The C.S. Lewis you never knew
C.S. Lewis has become a virtual Christian saint, but his life wasn't as tidy as his public image.
December 1st, 2013
06:00 AM ET

The C.S. Lewis you never knew

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - He looked like a “red-faced pork butcher in shabby tweeds,” lived secretly with a woman for years and was so turned on by S&M that he once asked people at a party whether he could spank them.

We’re talking, of course, about C.S. Lewis, the Christian icon and author of classics such as “Mere Christianity” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

It’s tempting to remember Lewis only as the self-assured defender of Christianity who never met an argument he couldn't demolish. His death 50 years ago, on November 22, 1963, was overshadowed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He has since become a patron saint of American evangelicals.

But the actual man whom friends called “Jack” had a “horrible” personal life, thought he had failed as a defender of Christianity and spent so much time in pubs that his publishers initially struggled selling him to a religious audience, scholars say.

“American publishers worried about offending their more puritanical readers because it seemed impossible to get a dust jacket picture of Jack without a pint or a cigarette,” says Michael Tomko, a literature professor at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

There are three other parts of Lewis’ life that clash with his image as well:

1. His religious books made him poor

No modern Christian author sells like Lewis. The cumulative sales of his Christian books for adults - not including the Christian allegory and children's fantasy "The Chronicles of Narnia" - now approach 10 million copies, according to HarperOne publishers. “Mere Christianity” sold more than 150,000 copies over the past year alone. Perhaps the only publishing parallel to Lewis' works would be “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, a mythology written by Lewis’ close friend and fellow Christian J.R.R. Tolkien.

But Lewis never got rich from his Christian classics, says Michael Maudlin, executive editor at HarperOne.

“His books left him poor,” Maudlin said. “He had all of this money coming in, but he didn’t take those royalties.”

Lewis vowed to donate all the money he made from his books on Christianity, Maudlin says. He got big tax bills for his Christian books but struggled to pay them because he had given the money away.

Lewis refused to renounce his vow even though his money worries persisted throughout his life, Maudlin says.

“He is a man whose number one anxiety in life was poverty,” Maudlin said. “Because his dad overspent, money was always a worry. He didn’t fix things in his home because he and his brother worried about poverty.”

Lewis’ financial worries stalked him until the end, says Alister McGrath, author of the acclaimed new book “C.S. Lewis: A Life.”

Lewis’ health began to fail near the end of his life, so he wanted to hire a private secretary to help tend to his affairs. His income, though, was so spotty that he told his potential secretary that he didn’t know whether he could pay him, McGrath writes.

Lewis was more worried about losing his teaching salary from the University of Cambridge than his book royalties, says McGrath, a professor at King's College London.

“Lewis was convinced that his books would cease to be popular and thus generate little in the way of income,” McGrath said.

2. He felt like a failure as a Christian communicator

"Brilliant" is one of the most common words used to describe Lewis. He seemed to have read everything, and he could easily write in several genres: children’s fantasy, science fiction, Christian apologetics and autobiography.

“He had an almost photographic memory,” Maudlin said. “He could recite the passage and page of a line from a book on medieval poetry.”

Lewis was not so adept in the ordinary world. He never learned to drive or type because he was too clumsy. And he was a shabby dresser who lived in a house that was falling apart.

He even began to doubt his ability to defend Christianity.

Lewis' breakthrough came as a Christian apologist, one who publicly defends and explains Christianity by invoking logic. He delivered a series of talks on Christianity for BBC radio during World War II that made him famous (you can hear some of those talks on YouTube). His fame crossed the Atlantic in 1947 when he made the cover of Time magazine.

But just as his fame peaked in the 1940s, Lewis began to doubt his persuasive powers, McGrath says.

Debating Christianity in public became “draining” for Lewis, McGrath says. At a 1945 lecture on Christian apologetics, according to McGrath, Lewis said, “Nothing is more dangerous to one’s own faith than the work of an apologist. No doctrine of that faith seems to me so spectral, so unreal as one that I have just successfully defended in a public debate.”

Lewis then lost a highly publicized debate to Elizabeth Anscombe, a young Catholic philosopher who pointed out inconsistencies in his reasoning. They clashed over passages in his book “Miracles,” which he later revised. Lewis’ confidence was shaken further when he realized that his argumentative powers had little effect on some of his closest friends and relatives, who remained hostile to Christianity, McGrath says.

