Out of Context, More Inflammatory Bible Quotes

I like the Bible. I grew up with it and was taught from it. I remember liking the pictures of the people in the Middle East, and I don’t remember any blond Jesus from those days. He always had dark hair. The only picture I remember of Jesus with any blond people was the one where he was suffering the little children to come unto him. One of the kids had blond hair. Of course, I didn’t understand what suffer the little children meant, I mean suffer? And the flight to Egypt? They rode donkeys, there were no planes back then. Lots of the Bible made no sense to me as a little kid. But I just passed on most of it. At six, I didn’t expect everything to make sense and that hasn’t really changed…

Then someone told me that in Sunday school they only teach us the happy stuff so we’ll be brainwashed into believing in Christianity. Maybe, but if that’s the case, it’s no sure thing.

I never ever imagined living in a time when Christianity (or so-called) would become a political position. Shows how relentlessly naive I was/am. I suspect it’s ALWAYS been a political position, but this Christian Nationalism? Scary.

As for me and any Christian church? I pretty much left in high school when it became clear that I really DIDN’T understand Christianity as it related to church. That said, I like the Bible. If you’ve read any of those old, old books across the world you’ll recognize a lot of the stories and the moral lessons. As for me, I got the idea from doing that that people are pretty much the same everywhere. In books like that, you don’t expect realism. I’m sure that originally the Bible stories were lore and legend, part of an ancient oral tradition. My favorite entire book of the Bible is Job.

I had to seriously study the Bible as I was writing my four novels, not just the Bible but a lot of the religious material surrounding the various eras. It was absolutely fascinating. I met some obscure Reformation theologians that I wish had been the guys to put those 95 theses up on that door instead of the guy who did. I spent some time in Lebanon (not in real life or real time) learning about the reasons behind, the challenges in, being a hermit. It sounded like a good life to me — tending goats, tending olive trees — if not for the stuff inside that a hermit might have been trying to deal with. I saw the descendants of the Reformation guys struggling to survive and raise families, so desperate, ultimately, that they left their home countries. I like all those people. I understand what they were hoping for and how impossible it is.

Last night my “representative” came on some TV show and let loose on the roles of men and women. I was very familiar with the fragment of the Bible verse she “quoted,” then attempted to explain. She had done what many fundamentalist Christians have done in my experience; she used a small passage of a longer statement to argue that women are less than men and need men to protect and guide them.

I remember back in the 1970s — during the eruption of both Feminism and what might be its counter-movement, Born Againism — looking at that. It was an argument against Feminism, against women doing the same jobs as men and getting the same pay. It was one of those, “Look here, the Bible says…” followed by “…so if you’re a Christian, you can’t support Feminism.” It’s 1 Peter 3:7 where the woman is referred to as “the weaker vessel.” In real life, the passage is a gentle plea to husbands to treat their wives well.

The REAL kicker in this part of the Bible is the preceding verse where Peter tells women to “submit to your own husbands.” Even that isn’t as awful as it sounds, though. Peter’s entire point in the WHOLE passage is to offer couple’s counselling — to a new Christian community back in the OLDEN DAYS — to couples about maintaining a peaceful family life. It has nothing to do with the work place or who’s smarter than whom, or who’s better than whom. Marriage is a thing apart. I’ve been married. I found it extremely difficult. Obviously I see long married couples all around me, and while I’ll never know the deep secrets of the lives of those people, I do see that they’ve achieved a kind of division of labor. The really happy ones are two people who are friends.

The entire passage is instruction to a new Christian community, a community discoverable now by archeology, about how to live peacefully with other people who did not like or understand the new religion, and in that time the would have been almost everyone. Even living with like-minded people? Godnose that isn’t easy. Peter’s instruction is, ultimately, beautiful. Bobo wasn’t quoting that, but I will. I love it. “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” I Peter 8 

I thought about that this morning. What if a politician came on TV (or whatever) and said THAT??? Would we listen?

