I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. (1 Timothy 2:12)
Recently, I came across a “Ship of Fools” video which invited people to submit their nominations for the “Ten worst verses of the Bible”
At first, I assumed that Ship of Fools must be an atheist website holding this “Worst Verse” contest as a way to raise awareness of some of the horrific messages contained in the pages of the Christian scriptures. My assumption was based mainly on the website’s name since Psalm 14:1 tells us that “The fool” says in his heart, “There is no God.” Plus ~ who else would sponsor this sort of bible-bashing contest?
Well, it turns out that I was mistaken. Ship of Fools is actually a Christian website ~ the twist being that this group of believers does not shrink back from taking a critical look at the book upon which their faith is based.
According to the website:
… the Bible is probably the most important book ever, but it sometimes seems that the only people who care about it are rival gangs of fundamentalists, Christian and atheist, determined to beat it into the shape of their own prejudices.
We want to rescue the Bible from their rival takeover bids. We want to take it out of the hands of people who hit you over the head with it.
It 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.
We want to remind non-Christians that Christians can see the flaws of their own faith as well as others can. And we want to remind Christians too.
Let’s have a bit of balance, shall we?
Good for Ship of Fools ~ more power to them.
And the winner is …
Interestingly, the results are now in ~ and the prize for the “Worst Verse” contest goes to the apostle Paul, who wrote:
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” (1 Timothy 2:12)
Actually, SIX of the “top ten” verses have to do with sexism and/or the abuse of women and young girls.
The website aptly sums up the list of worst verses this way: All in all, the results are a mixture of the historically horrific and milder restrictions that are still being applied in our own times. It may be a surprise that biblical sexism caps biblical genocide, but maybe it’s because it’s more of a live issue. No one is using the Book of Samuel to justify genocide today, but the words of Paul are still used to silence women.
It’s an unedifying list, but we think the Bible can survive bringing these shadowy verses into the spotlight. It’s not the all-or-nothing book that fundamentalists (atheist and Christian) say that we must either accept wholesale or burn. We need a view of the Bible that is nuanced enough to treasure its comforts and challenges, its classic stories and groundbreaking ethical wisdom, while facing the plain fact that some of it is unacceptable.
It’s refreshing to see a group of Christians willing to take an honest look at these bible verses which have been used to disenfranchise and abuse women and girls for centuries ~ and to declare said verses “unacceptable.”