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My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’
The author argues that there are many meanings of the adjective 'biblical.'
November 17th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’

Editor's Note: Rachel Held Evans is a popular blogger from Dayton, Tennessee, and author of “A Year of Biblical Womanhood.”

By Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

On "The Daily Show" recently, Jon Stewart grilled Mike Huckabee about a TV ad in which Huckabee urged voters to support “biblical values” at the voting box.

When Huckabee said that he supported the “biblical model of marriage,” Stewart shot back that “the biblical model of marriage is polygamy.”

And there’s a big problem, Stewart went on, with reducing “biblical values” to one or two social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, while ignoring issues such as poverty and immigration reform.

It may come as some surprise that as an evangelical Christian, I cheered Stewart on from my living room couch.

As someone who loves the Bible and believes it to be the inspired word of God, I hate seeing it reduced to an adjective like Huckabee did. I hate seeing my sacred text flattened out, edited down and used as a prop to support a select few political positions and platforms.

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And yet evangelicals have grown so accustomed to talking about the Bible this way that we hardly realize we’re doing it anymore. We talk about “biblical families,” “biblical marriage,” “biblical economics,” “biblical politics,” “biblical values,” “biblical stewardship,” “biblical voting,” “biblical manhood,” “biblical womanhood,” even “biblical dating” to create the impression that the Bible has just one thing to say on each of these topics - that it offers a single prescriptive formula for how people of faith ought to respond to them.

But the Bible is not a position paper. The Bible is an ancient collection of letters, laws, poetry, proverbs, histories, prophecies, philosophy and stories spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own.

When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word, we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t quite fit our preferences and presuppositions. In an attempt to simplify, we force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone and turn a complicated, beautiful, and diverse holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says.

Nowhere is this more evident than in conversations surrounding “biblical womanhood.”

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Growing up in the Bible Belt, I received a lot of mixed messages about the appropriate roles of women in the home, the church and society, each punctuated with the claim that this or that lifestyle represented true “biblical womanhood.”

In my faith community, popular women pastors such as Joyce Meyer were considered unbiblical for preaching from the pulpit in violation of the apostle Paul's restriction in 1 Timothy 2:12 ("I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent"), while Amish women were considered legalistic for covering their heads in compliance with his instructions in 1 Corinthians 11:5 ("Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head").

Pastors told wives to submit to their husbands as the apostle Peter instructed in 1 Peter 3:1, but rarely told them to avoid wearing nice jewelry as the apostle instructs them just one sentence later in 1 Peter 3:3. Despite the fact that being single was praised by both Jesus and Paul, I learned early on that marriage and motherhood were my highest callings, and that Proverbs 31 required I keep a home as tidy as June Cleaver's.

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This didn’t really trouble me until adulthood, when I found myself in a childless egalitarian marriage with a blossoming career and an interest in church leadership and biblical studies. As I wrestled with what it meant to be a woman of faith, I realized that, despite insistent claims that we don’t “pick and choose” from the Bible, any claim to a “biblical” lifestyle requires some serious selectivity.

After all, technically speaking, it is “biblical” for a woman to be sold by her father to pay off debt, “biblical” for a woman to be required to marry her rapist, “biblical” for her to be one of many wives.

So why are some Bible passages lifted out and declared “biblical,” while others are explained away or simply ignored? Does the Bible really present a single prescriptive lifestyle for all women?

These were the questions that inspired me to take a page from A.J. Jacobs, author of "The Year of Living Biblically", and try true biblical womanhood on for size—literally, no “picking and choosing."

This meant, among other things, growing out my hair, making my own clothes, covering my head whenever I prayed, abstaining from gossip, remaining silent in church (unless I was “prophesying,” of course), calling my husband "master,” even camping out in my front yard during my period to observe the Levitical purity laws that rendered me unclean.

During my yearlong experiment, I interviewed a variety of women practicing biblical womanhood in different ways — an Orthodox Jew, an Amish housewife, even a polygamist family - and I combed through every commentary I could find, reexamining the stories of biblical women such as Deborah, Ruth, Hagar, Tamar, Mary Magdalene, Priscilla and Junia.

My goal was to playfully challenge this idea that the Bible prescribes a single lifestyle for how to be a woman of faith, and in so doing, playfully challenge our overuse of the term “biblical.” I did this not out of disdain for Scripture, but out of love for it, out of respect for the fact that interpreting and applying the Bible is a messy, imperfect and - at times - frustrating process that requires humility and grace as we wrestle the text together.

