Nominations for most contentious Bible verses?

Hey friends, so I’m going to do a series on most contentious Bible verses and I need your nominations. I was going to call it most abused Bible verses and/or most ignored Bible verses, but I wanted to keep it a little bit flexible and not set myself up as the perfectly (arrogant and) erudite interpreter of the scripture everyone else has screwed up. So whether the verse is contentious because it’s an obnoxious proof-text or it’s an embarrassment to Biblical literalism or it’s been heavily debated or it makes secular liberals howl, hit me up and let me know which ones you want to write about!

About Morgan Guyton

I’m the director of the NOLA Wesley Foundation, which is the United Methodist campus ministry at Tulane and Loyola University in New Orleans, LA.

  • Logan T. Miles (@ltmiles)

    2 Thessalonians 3:10

    Ahh yes, the verse that means our homeless, don’t deserve our help.

    At least that’s one this one disgusting twitter user thought it meant.

  • nathan

    Romans 13. Isaiah 28:10-13.

  • Matt Brady

    “ ‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:28 NIV)

    • Morgan Guyton

      Doh! Not even if it’s a phrase in Hebrew?

      • Matt Brady

        I cannot even remember how many times I heard this verse being throw around early in life…

  • thomas

    John 14.6.

  • dritta

    The “knit you together in your mother’s womb” verse. The one that until 1975 was understood to be talking about God’s foreknowledge, and after 1975 was reinterpreted to be talking about how a fertilized egg is the moral equivalent of a person.

    • Morgan Guyton

      Yeah it’s pretty wild to take beautiful Hebrew poetry about God’s intimate care for us and turn it into a political talking point.

  • qmommad

    1 John 2:19-27

  • Simon Nash

    Gen 22:2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (NIV)

    Only saying this because our youth leader has asked me to do a Bible Study with the teens and has given me the notes that say “obey the voice (you think) is God, even if it means doing evil”

    • Morgan Guyton

      Ooh… That would make me uncomfortable to teach! I imagine there are a lot of mass shooters who obeyed the voice they thought was God.

  • jmobeox6

    Although not considered the most contentious I will suggest 3 related verses that deal with the recent dialogue about confronting (clearly one of the less practiced disciplines). Ezekiel 3:19, Ezekiel 33:9 and Romans 1:32. These verses basically deal with the subject of consequences for not addressing sin in our midst. There were some very PC comments related to this subject in recent days in the comment section of your blog, but there seemed to be lacking the scriptural backing for “sitting back and letting the Holy Spirit do all the conviction of sin”. Not saying we have to grab our stick and start beating each other, but we must flesh out these verses in light of the rampant decent of morals within the church and the lack of addressing challenging subjects from the pulpit and in personal relationships.

    • Morgan Guyton

      Good! Thanks for these verses. I think it will be worthwhile to prayerfully wrestle with them.

  • Nicholas

    “Now I [Paul] rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church…”

    “Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. ‘But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,a 8and the two shall become one flesh.’; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. ‘What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate…Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

    “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will set his throne above these stones that I have hidden, and he will spread his royal canopy over them.”

    “Forming light, preparing darkness, making peace, preparing evil, I am the LORD, doing all these things.”

    “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I make you a god to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet…”

    Just to name a few.

    • Morgan Guyton

      Nice. Can you give the citations on some of those? I particularly like the “preparing evil” one.

      • Nicholas


        “God to pharaoh” is Exodus 7:1.

  • Greg

    1) Always cited by those who are apathetic about helping the poor:

    The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. (Mark 14:7)

    2) The most oft cited (and misused) verse by Christian pro-gun advocates:

    He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. (Luke 22:36)

    3) Complementarians use the following verse to put women in their place:

    I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. (1 Timothy 2:12)

    4) Passages relating to homosexuality: Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

    • Morgan Guyton


  • Tom

    In my experience, I think the Romans 1 passage has been the most debated when it comes to the issue of homosexuality.
    I am also intrigued by Jesus’ words,”Do not resist an evildoer.” And have had a way too heated “dialogue” with someone else based on that passage.

    • Morgan Guyton

      It’s a little bit contrived to try to make Jesus’ “Do not resist an evildoer” into nonviolent resistance. I want to do it too, but I think Jesus is being hyperbolic like when he says to rip your eyeball out.

      • Tom

        How do we tell the difference between when Jesus is using hyperbole and when he isn’t? Or do you think that whole section is hyperbole? Also, what’s the difference between hyperbole and exaggeration? When I think of hyperbole, I think of exaggeration, which I’m not sure fits with “do not resit an evildoer,” (but would fit with the ripping your eye out thing) but it may be wrong of me to think of those two in the same way because I really don’t know the difference. So, it’s an honest question, not a leading one.

        • Morgan Guyton

          Nice. Hadn’t thought about nuancing between those two terms. Thanks for planting that seed.

  • David

    Matthew 24: 27-29..(.I’m not sure what that means.)
    27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 WHEREEVER THE CORPSE IS, THERE THE VULTURES WILL GATHER. (CAPS mine)

    • 17Sevens

      Not saying I have it figured out, but vultures were considered to be a type of eagle in Jesus’ time, and a major roman symbol was the eagle, so… I’ve certainly pondered the implications!

  • 17Sevens

    Matthew 10:22
    You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

    Never once has this been used by Christians anywhere to justify the hatred their actions earn from others as being “proof” of Christ-like behavior… oh, wait.

    • Morgan Guyton

      Oh yeah I call that misanthropogelicalism.