jesus saves us. Not our interprataion of scripture (which certainly is not clear about certain subjects). Jesus was clear about helping the poor and trusting in God.

          September 19, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
        • Disciples

          What is your understanding of John 14:6?

          @Russ asked you a question as to whether you believe Jesus is the son of God and you have either ignored to answer that question or you're simply dancing around in circles.

          If you are not a Christian it is ok, just don't wear the cloak to deceive yourself.

          September 19, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
        • AE

          Yes, Jesus is the son of God. I wasn't avoiding the question, I thought it was pretty obvious I worship and follow Jesus.

          John 14:6

          Jesus knows the way to the Father. And through Jesus we can know the way to the Father, too.

          September 19, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
        • AE

          John 14:6

          Jesus was answering Thomas, who was seriously doubting and completely confused about what Jesus was doing.

          Thomas asked him: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

          Jesus answered Thomas question with: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

          And then He went on to say he would leave the Holy Spirit to guide us.

          He didn't say anything about the Bible, Paul or h.omos.exuals though.

          September 19, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE:
          1) you are dodging again. biblical scholarship is not such a subjective field that you can simply toss it aside that way.

          a) in terms of scholarship (including higher critical scholarship), no one contests that 1 Corinthians is Pauline. ALL of the elements of the faith that you might question in the supposedly pseudonymous sections of Scripture are redundant with portions which NO ONE contests as authentic.

          b) you are misunderstanding authorial intent. EVEN IF we didn't know who the author's were (and I'm not conceding that premise for a moment), we still know the authorial intent. and that's not a matter of subjective debate – especially on the essentials of the faith (since they are so repeatedly & thoroughly covered). take a parallel from basic literary scholarship: even anonymous writings discuss clear authorial intent.

          c) i'm not asking you to "trust my understanding" – i'm challenging you to actually do some reading. scholarship is not a matter of "what do i think it says" but a complex, comprehensive & relatively (contextually speaking) exhaustive pursuit of the immediate author, audience, purpose & meaning of a text. again, take a parallel from literary scholarship. and note: there are literally libraries written on this stuff. but you're acting as if it's all just "my interpretation vs. yours." it's an ostrich with his head in the sand approach.

          d) yes, he's alive today. but how do you know that? where are you getting your information? your whole argument here is question begging. access is available, but ONLY through certain means – not just whatever you want it to be.

          2) the subject of this article is ho.mo.se.xuality: hence my focus on it here. but i think i made it pretty clear in my last entry above that my primary concern for you is NOT your view of ho.mo.se.xuality but your underlying hermeneutic (method of interpreting Scripture). it's not the hot topic that is so disconcerting – it's the underlying approach that will NECESSARILY (assuming you are consistent in how you read the Bible) lead to the loss of central tenets of the faith.

          and your assumption is wrong: it's like people saying Jesus didn't talk that much about abortion – and yet life was constantly a subject on his lips. it's the same with marriage on this topic. no, he doesn't discuss all the deviant forms of our fallenness – but by hitting the main POSITIVE statement of what something is meant to be, you deal with all the mistaken notions of it.

          but just put your own reading here of Jesus to the test: if only what Jesus talks about is what's wrong, did Jesus talk about pedophilia? or is that what he meant by "let the little children come unto me"? see how ridiculous such a read on Scripture is? but that's where your line of logic leads.

          in short: Jesus speaks directly to this issue when he repeatedly talks about marriage. but again – unlike you – I believe the Holy Spirit wrote ALL of Scripture (not just the Gospels... which were ALSO written by disciples... like Paul, whom you eschew). your main problem is not your view of ho.mo.se.xuality, but the underlying way you have to read Scripture to dodge such clear teaching.

          3) right back at me? i have no qualm affirming all the classical, orthodox teachings of the Christian faith – because they are *biblical.* you are acting as if you can simply pick & choose. and worthy of note: interpretation DOES matter to Jesus. note well what he says in John 5:39-40 to the Pharisees (who think the OT is not about him): Jesus is highly perturbed because the way they read Scripture (their hermeneutic) leads them to think they are saved when they are not!