The fact of the matter is, we all pick and choose. We’re all selective in our interpretation and application of the biblical text. The better question to ask one another is why we pick and choose the way that we do, why we emphasis some passages and not others. This, I believe, will elevate the conversation so that we’re using the Bible, not as a blunt weapon, but as a starting point for dialogue.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • My Take • Opinion

soundoff (4,657 Responses)
  1. justme

    this is not that hard. the first 3 chapters tell how man and woman disregarded God our creator and listened to a liar, later named satan. since they chose him as their leader they were given time to show how they could exist and prosper independently of their creator.(failed miserably) the last 3 chapters of the bible tell how God Jehovah with his son and King Jesus with their Kingdom of priests and kings will remove satan, his followers (spirit and fleshly), repair the damage and replace the paradise intended from the beginning. in between those chapters are lessons of what happens when we listen to God's laws, principles and suggestions and what happens when we do not. also this treasure chest is filled with history, prophecy, poetry, illustrations, parables, knowledge, wisdom, and discernment and so much great reading that to judge it unless you have read, studied and meditated on it many times really does not help you to develope a relationship with your creator. give it a try and ask Jehovah to give you his spirit in the name of his son Jesus. and ask for forgiveness of sins while you are at it.

    November 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • sam stone

      if you feel the need for salvation, go for it

      November 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Talking to yourself and pretending it is to "god" is not healthy for anyone

      I have a relationship with my creators. I make sure to visit my parents house every weekend or so to visit.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      A scattering of minds is upon us in these trying days and Age. Leave therefore your harshest wantings behind and never take wind of one's longings for the weightiness of one's longings will smite even the most influential. Carry away nothing and leave ever to make headway to the places inside one's being and do not keep ajar your door for many will want to enter in and should not. Your loving of this Life is for the world to have needs of and you should not heed the rumors from others as to just what is truly right. It is therefore best for mankind to simmer in their yet unfinished juvenile pottages never rationalizingly 'assaying' one's diffuse detriments, the very smallest of life's grains. As smitten breeds, our splendors reveal one's characters to be traitorous to one's analogous fold. Where then does true life really end and real living truly begin?

      November 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • justme

      i was just looking to share some encouraging thoughts about the bible but look who i attracted. i guess the end is closer than i thought. please, for those who are seeking truth, go to jw.org and learn what the Bible really teaches. i'll check back later.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • BU2B

      "Justme", I was just pointing out that I do have a good relationship with my creators. Creators = my parents. Doesn't take a 2,000 year old collection of myths to figure that one out.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • justme

      bu2b, great to see people that love and respect their parents but if you have no respect for the original creator or the bible i wonder why you are here,

      November 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  2. Gos Youngest Docker

    All of Gods word, correctly translated, without outside influence, can be read in all its almighty glory at prolapsed.net. God bless!

    November 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  3. lionlylamb

    The christian word of truth being the gospels of which are now many to be had can no more be held up in righteousness sakes. To the christians; "The troubles with unfaithful trinitarians, those who belly-up to one god times three is, they read but only into it and get very little out of what they make 'go-spel-lingly' in amplifications of unblessed pleasings by the Sons of God. Their rudimentary and timid preaching in devilish tongues beatifies only the dumb-hearted relics of their christiandumbness's idiosyncratic marmoset-like redundancies. Their godly embittered moralisms are but self-centered and self-censored upon redundant principles that are remorsefully archaic in round-about cultured replicants being those old fuddy duddies who fumble ever for their next glass worth of wine! Drunk and in temperamental stupors are the emotionally fallen in christiandumbs folds becoming sciatic pragmatisms unworthy of even one toasting for, but rather against!"

    In retrospect, Godless bemoans the ungodly. For these are the choices from which commonwealth atheists do make felt upon their habitual senses denying the goodly upon ever moving towards and upon the ways of godly intent. Many young-bucks of godlessness and the ungodliness tenders to avail themselves with the nailed doldrums' sciatica and they do abound with much societal unpleasantries toward the abaters of commonly wanton deniabilities against them, those ungodly and godless beings of smirked violaters of randomized intention-abilities meant only as austerities subversions. Their subversive deniabilities are not without compromising or so they do entail and also do weave upon the where-with-all of seasoned laments.

    Likewise, the mockeries of these godless and ungodly against the goodly who do themselves believe upon godly importance the goodly ones may well live on to pass all and onto every generation's aged continuations. How else could Life Truly End and Real Living Thusly Begin? To believe or not believe for these are Life's choices. Christ Jesus came to this world to condemn it and yet did He come here to also show how tenderly are generous mercies shown upon those otherly ones being most merciful to others who did so shower mercy to be so freely given by those being most merciful! Again I do say to believe or not believe for these are Life's choices. Still yet and forever onwards many generations are to be favoringly found in many a mercies, for the mercifilled ambiences are one of our Life's greatest treasures and livings' sweetest unending rewards upon the most needy of the poorest is spirits.

    November 19, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Be not deceived

      1 John 4:

      12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

      13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

      14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

      15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • lionlylamb

      Mathew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God!"

      Luke 17:21, "The kingdom of God is inside you!"

      John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world!"

      1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!"

