Of clobber-texts and anti-clobber-texts: The Bible is not a card game

In a recent “Smart people saying smart things” post, I quoted from Letha Dawson Scanzoni’s recent Christian Feminism Today piece “There Is More Than One Christian View on Homosexuality.” That post is taken from a 2005 talk Scanzoni gave at a “Faith Beyond Boundaries” interfaith conference. I suppose  describing it as a sermon might make it even less appealing than describing it as an address from an interfaith conference, but really that’s what it is — a sermon (a good one) on Micah 6:8.

When I was a kid, riding to church (twice on Sundays and on Wednesday nights) we’d usually get stuck at the light on West Seventh Street and from the back seat of the car I’d read the words from that verse carved on the wall of the synagogue there:



The full verse is just as good: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

I love the blunt simplicity of that. This isn’t complicated, Micah is saying, here’s the whole deal in a nutshell. Boom — that’s it. The rest is just details. More can be said, but no more needs to be said. You could preach on that for a year and still not be done with it, but if you preach for a year and never arrive there then you’ve probably been wasting your breath.

This is good stuff, is what I’m saying. The best stuff.

Yet I fear that when Letha Dawson Scanzoni invokes this passage in direct response to a specific challenge, the person making that challenge still won’t be satisfied. It’s a far better answer than what he expected, but because it’s not shaped like the answer he expects to hear, I doubt he’ll be able to hear it.

Here’s her description of the challenge she was presented:

People for the most part appear to subscribe to a proof-text approach. Thus, after a favorable review of the book I wrote with Dave Myers appeared on an Internet blog, one reader entered this comment in response to that review:

“Please, if you could, give me a verse or passage in the Bible that plainly casts homosexuality in a positive light. Just give me one. Because, when Leviticus calls homosexuality an “abomination” I have a hard time seeing the pro-homosexuality biblical argument. If one wants to make a secular argument, fine, go right ahead. But when you try to establish a “Christian” case for being in favor of homosexuality you’ve left the realm of Christianity entirely.

“However, if you can, please cite me a passage that displays Yahweh’s affection for homosexuality. It should be fairly simple if it’s there.”

Referring to the subtitle of our book, he went on to say “there is no ‘Christian case’” and had some harsh words to say about those of us who think otherwise. Nevertheless, today I am going to take him up on his challenge. I am going to suggest that “one verse” that I think we people of faith can use in applying our faith to this topic.

The “one verse” she cites is Micah 6:8, and she goes on to build a convincing case as to why this one verse, even all by itself, compels her to advocate for the full equality of LGBT people (read the whole thing).

Artwork from Kelly Stephens’ Etsy shop (click for the link).

But the problem, in her inquisitor’s eyes, is that this passage is not itself a clobber-text. He reads the Bible like a child playing the old card game of “War.” He puts down his card — a clobber-text from Leviticus. And now it’s her turn to play her card. If she doesn’t have a corresponding clobber-text that trumps his, then he wins.

The idea that maybe the Bible is more than a collection of clobber-texts is beyond his imagination. The idea that a text could be anything other than a clobber-text is not a possibility that he can accommodate. Scanzoni’s argument, like Micah’s, is about cutting through distracting side issues to get to the core of what matters most: What does the Lord require?

But “what does the Lord require?” was not the inquisitor’s question. His question was “Do you have an anti-clobber text that overrules my clobber-text?” Like the prophet Micah, I think that’s a dumb question. It’s the wrong question — a question as irrelevant to everything as any possible answer to it would be. It’s a question that can only serve to distract us and to help us hide from ourselves the question that does matter — the question that the prophet asks and answers in Micah 6:8.

“But that verse isn’t about homosexuality!” the inquisitor protests.

Really? So there are certain subjects or realms or “issues” for which justice, mercy and humility do not apply?