          September 20, 2013 at 10:17 am |
        • AE

          -he's alive today. but how do you know that?-

          Not just from reading a book. His Holy Spirit guides me. Not your understanding or academic studying of the Bible.

          Why does Jesus show up for me in the exact same way He must show up for you? Just like He promises in Holy Communion? Why is God doing things for me that I could not do for myself?

          God is real. The Bible is not God. I failed in carrying out what Jesus asks me to do when I treated the Bible as an idol.

          The Bible is flawed. His disciples thought Jesus return would be in their lifetime. And many of Paul's writings reflect that mistake.

          I follow Jesus Christ. I am a Christian. And Jesus is my judge, not you.

          September 20, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE: it sounds like you really believe in the basics of the faith... but on what basis? the only way we know about Jesus is through the Word. why would you choose to adhere to some of the bible while ignoring other sections?

          you are trying to use the Holy Spirit against the Bible... which He wrote. how do you even *know* who the Holy Spirit is that you claim to be experiencing if not from the Bible? yes, we don't worship the book – but consider what Jesus calls himself: the Word in the flesh. and think about how often he quotes the Old Testament. by your reckoning, it's just selective application. but Jesus makes entire theological arguments off the basis of singular words in the OT (i.e., the word 'lord' in Ps.110).

          furthermore, what does the Bible teach us about the role of the Holy Spirit? that it's just this Jiminy Cricket-like voice within? absolutely not. just look at what it says:
          the Holy Spirit will remind us of everything Jesus said (Jn.14:26).
          the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (Jn.16:13); and remember Jn.14:6 – Jesus said he *is* the Truth.
          the Holy Spirit is named the Paraclete (i.e., Counselor, Advocate). Whom does he Advocate?
          the Holy Spirit comes to glorify Jesus (Jn.16:13).
          Acts 16:6-7 calls the Holy Spirit "the Spirit of Jesus."
          in John 20, Jesus breathes on his disciples to give them *his* Holy Spirit.

          What's the role of the Holy Spirit? to point to Jesus. to give us Jesus. the focus is Jesus... the Word Incarnate... who quoted Scripture all the time.

          and how were the Scriptures written? "prophets spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet.1:21). but you want to pit the Holy Spirit against the very Scriptures he wrote. that is – at best – a huge mistake. realistically (knowing our fallen hearts), it's a way to dodge where God is calling sin out in our lives.

          if you really believe the other things you say about Jesus, you must ask yourself: who is king... me or him? whose word matters more: mine or his? He wrote it. the same Good News you celebrate in surrendering your life to Jesus, the same God who loves us that much that he would die for us, also says on the cross (literally) "are your sins ok? Hell, no!"

          as George MacDonald wrote: "No, there is no escape. There is no heaven with a little of hell in it - no plan to retain this or that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets. Out Satan must go, every hair and feather!" That – and nothing less – is the agenda of the Holy Spirit: to make us like Christ.

          September 20, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
        • AE

          -if you really believe the other things you say about Jesus, you must ask yourself: who is king... me or him? whose word matters more: mine or his? He wrote it. –

          Jesus didn't write the Bible. He inspired imperfect people to write letters to each other. And later men gathered and decided what letters to include and which to exclude.

          And then men began translating and interpreting what was written, but the message has never been completely clear. That is why there are over 100 different versions of the Bible. And noboy can agree on which one is the most correct.

          That is why we have some Bibles that paint ho.mos.exuality as a sin. And some Bibles that don't.

          Jesus' disciples had absolutley no idea what was going on when Jesus was alive, when He died and when He was ressurrected. I read parts of the New Testament and it sounds like the author expects Jesus to return in his lifetime.

          The purpose of the Bible is to point to God. The most important time for me and God is right now. Not 2,000 years ago.

          Ask God for help today, and He will give it. Ask God to reveal Himself in a way you can understand. And He will reveal Himself in a way I can understand.

          Arguing and debating with theologians and academic scholars about letters written to ancient groups with sometimes mysterious authors is not God's will for me.

          God wants me to love others. To help those in need.

          -the agenda of the Holy Spirit: to make us like Christ.-

          Yes. To have a heart like Christ.