Lewis thought that he had “failed as an apologist towards those who were closest to him,” McGrath writes. “How could Lewis maintain a profile as a public apologist with any integrity in the light of such private failures?”

When the BBC asked Lewis to participate in a discussion on the evidence of religious faith, he declined: “Like the old fangless snake in 'The Jungle Book,' I’ve largely lost my dialectical power.”

Some contend that even Lewis’ faith failed him.

He lost love not long after finding it late in his life: Joy Davidman was an American writer who befriended Lewis by letter and eventually became his wife. She died of cancer at 45 with Lewis at her bedside. Their love affair was depicted in the 1993 film “Shadowlands.”

Lewis had written about God and suffering in a book entitled “The Problem of Pain.” But when he wrote about losing his wife in “A Grief Observed,” he was a different man, says Ivan Strenski, a religious studies professor at the University of California, Riverside.

“The cocky self-confidence is totally destroyed,” Strenski said. “The confident, modern interpreter of Christianity is gone. He’s really a shattered Christian.”

3. He had a "horrible" personal life

When the University of St. Andrews in Scotland awarded Lewis an honorary degree in 1945, Lewis gloomily joked that he preferred getting a “case of Scotch whiskey.”

Lewis needed some escape at the time. His personal life was a wreck. The man who seemed like the embodiment of self-control and virtue in his books had a personal life complicated by dysfunction and deceit.

Lewis’ personal struggles began early. His beloved mother, Flora, died when he was 9; he never really got along with his father, Albert; and he was sent away to a miserable boarding school where a schoolmaster was literally declared insane.

“It was horrible," Maudlin said of Lewis’ personal life.

Then Lewis experienced another horror – trench warfare in World War I - but he rarely talked about the experience.  Nor did he talk much about the promise he made during the war to his fellow soldier and friend Paddy Moore.

Lewis assured Moore that he would take care of his mother if Paddy didn’t survive the war. Moore was killed, and Lewis fulfilled his vow after returning home. Lewis moved in with Paddy’s mother, Janie Moore, and helped raise her daughter, Maureen.

Lewis’ relationship with Janie Moore is still mystery. Some scholars say they became lovers; others say she was more like his mother. Lewis, though, hid the relationship from his father and his colleagues at Oxford University.

“There was an attraction between the two of them from the very beginning,” said Warren Rochelle, an English professor at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia.

“When he first met her, she was 45, almost the exact age when Lewis’ mother died, and it’s clear from correspondence that they found each other attractive and engaging,” Rochelle said.

Lewis had another complicated relationship at home with his brother Warren, or “Warnie," an alcoholic who moved in with Lewis and Janie Moore. Warnie couldn’t stand her.

As Janie Moore grew older, she lapsed into dementia. The demands of caring for an alcoholic brother and a disabled woman proved so difficult for Lewis that he was hospitalized for exhaustion at one point. Yet Lewis took care of Janie Moore and her daughter even as she presumably stopped being his lover, scholars say.

“She gave him stability, a family and a mother figure,” Rochelle said. “She gave him a lover for a while, but no one can prove it.”

Lewis’ sexual proclivities also clash with the images of the reserved Englishman who touted the virtues of abstinence before marriage in “Mere Christianity.”

Lewis displayed an interest in sadomasochism during his youth. He read the writings of the Marquis de Sade; once became drunk at a party and begged people to allow him to whip them; and signed three letters to friend Arthur Greeves with the closing “lover of the whip,” according to McGrath’s biography.

Lewis befriended Greeves during childhood, and the two remained close throughout his life. Greeves was gay, but that didn’t seem to bother Lewis.

“Lewis was aware of Greeves’ homosexuality and made it clear that this would not be a problem within their friendship,” McGrath said. “He also made it clear that he didn’t share Greeves’ orientation.”

Despite Lewis' personal hardships, those who've studied him say his kindness was as impressive as his intellect.

Lewis didn’t try to hide from a public that sought his counsel after he became famous. He made no attempt to conceal his phone number. He rose at daybreak to answer letters from people seeking spiritual advice.

He even made personal visits.  A priest once wrote Lewis that he didn’t know whether he believed in a loving God anymore. Lewis met the man and spent an afternoon talking to him about his problem, wrote A.N. Wilson, author of, “C.S. Lewis: A Biography.”

“The priest, who had expected the author of 'The Problem of Pain' to look pale and ethereal, was astonished by the red-faced pork butcher in shabby tweeds whom he actually encountered,” Wilson wrote.

