Tag Archives: Chapters and verses of the Bible

The first lesson in studying the Bible: Read it in context

This is a handout from a lesson I once used with some high school kids at church.  I thought I’d share it here.

The purpose was to give an overview of how to read the Bible, then focus on reading it in context.  I addressed barriers to reading in context then gave examples of commonly misused verses.  Finally, we picked a chapter at random and show how well these techniques work.

——

A simple and effective way to read the Bible – from James MacDonald’s “Walk in the Word” Podcasts*.

  • Read it – 1-3 chapters (less for doctrine, more for history)
  • Question it
    • What stands out to me? Why?
    • Is there an example for me to follow?
    • Is there an error for me to avoid?
    • Is there a duty for me to perform?
    • Is there a promise for me to claim?
    • Is there a sin for me to confess?
  • Plan it – make a plan for how you will use it
  • Pray it – pray scripture back to God
  • Share it – helps others, and helps us to remember it

How to read in context: Don’t just read a Bible verse (a great slogan and lesson from Stand to Reason). Always read at least a paragraph, and preferably a section or a chapter. Looking at what came before and after will help ensure you are getting the right meaning.

We should read it in the way the authors intended it, depending on the context and type of writing.  Examples:

  • When was it written?
  • Who was it written by / to?
  • Type of writing
    • History
    • Metaphor / illustrations / parables
    • Doctrine
    • Poetry
    • Figures of speech – i.e., exaggerations

Barriers to reading in context

We don’t like to admit we’ve made mistakes, so we hold onto bad interpretations.

  • Solution: Swallow your pride, get it right and remember to read in context next time. For the record, I have misused every verse in this lesson.
  • We have all been guilty of reading out of context. Some mistakes are more serious than others. Our choice is to dig in our heels and continue to use it incorrectly or humbly accept and use the correct teaching. As 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.“

Fear of getting it wrong.

  • Reading in context isn’t that hard to do! Don’t be afraid of misinterpreting – just read surrounding passages and study notes.

We have an important point we want to make and we can’t use that verse for it any more.

  • Find another passage to prove the point you wanted to make.
  • If you can’t find another verse to support it, maybe your point isn’t valid or particularly important.

—–

Sample passages – the part in bold is what is frequently used out of context. Note how just reading a couple surrounding verses shows the real meaning.

 

Even one of the most famous verses ever gets misused. Not everyone goes to Heaven – only those who trust in Jesus.

John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Philippians 4:13 is one of the most commonly misused passages. It isn’t about achieving great sporting victories or leaping tall buildings.

 

Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

 

You only have to go back ½ of one verse to get the context. Paul has a secret! A secret about what? A secret about how to be content in every situation. It is a great message – actually, much better than the typical application.

And another very commonly misused verse is Jeremiah 29:11. I see this abused on a regular basis in sermons, on t-shirts, signs, etc.

Jeremiah 29:1, 4, 10-11 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. . . . This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon . . . This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

There is actually a great message in Jeremiah 29:11: God makes huge promises and keeps them. The Israelites had been taken into captivity because of their rebellion and worship of false gods, but God promised to bring them back. And He did. But He did not make a generic promise to all people and at all times to prosper them.

People even throw that verse at non-believers, but that would give them a false sense of security. God’s message to them is the opposite. If they don’t repent and believe, his plans for them are horrible!

If you want to encourage people, try Matthew 11:28-30 instead (Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.) That points them to Jesus.

Both Christians and non-Christians abuse Matthew 7:1. Jesus isn’t saying to never judge, He is saying not to judge hypocritically.

Matthew 7:1-5 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

People have used Matthew 5:39 to oppose capital punishment. But it is hard to turn the other cheek when you are dead, and it is unjust for the government to “turn the other cheek.” It would mean that we’d never punish anyone for anything.

Matthew 5:39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Christians often use Matthew 18:20 reflexively when talking about praying together, but is Jesus not there with you when you are by yourself?

Matthew 18:15–20 (ESV) If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. . . . And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

The part in bold makes people squirm. Reading the whole passage helps put it in perspective. I doubt many wives will complain about husbands who love them as Christ loves the church.