          And Jesus Christ followers include gays and lesbians that are following Jesus Christ. They are leading churches. They are holding Holy Communion and Jesus is showing up, exactly in the same way as when strictly heteros.exuals attend Holy Communion.

          I have experienced this to be true.

          God is greater or more graceful than event the best of his followers that profess to know and love Him. Thank God.

          September 20, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE:
          1) you're holding a self-contradictory position.
          a) you believe in the Holy Spirit. why? how do you even know that's what he's called? the Bible. so when challenged as to WHY you believe what you believe, you cite something you ONLY know b/c of the Bible... but then, when you don't like what the Bible says about that God, you opt out.

          you can't have it both ways. either it is reliable or it's not.
          you're cobbling together your own religion – but it's not recognizable from the only source material we have on the One you claim to worship.

          b) you said: "Jesus didn't write the BIble. he inspired imperfect people..." so why did he inspire them to say GOD wrote it through them? seems like a major miss for someone INSPIRED by God. again, you're holding a seriously self-contradictory position.

          Think of the things these "inspired" (your word) people said under inspiration:
          "All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteousness..." (2 Tim.3:16)
          "when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe." (1 Thess.2:13)

          Note well that second one... "not the word of men, but the word of God" (directly against your point)... and it goes even further to say "which is indeed at work in you who believe." do you? b/c it sounds much more like you think only some Scripture is God-breathed... and that it's not the Word that is alive in you, but something contrary to the Word.

          again, 2 Pet.1:21 made it clear: the Bible claims the Holy Spirit wrote it. you claim the Holy Spirit is telling you something contrary to that Word. like 1 Jn.4:1-4 says: test the spirits. how could the Spirit who shows us Christ do something contrary to himself? that's the logic you have – and it's directly contrary to everything else God has done.

          c) you have clearly bought into the higher-critical scholarship's re-narration of history. the Bible was not decided after the fact. they strove painstakingly to ensure they were being faithful to the sources... not deciding the canon.

          i) here's a very helpful summary article with 10 links to some basic misconceptions (with appropriate underlying scholarship). if you really believe your view, it shouldn't scare you to check out the scholarship & see if it's really correct:

          the sample headings are:
          “The New Testament Books are the Earliest Christian Writings We Possess”
          “Apocryphal Writings Are All Written in the Second Century or Later”
          “The New Testament Books Are Unique Because They Are Apostolic Books”
          “Some NT Writers Quote Other NT Writers as Scripture”
          “The Four Gospels are Well Established by the End of the Second Century”
          “At the End of the Second Century, the Muratorian Fragment lists 22 of Our 27 NT Books”
          “Early Christians Often Used Non-Canonical Writings”
          “The NT Canon Was Not Decided at Nicea—Nor Any Other Church Council”
          “Christians Did Disagree about the Canonicity of Some NT Books”
          “Early Christians Believed that Canonical Books Were Self-Authenticating”

          ii) there is no disagreement on any major textual content. even the known variants both a) show that we know exactly what was said in the original & b) do not involve any major doctrinal issue.

          as Daniel Wallace has said: there is an embarrassment of riches available to the biblical scholar. no other ancient text has ANYWHERE NEAR the available resources.

          here's a brief overview on that point – even just look at the charts for a wake-up call. nothing else has more than 200 copies, while the NT has over 5700 – and that's not including quotations from early Christian authors.


          iii) this is not the telephone game – where you have to whisper to the next person. the telephone game only works if you can't go back & check the earlier source – which they did. if anything, the Dead Sea scrolls blew up any notion that translations over time lost the content (suddenly, we had sources 1000 years earlier with virtually verbatim copies).

          SUM: there is no question that we have accurate texts. it's too close to the source for the loss of content (eyewitnesses were still alive).

          2) yes, Jesus' disciples were clueless before the resurrection – but that changed. not only after his appearances, but he spent 40 days teaching them AFTER the resurrection. and note well: the didn't start writing their accounts until after that. ALSO note: how do we know they were idiots? they told us so! that's not the hallmark of someone manipulating the truth. why embarrass yourself if you're making stuff up? wouldn't you paint yourself in a good light?

          no, they were utterly changed. all of them went to their deaths for Christ (except John, who went to prison). who willingly dies for a lie you made up?

