Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stop Throwing The Bible At Me!

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 20-22; Ephesians 6

I can’t stand it when folks take scriptures out of context.

It is literally one of my pet peeves. When folks do this they are clearly doing it for their own reasons. I know that I’m guilty of it just like everyone else who enjoys the Bible but we really gotta be careful about this. We have to make sure that we look at the passages in context rather than in isolation. When viewed in isolation the Bible can seem like a very hateful and evil book.

Here are two examples of what I mean in Ephesians 6.

Honor Your Mother and Father

I remember as a youngster I used to always have this passage quoted at me.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:1-3

Ok cool… I can dig that. But it was annoying hearing that growing up when it came time to take out the trash, or cut the grass, or any other random chore that my folks wanted me to do that I didn’t’ feel like doing. Any protest had a decent chance of being met with this verse.

But yo… why didn’t I ever hear this point!?

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

Yes! Take that one Dad!

See, all that time I was getting pilloried with that scripture about honoring my parents they were in violation of what came right after it!? (Ok maybe not ALL that time… I did have a tendency toward being hard headed).

But you get my point. One thing that I’ve learned on this Bible journey is that all spiritual truth has a balance. It is never one sided. What is expected of one is expected of all.

Slaves and Masters

Here is a classic situation of taking scripture out of context that had disastrous results.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. – Ephesians 6:5

Wait what?!?

So I’m supposed to obey a master who’s been whipping me as if he was Christ? Get outta here with that hot mess! That ain’t going down at all. I ain’t the one. Not to mention the fact that the Jewish system of slavery as outlined in the laws of Moses was TOTALLY different from the holocaust that was the transatlantic slave trade.

But this scripture was used by slave owners to justify their treatment of their slaves. So not only did their brand of slavery become “justified” but it also became the duty of the slave to PLEASE them and SERVE them as if they were CHRIST.

But what happened to the follow up paragraph?

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. Ephesians 6:9

I guess this part was conveniently forgotten.

Often times we use our favorite scriptures to inspire us. We memorize them to help us get through the day or as a way of feeling better about a certain situation that we have going on in our lives. But at worst this can become a bastardization of the text. It can result in a book that is meant for peace and love being turned into a weapon to control, enslave, and destroy our fellow human beings.

So be careful when you hear folk quoting scriptures at you. Before you let them make you feel bad go back and check their references and look at the context.

Odds are if they are pointing one finger at you, they have three more pointed back at them.

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