45 thoughts on “Out of Context, More Inflammatory Bible Quotes

  1. The Bible is too often used as a weapon instead of an instruction manual. The broader message is lost in sound bites interpreted by idiots. I too am scared (terrified and horrified) by the Christian Nationalism now rearing its ugly head.

    • Yep. It’s a great book, but because of the way it’s abused, a lot of people who might otherwise like it, hate it. Sometimes I feel sorry for those old guys — like Peter — who just tried their best — including Jesus. It’s not fair. Here’s a book that simply says, “Human life is really, really, really difficult. Make it easier. Love your neighbor.” ANYBODY can understand (and use!) that.

  2. Lovely! I took a woman’s bible class in self defense in college when I had a born again boyfriend who would quote things out of context. I knew many passages from my parents singing Masses even though I’d barely set foot in a church. My favorite lesson in the class was from Ruth, where I learned that “sitting on the household gods” could be a euphemism for womens’ menses. She sat on the household gods and refused to get up because it was “that time of month” and therefore impure. Bravo!

    • Great stories in there. People get outraged by stuff that’s just logical, like “If all the people were drowned where did we come from?”

      “Well, poor Noah had to do his daughters.” Did he want to? No, but what choice did he have?” That is a huge lesson on the power of necessity, but people see incest not “You gotta’ do what you gotta’ do” which happens in life, everyone’s life, those hard, hard, hard decisions like putting down your dog or putting your mom in a nursing home or calling the cops on a guy who beats you up. The Bible is just a GREAT book.

      • Dunno, would make more sense if they were pregnant when the boat took off, from a diversity standpoint.

        • Definitely. I got the idea from the story that they didn’t have a lot of lead time, but still, you can’t build an ark and collect all those animals over night.

          • OH Eddie Izzard’s great routine about the ark — Noah tells his son to collect all the animals, specifying, “All of them. Tigers, everything.” Noah comes back that evening after building all day and sees only two tigers. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard.

        • Actually, Noah had no daughters, only three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. They and their wives, he and his wife, were all aboard the ark. “Eight souls were saved,” the Bible says.” Once they were on dry land again, his descendants must have been fruitful and multiplied.

        • It means that the Bible story only records the first three children of Adam and Eve, not all the rest they had later. But yes, Cain’s wife must have been one of his sisters.

              • Well, that explains everything. If he lived 800 years, then his kids could easily have been strangers to each other. I love how, in this culture, we take christian mythology to be “true” and all other religions have “myths”. I loved the story of a person trying to explain the story of the earth resting on the back of a turtle. They were asked what the turtle stands on. After a few iterations, the answer was “it’s turtles all the way down”. Makes about as much sense as an 800 year old man fathering hundreds of children.

        • It’s stories. The Hopis think we all emerged out of the earth and made a deal with the surface god (the sun) to take care of the earth so we could stay here. I see Kivas. Some Southeast asians believe the first two humans made the rest of the humans through clay they threw down a mountain. The Zunis think the Sun put Twin Brothers on the Earth to help humans. Through an amazing series of events, photo-humans (somewhat like plants married salamanders) were changed by sunlight and rainbows into humans. It seems like there are always floods, though. It’s all pretty cool, to me. I love all of it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all true, but I kind of like the Hopi idea best, that we came out of darkness into light and have to take care of it. There’s a persistent idea of formlessness and darkness. I just think of children all over the world all through time asking, “Where did we come from?” What an amazing question.

    • I can’t either. I truly hate what I’ve had to learn about people. Hate it, hate it, hate it but glad I didn’t know it before. That’s a little something.

  3. Who likes that BS that whats-her-name spouts? Men who grab pussies?
    I was going to suggest you read this fab book that provides historical context to religious nationalism. It’s called “The Brothers’ Path” by a woman called Martha Kennedy.