          3) they did expect Jesus to return soon – as all Christians should. but we know God's timing is different from ours. this is the point at which I expect an atheist to scoff... but not a point I expect to be hearing from a Christian.

          let's revisit that main issue again: you believe in the resurrection, right? to use Jesus' language: why are you swallowing the camel & straining a gnat? it again demonstrates my point: you are making up your own religion. whenever it doesn't work for you, you depart from what we clearly DO know. and at that point, you are using the same word (Jesus), but I can see you mean someone increasingly different from the only Jesus we know: the Jesus we find in the earliest source material... as I'd say to an atheist, but to you: the Jesus of the Bible – where else do you think you learn who your God is?

          to be blunt: can God tell you things you don't want to hear? can he get in your face & call you out on stuff? if not, how do you know you aren't just self-projecting? if so, how does that happen? because it sounds like your Jesus believes whatever AE wants him to believe.

          4) you say "the most important time for me & God is right now, not 2000 years ago." wait – do you believe in the Good News? why is it *news*, unless it's telling us what God did 2000 years ago is what saves us right now (not our own works)? again, your view of Scripture is continually undercutting the essentials of the faith.

          5) you said: "ask God to reveal himself in a way I can understand." i don't think that's your problem. this isn't a matter of understanding, it's a matter of not liking what God is saying. you understand just fine what the Bible says. you just don't like it. who is King again? whose word matters more? if your experience trumps what God says...

          6) you said: "arguing & debating with theologians & scholars... is not God's will for me..."
          do you believe you are not doing theology? do you believe reading the Bible is not a scholastic exercise (while being so much more, too)? you're trying to use semantics to dodge the fact that you are doing the very thing you say is not God's will for you. you can't talk about God at all & not be doing theology, articulating doctrine, etc. the only question is: on what basis? for you, it's consistently your experience.

          why do you think the bible says: "the heart is deceitful above all things & wicked beyond cure. who can understand it?" (Jer.17:9) the point of that passage: only God. or take 1 Cor.2:6-16 – the only way you can rightly understand the Scriptures is if you have the Holy Spirit opening your heart to it. you claim that's the case, but then you dodge all the things it says. what does that tell you?

          seriously, if you are a Christian & you celebrate communion, why does Paul say "examine yourselves" (1 Cor.11)? it's clear he expects that we need to have God show us what's wrong with us. your experience-based God cannot do that.

          7) for that matter, why even celebrate communion? you believe Paul is out to lunch – but I bet your pastor quotes 1 Cor.11 every time the Lord's Supper is given. even if you just based it off the Gospels, you've already noted that Jesus didn't write them. so how do you even know about Jesus – if not from those disciples you've claimed corrupted the faith?

          overall SUM: you're holding such a self-contradictory position that you've claimed a faith & then cut your legs out from underneath you. you can't have Jesus without the Bible (unless you're just making some guy up who happens to have the same name). and if you don't submit to God's Word, to whom are you really submitting? that's not Christianity – it's just using the same name (Jesus) but meaning yourself.

          can Jesus show up in that? yes! he even overcomes sinners as messed up as me. but does he affirm that? absolutely not. that's like saying the cross is only a picture of mercy & not one of justice as well. the very place that tells us we are loved is the same place that says he loves us enough to see all our sins die. as George MacDonald said: "there is no heaven with a little bit of hell in it..." Jesus came to give life to the fullest – not life as my sinful heart conceives it.

          AE: you can't walk this line permanently. either you will eventually submit to Christ or you will begin to believe this charade you call Jesus (which is really just whatever you want... i.e., you) will save you. and if there's any point we've agreed upon so far in talking about Christianity, it's that we can't save ourselves. so why are you relying on yourself so heavily?

          September 20, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
        • AE

          Eh, I think we are misunderstanding each other.

          I definitely turned my life over to Christ and seek to do His will, not mine.

          I know more about Jesus Christ through His actual saving power in my life, not by strictly what I read in a book.

          I believe Christ's saving power is extended to gay and straight people. And both gay and straight people need to not sin against others and God.

          Are 2 consenting adults who happen to be of the same gender who commit to a relationship to honor God sinning?

