When I dislike things in the Bible

Jun 4, 2018 by

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  • “Women should be silent.”
  • “Cover your head.”
  • “Wives, submit to your husbands.”
  • “Take up your cross”
  • “Share in suffering.”
  • “You will experience persecution.”

There’s a lot of verses that make me uncomfortable in the Bible — many commands that I wish weren’t there. I’ve searched the Bible, studied the definitions in the back of Strong’s concordance hoping that “veil” meant hair, and complained to God that his Word was unfair.

But there is something that I dislike even more. Something that makes me even more uncomfortable is changing what the Bible says.

As humans, we have a tendency to twist what the Bible says, either by adding or removing. Revelation 22 warns, “I testify to everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book. And if anyone takes away from the words of this prophetic book, God will take away his share the tree of life and the holy city, written in this book” (emphasis added). Deuteronomy 4:2 echoes, “You must not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, so that you may keep the commands of the Lord your God I am giving you.”

Adding

The Pharisees added to Scripture a lot: “You put burdens on people’s backs,” Jesus told them. He picked wheat to eat on the Sabbath, didn’t follow ceremonial hand-washing practices and healed on the Sabbath despite the Pharisees’ chagrin.

As human beings, we like clear lines. We want specifics. Exactly how much is too much violence, sex or language in a movie? What is a lie and what isn’t? Unfortunately, sometimes we can impose our attempt to follow the Bible as the law for everyone else. We can make something black and white that in reality has numerous applications.

Removing

The Pharisees made the removing mistake as well. In Mark 7, Jesus condemns them for telling people how to get out of being responsible for their aging parents. “You follow the letter but not the spirit,” Jesus said another time.

This is also a danger. We can look for loopholes and ways to explain away the parts of the Bible that feel limiting, old-fashioned and unfair to us. We can be so focused on our freedoms that we miss our freedom to worship through obedience. We can try to make God follow our ideas of what is right and wrong instead of humbly asking for his perspective.

A mutual problem

Scripture is God-breathed, but when we add or remove commands, we are stating that we know better than God.

A 3-year-old may not understand why he can’t play in the street; a 14-year-old may think the legal driving age should be lowered. But we say, “Just obey. When you’re older, you’ll understand.”

Our God’s mind does not work like ours. And sure, while it is good to attempt to grasp the why, sometimes we just have to obey what Scripture says. And sometimes we can’t fit everything into a nice, neat formula. It doesn’t always make sense to our finite minds. It doesn’t always feel right.

But it is good.

Tabitha Driver is a Mennonite who loves glimpsing God’s goodness on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. She blogs at Life is a Metaphor, where this post first appeared.


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