11 Kinds of Bible Verses Christians Love to Ignore
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Some Bible-believing Christians play fast and loose with their sacred text. When it suits their purposes, they treat it like the literally perfect word of God. Then, when it suits their other purposes, they conveniently ignore the parts of the Bible that are—inconvenient.
Here are 11 kinds of verses Bible-believers ignore so that they can keep spouting the others when they want to. To list all of the verses in these categories would take a book almost the size of the Bible; one the size of the Bible minus the Jefferson Bible, to be precise. I’ll limit myself to a couple tantalizing tidbits of each kind, and the curious reader who wants more can go to the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible or simply dig out the old family tome and start reading at Genesis, Chapter I.
1. Weird insults and curses. The Monty Python crew may have coined some of the best insults of the last 100 years: Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries. But for centuries the reigning master was Shakespeare: It is certain that when he makes water his urine is congealed ice. Had John Cleese or William Shakespeare lived in the Iron Age, though, some of the Bible writers might have given him a run for his money. Christians may scoot past these passages, but one hell-bound humorist used them to create a biblical curse generator.
- She lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. Ezekiel 23:20 NIV
- You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit. Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will eat none of it. Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will rescue them. . . . The Lord will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. Deuteronomy 28:30-31,35
2. Awkwardly useless commandments. The Bible is chock-a-block with do's and don’ts. Some of them are simply statements of universal ethical principles like, do to others what you would have them do to you, or don’t lie, or don’t covet your neighbor’s possessions. But from a moral standpoint most of them are simply useless or even embarrassing—especially if you think God could have used the space to say don’t have sex with anyone who doesn’t want you to, or wash your hands after you go to the bathroom.
- Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material. Leviticus 19:19
- Ye shall not round the corners of your heads. Leviticus 19:27
3. Silly food rules. The early Hebrews probably didn’t have an obesity epidemic like the one that has spread around the globe today. Even so, one might think that if an unchanging and eternal God were going to give out food rules he might have considered the earnest Middle-American believers who would be coming along in 2014. A little divine focus on amping up leafy green vegetables and avoiding sweets might have gone a long way. Instead, the Bible strictly forbids eating rabbit, shellfish, pork, weasels, scavengers, reptiles, and owls. As is, Christians simply ignore the eating advisories in the Old Testament, even though they claim that edicts like the Ten Commandments and the anti-queer clobber verses still apply.
- All that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you. Leviticus 9:10
- Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother's milk. Exodus 23:19
4. Holy hangups about genitals. God, or the Bible writers, is hung up about sexual anatomy in a way many modern Christians, fortunately, are not. In The Year of Living Biblically, the author, A.J. Jacobs, attempts to obey Mosaic laws about menstruation. When his wife finds out what those laws actually are, she gives him the middle finger by sitting on every chair in the house.