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Friday, September 27, 2013

The Trouble with Quoting Scripture

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:12-17).

Too often when a believer quotes Scripture non-believers just roll their eyes. And from their perspective for good reason. They see you as trying to win an argument by quoting what they take to be an arbitrary edict written in an alien ancient culture by alpha males. We sometimes need to communicate by looking past the law to the reasoning and assertive reality behind the law.

Take adultery for example. “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14). Let us forget for a moment forget that this is one of the Ten Commandments. This in no way changes the prohibitive nature of adultery. Let me show you what I mean.

I think most of us raised in stable, loving homes on consideration would have to admit that if had we come home one day after school to find one of our parents dressing just after having sex with a non-spouse partner, we would never be able to look upon the adulterous parent in the same way. It would simply be impossible no matter how hard we tried. We would feel betrayed—both for ourselves as well as for the parent that was betrayed. There would be something profoundly unsettling about it. Though the power of what we felt would be beyond words, we would find thoughts and feelings that there had been a betrayal of love, commitment, and trust. We would see the parent as weak and unprincipled, selfish and inconsiderate—an outright phony. There would be a sense that stability is lost and perhaps even physical violence might follow the violence perpetrated on love itself.

Thus we come to see that the 7th Commandment is really not a commandment so much as an observation regarding the realities of human cognition just as the prohibition of murder addresses human behavior and ideation within the context of societal structures and the chaotic interjection into them of the human drive for unlimited reciprocity.  In short, the most direct way to state these matters is though a simple statement of prohibition saying in effect “we won't go there, period.” Holy Writ is in many ways an ongoing synopsis of human behavior.

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