      For God does never change His spiritualism and His Holy Spirit is the Great Sea of Absolute Nothingness! Always was and is and will ever be no matter what smatterings of materialized shapes do tend to seemingly clutter up His unending spiritual abundancy! It is truth that God has troubles within the fractal paradigms of inwardness's inter-cellular cosmologies as protrutions of insolent 'activists' are sometimes revolting against the grains of our embodied sanctifications creating many unrighteous undulations of travesties not uncommonly being viewed by us celestial beings as being viral and even bacteriological in the way we understand things to be and therefore become. What was first made can never again become that which was made first for only in varying differential constructs can another thing be made to be outdone against that which was firstly made. The pillars of one's DNA, the spirals of all celestial life forms and formations bitten fomentations is where God's Sons and their given wives are taken in as residents there abouts.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • BU2B

      Lionlylamb, your ramblings make no sense. All I hear is "Baaaaaaaah".
      Also, using the bible to justify your beliefs is circular referencing.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • fintastic

      The Sons of trinitarians, that as Elohim. Is it as are not of othe Sons only embitterefored praises be podium or their own seeking of yout cultured anothered more-so it are remotionall-talk to only embitter andumbness sakes? Who becoming folds beings belly emored read cant preachind get ver andumb-hearted 'gospels of unbles of even into 'mental stupon roubles being the chered uporsefully in devilisms have belly in christians, the Sons of what and bant pragmatifies of yout andumb-hearted 'go-spels of poo

      December 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  4. Hypatia

    Your religious nonsense does not belong in my government at any time, for any reason.

    November 19, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  5. acts431

    I could not agree more with the author about the "biblical" slant that so many so-called "christians" like to use. In my experience as a pastor of 23+ years, they have no more idea what the Bible says than flying to the moon. Being "biblical" should mean much more than opposing abortion and gay relationships. It is not one's views on those subjects that make a person a Christian.

    I was particularly distraught at the willingness of many so-called "christians" to pronounce Mitt Romney a "christian" - both regular pew-warmers and even leaders like Joel Osteen and Billy Graham. We should know better, especially while these same folks were insisting that they knew for a fact that President Obama is a Muslim.

    Finally, there are a lot of things found in the Bible that are not applicable to us today. Specifically, those of us who profess to follow Jesus Christ today should know - must know - that we are under New Testament directions. Therefore, what we read in the Bible about Old Testament directives and/or permissible behavior is not necessarily in the New Contract. Anyone can make the Bible say anything we want it to say, if we take a little something from here and mix it with a half-verse from there. It's called using the Bible out of context, and it is a favorite trick (see Luke 4). That is why the Bible instructs us to "correctly handle the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).

    November 19, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Madtown

      I was particularly distraught at the willingness of many so-called "christians" to pronounce Mitt Romney a "christian"
      ------
      Thank you for providing an excellent example of how religion is often used as a tool for division.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • ME II

      "t's called using the Bible out of context, "
      How exactly does one know when they are using the Bible "in context".
      In other words, how do you, or anyone, know when they are reading it 'correctly' when it has no objective verification?

      November 19, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Primewonk

      Jesus states several times that his daddy's rules, laws, commands, etc., remain in play until "all is fulfilled " (he returns), and heaven and earth pass away. Earth is still here. Thus, you Christians must follow all god's laws.

      So, how many gay folks have you murdered? After all, god commands it. At least your fundiot Muslim cousins, who worship the same god, have the balls to obey his commands.

      And how many young unengaged ràpe victims have you forced to marry their rapists? Again, your god commands it.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Rynomite

      "I was particularly distraught at the willingness of many so-called "christians" to pronounce Mitt Romney a "christian""

      The word Chrsitian means nothing more than follower of Christ. Being a follower of Christ could be defined in many ways regardless of dogma. Technically, an atheist could be a Xtian. I know it's mind blowing for a fundiot, but somone who believes in the philosphies set forth by Jebus can be considered a Xtian even if they think the superstctious dogma is cray-cray. Something to think about next time you whine about Mitt Romney's alien version of Jebus.

      November 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • ME II

      @Rynomite,
      Good point.

      November 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • fintastic

      @acts.........
      .
      "That is why the Bible instructs us to "correctly handle the word of truth"

      Glad you cleared that up for us. LOL

      December 3, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  6. Trill Troll

    There was a similar article posted on prolapsed.net, which listed all the contractions in the bible. A great read.

    November 19, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • midwest rail

      Why would anyone write an article on "contractions" ?

      November 19, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Todd Printz

      So you are saying that the Bible presents different messages? This is not true. These contradictions are simply different viewpoints of the same event. Sounds like something you would get from different witnesses, doesn't it? What you have uncovered actually supports the veracity of the Bible. There is no contradiction of the message of the Holy Bible. God bless.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Which God?

      @ TP. Ahhahahahahaha, Same events, different viewpoints, some contradicting each other. Good one.TP,Toilet Paper for brains. What an idiot.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Todd Printz

      "TP,Toilet Paper for brains. What an idiot."