  4. I was raised christian. When it was time to get confirmed, the lead minister came into our confirmation class (the assistant minister usually taught us) to talk about the importance of this step and that it wasn’t to be taken lightly. I told him I couldn’t, in good conscience, be confirmed because I didn’t believe this stuff. He urged me to go home and talk with my parents about this. My mom told me I had to get confirmed because they already bought my present and they got it on sale so it couldn’t be returned. I stood mute for the ceremony and was confirmed based on the group response of “I do”. The fin on that water ski later broke, sending me skipping across the water at high speed. I guess that let me off the hook.

  5. It sounds incongruous to me for a female “representative” to claim that women are lesser than men and need men to guide them. If she really believed that, she’d have let some man run for office in her place.

    • That thought crossed my mind. Her statement was that God created men and women to be equal (as the verse says) but that women are the lesser vessel — a statement that makes no sense whatsoever out of context and flat out contradicts itself without the whole verse. The only sense it makes is in terms of physical size and strength which seems to me what the whole verse refers to — I take it to mean, “Men, don’t beat your wives. They’re littler than you” which is often true.

      • Yes, that’s basically the meaning. Also, I’d add that women bear the children and should be protected from harm in that respect. A person may argue that women are more emotionally fragile, more easily reduced to tears, but I find that depends more on each individual than on the sex.

        • Absolutely. I read this and just saw Peter talking to a group of new Christians in the early early days and trying to help them find a way to live as a tiny, persecuted community and hold it together. ❤️

  6. MAK,…as always, I appreciate your wisdom and words. Ugh, it’s all cringeworthy! Most of the shifts in my life have been spiritual at the core, “religion” behooves me. When I chose to leave Facebook and NEVER return it was because I gave my opinion about Trump (I’m not trying to take us on a rabbit hole here…) and I was BLASTED by “Modern” Christians. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ll not tweak the most beautiful messages of love and humility into words of power, degradation, and hate. I’ll never understand any context created to do such. Job is one of my favorite books, too. Us humans really make things so complicated and divisive. 💛

  7. I consider myself a recovering Christian. Having been raised in a strict holiness group whos “National Christianity” would rival that of the Talibans, moving my beliefs to a point that being acquitted instead of forgiven was an arduous task.
    I think if Christ ran for president he would be hard pressed to get a vote.
    Women would be respected like the Mary Magdalene and the Samaritan women.
    His domestic agenda would be communism, where everyone shares everything in common. His social initiative would be give to the poor and needy. Crime reform would be, if they steal your cloak, give them your coat, if you are wronged forgive them.
    If we were invaded we would at least be expected go the second mile to help them.
    The second ammendment would be abolished, for to live by the sword is to die by the sword.
    The only thing that seems similar is, pay your taxes, render unto Caesar what is Caesars.
    My opinion is that Christ’s New Testament was to do away with the Old Testaments law of living in a world of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
    It some how got derailed and rewritten to follow the Old Testament except you don’t need to stock up on sheep for sacrifices.
    I consider one of the greatest teach who walked the earth, but
    I think he would get crucified again.
    Political Christianity doesn’t resemble, “They were called Christians because they acted like Christ.”
    I think if you want to see someone living what Christ taught, go find a Buddhist.

    • Thank you — I just tried to leave a response on your blog, but WP is being a pain, so here it is.

      Keven — so much here. Yes! “I believe there are as many roads to the Supreme Being/ God/ Creator of All/ Consciousness…as there are souls to walk them. ”

      Because it’s so easy and so clear, no ambiguity in hate, “But the old song remained, it had such a catchy tune.”

      I love, “Tiny blue school.”

      You’ve written beautifully about this conundrum.

      I remember the period in which I doubted the existence of God. It was very uncomfortable and did not feel right, but there I was.

      It was a really hard time in my life. My alcoholic bro had died without my knowing. I had a bag of ashes in my office at home. The Great Recession was going on and money was tight. I was applying for an Obama Mortgage (which I got) — just a whole lot of struggle. I’d ejected an abusive boyfriend from my life. So, where was God? I lay in bed one night and suddenly I “heard”

      “Matthew 6:34 Wycliffe Bible
      34 Therefore do not ye be busy into the morrow, for the morrow shall be busy to itself; for it sufficeth to the day his own malice.” I laughed.