Ephesians 5:22–33 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior . . . Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself . . . “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” . . . However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Malachi 3:8 gets misused a lot in stewardship campaigns. Robbing God?! That can’t be good. But it is not a New Testament concept (see 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.).

Malachi 3:6–10 “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

*Sadly, MacDonald’s doctrine and presentation have slipped a lot over the years, but this was from when his teachings were sound.

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The top Bible verses are also the most misused

Pastor Timothy made a good point about the Top 5 Bible Verses of 2011 as listed by BibleGateway.com: None mention sin.

That isn’t too surprising to me, but here’s what bothered me more: Items 1, 3 and often 5 from the list below are also the most misinterpreted verses.  I have never — and I mean that literally — heard Jeremiah 29:11 used properly in church.  I can’t recall hearing Philippians 4:13 referenced properly either.  Even pastors and very committed Christians reflexively quote those improperly.

There is actually a great message in Jeremiah 29:11: God makes huge promises and keeps them. The Israelites had been taken into captivity because of their rebellion and worship of false gods, but God promised to bring them back. And He did. But He did not make a generic promise to prosper all people at all times.

People even throw that verse at non-believers, but that gives them a false sense of security or a bad reason to reject Christianity (deep down everyone knows Jeremiah 29:11 doesn’t apply to everyone in the manner it is used). God’s real message to them is the opposite. If they don’t repent and believe, his plans for them are horrible!

Here’s a post analyzing where people go wrong on Philippians 4:13.  It is simple as going back one verse to see what Paul’s proclamation about doing all things through Christ really means.  It isn’t about being able to accomplish anything, it is about being able to be content regardless of the situation.  The real meaning is even better than the wrong interpretation, but it doesn’t feed our worldly desire to accomplish whatever we want.

Please read the Bible in context so you’ll be part of the solution and not part of the problem.  It is the simplest and most effective way to properly understand what God meant.

BibleGateway.com, which has the Bible on line with multiple translations, has compiled a list of the Top 5 Bible verses that were searched on their site for 2011. The list is not that surprising when you look at it. Here it is: In descending order of popularity, here are the top five Bible passages of 2011: 1. JEREMIAH 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV) 2. JOHN 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV) 3. PHILIPPIANS 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (ESV) 4. PROVERBS 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight. (CEB) 5. ROMANS 8:28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. (HCSB)

False teacher defies logic. Again.

False teacher Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie really outdid himself today in Questioning The Roles of Religion and Talk Radio in Promoting Hate Crimes.  He questioned the roles, all right, but offered no proof of anything.  He called assaults against gays a crime (true enough) but forgot that pesky part about homosexual behavior being a sin.

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.
But Chuck is the real hater of gays.  He loves himself and his popularity so much that he’d rather tell lies to gays and “affirm” them in their lifestyle rather than speak the truth about God.

Soon the question of marriage equality will return to the ballot box in Oregon as Basic Rights Oregon prepares to launch a statewide initiative campaign to overturn the constitutional ban on same sex marriages. This time conservative opponents of equality will be met with a coalition that includes progressive and moderate clergy — myself included — who believe and preach that God created humanity with a richness of diversity that only serves to better us as a people.

Chuck blasphemes and says God made people want to violate his plan for sexuality.

In the midst of these public campaigns, let us pray for an end to violence and for civility in our debates.

More hypocrisy.  While calling his ideological opponents haters and the cause of violence against gays, he asks for civility.  Uh huh.

The most bizarre part is Chuck trying to imply that those who assault gays just got out of Focus on the Family “Love Won Out” conferences.  Yeah, the criminals are all orthodox Bible teachers, Chuck.  /sarcasm

Somewhere Greg Koukl is smiling . . .

Never read a Bible verse is one of the simplest and most important Bible study lessons you’ll ever get.  Always read what surrounds the text to ensure you understand the context of it.  I expanded on that theme in a class I taught to high school students a couple months ago.  One challenge with that age group they are hard to read.  They sit there politely, but often it is hard to tell if they are really engaged.

But I got some nice news today: One of the students loved the lesson and shared it with her mom.  Her mom got a lot out of it and shared it with someone at Care Net Pregnancy Center, who may use it there.  So the benefits of this lesson spread out quickly and effectively without me knowing about it until today.  Sometimes you just have to trust the process.  Sow the seed generously and let God make it grow where He likes.