          Am I sinning if I worry about what they do and draw a line an refuse to help them or exclude them from following Jesus?

          Are you a sinner ignoring the log in your eye and pointing at the speck of dust in mine?

          Are you Catholic? I'm not, I'm a Lutheran, by the way.

          September 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE:
          1) glad to hear it – but how can you seek to do his will if your experience trumps his Word?

          2) your view of Scripture is contradictory to what Scripture says about itself. that wouldn't be a problem for an atheist, but for a Christian... that's the only way you know who Jesus is. how can you claim to submit to him & ignore his Word?

          3) I also believe that both straight & g.ay people need Christ. Every sin deserves death (Rom.6:23), not just the ones our culture has highlighted. however, the problem our culture has is claiming something isn't a sin which God has clearly defined as such. again, your view of the Bible here is self-contradictory.

          4) you said: "Are 2 consenting adults who happen to be of the same gender who commit to a relationship to honor God sinning?" YES. God made marriage. he defines it.

          pick any other sin from Scripture and ask a similar question. the underlying issue isn't even really about marriage – it's whether or not I can dictate terms to God. that's not surrender. hence our conversation here...

          5) you said: "Am I sinning if I worry about what they do and draw a line an refuse to help them or exclude them from following Jesus?" we are called to speak the truth in love. speaking truth without loving actions is not really truth. claiming to love without speaking the truth is not really love.

          as for following Jesus: he sets those terms. and they're impossibly difficult – which is why it's a daily walk to the cross (to see how messed up I am, how high his standard is, and be in awe of the love that bridged that gap). and it's there that we are not merely comforted in our sins, but lovingly called out of them.

          6) you said "Are you a sinner ignoring the log in your eye and pointing at the speck of dust in mine?" I'm actually glad you asked this question. too often folks only quote Mt.7:1 (don't judge!) without realizing we are actually CALLED to judge one another (within the church – not in the world – 1 Cor.5:12).

          yes, it is a call FOR ALL to repent. as your beloved Luther said: "all of life is repentance."

          7) I'm not Catholic. I am a Protestant, too – though from our conversation so far, I'm wondering how much Luther is in your Lutheranism... he was most upset to find the churches throughout Germany not teaching the Word.

          SUM: so, have we really missed each other? sounds like you whole-heartedly want to affirm submitting to Jesus for your salvation. great. so do i. are we both sinners? yes, in need of a Savior. but does that Savior call us out of our sins? i'm saying yes... but I'm hearing you say your Jesus either doesn't do that or doesn't call things a sin that you don't want to be sins (even if the Bible says otherwise). THAT is where we have a serious divide... and that is why I have pressed all that I have above. I don't know that we're missing each other here. Do you still think so?

          September 20, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
        • AE

          I'm not buying what you are selling.

          There was a time when most Christians believed slavery was the will of God.

          There was a time when most Christians believed women should not be allowed to vote.

          There was a time when most Christians believed that interracial marriage was wrong.

          Each position was elaborately supported with biblical arguments - and each position, we can now clearly see, was dead wrong.

          Is that same error being committed today when the same type of arguments are used to condemn g.ay and le.sbian relationships?

          I believe so.

          And honestly, in my life, God seems to be supporting me on the issue.

          I'll give it to Him.

          September 20, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
        • Russ

          @ AE: you don't have to buy what I'm selling... but what you're refusing is Christ, not me.

          your hermeneutic is on fully display here. and the main question is: if you so gleefully toss aside obvious teaching, why keep the incar.nation, resurr.ection, asc.ension, etc.? you are co.bbling together a god of your own making – and notably, a god who can't disagree with you. how does change happen in your life when your god always agrees with you? it's just a fo.il. and there's nothing personal about that sort of "ste.pford god."

          per your argument:
          1) your approach is not "what does God say?" but rather "can i find someone who has misused God's name so I can discount that position?" think about what that means: you're not looking to find out God's will, but just self-project. again, this is not an encounter with the *living* God, but one of your own making.

