There is a common occurrence that I have seen among both skeptics and Christians alike. This has to do with some of the things that the Bible says about certain things. Many people seem to read more into some Bible passages than they perhaps should.
In this particular case that I’m referring to, people often make the mistake of assuming that just because the Bible reports a certain event or situation, that these events or situations are condoned. It is a very different thing report something than it is to condone it. It is very dangerous to make the leap from one to the other.
For example, there are secluded sects of people who condone things like polygamy based on the fact that the Bible clearly shows that important people in the Bible such as Abraham and David and Solomon had multiple, or even many, wives. These men were obviously very blessed by God through their lives. Often, these two facts are mistakenly put together to teach that polygamy is sanctioned by God.
Other types of things reported in the Bible include things like Abraham lying about Sarah being his wife, Jacob stealing Esau’s birthright, David’s infidelity with Bathsheba and the list goes on and on. In fact, if you were to read through Genesis, you will find that there is more drama, infidelity, lying, cheating, murder, incest, etc. than in every soap opera on television combined. In fact, it can be quite distressing if one is not careful to keep a proper perspective.
But, again, these things are not put in the Bible to indicate that God approves of these types of behaviors. A great deal of the Bible is actually not theology, believe it or don’t, but history. That being the case, reporting of the things that occurred does not in any way signify whether those things were right or wrong. It simply states that they happened. This is a very important distinction to make. It is important because we can mistakenly convince ourselves that something is OK just because someone in the Bible did it.
Now, I do believe that there is another reason that these stories are told. You see, we so often can manage to convince ourselves that we are beyond redemption because our sins are so great that God couldn’t possibly forgive us or want to be in a relationship with us. Then, we look at the stories in the Bible of these people who were so dysfunctional, they sometimes make us look like we should be walking around with halos over our heads.
I believe that a big reason these stories are shared, other than the fact that the Bible is a historical account, is to show us that as awful as we could be, as depraved and sinful as we could act, nothing can separate us from God’s love. Christ’s sacrifice paid our debt in full. All of it. Not just little white lies or petty crimes, but even the most dispicable atrocities we could conceive of. Not that God wants us to do those things. But He can forgive us for them through the cross.
Whenever reading the Bible, remember to not only look at what it says, but be sure to pay attention to what it doesn’t say. That is the other side of the coin and both sides are important. When you better understand what it doesn’t say, you can avoid falling into the traps like the one Eve fell into when the serpent tried to twist around what God said and turn it into something He didn’t say. Eve didn’t catch it, and often times, neither do we.
What have you ever read in the Bible that you may have thought was condoned when it was really only reported?
Grace, love and peace.