I also picked up a new thought on the importance of reading in context.  I had already noted in the lesson below how often Jeremiah 29:11 is misused.  But in talking to the Care Net volunteer today I realized another problem with it that I added:

Also, deep down people know that is a false promise.  Try telling that to someone who has seen nothing but misery in the lives of those around her.  How can she believe in a God like that?

If you haven’t checked out the web site, blog or Podcast of Stand to Reason I highly encourage it.  It is the best organization I know for clear thinking Christianity.

Here is my outline from the class.

——

How to read in context: Don’t just read a Bible verse (a great slogan and lesson from Stand to Reason – http://www.str.org).  Always read at least a paragraph, and preferably a section or a chapter.  Looking at what came before and after will help ensure you are getting the right meaning.

A simple and effective way to read the Bible
  • Read it – 1-3 chapters (less for doctrine, more for history)
  • Question it
    • What portion stands out to me?  Why?
    • Is there an example for me to follow?
    • Is there an error for me to avoid?
    • Is there a duty for me to perform?
    • Is there a promise for me to claim?
    • Is there a sin for me to confess?
    • What does it not mean?  (If a difficult passage says the opposite of other more clear teachings, you know what it can’t mean)
    • Plan it – make a plan for how you will use it
    • Pray it – pray scripture back to God
    • Share it – helps others, and helps us to remember it

We should read it in the way the authors intended it, depending on the context and type of writing.

  • When was it written?
  • Who was it written by / to?
  • Type of writing
    • History
    • Metaphor / illustrations / parables
    • Doctrine
    • Poetry
    • Figures of speech – i.e., exaggerations

Important points about reading in context

  • We don’t like to admit we’ve made mistakes, so we hold onto bad interpretations
    • Solution: Swallow your pride, get it right and remember to read in context next time.  For the record, I have misused every verse in this lesson.  Some mistakes are more serious than others.
    • We have all been guilty of reading out of context.  Our choice is to dig in our heels and continue to use it incorrectly or humbly accept and use the correct teaching.  2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
    • God can forgive this error just like He delights to forgive everything else done by those who trust in Jesus.
    • Fear of getting it wrong
      • Reading in context isn’t that hard to do!  Don’t be afraid of misinterpreting – just read surrounding passages and study notes.
      • We have an important point we want to make and we can’t use that verse for it any more
        • Find another passage to prove the point you wanted to make.
        • If you can’t find another verse to support it, maybe your point isn’t valid or particularly important.
        • Once you get it right, don’t be smug about it.  You’ll need to bite your tongue a lot and only correct people inappropriate settings and ways (e.g., Bible studies, one-on-one, etc.).
        • Great news: Even though you may have misunderstood the meaning, it still has a meaning – and it may be better than the one you thought it had!

Sample passages – the part in bold is what is frequently used out of context.  Note how just reading a couple surrounding verses shows the real meaning.

 Even one of the most famous verses ever gets misused.  Not everyone goes to Heaven – only those who trust in Jesus.

John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Philippians 4:13 is one of the most commonly misused passages.  It isn’t about achieving great sporting victories or leaping tall buildings.

 Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

 You only have to go back ½ of one verse to get the context.  Paul has a secret!  A secret about what?  A secret about how to be content in every situation.  It is a great message – actually, much better than the typical application.

And another very commonly misused verse is Jeremiah 29:11.  I see this abused on a regular basis in sermons, on t-shirts, signs, etc.

Jeremiah 29:1, 4, 10-11 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon . . .
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon . . .  This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

 There is actually a great message in Jeremiah 29:11: God makes huge promises and keeps them.  The Israelites had been taken into captivity because of their rebellion and worship of false gods, but God promised to bring them back.  And He did.  But He did not make a generic promise to all people and at all times to prosper them.

People even throw that verse at non-believers, but that would give them a false sense of security.  God’s message to them is the opposite.  If they don’t repent and believe, his plans for them are horrible!

Also, deep down people know that is a false promise.  Try telling that to someone who has seen nothing but misery in the lives of those around her.  How can she believe in a God like that?

