Do you know anyone who uses scripture like a weapon?

Note: This article is semi-serious and semi-sarcastic. Discern carefully and with a bit of humor.

Do you know anyone who uses scripture like a weapon?

Occasionally you encounter someone who carries around their memorized verses like a quiver of arrows. They pull them out to support political positions, social preferences, and just about any opinion about any subject. You name the discussion and they can produce a verse that offers the definitive word.

Thus Sayeth The Lord! End of conversation.

One of my friends has a great term for such folks. She calls them “pick-n-choosers” because they always pick out just the part that supports their opinion while choosing to ignore context or other passages that might cloud the issue.

I suspect that we’re all guilty of being “pick-n-choosers” at times. We all probably oversimplify, interpret without sufficient study, and even occasionally twist a passage intentionally to reinforce a point. It’s just part of being humans with biases and limited understanding. The best we can do is to be aware and try to remain open to new learning.

When I’m feeling a little mischievous, I’ll counter a pick-n-chooser’s argument with Deuteronomy 22:8. Now you’re probably digging through the mental archives and coming up empty. I’d bet that almost no one has memorized Deuteronomy 22:8.

When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof. [Deuteronomy 22:8]

Admit it—you didn’t know that one, right? You may even be asking, “What the heck is a ‘parapet’?”

A parapet is a wall-like barrier at the edge of a roof. Does your house have one? Mine doesn’t, despite this clear, unequivocal biblical command. And if you’re familiar with the story of my injury (fell off a roof while installing Christmas lights) you’ll see why I think parapets are a darned good idea.

So does this mean we’re all violating biblical law? Should we hire a contractor immediately to install parapets and demand a change in city building codes to conform to God’s commandments? Is my injury a result of God’s judgment for ignoring His law?

I’m sure you realize that this command was intended for a specific cultural context and that we’re not supposed to begin a small business constructing parapets. But how frequently are scriptures removed from context and applied to equally unintended situations?

This doesn’t mean that scriptural truths don’t exist or that biblical truth is all relative. It does mean that study and discernment are required to properly understand and apply scripture. Context matters.

Take a moment and read the rest of Deuteronomy 22. Anyone in favor of a literal, out-of-context application of verse 5? How about 28-29?

I have a neighbor who insists that the bible should be taken 100% literally. We agree to disagree, though I get the sense that he hopes to someday save me from my blindness.

I think I’ll go and ask him when he’s going to get his parapets installed.

Are you ever tempted to be a pick-n-chooser? How do you discern properly between contextual commands and eternal truths?

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Copyright 2010 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

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