A while back I did a post demonstrating with six examples that to find something manifestly ridiculous in the Bible to criticize about it, you have to make it up (if you missed it, check it out here: https://deliberationsatmimirswell.blog/2018/08/05/stupid-things-people-think-the-bible-says-which-it-doesnt/). Anyway, here are 6 more:
- Racism- People think that the Bible condones racism against people of African descent. It’s true that that was the position of Southern slaveholders to justify themselves, but that’s really not what the Bible says. They said that in Genesis 9, when Noah got so drunk he passed out naked in his tent and his son Ham looked on him, Noah cursed Ham and his descendants into servitude to Shem and Japheth. Since the traditional understanding was that Africans descended from Ham and Europeans descended from Japheth, they reasoned that they had Biblical grounds for enslaving Africans. Well, actually, Noah curses Ham’s son Canaan, and this curse was played out in Israel’s conquest of Canaan in the Book of Joshua. As far as racism against Africans goes, consider Numbers 12, wherein it’s related that a Hebrew as saintly as Moses married an Ethiopian. Aaron and Miriam take offense at this, and in response to Miriam’s racism, God makes her white as snow- with leprosy! It definitely doesn’t look like interracial marriage bothers God at all.
- Male domination- Some people think the Bible was written by tyrannical patriarchs to support some sort of agenda to subjugate women. Yes, it’s true that the Bible states that the husband and father is the spiritual head of the household. Yes, women are told to submit to and honor their husbands. Yes, the Bible is very strict about the grounds over which a woman can divorce her husband. But the Bible has no comforts for an abusive husband and father. In Roman society, the paterfamilias had almost unrestricted control over his household, even getting to say when a baby would be exposed on a mountainside or trash heap to die. They were also notorious for their adultery, be it with slaves or prostitutes. To counteract this “toxic masculinity,” Paul told Roman husbands to “love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for her […] so ought men to love their wives as their own bodies […] for no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church” (Ephesians 5:25, 28, 29, KJV). Yes, he’s the boss, and he’s the tiebreaking vote, but he’s not a tyrant. Peter tells husbands to “dwell with them according to knowledge [and here some translations have “understanding” or “consideration”], giving honor unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel” (I Peter 3:7), and he warns abusive husbands that being abusive will “hinder” their prayers. If a feminist has trouble submitting to a husband like Peter and Paul’s model for him, then that’s on her, not Scripture.
- Adornment- While we’re on I Peter 3, let’s back up a few verses to verse 3, wherein Peter states that, with regards to “adorning, let it not be that outward adorning, of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel.” Some people interpret this as a prohibition against all make-up and jewelry, but here as so often in Scripture, the “not” here means “not so much as.” Clearly, we have to interpret it this way, as an absolute “not” would ban wearing clothes! The point is that the Bible prescribes modesty in our outward appearance and a focus on inward thoughts and attitudes. Focusing too much on appearance or trying to call people’s attention to our outward beauty is unhealthy and causes us to overlook more important matters. Still, gold and make-up are allowed if reasonable. God Himself metaphorically says He gave Israel bracelets, a necklace, and earrings in Ezekiel 16, and God tells the Israelites in Exodus 3:22 to ask for jewelry from the Egyptians as they are leaving.
- Shellfish- I saw on a site titled, “25 Things the Bible Says Not to Do, But You Do Anyway,” or something like that, the prohibition against eating shellfish. Yes, there’s a whole list of things Old Testament Israel was not supposed to eat. Besides being limited to food that was safer with their primitive means of preparing it, this was a symbol to Israel of being set apart from the pagan Gentiles. Now that God has opened His Gospel call to all nations, these laws are no longer necessary. In fact, God specifically rescinds the kosher laws when he shows Peter a blanket full of unclean animals and says, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat” (Acts 10:13), tellingly, right before Peter meets with Gentiles who are interested in hearing the Gospel. I don’t care for shellfish myself, but if you do, God won’t condemn you for eating it.
- Women wearing pants- On the basis of Deuteronomy 22:5, some people have a problem with women wearing pants. The typical translation follows the KJV: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment.” Well, for one thing, this is not a particularly good translation. The Hebrew is closer to prohibiting a woman from “bearing the accoutrements of a gibbor.” A gibbor is the term used for David’s “mighty men,” his elite warriors. But, really, the intent is for both sexes to maintain a distinct appearance based on what their culture associates with each gender. It seems pretty easy to me to tell women’s pants from guys’ pants, so that shouldn’t be a problem. A lot of this is cultural, as demonstrated by the fact that some of Britain’s finest gibborim, the Highlanders, wore kilts, whereas we would think of that as a decidedly feminine look. But in the wet ground of the Highlands, men working in bogs and heaths found skirts more practical than trousers, which were more for the rich gentlemen who had servants to carry them over water so their feet wouldn’t get wet. There’s a deeper issue than just a blanket prohibition on one type of clothes for everybody.
- God wants us to be miserable for our sin- When people think of the Puritans, they think of dour, humorless people oppressed by guilt. Besides the fact that this image isn’t true of most Puritans, it shouldn’t be true of any Christian either. God wants us to repent of our sin, and while much of that involves grief for the evil we’ve done, the other major part is finding joy in God’s ways rather than in our fleshly ways. Tellingly, there are only 7 psalms that include a really marked penitential element, but there are far more praising God. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. In fact, several times in his writings, the great Puritan Thomas Watson says that Christians going around all sulky and miserable is an insult to God that would turn people away from following Him.