Lewis is still surprising people 50 years later. His ability to reach people long after his death is astonishing, some say.

“It’s odd that someone has been so popular for so long,” Maudlin said. “Lewis’ books are still in front of the bookstore. We grew up with him, so we lose touch with how unusual that is.”

The Christian icon whose image we see in bookstores may first seem distant. He spoke and dressed like a prim Englishman from another time. But his life was messy, contradictory and tarnished by thwarted dreams.

Perhaps Lewis still speaks to us because we when we look closer at his life, he’s really not that unusual.

We see ourselves.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Books • Christianity • United Kingdom

soundoff (1,513 Responses)
  1. Freddo

    It's simply amazing how the religious can rationalize away anything ... including Lewis' personal life.

    Live as I say, not as I do ... right. That's just the nature of hypocrisy.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • sybaris

      Religion by its very nature cannot endure reason and logic

      December 2, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • lol??

      Whatever works for you.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • myweightinwords

      People are people. We are all flawed, we all have our own personal issues. The bigger flaw is not accepting that.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • chieftrainer

      If you are referring to the S&M part of the article, it says that was in his youth. He became a Christian at 31. If you are referring to the relationship with Janie Moore, the article says it is still a mystery meaning they don't know.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • Sara(swati)

      For non-fundamentalists, the majority of European Christians, this really isn't an issue. It just seems like one in the puritanical US.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:35 am |
      • lol??

        If this is puritanical I'd hate to see what a party people do. Kill all of octomom's babies and place bets??

        December 2, 2013 at 10:47 am |
        • chieftrainer

          The S&M was in his youth. He became a Christian when he was 31. You can't blame Christianity for that.

          December 2, 2013 at 11:17 am |
        • Maddy

          Lol??, being as you are all for forced births but anti – childcare help, you'd be the first at the bookie's.

          December 2, 2013 at 11:38 am |
        • lol??

          Maddy you really are mad. Forced births?? I thought yer pal Dahwin taught they were natural?? You missed that part?? The Frankfurtians musta passed out a secret bwain virus so they could take over the wurld.

          December 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  2. lol??

    "..........“Like the old fangless snake in 'The Jungle Book,' I’ve largely lost my dialectical power.”................"
    The Frankfurt School made the wurld safe for socialism. Bloom made it work so debates pass for education and the neo-rich are in that killin' field. Hegel is dancing on a fiery needle. Ouch, ouch.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Lisa

      The level of dialectical power that you must have lost would require a headless snake.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Science Works

      No lol?? but here is a fiery needle in the RCC's agenda.

      Here is what Dolan says. all about marketing = money no god(s) required.

      Catholic Church Has Been 'Outmarketed' On Gay Marriage, Says New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan


      December 2, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  3. ParisSun

    I don't know what the author's intended point in this piece was but I'm sure he didn't intend to do a testimony for C.S. Lewis. Because that's what this is. Thank God HE accepts us as we are and not as pristine angelic creatures or we would be done for.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • richunix

      Re-read your Bible. We are NOT Angels nor will be ever become Angels (if you believe in myhos) They (under the Judo/Christian) are Gods creatues that do his bidding.

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      December 2, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  4. ericpdesign

    Dear John Blake,
    Wow, what a negative slant on things. What is a mystery, is the purpose of your article. Please reveal to everyone your personal life and career and let us judge it.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • John Blake

      HI Eric: I hope you get this message. You wanted to know why I wrote this. The headline says it all, to tell people about a C.S. Lewis "they never knew." Lewis is almost a saintly figure right now, a Christian superman. I've read him for years but I was stunned to learn from scholars how complicated and flawed he was. That made me appreciate and relate to him even more. Perhaps you call this a "negative slant." I don't. In fact, isn't the bible full of flawed heroes? Noah, a drunk, Moses, a murderer, Peter, a betrayer, Paul with his "thorn in the flesh," David the adulterer. Do we call those stories one with a "negative slant." If our heroes of faith are stained glass figures who we can't relate to, what good are they for?

      December 2, 2013 at 10:59 am |
  5. ThisIsRubbish

    This article is absolute crUd. He had a "horrible" personal life? That's a judgment call, and a particularly bad one.

    CNN.com -> Yet again, you Suk.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • HotAirAce

      A judgement call made by "Michael Maudlin, executive editor at HarperOne" not the author of this article. Now the question becomes, did Maudlin know Lewis personally. . .