I used to run into this weird objection when I spoke in churches or at conferences representing the Evangelical Environmental Network. My standard talk for the EEN was based on Galatians 5:22-23:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

Every once in a while someone would complain that this passage isn’t about the environment. That’s narrowly true, I suppose. St. Paul did not say, “Don’t dump mercury in the river because poisoning your neighbors doesn’t demonstrate love, joy, peace, etc.” But surely this passage is obviously relevant to matters like mercury pollution, or to climate change, conservation, recycling, waste, etc.

It took me a while to realize what this complaint really meant. They were disappointed that I hadn’t recited an environmentalist clobber-text. Without a specific clobber-text on the specific topic in question, it seemed, they were unable to regard anything in the Bible as meaningful.

If forced to do so, I can recite a host of “environmental” clobber-texts, but while those might help these folks to win a hand or two in their games of Bible War, that won’t address the larger, deeper problem, which is that they remain unable to think of the Bible as anything more than an anthology of discrete, unrelated clobber-texts addressing various subjects.

And as long as that is how they read the Bible, they will never be able to ask Micah’s question. And they will never be able to hear Micah’s answer.

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  • Baby_Raptor

    Why did that synagogue use Vs instead of Us?

    The inquisitor is showing more of himself than he intends to here; his insistence on a verse specifically mentioning homosexuality shows that he thinks LGBTs to be such horrible sinners that the typical, run of the mill commands towards love, justice and mercy don’t apply to us. We need a specific pardon for our very specific, dirty sins.

  • Probably they’re easier to carve than Us are, and it’s a kind of Olde Style Latinqesue thing too.

  • Well, frankly, anyone who unironically quotes Leviticus as a meaningful guide to how one should live is kind of showing their hand as an illiterate asshole looking for ways to condemn those they don’t like in any case. Particularly since I’m betting that dude doesn’t hold with the whole Jubilee thing.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Gotcha. Thanks.

  • Matticus

    Exactly. I’ve never understood how people can go around quoting that one part of Leviticus while ignoring literally everything else. I always want to go on that rant that President Bartlett from West Wing uses against that homophobic radio host (I’d link, but I’m on a mobile device) where he lists all the other things that Leviticus deems worthy of the death penalty that we do all the time.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    As the nastiest “clobber passages” are in the Old Testament (and since I myself am Jewish) I like to point out to Christian “clobberers” that despite our alleged Pharisaic focus on the letter of the law over the spirit, somehow both reform and conservative Judaism are not only generally LGBT friendly but have even come to affirm same-sex marriages- so perhaps even Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are not as airtight as they think.

  • I think what I find telling about the response to Micah 6:8 is that it demonstrates how sex-obssessed many in the anti-gay crowd really is.

    Bring up real matters of injustice toward LGBT people — homelessness among LGBT youth, lack of access to quality health care, bullying and violence, you name it — and there is often at least that one person who will try to refocus the conversation with, “Yes, but what about [what the Bible says/speaking the truth about the sinfulness of homosexuality/etc]?” Because, you know, the horrors of what two or more consenting adults might choose to do amongst themselves is just so much more important than homeless teens, people without the health care they need, and dozens of other injustices.

    This weekend, I was involved in a similar conversation when someone asked when Christians were called to “stand up against evil,” by which he meant “the overturning of DOMA and the defeat of Prop 8.” I invited him to stand up against [Content Note for link: Homophobia, death, threats of violence, and a few other things I don’t quite know how to describe] this evil instead.

    Not a single person in the conversation chose to discuss the video.

  • the shepard

    they don’t want to think of homosexuals as people, if they did they might start feeling empathy and kindness towards them. they have to make them a bundle of ickiness in order to truly maintain their righteous rage.

  • the shepard

    micah 6:8 is my single favorite bible verse. it lays it all out, simply and directly and if you follow it faithfully, you got it made in the shade.

  • Wednesday

    Well, Christianity already asserts that Jews Are Wrong About Certain Parts of their Sacred Texts (specifically, all of the prophecies that Christianity asserts were Sekkritly Actually about Jesus instead of what they appear to be about in context). So it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for Christians to argue that the Reform and Conservative Jews are wrong about Leviticus as well.

