Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Living the Bible, literally
AJ Jacobs was a man on a mission of Biblical proportions. His goal? To live the "Good Book" as literally as possible for an entire year, and yes, it wound up being as tough as it sounds.

Jacobs started by making a list of rules to live by based on his study of the Bible. He determined there are more than 700 decrees that he had to keep conscious of every waking minute of every day.

As you might imagine, some of the well-known rules of the Bible were not too tough to implement. "Thou shalt not kill", for example, was a no-brainer.

It was some of the more obscure rules, such as those suggesting one should stone adulterers, wear all white and smash idols, that proved most difficult to abide by.

"I grew up in a very secular home," Jacobs said. "I'm Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is Italian, so not very. But I've become very interested in religion, so I wanted this to be diving in head first and learning about religion."

Jacobs chronicled his adventure in "The Year of Living Biblically", a new book. Much to our benefit, beyond writing about his experience, Jacobs also had the foresight to bring a video camera along for the ride.

We'll show some of this video tonight and hear directly from Jacobs. He'll explain, among other things, why a 70-something lothario threatened him with violence and how he managed to out-Bible talk a Jehovah's Witness.

So here's my question: Which biblical rules -- when taken literally -- would you find most difficult to follow in modern society?

-- By Chuck Hadad, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 2:06 PM ET
  25 Comments
I think that depends on how you determine "hardest."

You would deffinitely catch the most outrage for things like stoning adulterers or homosexuals, as was custom under the old testament law (Which Christians no longer observe because of the new covenant of Christ).

But I think that there are biblical laws that would be much much more difficult to keep, in and of themselves. How many of us can honestly sit back and say, for example, that we have continuously observed the 10 commandments? I think that on a spiritual level, it would be much harder for me to never lie, never be jealous, never hold anything to higher esteem than God than to observe some of the more physically-oriented laws (Although I seriously doubt I'm capable of stoning anyone ;)).
Posted By Ashley : 2:27 PM ET
What a cool idea for a book! It is so difficult in today's society to follow many of the 10 commandments. It becomes further complicated by the fact that our government is not allowed to push any one faith on the public. I will be curious to hear about Jacobs's journey!
Posted By Pamina, New Rochelle, NY : 2:33 PM ET
For me none...I'm pretty good! LOL

For this nation as a whole I'd say Thou shalt not have any other God's before me...Because this nation has deffinately put money before God! How to get it, how to horde it and how to spend it! That is what is wrong with this nation now!! It needs God back as the head of it!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 2:39 PM ET
Stone adulterers? First of all, it is wrong to hurt other people, no matter who they are. Second of all, you could be arrested for assault. Religion becomes dangerous when the Bible is taken literally.

As for your question, I would find "Thou shalt not mention the name of the Lord in vain" difficult to follow. I mean, for God's sake, I say His name whenever I want to make a point. See? I just did it.

Thanks,
Lilibeth
Edmonds, Washington
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, Washington : 2:46 PM ET
Let's see I'm waiting for marriage to have sex, covers 7 and 10 - check.
I haven't killed anyone, covers 6- yet - check.
No other Gods #1 - check.
Carved images #2(I'm crafty but not that crafty) - check.
Sabbath #4= lazy day - check
Honor father and mother #5- double check.
Never in my life have I stolen anything #8 - check.
Never have lied about anything ever, I HATE liars #9 - check.

Okay so I've blown #3 when I get cheesed off....oh well all the fun people will be in hell anyway.
Posted By Anonymous : 2:56 PM ET
This is going to be sooo interesting to watch. I have to be honest, there are probably tons of rules or ideas in the Bible I would find hard to follow (or just downright impossible.) Of course, the Ten Commandments are a given. Pretty easy to avoid doing most of that stuff. I have probably had lust in my heart at some time or another. I have also probably taken the Lord's name in vain. I try to live by the Golden Rule. I think this will be a good lesson in how maybe the Bible wasn't intended to be taken so literally. But if you need a list of adulterers...call me.
Posted By Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 3:09 PM ET
Well, there are the rules about not working on the Sabbath. Depending on how strictly you interpret that, it could cause problems. There are all the kosher laws.

But I think my main problem would be with the assumption that a man is the ordained head of the household, and I'm disobeying the lord by disobeying the man . . . .
Posted By jen : 3:24 PM ET
I think love thy neighbor is really a stretch for most. We as a modern society spend so much time debating each other's opinions. My rule is to mind my own business. Having a debate about the bible is ok as long as you don't use that debate to ridicule those that believe in it.
On the other hand, no one wants to be hit over the head with the do's and don'ts of what someone else deems gospel in the bible...So, I'd have to say zip the lip, let thy neighbor have his say, let me have mine and let's be civil to each other..I'll sign off now, I'm becoming too preachy for my own ears!
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buelllton, Calif : 3:43 PM ET
I don’t think anyone in America could make it very far trying to follow the rules of the Bible. The 10th Commandment states: “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.”

Well, I got news for you. The whole concept of capitalism and, “keeping up with the Joneses,” is predicated on exactly that; coveting thy neighbor’s house and ox and car and big screen TV. Our society is one big direct violation of the Bible and its rules. If people actually did try to follow these rules, the world as we know it, would hit a stand still.
Posted By Ed, New York City : 3:46 PM ET
A debate about the Bible is good as long as you don't use that debate to ridicule those that believe in it.
On the other hand, no one wants to be hit over the head with passages of the do's and don'ts of what the Bible means to those who hold it as gospel.
So I'd say that Love thy neighbor seems to be becoming very hard for this modern society.
My rule is, let me believe what I want, you believe what you want and let's stay civil to all the neighbors in this great, big neighborhood. I'll sign off now, I've become too preachy for my own ears today.
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 3:59 PM ET
Considering the Bible was written thousands of years ago for a completely different society, it would be impossible to follow most of the rules. It's a pretty bloody and violent book and there's a lot in it that I wouldn't even want to follow.

