Our family recently moved back to my hometown of upstate of New York. After the long, exhausting and tedious process of unpacking, we discovered a few items that we could part with so I placed an ad in one of our local papers. A few days passed when I received an email asking if we still had our humidifier for sale. I replied that yes in fact we did and would be happy to let it go for next to nothing. The next day a gentleman came and shortly thereafter both he and the humidifier were on the road to his place. I thought little of our transaction and immediately went on with my day caring for our toddler, dinner prep, laundry, vacuuming etc.
Later that evening I decided to log on to the computer and respond to a few pending emails. Upon opening my account found, to my surprise, several emails from “Bob”, the gentleman who bought our humidifier. Was he ok, I thought? Was something wrong with the humidifier (though I checked if it worked and it did just fine)? Did he leave something at our house etc.? Concern and curiosity ran through my mind as I clicked his first email.
Leviticus 18:22 “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination” was his first email followed by a lecture about Gods word and how His word does not change. I scanned his very long and drawn out interpretations of the five presumed anti-gay verses and clicked delete. The next email started with Romans 1:27 “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of women….” His almost four-page email went on and on and of course, ended with his personal opinion on exactly why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Apparently, during his visit, Bob noticed that we were a two-dad family and he had to make it his mission and duty to inform us that we were spiritually in wrong standing. I pondered, for a moment, about responding with a litany of Bible verses (starting with Ezekiel 16:49 which negates the Sodom and Gomorrah gay theory) however due to my pending emails and demanding toddler, I simply thanked him for his time and for sharing his interpretation of the sacred text.
Bobs email got me thinking, however. Not only do I strongly disagree with his literal interpretation of the five clobber verses but why do so many conveniently finger-point and cherry-pick the Bible (as well as Qur’an/Torah/book of Mormon etc.)? Does it make people feel better about themselves? Do people feel as if they are in good spiritual standing by picking and choosing verses in an attempt to condemn others? Does cherry-picking make some feel enlightened or knowledgeable? Does cherry-picking and pointing the finger make some feel authoritative? Although I do not have the answer, I do know we ALL cherry-pick the Bible. I decided that I could either spend my energy being bothered by Bob’s attacks or use his inappropriate emails as an opportunity to motivate this blog entry.
When I was a teenager I remember talking with my friends after they had an upsetting squabble with their parents and without fail would hear, “doesn’t it say somewhere in the Bible that parents should not put their children to wrath” (Ephesians 6:4)? I also recall my own parents on many an occasion reciting “The Bible clearly says you must honor your mother and father” (Exodus 20:12).
Recently I was speaking with my aunt, whose husband is a minister, and she shared with me that any time she would disagree with my uncle he would remind her that, “woman should submit to their husbands” (Colossians 3:18). To this, she would respond, “if you loved me like Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25) we wouldn’t be having this disagreement.”
The fact is we ALL can throw around Bible verses to prove any point we want to make. Whether you are a male and want women “checked” married and want to keep your spouse “checked”, white and want to keep blacks “checked”, straight and want to keep gays “checked”, or a parent and want to keep your kids “checked.” Whether you are circumcised or not, Christian or not, choose to masturbate, marry or stay celibate we can all cherry-pick the Bible and “check” one another. We can either forgive others’ wrong-doings using the Bible (Matthew 6:14) or justify our vengeful behavior with an eye for an eye (Exodus 21:24) – the examples are endless. But when we “check” one another aren’t we (allow me to cherry-pick now) judging one another (Matthew 7:1-2) and the Bible clearly states that we should not. That being said are we, as Christians, supposed to keep our voice and light under the metaphoric bushel? Absolutely not, but opinions not asked for are nothing less than an intrusion. I do not recall intrusion being a virtue of Christ and we are called to, at least work on, becoming more Christ-like (John 3:30).
In my almost thirty years of walking with the Father, I have come to the conclusion that the Bible must be taken all seriously, however not all literally. If we were to take all Bible verses literally, out of context, and without the historical perspectives in which they were written, we would all be walking around with one eye (Mark 9:47).
Romans 3:23 states, “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Imagine this world if instead of using our energy to intrude, cherry-pick and finger-point, we used it to love and pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and let God handle the rest (1 John 4:7-8).