          2) you continue to exhi.bit a willingness to buy the re-narration of our culture, but actually take a look at the source material. it's simply the facts. what does it say?

          a) sla.very: yes, Paul said he was a sla.ve for Christ. there is only one Master who doesn't abu.se – only One who dies for his servants. all other mas.ters require their servants die for them.

          but your top.ical an.a.lysis of biblical slavery is mistaken as well: read Gal.3:28 & Phi.lemon. what is Paul saying? why did Wilberforce & MLK *appeal to Scripture* to change cultural norms instead of merely dismissing Scripture as you are? notice: if you really believe in your cause, THAT method has been the most effective one.

          b) Jesus had women among his followers. he gave them an equality unlike ANYTHING the culture would accept. he showed a blat.ant willingness to go against the culture to demonstrate that women are not second clas.s.

          for example, to whom did Jesus choose to first reveal himself? women. note: their te.stimony was not considered valuable in that society (it was inadmissible in court). if Christians were making this stuff up (or radi.cally changing it as you claim), why would they have women as the first eyewitnesses? Jesus was making a point about what he values.

          ironically, in making ge.nder ne.utral transla.tions of Scripture, the full force of this is lost. the NT authors repeatedly say that ANYONE who believes will get the full rights of "sons"! recognize: women didn't get inheri.tance... but God is giving them one – equal to men.

          c) Moses had a Cu.sh.ite wife – that's modern Ethiopia. she was black. the issue in the OT is not ra.ce as much as it is inter-faith. the racial exclusion is only there b/c in the OT the faith was held almost exclusively by the Jews as God's chosen people. it was to prevent syncr.etism, not a tacit approval of racism. if interra.cial marriage isn't biblical, why does God defend Moses & his wife?

          SUM: point being: you are tossing the baby out with the bathwater AGAIN. in tossing aside Scripture so you can have what you want, you are tossing out ANY knowledge you have of your supposed Savior. you are left with nothing but a self-projection. if instead you would actually read the Bible in seeking what its message really is, you would find God BOTH: loving you BEFORE you change AND challenging you to change (a love that doesn't care enough to say "no" to the Hell in us isn't really love).

          you've bought into the g.ay lobby's attempted re-narration of the civil rights movement. NOTE WELL the African American Church's response. shouldn't they be embra.cing this if that's a correct as.sessment? yet they almost univocally are not. why not? b/c it was Scripture to which they appealed in fighting FOR civil rights. it was Christ who made them willing to die in non-violent protest (just like HE did). it wasn't LEAVING JESUS BEHIND that led to civil rights progress. no, it was more ardently appealing to what Jesus had taught so long ago.

          the g.ay lobby is realizing: unlike MLK & Wilberforce (who could appeal to the SAME biblical hermeneutic conservatives ALREADY had to challenge them to change), the g.ay lobby has no such biblical grounds. and that is why it has become a religious war where MLK & Wilberforce were only battling a cultural one.

          that's the problem AE. you want to neuter Jesus so he's only a self-projection.
          are there people hiding behind this just to uphold stereotypes & prejudi.ces? sure. and biblical Christians should be unyielding in calling that out among ourselves.
          but in your attempt to have Christians embr.ace the g.ay agenda, you are failing to see that your re-imagined Jesus is not just a peripheral, unpalatable cultural shift. no, it is nothing less than replacing one religion with another.

          as J Gresham Machen said: in the end, theological liberalism is not another shade of Christianity, but an entirely separate religion.

          or to put it as the late Christopher Hitchens did when interviewed by Marilyn Sewell (a minister who claims to be a Christian not all that differently than you do):
          Sewell: "Mr. Hitchens, the religion you cite in your book is generally the fundamentalist faith of various kinds. I'm a liberal Christian, and I don't take the stories from the scripture literally. I don't believe in the doctrine of atonement - that Jesus died for our sins, for example. Do you make a distinction between fundamentalist faith and liberal religion?"

          Hitchens: "Well, I would say that if you don't believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you're really not in any meaningful sense a Christian."

          3) you can see this most obviously in your chain of statements: "there was a time Christians believed in..." – just fill in the blank. what about the resurrection? what about Jesus' divinity? Christians used to believe in that, too – so do you toss those aside? that is the hermeneutic you have embra.ced – whether you realize it or not.