      And we should follow you, the one name calling? Which God? The God who made heaven and earth; The God who makes the pillars of heaven shutter at his rebuke; the God who reaches out to man, the tresspasser and offers him His Righteousness from his Son Jesus, who came not to the world to try to teach bad men to be good men, but came to make dead men alive.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Todd, how did Judas die?

      November 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Todd wrote, " Which God? The God who made heaven and earth; The God who makes the pillars of heaven shutter at his rebuke"

      Again, Todd, which god. Hundred of the gods we have invented claim to do what you stated. You, like many fundiot nutters, seem to think your version of a god is something special. He isn't. He was cobbled together from various minor deities worship by tribes in the area 6000 years ago.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Veritas

      Todd. "... the veracity of the bible ..." Oh the bible's correct because the bible says so. That is circular reasoning. Who witnessed the creation, etc.? We know the bible account of most things is not true – creation, Noah, Moses, Jonah, Lot, etc. etc. So why take it literally. Some parts may be a good basis for living but we don't need the bible for morals. The church needs you though – it has an expensive lifestyle.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Todd Printz

      "Todd, how did Judas die?"
      Very good.. According to the Bible, Judas died by hanging himself, and fell headlong and when he landed burst and his inards came out. Which version is it? Both. Two different witnesses present different parts of the one event. Both are true. Do you understand? Combined, a detective would presume that Judas hanged himself, the rope let loose and he fell...

      November 19, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Todd Printz

      "Again, Todd, which god. Hundred of the gods we have invented claim to do what you stated"

      Not by a long shot Primework. You are simply wrong.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Todd Printz

      "We know the bible account of most things is not true – creation, Noah, Moses, Jonah, Lot, etc. etc."

      You actually don't know that... There is much evidence contradicting evolution, like; time runs faster the farther in the universe you go than the time on earth. Did you know that? This is a problem for evolution.

      " So why take it literally."

      Because of the intentions of the Author? The Bible does not support relativism.

      "Some parts may be a good basis for living but we don't need the bible for morals."

      You proof of this??? US law is predominantly based on Judeo-Christian principles.

      "The church needs you though – it has an expensive lifestyle."

      Funny and sad. So we are hypocrytes? I admit it, will you? Paul addresses this in Romans 7 – "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

      November 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Veritas

      Todd. Some of the mechanisms of evolution may not be fully understood, but evolution fits all the facts – simpler organisms are found in older rocks, common descent, DNA, etc. No facts support creationism – and that includes the creation myths attributed to the other gods.

      November 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Todd Printz

      Veritas, "No facts support creationism " There are plenty. Explore them.

      November 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's not the burden of the challenger to present proof, Todd. The onus is on you. Find scientific evidence that supports creationism. Otherwise, you're just another noise-maker yapping your beliefs.

      November 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The principles upon which our laws are based predate Christianity by eons. There is nothing unique about "Christian principles."

      November 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Todd Printz

      " The onus is on you"

      Not necessarily Tom. If you merely say there is "no facts to support creationism" you are merely making a statement without evidence yourself. To believe you can challenge out of thin air is a very tactical move, indeed. LOL My reply is comically simple but it is also true of the challenge statement as well. Evolution needs time, in fact time is the "god" of evolution. If you read my previous post I briefly do mention the fact that time is effected by gravity. So an atomic clock in Colorado has to be synced with a clock in England, otherwise the clocks will, because of gravity, fall out of sync. Apply this to the universe and, voila, billions of years disappear. It then is all an illusion, that the universe is billions of years old. Fascinating. So there is some evidence that Evolution's god "time" does not exhist. If you want evidence that God exhists, the God of the Bible tells you to look at the complexity of nature. I think He is mocking evolution...LOL

      November 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Huebert

      "Apply this to the universe and, voila, billions of years disappear." Where is your evidence for that?

      November 19, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Veritas

      Todd. I have explored them – they're what's written in Genesis. Explain how you still feel that that holds true given the scientific knowledge we have showing that Genesis is not true. There is no scientific evidence to support the biblical accounts except a few characters and more place names.

      November 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Todd Printz

      "Where is your evidence for that?"

      Dr. Russell Humphreys' White Hole Cosmology can explain in detail. But where is your evidence that creation didn't happen? Or for that matter that evolution did? You see we have the same evidence, with different theories. Your theory does not conclude that there is no God. It does not go back that far. It stops at the "premodial soup". the Bible says there is a God. What we are argueing here is what view is authoratative. Why on earth would you think I would believe your view over a view that has been around thousands of years?

      November 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Todd Printz

      "Explain how you still feel that that holds true given the scientific knowledge we have showing that Genesis is not true."

      What evidence? List it. Please.

      The very fact that God made light on the first day and made the sun moon and stars on the 4th day seems unreasonable doesn't it? Why would God do this? To confound those who say they are wise 1st Cor 1:27. God bless.

