“Always Look up the Passages!”

Categories: M. W. Bassford, Meditations

There are many attempts to interpret the Bible floating around on the Internet, some of them very useful and good, some of them very. . . not.  Indeed, as the above illustrates, it is possible to find memes that claim that the Bible teaches exactly the opposite of what we believe it teaches.  Many of them look very authoritative, too, with loads of parenthetical citations of Scripture. 

Lazy, ignorant people who agree with the meme rejoice.  “See???  I knew it all along!”  Lazy, ignorant people who disagree with the meme, on the other hand, become disheartened and confused.

However, there is a simple cure for such confusion.  Don’t take Random Internet Dude’s word about what a passage says.  Instead, look it up, and see for yourself if the interpreter is interpreting correctly.

In this case, such a simple process (I can’t imagine it taking anyone more than 15 minutes) will reveal the meme as a tissue of lies, cynically crafted to cast doubt on Biblical teaching about the value of life.  Let’s take it from the top:

Hosea 13:16 predicts that pregnant women will be slaughtered.  It does not offer permission to do so.

Genesis 38:24 is about Judah demanding that pregnant Tamar be burned for prostitution.  Before we get too impressed with Judah as an example of righteousness, we should remember that he was the one who impregnated Tamar in the first place.  He slept with her because he thought she was a prostitute.  Nobody in this story reveals God’s will.

Hosea 9:16 discusses God punishing Israel by killing those who already have been born.  It’s not about fetuses in utero.

Numbers 5:21 is in the weird context about the water of bitterness bringing a curse on adulterous women.  It has nothing to do with miscarriage.

Leviticus 27:6 is about valuing people who have been vowed to the Lord in some way.  Only providing a valuation for infants who are at least a month old has a lot more to do with the horrific prevalence of infant mortality 3500 years ago (newborns often did not survive) than it does with the newborn’s intrinsic lack of value. 

Numbers 13:15-16 excludes newborns from the census for the same reason.  Note also that women weren’t numbered either, but any argument that women are valueless runs headlong into a number of New Testament passages.

Matthew 18:6 is about drowning the one who offends a little child, not about drowning the little child, and it’s figurative anyway.

Deuteronomy 21:21 is about stoning a rebellious adult child, someone who is a glutton and a drunkard. 

Ezekiel 5:10 is a prediction of cannibalism during the siege of Jerusalem (fathers eating sons, sons eating fathers).  It does not establish cannibalism as godly behavior!

Genesis 19:24 describes God judging Sodom and Gomorrah by raining down fire on them, and it’s blasphemous to claim that the judgments that the Lord executes give us permission to kill.

Joshua 10:37 (the meme says 10:36, but I will be gracious) is about the Israelites destroying the Canaanites of Hebron, including children.  Again, they did so because God expressly commanded them to, in Deuteronomy 20:16-17.  There is no corresponding commandment concerning abortion.

Deuteronomy 32:24 mentions poison but not children.

In short, what looks like a devastating rebuttal of conservative views on abortion proves to be anything but.  It does nothing to prove that the Bible and Christianity are “fine with it”, nor does it reveal what God thinks about the practice.

The point is this:  Whenever anybody (whether I or an angel from heaven) makes a spiritual claim and cites a Scripture in support, always, always, ALWAYS look up the passage!  Teachers of the truth won’t mind; in fact, they will be pleased.  False teachers will mind very much, but it is godly to expose their falsehood.  Never put your trust in men.  Put your trust in the word of God!