Despite all the good the Bible’s done in the world, people love to find fault with it. It’s easily the most criticized, most censored book of all time. While it’s true that people often hate the things the Bible really teaches, to find something manifestly ridiculous to lampoon and hate about it, people have to make it up. I’m going to give six examples of stupid things people believe the Bible says when it clearly teaches the opposite.
To start at the beginning, there seems to be a growing belief that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis 3 had something to do with sexual knowledge. I heard a rabbi, who should have known better, propound that that’s what the original Hebrew refers to, and the Star Trek TOS episode “The Apple” used the idea as a large part of the plot. I don’t know much Hebrew, but I know that calling it the Tree of Sexual Knowledge flies in the face of common sense. At the same time that Adam and Eve are forbidden to eat of the tree, God tells them to, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Since He’s talking to the first husband and wife, there’s no reason to suppose He has anything in mind other than sexual reproduction. Besides, it’s only after they eat from the tree that Adam and Eve no longer want to be naked in front of each other.
This attempt to make the Bible more prudish than it really is is even more widespread in the Catholic religion, which teaches that its clergy has to be celibate. This is a gross distortion of Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians 7. What he actually says is that, while it would be great for every Christian to be like himself and able to devote all their time to the Lord without the distraction of a family, the normal human sex drive makes this the exception rather than the rule. In fact, he says, “Let him do what he will. He sinneth not; let them marry” (verse 36, KJV). The Bible is more than happy to have married clergy. In fact, Israelite clergy had to marry to perpetuate the priestly line, the Pastorals call for elders and deacons to be evaluated based on their relationships with their wives and children, and Peter himself is said to have a mother-in-law whom Jesus heals. To have one of those, he had to have been married. In fact, Paul says in I Timothy 4:3 that forbidding marriage is the teaching of demons.
One huge misconception is that the Bible permits the imposition of Christianity by force. Any skeptic worth his salt knows all about the Crusades, the Inquisition, Charlemagne’s slaughter of the pagan Saxons, etc. and knows they’re unethical. Well, they’re also unscriptural. What happened is that the later Roman emperors, medieval kings, and Popes realized that the Christian God is more powerful than anyone else they could pray to, so they decided to try to harness that power for their own worldly pursuits. If you read the book of Acts, you know that the Apostles did not convert by the sword.
But, wait, the skeptic says! He doubles down by pointing to the multiple commands to Israel to massacre its foes in the Old Testament. The practice of herem, or putting under the ban, is clearly an Old Testament principle no longer applicable today. It was important when God’s Kingdom was a political one. Israel was the sole nation of God, surrounded by pagans hateful to its existence, and thus had its purity as well as its security to consider. By the way, while the other nations of the Ancient Near East could be barbarously cruel in the name of their gods, there’s no Old Testament command to blind, mutilate, or torture prisoners, unlike, say, the infamous Assyrians. Under the New Testament, God’s Kingdom is not tied to any political entity and is supposed to spread its love to every nation. In fact, Jesus told Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If My Kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews” (John 18:36, KJV). While Christians are to hold their governments accountable for basic moral standards of justice, they’re not to use it to impose religion on others. (By the same token, it’s not how Progressives are to impose their secularism on others either.)
Anyone who has heard about the exclusivity of Christianity will demand, “But what about innocent people who’ve never heard of Jesus? How can God send them to Hell for rejecting Jesus when they’ve never heard of Him?” Well, He doesn’t. It’s the difference in what theologians call General versus Special Revelation. General Revelation, according to Romans 1, is what everyone instinctively knows from Creation and conscience. They know, even if they won’t admit it, that they are a created being made to conform to certain moral laws by their Creator. Everyone, Paul tells us at length, is guilty before God of rebelling against this knowledge. Special Revelation is the Gospel message telling people how they can be reconciled to God. To reject this is a serious sin, but God obviously is not going to condemn you for rejecting something you’ve never heard of. The point is that General Revelation rules out anyone being innocent; all are under sin, as Paul says.
One grievous error is the belief that the Bible teaches hatred of homosexuals. Now, the Bible makes it quite clear that this is a serious sin of which they must repent, but it nowhere says to treat them differently from any other kind of sinner. Both sides should take a lesson from Paul when he writes, “Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind (and here the KJV is trying to delicately describe passive and active homosexuals), nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the Kingdom of God. And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:9-11, KJV). From this, we can see that (1) the homosexuals could and did repent of their sin (though no one said it would be any easier than the drunkard giving up his wine) and (2) that Paul extended his ministry to them as lovingly as to anyone else.
Some people think that because the Old Testament is full of saints who practice polygamy that the Bible teaches that it’s okay. Well, anyone familiar with those stories should see that the Bible does not endorse that practice. It just reports the facts as they occurred, and universally they tell of the unhappiness and conflict that polygamy brings. In the Old Testament, in fact, the principles of the king in Deuteronomy forbid him practicing polygamy. In the New Testament, Paul explicitly says, “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (I Corinthians 7:2, KJV). No one in their right mind should want to practice polygamy after they read the Bible.
The list is really endless all the stupid things people think the Bible teaches when it in fact says the opposite. It’s like they’re trying to find excuses not to believe, which is in fact what they’re trying to do.