          September 21, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • AE


      September 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      This is where it all comes together. This is where it happens. You can prepare for it. The more you move, the more it protects. I love that it is so easy. Single. Today, things could be crazy. She crawled in the oven.

      September 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • John Smith

      I don't think there is anything whatsoever in the bible that would lead anyone to believe that God is going to be less judging and more accepting than the common belief would indicate. Whatever helps you sleep at night, but accepting someone's immoral behavior for a short time only to condemn them for an eternity is definitely not doing them any favors.

      September 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • AE

        The parable of the prodigal son. The parable of the lost sheep and lost coin. The parable of the gardener and the fig tree.

        September 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  8. rschoales

    Who cares? It's a house of cards anyway. Cardinals to be precise, Like Bernie Law. Hypocritical old men covering up their own transgressions and perversions. Once upon a time I believed. Now I'm just fed up.

    September 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  9. Umm, no

    This Pope is nothing like Jesus, he's more like Obama.

    September 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Right. Jesus went around spreading leprosy, making people sick, possessing them with demons and stuff.

      At least, that's the model many evangelists seem to be pursuing these days.

      September 19, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
      • Umm, no

        I have no idea how that is a response to what I wrote.

        September 19, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
        • sam

          What you wrote made zero sense, so that's what you get in return.

          September 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  10. James

    Talk is cheap! The church must be hurting for money! Pope Francis is a master politician! His welcoming of Gays and Women is NOT THE SAME AS GIVING EGUALITY!!!!!!

    September 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Typing is not the same as being able to spell, either.

      September 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
      • Dave


        September 19, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  11. American

    I don't understand these comments. I'm not Catholic, or even religious, but it seems this Pope truly cares more about embracing people than judging them. When has that ever been a bad thing? He deserves nothing but respect for that.

    September 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • ME II

      Ummm... he's also the head of a huge organization that many do not agree with.

      September 19, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Ian J

      I understand the negative comments. The child abuse scandal – including extensive cover-up efforts by the church – have left a bitter taste in the public's mouth. I applaud Pope Francis for his efforts to take the church in a new direction and, hopefully, redefine what it means to be Catholic. It will take time, but I believe his efforts will ultimately prove successful. For too long the church has been co-opted by political ideology and used as a bully pulpit to rail against the supposed immorality of social progressiveness. Francis realizes this and is taking steps to remedy these issues. I am a secular humanist – and agnostic – but I recognize the power and influence the church has and am heartened to see someone at the helm whose heart truly seems to be in the right place.

      September 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  12. questions

    Saul of Tarsus was the first Joseph Smith. He didn't ever associate with Jesus and claims to encounter with Jesus, being blinded by the light. Then he goes on to write a bunch of nasty letters to churches, putting down women.. and later on a bunch of "wise men" decided they liked his letters, and added them to their "holy Bible."

    September 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  13. Lawrence of Arabia

    Interfere with g.ays spiritually? Does he mean that he isn't going to confront their sin? Well, where does it stop? Does that mean that he isn't going to address sin in general, or only address what he alone considers sin?

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fo.rnicators, nor idolaters, nor adu.lterers, nor effe.minate, nor ho.mose.xuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunka.rds, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

    I would hate to think that a church (any church) would begin to think so lightly about sin that we allow men to go throughout their lives without any confrontation about their sinful lifestyles.

    If a blind man is walking straight for the edge of a cliff, if we want to show him love, do we just try to have a nice conversation with him? No, we grab him by the shoulders, shake him and directly say to him, "You're about to head off a cliff!"

    We can't let the "fear of man" deter us from speaking the truth in love. Yes, we are to be loving, but the church cannot let sinful lifestyles go unchallenged, or we cease being Christians. "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."

    Let us never forget that preaching the gospel is also preaching LAW with the GRACE. And with law, comes consequences for breaking it.

    September 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • JWT

      If a gay person is not part of a religious mind that believes being gay is a sin then said gay person is not a sinner. Religious rules only apply to those that follow them and not to anyone else.

      September 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Gospel is not law, and if you want religious law how about sharia?

      September 19, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  14. Tom

    The Pope is beginning to sound like Jesus. Good God, what is Christianity coming to

    September 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Umm, no

      What? When did Jesus say "leave gays alone"?

