Recently I read a blog/social media post whose sole topic was explaining how the product the author was selling was “biblical”, and using bible verses out of context to promote the sales of their product.
Let me just take a deep breath y’all before I write this. In, Out. Count to 10. Pray for forgiveness for my thoughts.
Ok. So this is a pretty extreme and grotesque (but unfortunately real) example of “bible bending”. Usually it’s more sneaky, isn’t it? I have done it before. I remember the first bible study I co-lead with a friend in college. I had been studying a lot of christian doctrine and thought I knew EVERYTHING. The gals in the group were non-believers or very new believers, and they asked a lot of questions. One of them was “what does the bible say about tattoos?”
I did research and found one scripture in the old testament concerning tattoos in Leviticus: God was warning his people not to mark their bodies (with tattoos). I read the verse and basically said “that’s what the bible says about tattoos.” And that’s it. The poor gal co-leading was looking at me like “what are you doing?”. I did not put the verse in context at all. My co-leader thankfully explained more of the context of the verse and how people interpret the bible in a God glorifying way.
The worst part was I was so intent on not misinterpreting the bible that I truly missed the point of sharing the gospel. Thank goodness that God worked through my co-leaders wisdom.
People take verses out of context all the time to say what they want. Want to smoke marijuana? I’ve heard someone butcher a verse out of context to condone it. Want to leave your spouse? Pursue happiness above all? Wealth above all? Deny the existence of hell? Want to grow a mega-rich ministry? Preach happiness above all. Preach prosperity. Preach, but don’t ever read your whole bible.
The dangers of bible bending are real, and to me, scary:
Does this scare you as much as I do? Misrepresenting Almighty God?! The creator of the universe, the loving, good, just God that HATES sin? That gives me grace upon grace upon grace?
Pushing People Away
Not only does bible bending push people away from us personally, it pushes people away from the gospel. Do you think someone reading a blog post about why the bible says they should buy the writers product will be instrumental in leading them to Jesus? Yeah, me either.
I think that if we intentionally are using God’s word to further ourselves, to sell something, to condone our behavior, or to make sure we are right we need to examine our hearts. Are we truly in Christ? A true Christ follower’s highest calling is to glorify God in all. Jesus said Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind is the greatest commandment, and the next is love your neighbor as yourself. If we are not reading and using scripture to know God deeper, to seek him, to gain comfort or wisdom from God, or to become more Christ-like, that should be a BIG red flag. If we are quoting scripture to others for reasons other than drawing them nearer to God in whatever situation they are facing, that should be another red flag.
I do not want to be standing on judgment day and miss the narrow door. I do not want to see the instances of using the holy word of God for my own gain replayed before me, seeing the full weight of selfish words and actions misrepresenting God. My heart trembles just thinking of it.