      December 2, 2013 at 9:35 am |
      • Jason

        That is the usual device of an author who has not the courage to make the claim himself – quote the claim then stand off from it.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • lol??

      Sounds like someone took a maulin' from a Maudlin.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:44 am |
  6. Agnostickids

    I have to say that The Chronicles of Narnia were my favorite books as a child. Still, even today, I see more pagan symbology in the stories than christian…but I guess we can flavor whatever we read with a little of our own beliefs or viewpoints.

    Knowing how NOT christian CS Lewis was (the S&M TOTALLY ruined Narnia for me…thanks CNN) must be making the christians writhe in agony.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • myweightinwords

      How does the author's interest in S&M ruin Narnia? I don't understand that.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:50 am |
      • cedar rapids

        Try reading the part about Aslan being tied down to the altar without grinning now.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:51 am |
        • myweightinwords

          Sometimes getting tied down is just...getting tied down.

          Just because a person has a sexual side doesn't imply everything they do is about sex.

          December 2, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • Bear

      As a Christian, this doesn't make me squirm much at all. Being into kink doesn't make him a worse Christian. He actually touched briefly on how one can take part in such things in a healthy way in his book The Four Loves (obviously that didn't include getting drunk at a party and asking random people to participate). And any other troubles he faced mean that he was human. Being Christian isn't about being perfect, and it's a shame that so many of us make it about that.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • chieftrainer

      The article says the S&M stuff was when he was in his youth. Lewis became a Christian when he was 31. I conclude the S&M stuff was before he was a Christian.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • myweightinwords

        Just because he didn't get drunk and ask people to let him spank them after he converted doesn't mean he didn't still partake.

        It's all speculation, but even if he did have a serious (and not just a passing fascination) interest in S&M, there really isn't much to preclude that interest from continuing after returning to Christianity.

        December 2, 2013 at 10:37 am |
        • chieftrainer

          Is that really your argument? He could have done it so we might as well believe he did?

          December 2, 2013 at 11:12 am |
        • myweightinwords

          I wasn't making an argument. I was making the statement that we can't know either way. What a person keeps private is private.

          And no amount of saying he was or wasn't into something will change that.

          December 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  7. PevanB

    Thank you CNN for such a fresh look at a man that I totally admire and appreciate as a writer of Christian faith. It just proves that everyone can be used of the Lord even an a donkey or A ss as the bible puts it. Even CNN

    December 2, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  8. Bibletruth

    I suggest reading the bible. Find out about Jesus. Those who feel that Christianity is some kind of make believe thing, some kind of wishful thinking or hope have never allowed themselves to sincerely check it out. C.S. Lewis missed almost everything as does the average evangelical. Missed is the character of God, the love of God, the dealing with sin. Most evangelicals have no sense as to why God allows the world to go on steeped in sin and sinning or why He allowed it to continue from the first sin. And the reason, bottom line, that so many comments are hostile against Christianity is pure and simple a love of sin in thought, speech, or action. This is the foundation of hostility to God and his 10 commandments, every one of the ten. Two primary falsehoods in Christendom are at the foundation of such muddied theology (think evangelical) or outright hostility to bible truth (think Roman Catholic): the idea of an immortal soul and Sunday keeping . I would strongly suggest bible beleiving.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Just about every follower of every religion says the same thing about their Holy Book / deity.
      They can't all be right, but they can all be wrong.

      What holy book other than The Bible have you studied? Have you tried any belief system other than the one that is predominant in your culture?
      How can the Tanakh, Talmud, Midrash, Quran, Sunnah, Nahjul Balagha, Avesta, Vedas, Upanisahds, Bhagavad Gita, Puranas, Tantras, Sutras, Vachanas, Adi Granth, Purvas, Samayasara, Niyamasara, Pravacanasara, and Pancastikaya; Anupreksa; Samadhishataka of Pujyapada; Tattvarthasutra of Umasvati, Tattvarthasutra, Pali Tripitaka, Jataka,, Visuddimagga, Tripitaka, Lotus Sutra, Garland Sutra, Analects; the Great Learning; the Doctrine of the Mean; the Mencius, Tao Te Ching, Chuang-tzu, Kojiki, Nihon Shoki, K-oki, Ofudesaki, Mikagura-uta, Michi-no-Shiori, Johrei, Goseigen, Netarean Shower of Holy Doctrines, Chun Boo Kyung, Kitab-i-Iqan, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Book of Mormon, Dianetics, or Revelation X be dismissed as Holy Books since they all claim to be The Truth?