      “Malice” was the right word, and at that moment I decided that whether or not there is a God, I’d rather believe in God than not because it makes me happier.

      That said, a few years earlier, a little kid had correctly identified me as a Panentheist. His uncle (who was his father figure and raising him) was a religious studies and philosophy professor at a fundamentalist Christian college, so even though the kid was 5 he knew more terms than I did. One night over pizza, after I told a story about the X-country ski adventure I’d had that day with my dog, Molly, he said, “Martha are you a pantheist or a panentheist?”

      I thought “Huh?” and I asked him what the difference was.

      “A pantheist believes God is in everything. A panentheist believes everything is God.”

      So a few years later, in that night of spiritual crisis, I also thought of that and thought, “Ah, this moment is God, too. Cool.”

      So even the conquistador and his dire errors is God.

      • Thanks for taking time to read my poem. Life can be a rough trip at times. I enjoy reading your work. I agree that the conquistador and his errors is God.
        I find it interesting that Taoism Christianity / Judaism and Hinduism all kind of start with the some premise that there is a singular God. Taoists say it became two, then three and then ten thousand things, Christianity and Judaism say In the beginning was God then he divided the light from the dark and created the universe, Hinduism starts with Braman, who creates two God’s, one for light and one for darkness. To me each appear to be an attempt to explan duality. Hinduism takes one more step and say Braman divided himself into everything so everything is God.
        I think our individual atoms or the energy that forms them is the Consciousness of God. Whomever or Whatever is energy both manifested or unmanifested and everything around us is God or whatever name that fits someones fancy.
        I must be both, I think God is in everything and everything is God.
        I think the greatest evidence of a God is nature, if we intelligent humans keep our hands off it, it ticks like perfect clock.

        • I was thinking that last night. It rained recently and the wind blew sending the leaves to the ground. It will snow, holding the moisture in the earth. What a great system. Yep. If everything is God there is nothing that exists without the presence of God within it.

          Evil…evil exists, but not apart from God which is something a little hard to take, I think. For me, anyway. Some people choose to deny the existence of evil, but it’s there. As for whether it is the opposite of good, I don’t think so. My bro gave his life to alcohol, ultimately against his will, in a sense. Soon after I learned he was dead I dreamed I was in a motel in Death Valley (where I had actually been in real life). I opened the sliding door to the patio and my brother was lying on the grass. “Hi Martha Ann,” he said, “I had to go. I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m sorry.” And he was happy.

          The element of redemption would not exist without darkness and I don’t know what we humans would do without that kind of magic. What a loss to us, in spite of the sorrow.

          It’s funny how we pick and choose from the Bible. Soon after I moved here I heard “Turn, turn, turn” on the car radio and decided to look up the whole bit. What I found was spectacular, “Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him? Ecclesiastes 3:22

          How different our Christian upbringings would be if someone told us THAT? 😀

          • Sorry for your loss, I have a family member who’s addiction has brought them to the place that Cheryl and I are sort of waiting for a phone call unless some miracle intervenes. I was spared in 1985 through AA and NA and a Higher Power that could be approached differently than I was taught. I believe that due to the fact that we exist in a energy system od duality good and evil exist, or at least precieved that way. I think beyond this little blue school, beyond the beyond is a phrase the Buddhists use, that duality blends into one. Like 1 + -1=0, another attempt to explain the unexplainable, but it does add up to the Great Void.
            We are here to learn to love and evolve. Everyday is just another day of our eternal life, we just get to take a school break every little bit. Dreams are gifts sometimes especially ones like yours. I have a niece who chose to leave early, she has shown up in some of my dream. She seems to be doing well.
            I had a difficult time developing any self-esteem while I was being taught what I was being taught. That wasn’t one of their top choices. I believe that falls more on me than them, ultimately I am responsible for what I choose to believe.
            … and if wasn’t for my dissatisfaction I wouldn’t have searched for solutions. Can’t have one without the other. Another perfect system.

Comments are closed.