      September 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
      • Paul

        Actually Jesus never mentioned gays one time – he was way too busy telling us how to mind our own souls and make with the shutting up.

        September 19, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
  15. voodooinkpen

    @Lionly Lamb HUH? That is a most incoherent paragraph I have read in far more than a month of Sundays. I agree with Jay in Florida – better you don't write with a thesaurus in hand, or your ramblings will be unintentionally amusing to the rest of us. By the way, the word which refers to the sense of taste is "palate", not "palette", which is a tool on which an artist holds his paints. Just saying.

    September 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm |

      Godless Vagabond
      We general ignore Lionly Lamb. Except to hit the abuse button.

      September 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  16. LB

    "Tell me, when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?"

    He despises their sin, so by definition, if they are actively sinning and living a lifestyle that goes against the Holy Bible, then they're an enemy of God.

    ...but I'm not familiar with all of the "extra" books in the Catholic Bible, so maybe there's something in there about that.

    September 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • beth

      God made them so he does not despise them. You are misinterpreting the meaning of what the Pope had to say. God loves and accepts all of us and the Pope is saying it's time we humans do the same regardless of what we think about someone's lifestyle.

      September 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
      • kt

        Amen to that!

        September 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  17. Tattoo

    Finally, this pope is taking steps in the right direction. The pope walks the walk, and talks the talk acting in the name of the Lord. Thank you Jesus for this blessing. As your faithful servants, we keep forever vigil in praying for peace!

    September 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  18. FajitaBob

    Wow–these posts certainly say a lot about the people who follow CNN. So full of hate, so full of anger. How have you people been so damaged??? Nothing wrong about having a difference of opinion, but most of these posts go waaaaay beyond that. Rarely do you see such bile from the Christian side, who, incidentally, you people pretend are the cause of your hate. FACT. I guess there IS a right side of this debate. Now go ahead, let me hear how evil everybody else is...

    September 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • sam

      Comedy gold.

      September 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Michael

      It must be a very pleasant experience to be so spoiled as to imagine that you're being persecuted if you can't legally discriminate against people that you hold antipathy for.

      September 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  19. Lawrence of Arabia

    Interfere with gays spiritually? Does he mean that he isn't going to confront their sin? Well, where does it stop? Does that mean that he isn't going to address sin in general, or only address what he alone considers sin?

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fo.rnicators, nor idolaters, nor adu.lterers, nor effe.minate, nor ho.mose.xuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

    I would hate to think that a church (any church) would begin to think so lightly about sin that we allow men to go throughout their lives without any confrontation about their sinful lifestyles.

    If a blind man is walking straight for the edge of a cliff, if we want to show him love, do we just try to have a nice conversation with him? No, we grab him by the shoulders, shake him and directly say to him, "You're about to head off a cliff!"

    We can't let the "fear of man" deter us from speaking the truth in love. Yes, we are to be loving, but the church cannot let sinful lifestyles go unchallenged, or we cease being Christians. "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."

    Let us never forget that preaching the gospel is also preaching LAW with the GRACE. And with law, comes consequences for breaking it.

    September 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • ME II

      You are just as blind. You think your book tells you that there is a cliff, but you cannot see it yourself.

      September 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Madtown

      only address what he alone considers sin?
      Maybe he operates on a higher intellectual plane than you do, and realizes that to be gay cannot be sinful, as they are who God made them.

      September 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • questions

      The Apostle Paul is nothing but an early version of Joseph Smith.. He was not chosen by god, he chose to make up an elaborate story. His words are not the words of Jesus, just his own rants.

      September 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
      • Don

        "The Apostle Paul is nothing but an early version of Joseph Smith.. He was not chosen by god, he chose to make up an elaborate story. His words are not the words of Jesus, just his own rants."

        Peter did not seem to share your opinion.

        September 19, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  20. dope pope

    Its really nice to see a pop that isnt stuck in such an antiquated way of thinking. Im not gay or bi or whatever, but those people are PEOPLE, and are kind of allowed to do whatever they want, and no whackjob religion is in any place to tell them how to live their lives.

    September 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
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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.