      If you haven't explored them, how can you be certain that Christinity is correct?

      December 2, 2013 at 9:18 am |
      • mudfoot

        How many of those books are used by archaeologists and historians?

        December 2, 2013 at 9:23 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Using clues found on the huge stone tablets on which the ancient story was etched, archaeologists unearthed the remnants of the city of Uruk and its great wall, just as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh.
          Does that mean that the story is true and King Gilgamesh was a demi-god who ruled for 125 years and took a trip to the Underworld?

          December 2, 2013 at 9:27 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Not The Babble, or at least it shouldn't be according to The Smithsonian.

          December 2, 2013 at 9:27 am |
        • lol??

          Sheesh, Mr. Smith goes to washington and the people end up with Smithsonianism.

          December 2, 2013 at 9:37 am |
        • Ken

          And the Bible was probably the most current thinking at the time it was written, but it isn't any more. Using it today would be like studying history or archeology with the same books George Washington read.

          December 2, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Agnostickids

      And I bet you think that atheists and agnostics have NEVER read the bible…well, guess WHY we're agnostic and atheists...

      December 2, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • mudfoot

      Bibletruth – Excellent post!

      December 2, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • cedar rapids

      'I suggest reading the bible. Find out about Jesus. Those who feel that Christianity is some kind of make believe thing, some kind of wishful thinking or hope have never allowed themselves to sincerely check it out.'

      Or they have read it, determined the claims of magic is no different than any other mythology and the contradictions suggest that the whole thing is nonsense.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • JustCurious

      I am simply curious why you would say Roman Catholicism enacts outright hostility on the Bible. And which translation? They simply interpret a set of books differently than you do. Catholicism teaches that God is the embodiment of love, and that all logic and reason ultimately lead to God. How is that different from what you believe?

      Also, this article did nothing but shed light on the fact that somebody who grew up in one dysfunctional environment after another who happened to be described as genius had a hard personal life. What about this is news???
      (Getting drunk and saying something dumb, and S&M are 2 completely different things CNN, that was a melodramatic move for views, and a cheap shot at that).

      December 2, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Jason

      So you are saying the Bible says there is no immortal soul? I have read (almost) the whole thing and I don't see where you can get that interpretation.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:57 am |
  9. S. Dudley

    Wait a minute!! I'm all for non-deification of people, but, who's to say he was into S&M? Who's never gotten drunk and said or did things that were seriously out-of-line. Then, who's never joked about their own missteps using a self-effacing term, such as 'lover of the whip'. I love how "journalists" and reviewers interpret what people meant without one iota of proof. They need to say that it's an interpretation or belief... not fact.

    Personally, I don't care whether he was or wasn't into S&M as long as it was between consenting adults. Nor do I care if he was a drunkard or slept with his friend's mother, even though there is no proof other than innuendo on the later.

    I judge someone's Christianity not by what they say, but, what they do. He was a man who kept his commitments and, by all accounts, was kind to everyone he knew. Sounds like a good Christian to me. Besides, who are any of us to judge??? Hmmm???

    BTW-I've never 'got' the Christian references in the movies until someone pointed them out. I just always thought he was a good storyteller.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • cedar rapids

      ' Who's never gotten drunk and said or did things that were seriously out-of-line.'

      Me for one.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Kay

      Me for another one who hasn't 🙂

      December 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  10. cross eyed mary


    December 2, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • For creationists

      Maybe focus on this cross eyed mary.

      Top 10 Questions from Richard's Live Chat on Reddit

      posted on November 27, 2013 04:24PM GMT


      December 2, 2013 at 9:07 am |
      • kansassg

        In honor of atheists and their rude remarks this week when I decide which applicants where I work get called in for an interview I will have searched their facebook pages etc and any hint they lean left and or atheist will insure they will not be called. You all seem to feel it is free speech to just shout out random insults when really you are just being jerks. Not anyone is saying you HAVE to be anything you don't want to be.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:17 am |
        • midwest rail

          So you are admitting that you will discriminate against all based on the actions of a few. How Christian of you.

          December 2, 2013 at 9:18 am |
        • cedar rapids

          'when I decide which applicants where I work get called in for an interview I will have searched their facebook pages etc and any hint they lean left and or atheist will insure they will not be called.'

          you discriminate based on their religious beliefs? You know that illegal right?