      November 19, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Huebert

      White Hole Cosmology is not based on any observed evidence and is regarded as a pseudoscience by the astrophysics community. Therefore it cannot be considered viable evidence. Please try again.

      As for evidence for evolution I will cite Richard Lenski's experiment. The link is for the Wikipedia article, if you want more detailed information the citations at the bottom of the Wiki page are excellent.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment

      November 19, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Todd Printz

      "White Hole Cosmology is not based on any observed evidence and is regarded as a pseudoscience "

      Creationism is considered pseudoscience by evolutionist. How am I suppose to give evidence when you when you can say that at every turn. LOL!

      "As for evidence for evolution I will cite Richard Lenski's experiment"

      This seems like natural selection. There is no real evidence of evolution. None. Its made up and surmised. Its amazing that you get away with it. My evidence for this. Look up Brontosaurus.

      November 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  7. Barry

    Half of the misconceptions she posits are cleared up by understanding how Jesus coming fulfilled much of the OT law. Second, a clearer understanding of the biblical languages. Does Peter say, "avoid wearing jewelry"? Or does he say:

    "Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;
    4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (New American Standard Bible-Very literal translation)

    There are places that are harder to understand but she picks some straw men to emphasize.

    November 19, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Huebert

      Matthew 5:18-19
      New International Version (NIV)

      18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Rynomite

      "how Jesus coming fulfilled much of the OT law" Ahh my favorite apologist statement. Why not just get rid of the OT then? Oh wait... you Xtians want to trot it out anytime you want to make a restrictive law. Then you conveneiently ignore that Jebus "fullfilled" that crap....

      November 19, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • ME II

      One might argue that all of her misconceptions are cleared up by understanding that the Bible is not divine, but just writings by people with limited knowledge trying to understand their world.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Barry

      Huebert,

      You have a modernist understanding of biblical eschatology. When Jesus said, "it is finished" on the cross, the "end" had come. The Jewish messiah had inaugurated a new kingdom. Later in the new testament you see Jesus' disciples wrestling with the way the Law being fulfilled affects their lives.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Huebert

      Barry

      It says "till heaven and earth disappear" and that obviously hasn't happened. I didn't write your cult's rules but I can read them. According to your own book you will be one of the least in heaven, because you teach others that the Law no longer applies.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Huebert

      Barry

      Also I'm not a modernist, I'm a post modernist.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Barry

      Hubert,

      The Bible is full of figurative language to describe epoch changing events. For example...in relation to wars "God came down" or "God's hand delivered us" or "the sky will turn to blood" are figurative. The Bible actually does not teach that heaven and earth pass away in an ultimate sense. If you are willing to look further into it, you will see that the Bibles hope is that of a renewal of heaven and earth not a putting away. The escapism of plato's thought, and the idea of flying away to an invisible soul heaven were foreign to Jewish minds. I could offer more explanation but this is not a great forum. Thanks for your interaction.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Barry

      Also Huebert,

      A true post modernist has no interpretation. You clearly have an interpretation. That is, "the text says x...i take that literally...i dont see it to be true by my own rationality, therefore it is not true"

      A post modernist feels the freedom to put whatever he wants on the text without ever thinking he can come to a knowledge of anything certain. Just a contentment with confusion, really. You dont sound confused, but certain.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Ahhhh – the old "the bible means what it says it means, unless I need to spin it so it means something completely different" line of crap.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  8. Rynomite

    Her husband really had to dig that year she spent living biblically.

    On demand booty. Being called master. Having dinner cooked and all your clothes cleaned for you.

    My wife is religious, and she won't do any of that stuff! I point it out every time she condemns someone elses behavior using the bible. She doesn't like that very much :)

    November 19, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      I'm a pretty honest atheist, most of my lies are told while playing poker. However, what is the difference if I go and pretend to be a born again and get me some of that ignorant female subservience.? They can get on their knees and serve me and the lord.!!!!! Some other "true xstian" will just treat them the same way. At least I might get tired of the game and start treating them as women should be treated.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  9. Sheena Davis

    This was great. I find myself also struggling with the scriptures while trying to obey what they say. At least you were honest enough to admit it. I liked how you mentioned the need for humility in understanding in interpreting ancient truths. It was interesting and thoughtful.

    November 19, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      The bible is an instruction manual for MURDER AND CHILD ABUSE. Following "scripture" will land you in jail. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (ffrf.org) has a nice (and very historically accurate, and "scripturally" accurate) bible quiz on their site if you don't believe me. Take it, maybe you will wake up and realize that you shouldn't "struggle" at all, but should abandon this psychotic practice you call religion. Religion is mental illness, murder, abuse of women and children. You SHOULD struggle, to get out of it.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • sam stone

      How about the humility when realizing you determine your own truth, which does not apply to anyone else?

      November 19, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  10. Frank Decker

    I resonate with this blog entry. It reminds me of the very thought-provoking book by Christian Smith "The Bible Made Impossible - Why Biblicism is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture."

