…just to be clear, there is a Bible verse for…
1. Burning witches
2. Castrating theological opponents
3. Cutting off women’s hands
4. Killing the babies of your enemies
5. Killing your own children if they disrespect you
6. Eating kosher
7. Kissing everyone in church 🤨
8. Being baptized for the dead (🤯🤷♂️)
9. Women being saved by having babies
…just pointing to one verse and saying, “see! See?! The bible says!” Is not enough. In fact, that is scary!
The bible is a coming together of the human and the divine. Do you understand the people of the time? Do you know what problems they were trying to address with these laws? Do you know the bigger story? Can you glean out some principles? Can you tie everything back to Jesus’ principle, that all commands should be hinged on love of God and neighbour? Do you know your OWN story? Do you know the history that brought you to the beliefs that you have? Do you know the culture in which you live? Do you know the real-life heartache and problems around you? Can you remember that true godliness is about purity of life, and care of the vulnerable and the outcasts? Can you balance biblical commands with mercy, as Jesus taught?
Interpreting the Bible is hard. Work. Which is why it is usually best done in community. It’s a long book with a lot of seeming contradictions. I think this is on purpose. We see ourselves in the story, but the Bible resists a rigid “black-and-white” interpretation. There’s always that one verse that doesn’t quite fit.
It’s complicated. It’s hard work. It’s heart work. We won’t always get it right. We may feel like we are living in the grey. It can be quite unsatisfying.
…and yet, God can guide us, and we can find ourselves in the story. The Bible can become a living book, to give us timeless help in our changing lives.
…but someone just studying alone, unreflective, cut off from culture, not reading any commentaries, and basing all their ethics on proof-texts? “The Bible says!” “I’ve got a verse for that!” “Look right here, it says…” 😬 Yeah…there’s a LOT of verses in there…😬😬
Proof-text ethics is just scary…