When I was a kid I tried to keep kosher for awhile, but I love shrimp and bacon too much. These days I just try to be a good person and treat others as I wish to be treated. Hopefully they won't be offended if I have a little lust or coveting or curse when I'm upset.
Posted By Barbara : 4:11 PM ET
There's no way I could come close to living that pure, that forgiving. But the hardest things?

1. Taking the Lord's name in vain. I try not to, but not successfully.

2. I never tell an out and out lie. But there are times I may "fib", or omit part of the truth.

3. Love thy neighbor as thyself? You haven't met some of the neighbors I've had!

4. Covet thy neighbors spouse? Don't think so.

5. Lusted after? Uh,next question?!

Take the 5th
Maggie
Posted By Anonymous : 4:24 PM ET
I generally avoid temptation, unless I can't resist it...
Posted By Mae West : 4:35 PM ET
Gee, wouldn't it make a great "You Tube" question to ask at the CNN Republican debate in November? Just imagion the commandments those guys have broken! Okay, maybe not Romney, but he's still a politician, so I'd have to say yes to at least a few.
Posted By Jan from Wood Dale, IL : 4:44 PM ET
Consider this small inconsistency...
Exodus 35:2, if someone works on the Sabbath they should be stoned to death, yet there is the commandment "Thou Shall not kill."
So what would be my favorite rule you ask? I suppose it depends on the day ;)
--Alice
Posted By Alice : 4:51 PM ET
Oh boy! Another non-story taking up the airwaves to the detriment of "real" stories that people NEED to know about. Way to go, 360!
Posted By Monika, Eagar, Arizona : 5:21 PM ET
The Bible is so contradictory in nature. Jesus Christ came to straighten out and revamp a lot of what was in the Old Testament anyway. I'll be interested to see what is being taken literally and what isn't in this story. The denomination followed would seem to determine what verses one follows and how anyway.

Love your neighbor as yourself, I have called you by name, and have no other gods besides God pretty much takes care of everything for me I feel I need to do to live each day in a spiritually healthy manner. I never believed in Bible thumping or literal interpretations anyway (thanks to open-minded parents and K-12 Roman Catholic Marianite Order schooling).

The one passage I have always struggled with is the submission to a husband. I believe a wife should honor her husband, love him, respect him, and treat him with dignity. I believe a husband should do the same for his wife. I believe outside of God a spouse is a person's first priority in life. I don't have a problem with that. What I would have a hard time dealing with is having to be completely submissive with no recourse, no say in the relationship, and no opportunity to be anything but a baby making factory and personal servant (which is the way some of the passages read). It sounds too much like abuse to me.

I do look forward to watching this segment tonight. It is sort of scary the lengths we as humans will take to find meaning in our lives when the meaning is within all along.
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 5:56 PM ET
Is there video of him out-Bible talking a Jehovah's Witness? I've tried it and it's not so easy!!

To answer the question: it is very hard for me to not to take the Lord's name in vain almost daily and I don't think I could eat kosher as they do in the Old Testament!!

Amanda
Posted By Amanda : 6:15 PM ET
Solomon exhorts us to get wisdom, it is "the
principle thing". So how does one get wisdom?
Hate sin and fear God, something which the
Architect of the Capitol and Nancy Pelosi don't
seem to understand. In a city whose buildings
are adorned with respect for our Creator, the
Speaker now endorses censorship.
Posted By John : 6:16 PM ET
Hm I seem to always be asking for forgivness from something. In some of the studies I've done, it's been said that worry, wasting time and wearing cloth with more than one kind of fabric is a sin. Also, eating hooved animals and shell fish is a sin. The list is endless. I'm usually ok with the big sins, but these little ones are tough. This should be a good story. I know I could never do what he did!
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 6:53 PM ET
That thing about the shellfish? Sorry, God - no can do. If you hadn't wanted lobsters and crabs to be eaten, you shouldn't have made them delicious.
Posted By Arachnae, Sterling VA : 7:03 PM ET
This is pretty much a nonsensical exercise. To live "according to the Bible" would be to live with fear, repression and delusion. The Bible was written in an age when the natural world was a mystery. Why did people *sometimes* sicken and die from eating shellfish or pork? Burning and pillaging your neighbour's castle was a bad idea because a community is stronger than a lone person or family. There is a logical explanation for every rule in the Bible. Most people these days can figure things out for themselves. As for "take no other Gods...", well that fear of other religions taking over one's own life is what causes most of the wars on the face of the planet.
I should think there would be a better topic of research than living a year out of the Christian Bible.

Janet, Nelson, BC Canada
Posted By Anonymous : 7:10 PM ET
Um...I think I'm with Jen - obeying man and thinking of him as the head of the household would definitely be the hardest one for me. I'm very much an equal rights sort of girl.

Eating kosher - that would be about impossible too. Loving my neighbor would be about impossible. So guess I'm be pretty warm in the next life!

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Annie Kate : 8:57 PM ET
Um, I'm sorry, there are a lot of people out there who don't have a life. This guy is obviously one of them. Why is CNN reporting on this? Just because it has to do with religion? What's the point???
Posted By Monika, Eagar, Arizona : 9:24 PM ET
Even though each person has a different definition of God and religion, I think most of us feel the same way. We hope that someone upstairs is watching and helping us. We try to treat others as we hope to be treated. And hopefully nobody follows the bible to a "t", because otherwise we would be arrested for stoning someone. I believe when all is said and done, it doesn't matter if you follow each of the commandments exactly as written. As long as you help others and respect yourself and others, you should be ok in God's eyes.
Posted By Anonymous : 12:10 PM ET
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