    November 19, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  11. lionlylamb

    2Timothy 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

    The christian word of truth being the gospels of which are now many to be had can no more be held up in righteousness sakedness. To the christians; "The troubles with unfaithful trinitarians, those who belly-up to one god times three is, they read but only into it and get very little out of what they make 'go-spellingly' in amplifications of unblessed pleasings. Their preaching in devilish tongues beatifies only the dumb-hearted relics of their christiandumbness's idiosyncratic marmoset-like redundancies. Their godly moralisms are but self-centered and self-censored upon redundant principles that are remorsefully archaic in cultured relics being those old fuddy duddies who fumble ever for their next glass worth of wine! Drunk and in temperamental stupors are the emotionally fallen in christiandumbs folds becoming sciatic pragmatisms unworthy of even one toasting for, but rather against!"

    November 19, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • lionlylamb

      In retrospect, Godless bemoans the ungodly. For these are the choices from which commonwealth atheists do make felt upon their habitual senses denying the goodly upon ever moving towards and upon the ways of godly intent. Many young-bucks of godlessness and the ungodliness tenders to avail themselves with the nailed doldrums' sciatica and they do abound with much societal unpleasantries toward the abaters of commonly wanton deniabilities against them, those ungodly and godless beings of smirked violaters of randomized intention-abilities meant only as austerities subversions. Their subversive deniabilities are not without compromising or so they do entail and also do weave upon the where-with-all of seasoned laments.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • lionlylamb

      Likewise, the mockeries of these godless and ungodly against the goodly who do themselves believe upon godly importance may well live on to pass all and onto every generation's aged endings. How else could Life Truly End and Real Living Thusly Begin? To believe or not believe for these are Life's choices. Christ Jesus came to this world to condemn it and yet did He come here to also show how tenderly are mercies shown upon those otherly being most merciful to others who did so shower mercy to be so freely given by those being most merciful! Again I do say to believe or not believe for these are Life's choices. Still yet and forever onwards are to be favoringly found many a mercies, for the mercifilled ambiences are one of our Life's greatest treasures and livings' sweetest unending rewards upon the most needy of the poorest is spirits.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • fintastic

      Christ merciful! Again I do say who did He come here Living Thusly believe for not believery generation's greatest is who do the most these are Life's choices are to eve of those believe one or this spirits. Life's greatest mercy to pass and ambience many are most ungodly aged ambiences. Life's choices. Life's greasures believe one of this show else believe favoring most Jesus choices. Life's choices be for those goodless and found yet did He condemn it and ambience mercy those are to believer onto nyet.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • fintastic

      The dumble even one gospels of those who fumbs for, but self-censore becoming that ther fold fuddy duddy dumbs for, but self-censored andumbless. The the christians, the godly fallen in devilisms unworthy of troubles that archaic pread can worthy of even in devilisms archaic in amplificatic make remotions of unbles only make 'go-spelling they red pless's idiosyncrathe to be had can worthy of troubless which are now makedness's idiosyncrathe christings. The every little out self-cental stuporseful troup.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  12. Todd Printz

    It is interesting that this argument is directed at convincing others that the Holy Bible says multiple things, this would mean that the bible is secular, ie. "open", and it is not. Why do you need the Holy Bible to support "relativism"?

    November 19, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  13. Rynomite

    The author seems like a more reasonable sort of nutter than most religious.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  14. mk

    "As far as a woman in church leadership is concerned, the Bible does not forbid a woman to teach at all. She can not play the role of the master in worship over male leadership. She can teach other woman and children, but in a mixed assembly God gives the responsibility to the Christian man to lead. This does not degrade the woman, it simply defines her role in the work of the church. In addition, a woman should look at it from this perspective: men are serving women during the mixed assembly. The woman sits and man must work by teaching."

    You are delusional if you think this does not degrade a woman. If they were truly equal, they would both be able to do all jobs. You are simply justifying it, as with everything else in the bible that gets "justified" to suit the churches.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  15. kokopelli

    One of the most intelligent pieces on Biblical literalism I've read. Thank you!

    November 19, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • sam stone

      check out The Year Of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs

      November 19, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  16. Sean

    I respect what Rachel has undertaken in her quest to gain a better appreciation of biblical teaching. I imagine it must have been enlightening in many respects. I believe we could all learn something with a little more introspection of things.

    I appreciate her broaching this topic as we find that our culture is more and more secular; as we all are growing up in a society where it is less appreciated and talked about- spirituality that is.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  17. Reality

    Death's Debt is Paid in Full

    Death's debt is then and there

    Paid down by dying men;
    But it is a promise bare
    That they shall rise again.

    Al-Ma'arri- 1000 CE

    November 19, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  18. J. Rodriguez

    I understand the author's confusion about "biblical" values. I too realize that many have misused and misinterpreted the Scriptures for their own agendas. However, this does not mean that the Bible is not fully and verbally inspired of God. The Bible does not contradict itself despite popular opinion. Misinterpretations of the Bible make it seem as if it does.