          December 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          So you're going to discriminate based on religious belief and/or political views?
          Nothing says "I'm a good Christian" like painting all those who don't agree with you with the broad brush of "heathen".
          If this were the '50s, I bet you'd report your neighbours to the House Unamerican Activities Committee if they wore a red shirt.
          "Mr. McCarthy! Mr. McCarthy come quick! I saw my neighbour's toolshed and he owns both a hammer AND a sickle!"

          December 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
        • cedar rapids

          Hope your firm doesnt dare claim to be an equal opportunities employer.

          December 2, 2013 at 9:25 am |
        • For creationists


          If that post above is rude you should not be hiring anybody.

          December 2, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  11. Matthew 7:3

    Noah was a drunk
    Abraham was too old
    Isaac was a daydreamer
    Jacob was a liar
    Leah was ugly
    Joseph was abused
    Moses had a stuttering problem
    Gideon was afraid
    Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
    Rahab was a prost I tute
    David had an affair and was a murderer
    Elijah was suicidal
    Jonah ran from God
    Naomi was a widow
    Peter denied Christ (3 times!)
    Martha worried about everything
    Mary Magdalene was promiscuous
    the Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once...
    Zaccheus was too small...

    Lazarus was dead!

    Nobody is too ugly, bad or good to be used by God for His kingdom work!

    December 2, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • what

      Beg your pardon, Rahab was a harlot.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:03 am |
      • Phillipe

        Yes she was and she might have been a harlot in your eyes, but God saw the spirit of obedience to do what was right in her!

        God knows we all are sinners and in need of salvation. God can use a "no body" to fulfill His plan and purpose.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:13 am |
        • igaftr

          wait...so god uses people? so there is no free will.

          December 2, 2013 at 9:18 am |
      • PevanB

        Thank you CNN for such a fresh look at a man that I totally admire and appreciate as a writer of Christian faith. It just proves that everyone can be used of the Lord even an a donkey or A ss as the bible puts it.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • cross eyed mary

      Except Sam stone and dodo

      December 2, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • sybaris

      An allegedly omnipotent being uses humans for work

      December 2, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  12. Franco

    No one is perfect, we ALL miss the mark, it is part of being human. This human experience we have here on earth is very time limited and it is not meant to be a life full of pleasure.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  13. Ydna Nosam

    This article is refreshing. It reminds me that God uses imperfect people to accomplish his work. That means he can even use me! How awesome is that?

    December 2, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  14. Franco

    No one is perfect, we ALL miss the mark, it is part of being human. This human experience we have here on earth is very time limeited and it is not meant to be a life full of pleasure.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • cross eyed mary

      Franco no no

      December 2, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  15. popseal

    OPEN SEASON against Christians. Offering nothing but their own nihilistic world view, stealing any moral plumb line, and trying to destroy the spiritual compass Book, the Bible, these slanderers rock on to their own destiny. Christ regenerated my life 44 years ago and they can't deny it without slander.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • cross eyed mary

      U can't be serious

      December 2, 2013 at 9:01 am |
      • cedar rapids

        apparently he can, as scary as that may be.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  16. mjbrin

    i am very tired of the label "christian" or the label "believer"
    why? because that is all it is now. a label.
    i truly don't know anyone who truly follows Christ the way they say they do.
    It actually makes me sad because it would be nice if they did.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Joe S

      So true. Nobody logging on to a computer to read a CNN post and even more anyone who would post a comment is truly following Christs teachings (according to the NT). We live in a world filled with nothing but hypocrites.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:04 am |
  17. Robert Fruehling

    No matter what one calls themselves, Jesus said " By their fruit (deeds) you will recognize them... Matthew 7: 16".

    December 2, 2013 at 8:48 am |
  18. Jhudstone

    Died 50 years ago and still incites a lively conversation – I would wager no one will be talking about Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens in the same way 50 years from now.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • mjbrin

      so does Buddhism and Hinduism in our house

      December 2, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Just like how nobody talks about Carl Sagan, Einstein or Charles Darwin.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:59 am |
      • Live4Him

        Who are they? 🙂

        December 2, 2013 at 9:59 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          I think they were athletes or actors or something....
          I would hope that most people dont' really care about the personal life of authors.
          The work itself is what is important.

          December 2, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • cedar rapids

      Aleister Crowley died 66 years ago and he also gets people talking.
      Not sure what your point is.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  19. Robert Fruehling

    No matter what one calls themselves, Jesus said, "By their fruit (deeds) you will recognize them... Matthew 7:16".

    December 2, 2013 at 8:44 am |
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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.