If you want to encourage people, try Matthew 11:28-30 instead (Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”)  That points them to the Jesus.

Both Christians and non-Christians abuse Matthew 7:1.  Jesus isn’t saying to never judge, He is saying not to judge hypocritically.

Matthew 7:1-5 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

People have used Matthew 5:39 to oppose capital punishment.  But it is hard to turn the other cheek when you are dead, and it is unjust for the government to “turn the other cheek.”  It would mean that we’d never punish anyone for anything.

Matthew 5:39  But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Christians often use Matthew 18:20 reflexively when talking about praying together, but is Jesus not there with you when you are by yourself?

Matthew 18:15–20 (ESV) If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. . . . And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

The part in bold makes people squirm.  Reading the whole passage helps put it in perspective.   I doubt many wives will complain about husbands who love them as Christ loves the church.

Ephesians 5:22–33 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior . . . Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself . . . “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” . . . However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Malachi 3:8 gets misused a lot in stewardship campaigns.  Robbing God?!  That can’t be good.  But it is not a New Testament concept (see 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.).

Malachi 3:6–10 “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

If you are going to read a book about Heaven, make it “In Light of Eternity”

A friend of mine and I will be teaching In Light of Eternity: Perspectives on Heaven by Randy Alcorn to the High School youth over the next few weeks as part of a study called “Heaven and Hell.  Mostly Heaven.”  I highly recommend this book.  It is very easy to read, chock-full of Bible verses (in context!) and it is likely to change your view of Heaven for the good — and towards a more accurate assessment of it.  He addresses myths that even some Christians hold, such as that Heaven will be boring.

In the mean time, read Randy’s article about some other books on Heaven that appear to be less accurate: “Heaven Is for Real”, “90 Minutes in Heaven”, and other books about visits to Heaven or Hell.

Everyone spends eternity somewhere.  If you are a Christian, you should spend time thinking about your eternal home.  If you aren’t a Christian, you should give this some serious thought.  What could be more important?

Lots of good arguments against oxymoronic “same-sex marriage”

A post over at Right Libertarian had some excellent responses to a pro-same-sex-marriage piece.  The author didn’t address the religious arguments the pro-SSM person used, so I took a shot at it.  Here’s a link to the original post.

– 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.

– 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.

– 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).

– 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.

I list them that way to highlight that it isn’t just the “few” verses addressing homosexual behavior (as if what God says doesn’t count until He says it X times).

The Bible, that ancient book written by sheep herders and religious zealots, does indeed condemn homosexuality.

Note how they think they can completely dismiss the word of God with one fallacious sound bite. I’ll give them credit for this, though: At least they see that the Bible does condemn the behavior as sinful. Many Christians (the embarrassingly poorly informed and confused kind) and “Christians” (the fake kind) will try to spin the verses to justify homosexual behavior and oxymoronic “same-sex marriage.”

whatever Paul said on homosexuality is all that matters (ignoring the fact that Jesus said nothing about it)

They use the argument from silence (Jesus didn’t mention child abuse or wife-beating, but presumably we can safely speak against those). He did say marriage was designed by God for one man and one woman, forever.

Paul hates the gays.

This is where you ask them what passages they are referring to and how they came to that conclusion. Expect silence and then a change of subject.

Then refer them to Romans 1. In one of the most “big picture” books of the Bible, Paul notes how people suppress the truth of God in righteousness by ignoring his existence — even though He has made it plan to them — and that God has then given them over to their sinful desires. Then he gives exhibit A: A clear explanation how men and women will abandon their natural functions to have homosexual sex. It should be noted that while that was Paul’s most extreme example, he then gives a laundry list of ways that we all rebel (i.e., he wasn’t just picking on the LGBTQ folks).

Paul addresses this indirectly throughout his letters (all commands about parenting and marriage involve one man / one woman marriages)

The point is, the Bible is a pick and choose smorgasbord of random commands, and to claim that we should legislate based on it is preposterous.

I only use biblical arguments when discussing this with self-proclaimed Christians. I don’t use it for public policy debates with non-believers.