    First, a distinction must be made between the Old Testament and New Testament. The Old, as it suggests, was for the ancient nation of Israel. The New Testament is for the entire world. God never commanded the mistreatment of women or polygamy. In fact, the Ten Commandments states, "Thou shalt not commit adultery...Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife..." When Eve was created, God commanded the husband to love her as "bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh." Man has violated the moral principles of the Bible by practicing adultery and polygamy. God has never commanded it. The Bible shows us the dark side of man when he is not willing to govern himself by God's law. Hence, Jacob had multiple wives, but it did not make it right. Likewise, Solomon and other kings. But simply because they did so and the Bible recorded their rebellion does not mean God sanctioned it. On numerous occasions God pleads with His people to change. He allows men to live as they choose, but on judgment He will administer justice.

    As far as a woman in church leadership is concerned, the Bible does not forbid a woman to teach at all. She can not play the role of the master in worship over male leadership. She can teach other woman and children, but in a mixed assembly God gives the responsibility to the Christian man to lead. This does not degrade the woman, it simply defines her role in the work of the church. In addition, a woman should look at it from this perspective: men are serving women during the mixed assembly. The woman sits and man must work by teaching.

    Bottom line: misinterpretation of the Scriptures is the cause for misunderstanding of the good sense of God.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Huebert

      The fact that "Gods word" is so easily misinterpreted lends credence to the claim that it is not gods word at all. After all an omniscient being should be able to make his instructions very clear.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • justme

      I hope others read your comment and i wonder where you learned what the bible really teaches. keep up the good work.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Rynomite

      One cult's misinterpretation is another cult's truth.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • ME II

      Sorry, but isn't "adultery", similar to the prohibition against "murder," is a legalistic term, i.e. is not adultery se.xual relations between non-married people and would not polygamy allow for more than two people to be married. Therefore, se.x within legal polygamous marriages would not be adultery.

      People complain about "moral relativism," but it seems that the Bible and particularly the OT has very relative morals. Thou shall not kill... unless God commands it... or it's legal... or someone back talked their parents... or ...

      November 19, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Rynomite

      "When Eve was created, God commanded the husband to love her as "bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh." Man has violated the moral principles of the Bible by practicing adultery and polygamy. God has never commanded it."

      I don't recall him commanding against polygamy. Maybe I was distracted by one of his commandments for mass murder of women and children.

      I

      November 19, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • justme

      rye; not God's choice to have man abuse woman. after adam and eve disregarded Jehovah's instructions and chose satan as their ruler God allowed them a specific time to see if there way would work and it has failed terribly. the first three chapters of the bible explain clearly how mankind fell and the last three explain how Jehovah will repair things with his King Jesus Christ and his Kingdom. in between we learn what happens when people do what's right and when they do not. easy

      November 19, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  19. Mohammad A Dar

    support biblical values! I love it, vote Huck-a-bee next time. I like to see all Replubicans walking around in biblical dress code too! goons.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Ztom

      They won't. That's kind of the point of the article. Anyone who claims to want "Biblical values" basically means they want their version of the values of the Bible to be implemented. Even if you ignore the Old Testament, there are many things in the New Testament that Christians choose to dismiss or ignore. The more liberal Christians (yes, they exist), ignore evidence of anti-gay passages for example. The more conservative Christians ignore evidence of the socially radical demonizing of the rich and advocating the helping of the poor, for example.

      Bottom line is that no matter who you are and what your beliefs, you can carefully cut and paste and cherry pick from the Bible to support your own beliefs. People on "both sides of the aisle" can do it.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  20. Dateless Nerd

    If you believe that the Bible is the infallible, inspired word of God himself - you operate off of a false assumption. Not to say that it has no value; but it is subject to the same properties as anything else concocted by Man, and should be scrutinized as such. Blind faith is for intellectually-lazy and ignorant people.

    November 19, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Can you tell me of any other book dating back 3500-4000 years that has been scrutinized as much as the Bible and still influences people so profoundly?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Horus

      @Bill – 3500 to 4000years? Perhaps the claims attributed to Abraham go back that far, but even the OT dates to only about 700 BCE. The NT is 4th Century CE at best. Love how you exaggerate though.....typical. As for it impact – consider how it was first implemented (or should we say enforced). Those dark ages leave a lasting impression that's still working it's way out of the psyche. The fact that the Far East never really took to the "inspiration" of your Bible proves that only the areas where it was so heavily forced on the population is it still so deeply entrenched.

      November 19, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (references used are available upon request)

      November 19, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • ME II

      The Rigveda. "Its composition is usually dated to roughly between 1700–1100 BC." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigveda)
      The Torah: "Most modern biblical scholars believe that the written books were a product of the Babylonian exilic period (c. 600 BCE) " (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torah)

      (not that wiki is definitive at all)

      November 19, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Greg

      The Egyptian sacred writings were popular for about as long, but that doesn't make them true, right?

