Ship of Fools just released the results of its survey: What is the Bible’s worst verse? They asked readers to contribute verses and then conducted online polling to determine the worst. Here’s how they phrased it:
We want you to tell us: which sacred text makes you reach for the red pen? Which hallowed verse makes you laugh for all the wrong reasons? Which blessed passage leaves you groaning with embarrassment? Which piece of holy writ troubles you at night, but at least keeps you awake in sermons?
The survey’s results were just reported in the excellent newletter from the Evangelical Alliance, a British organization. Here are the Top Ten worst Bible verses, according to this online poll. As I’ll discuss below, THEY MISSED THE WORST BIBLE VERSE OF ALL!!!!!!!! (sorry for shouting and exclaiming).
SHIP OF FOOLS’ WORST VERSES IN THE BIBLE
- The ban on women teaching in church (1 Timothy 2:12)
- Samuel’s instruction to ‘totally destroy’ the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:3)
- Moses’ command ‘Do not allow a sorceress to live.’ (Exodus 22:18)
- The ending of Psalm 137 ‘Happy are those who seize your infants and dash them against the rocks’
- The gang rape and murder of a concubine (Judges 19:25-28)
- The condemnation of homosexuality (Romans 1:27)
- Jephthah’s vow which led to his daughter being sacrificed (Judges 11)
- God’s instruction to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:2)
- The instruction that wives submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22)
- The instruction that slaves submit to their masters (1 Peter 2:18)
As I said, they missed the TRULY WORST verse in the Bible, which I’ll get to soon. The incentive for this poll seems to be a desire to make the Bible palatable to our larger culture. This, surely, is a good thing… or is it? As the website says,
[The Bible] doesn’t have to be a textbook of infallible information and unbreakable laws to be God’s book. And it doesn’t have to be one big pile of lies and atrocity just because it has its dodgy bits.
Interesting. It doesn’t have to be “infallible” and its laws don’t have to be “unbreakable” to make it God’s book. Uhhhh… meaning the Bible is God’s book of potential errors and optional suggestions?
If the Bible has errors in it, would somebody kindly tell me where they are, because I’m banking my life on this book. Ditto for the “breakable laws.” Which ones? I’d like to know so I can teach my children which of God’s laws are mutable. Same for the “dodgy bits” which, if my dictionary defines British English correctly, means “dishonest or unreliable.”
So, the motive for the poll seems to be as follows: Let’s be good chaps, and ‘fess up to the dishonest and unreliable parts of the Bible, so that our unbelieving friends will know that we’re good chaps and feel better both about us and about the Bible, and perhaps give it another look, now that we’ve abandoned the brittle assumption that God’s Word is infallible and his laws are unbreakable.
God help us!
Yes, let’s VOTE on which parts of the Bible must be uprooted in order to make it palatable for society. Let’s create a Bible for the masses — a Bible edited under the principle of MAJORITY RULES.
Right. All it would say is, “God is love” and even that would be questioned.
I’m not suggesting that these verses and others pose no problems. I’m not suggesting they make me feel good, or seem right by my standards. I’m not suggesting that the poll is inappropriate — it’s important for us to know where the offenses lie so that we might be better equipped to evangelize. In context, most of these verses do not represent God advocating anything, or if they do, he’s just going with some then-cultural norms. (Check out the excellent analysis at the Evangelical Alliance).
Regardless of what these difficult verses are saying, the poll has a built-in dishonesty, because it omitted the WORST BIBLE VERSE OF ALL TIME… (you have to click “read the rest…” to get the big reveal). Here it is…
The worst Bible verse of all time is….
“You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3, NKJV.
There it is. There is the massive stumblingblock. The great offense of the Bible. Because if there is a God, and if he exists as described in the Bible, then our assumptions of right and wrong, good and evil, true and false, must be give way to His.
The human problem is not that we find certain verses objectionable; it is that we find submission to God objectionable. We wish to do what is right in our own eyes, and balk at bowing the knee to a God Who Knows What He’s Doing. We much prefer to go our own way, and to not have this God to rule over us. Any honest person would admit it. Any honest poll would take it into consideration.
But we can’t, because once we admit that we don’t like the idea of a God who rules over us, we immediately verify the conclusion of St Paul:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” Romans 1:18, NKJV.
We are, one and all, guilty of suppressing the truth about God… we know it. We sense it. We intuit it. And we hate it. So we suppress it. Can anyone honestly argue his wrath is unjustified? Can anyone deny our innate desire to exalt ourselves above our Maker? To shatter the first commandment as surely as Moses shattered the tablets on which it was written?
Or is Romans 1:18 just another “dodgy bit?”
Let God be God and every person a liar. Truth is not up for a vote. Neither is God. Yes, we must deal with the difficult Scriptures. But let’s not kid ourselves into believing that people reject the Bible because it has hard verses. No. They reject the Bible because it makes them subject to a God they can’t tame, whose ways are higher than our ways, and always will be.
I don’t like having a boss.
Thank God for a gospel of a Savior’s Cross by which God forgives and embraces the most fervent rebel. Thank God for Jesus, who felt the weight of humankind’s hatred of the first commandment, and redeemed us from the curse of breaking that — and all other — commandments. Thank God for so great a salvation as revealed in God’s perfect Word… a salvation unlike any other, incomparable among world religions, and without peer in the annals of human history.
Thank God for Jesus, our Savior and our King. Let us have no other gods before him.