9. Gay’s are icky!

I’ve seen the “ick factor” argument used more by the promoters of “gay marriage” than by its opponents. It is clever on their part to avoid defending some inconvenient problems with their position.

Gay sex is indeed icky. There is a reason people spend billions on toilet paper, diapers, wipes, etc.: People like to keep feces either inside their body (temporarily) or as far away from it as possible. So if someone could force a straight person to have anal sex, I’d expect the straight person would not only want to use a condom but would beg for multiple full body condoms.

HIV and syphilis rates that are over forty times the average are also icky, but that factoid from the CDC is politically incorrect. Therefore, you don’t hear a lot about it — unless you propose to cut funding for these non-gay diseases, in which case you are an awful homophobe.

Those aren’t the reasons to oppose SSM, but they are perfectly valid topics when discussing the LGBTQ agenda.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.“ Straight from the horse’s mouth. Faith is based on nothing. By the transitive properties of common sense, arguments from faith are based on nothing.

Another quote from someone who hasn’t studied the Bible. Why didn’t the author reference the 13 Gospel presentations from the book of Acts, or 1 Peter 3:15, or many other passages, which all rely on arguments from reason and evidence? It is a classic case of reading a verse out of context. Juries don’t see the crime in progress, but they can gain assurance from the evidence — just like Christians do.

It really doesn’t. Adam married Eve, so, sure, the first couple out the gate was your traditional all-nude, constructed from dust and ribs hetero couple. After that, things get wonky.

The Bible is a thoroughly authentic book, recording the failures and consequences of everyone, including its heroes. That doesn’t mean it approves of its records.

And just because God’s design for marriage was for one man and one woman doesn’t mean people have to get married. Paul made it very clear that singleness was an option, and for him, a preference.

I love Bible lessons from people who have never seriously studied it.

The leap from homosexual marriage to bestiality isn’t a slippery slope, it’s a jump over the Grand Canyon.

The bigamy / bestiality / incest argument isn’t primarily a slippery slope (though, btw, not all slippery slope arguments are fallacies). It is a “cliff” argument, where the arguments for one thing (same-sex marriage) simultaneously support the others. The slippery slope only comes into play because it takes a little longer for society to slide down the moral decline and tolerate / accept the other behaviors.

“Either of us could be wrong, so let’s call it a tie”

Twice this week I encountered commenters who ran out of arguments and resorted to claiming that either of us could be wrong.  The implication was that it made the discussion a toss-up and we should just end the debate – with them getting their way, of course.

Here’s one of them, in context of a discussion on Romans 1 and natural functions.

In context with the idol worship we see what comes next. I could be wrong, can you admit that you could be wrong?

My response:

You are wrong and should stop teaching falsely. Whether we could be wrong is irrelevant. I say people shouldn’t beat up gays. Could I be wrong? Maybe, but I don’t think I am. But using your “logic” I could be wrong so I shouldn’t debate the point. That is stupid logic.

Here’s the other example:

So, Neil, the Bible and the [Methodist] Book of Discipline are never wrong?

My response:

The “we might both be wrong, so let’s call it a tie” philosophy is silly. Fred Phelps could use the same approach but I hope that wouldn’t stifle anyone’s criticism of him.

The Bible is never wrong. It is capable of being misunderstood, but never wrong. It is remarkably clear on this topic, and the BoD [Methodist Book of Discipline] is in sync:

100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms. 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman. 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children). 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.

Could I be wrong?  In a hyper-technical sense, of course I could be.  Hey, maybe this is all just an illusion and I didn’t really type this.  That isn’t supported by the evidence and we don’t live our lives that way, but there is always some extreme scenario where we could be mistaken.

But that isn’t what the other party is aiming at.  They think they are right, and are using this argument to avoid conceding a point where they know they are out of ammunition.

One of the most insidious ways the pro-gay lobby in the Methodist Church does this is to press for resolutions noting that we don’t have full agreement on the topic.  They make it sound innocent, as if we are just stating the obvious.  But of course they are trying to generate an official document that implies that there just isn’t enough biblical guidance on the topic to make an assessment.  Therefore, we should relax our standards.

The lesson here: Don’t let them get away with it.  Just point out how they obviously think they are right and have the burden of proof to back up their claims.