      November 19, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • ME II

      The Egyptian Book of the Dead: "The first funerary texts were the Pyramid Texts, first used in the Pyramid of King Unas of the 5th dynasty, around 2400 BC" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_the_Dead)

      November 19, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Simran

      @Bill Deacon,
      Well, as already pointed out, the Vedas date to 1500-2000 BC. But I would just add that if we consider Vedic references and archeology, it might actually be 7000 yrs old (5000BC). In several Vedic hymns dedicated to river Sarasvati, she is described to be actually flowing and existent. But in reality river Sarasvati does not exist anymore, because, according to archaeological research, it dried up and disappeared in north Indian sands several thousand years ago, around 5000 BC (or earlier).

      November 19, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Huebert

      Bill

      The Torah and the Vedas quickly come to mind.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • ME II

      @Simran,
      Interesting, apparently "In the beginning..." there was the heavens, the Earth, and the river Sarasvati. Cool.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Simran

      @ ME II,
      I really dont know how you meant that, but in the begining, there wasn't the heavens and the earth and the river Saraswati! The river Saraswati finds abundant mention in Vedas bcoz it is along the banks of this river that most of the civilization was established in this part of the world. Most archeological sites have been found around this river, and there are satellite images of the existence of the rivers course.

      A good article:
      http://www.eshiusa.org/Articles/Saraswati%20in%20Hindu%20Civilizational%20History%20and%20Culture.pdf

      November 19, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • TG

      The Bible does not speak of "blind faith", but of faith that is based on solid evidence. The apostle Paul wrote: "Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld."(Heb 11:1) There is "evident demonstration" of our Creator, Jehovah, all around us.

      For example, the design of our human body, such as the design of our fingertips. The human hand has a particularly refined sense of touch. According to Smithsonian magazine, researchers found that our hand can detect a dot just three microns high. (A human hair has a diameter of 50 to 100 microns.) However, by “using a texture rather than a dot, the researchers found the hand can detect roughness just 75 nanometers high”—a nanometer being one thousandth of a micron! Such remarkable sensitivity is attributed to about 2,000 touch receptors in each fingertip.

      Or of the earth, that it was designed precisely for human habitation, with the gases of our atmosphere being the right proportion for safety, 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 0.04 % carbon dioxide and other gases. Also consider why the earth is just the exact size it is. If it were larger, it would have a slightly stronger gravitational field and therefore hydrogen, a light gas, could not escape into space, building up and eventually rendering our planet inhospitable. On the other hand, if it were slightly smaller, with a weaker gravitational field, life sustaining oxygen and surface water would escape, and eventually our planet would be barren from the loss of all water. In either case, if the earth were slightly larger or smaller, life would cease to exist. This bespeaks of a Master Designer.

      November 19, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Simran

      And the Vedic view of the origin of everything is pretty interesting – of course, I will also raise issues with the modern mythological interpretations of it. And of course, it is not without a lot of fallacies. But still, it is quite an interesting read:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_cosmology

      November 19, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • ME II

      @Simran,
      Apologies. My attempt at humor did not come through very well.
      I just found it funny that the reference to the Sarasvati predated (some) estimates of the beginning of the universe according to the Bible.
      In other words, the Sarasvati, apparently, existed before "the beginning".

      November 19, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Simran

      ME II,
      No problems mate. Happens to me sometimes too! :)

      November 19, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • ME II

      @TG,
      So, was the ebola virus perfectly designed to kill us?
      Was cancer in the "Master Designer's" plan?
      Why did S/He decide to miscarry so many fetuses, or give children leukemia? or polio? or small pox? or sickle cell? or...

      The Fall, right?
      Odd that S/He would design a "perferct" world that could be broken, isn't it?

      November 19, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Simran

      TG,
      Did this perfect God get tired of playing around with dinosaurs, and then decide – out go the dinosaurs, in come humans! My niece does that sometimes – she will spent a couple of days on one toy, and then decide she is bored. So she will destroy it and demand for a new one!

      November 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Simran

      TG,
      Did this perfect God get tired of playing around with dinosaurs, and then decide – out go the dinosaurs, in come humans! My niece does that sometimes – she will spent a couple of days on one to.y, and then decide she is bored. So she will destroy it and demand for a new one!

      November 19, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • OTOH

      TG,

      If conditions on Earth were different, we would be different - perhaps even better, with stronger bodies, fewer tendencies to disease and larger brains to figure out stuff better.

      Humans don't do too well in Antarctica or the North Pole; or in the Sahara; or at the bottom of the sea; but many other creatures do. Bacteria thrive virtually everywhere on Earth - from sub-zero temperatures to over 750 degrees F (in hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean), and in widely varying oxygen, pressure and nutrient conditions. The Bacteria God rules! We get by the best that we can. Life forms adapt - or die out.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.