    Of course, making that argument would require the clobberers admit that (a) the original context of Isaiah 7:14 was a prophecy to King Ahaz that a young woman (virginity not specified) would have a male baby, and before that baby got very old, the King’s enemies would be defeated, and (b) they are saying Jews are wrong about their own holy book.

    All that said, I find it darkly amusing when clobber-versers cite both Leviticus and Paul without any irony. It would be one thing if they cited Paul first, and then when that’s rejected, cited Leviticus as “well, since you rejected Paul condemning male prostitutes and Christians participating in pagan orgies teh gheys, you must also reject his position on Levitical law not applying to Christians any longer, so here’s Leviticus on how gay sex should be punishable by death.”

    I’d still have a counter for that, but at least they’d be recognizing the inherent contradiction between using both Paul and Leviticus _at the same time_ to argue that Gays Are Icky.

  • Amtep

    Capital U is a quite recent part of the alphabet. 17th century or something? Even in America the synagogue might be older than that :)

  • Carstonio

    Some buildings built since then use the V for stylistic effect, such as MVSEVM or “muv-zee-vum” as Steve Martin pronounced it. Not really that much different from US restaurants and stores using “Ye Olde” or pseudo-archaic spellings like “shoppe.”

  • Charby

    To be fair, the sexual morality parts of the Bible are probably the easiest and most convenient for them to follow. Giving up your guilty pleasure snacks? Having to get rid of that favorite shirt because it’s the wrong type of fabric? Those things are hard. But if you’re not attracted to someone of the same sex as you, keeping that commandment is a piece of cake — you would do it even if you didn’t have to, because it wouldn’t necessarily occur to you to do otherwise.

    They make up for the fact that they flout all of the other teachings of the Bible by doubling down on this one — sure, I drink, I smoke, but at least I’m not gay. And if “not being gay” is the only righteous thing I do, then I’m going to “not be gay” as hard as I can.

    Maybe they’ll get bonus points for that at the Pearly Gates.

  • I agree with everything you said. I just don’t find anything “fair” about it. ;)

    When I see the mentality you describe, I often like to respond with a simple statement:

    “I thank Thee, O God, that I am righteous, unlike yon tax collector.”

  • Lori

    Or if they didn’t feel empathy and kindness toward them they’d feel a little bad about that because everyone knows that we’re supposed to be kind to other people.

  • Lori

    That is one of my favorite rants of all time.

  • ReverendRef

    Referring to the subtitle of our book, he went on to say “there is no
    ‘Christian case’” and had some harsh words to say about those of us who
    think otherwise.
    — Referring to “there is no Christian case that is pro-homosexuality.”

    There really isn’t a “Christian case” for anti-homosexuality either. As has been pointed out, most of the clobber verses come from the Old Testament and are either simply wrong when applied to homosexuality (i.e. Sodom & Gomorrah) or can be read differently if you take the time to do so (“Do not lie with a man as with a woman, for that is an abomination” could very well mean that since women were considered property, do not treat a man [person] as a piece of property).

    In short, you can’t use the Hebrew scriptures to make a “Christian” case. You need to work from Christian scriptures first with some sense of context from both. But as we’ve seen, context is really just some librul dog whistle to push the big, bad gay agenda.

    It’s early, it’s hot and I haven’t eaten yet . . . did any of the above make any sense?

  • Wednesday

    I’d never seen that video before. Thank you for sharing. Dammit, the end of DOMA and Prop 8 came too late. ;_;

  • Marshall

    You don’t see this as being anti-semitic, do you?

  • In what way is it anti-Semitic to point out that fundamentalists who quote Leviticus (selectively) as their preferred guide to everyday living are cherry-picking for what they think is moral authority to condemn QUILTBAG people?

    And Fred has written often on the Biblical and moral basis for Jubilee.

  • Incidentally, what is the basis, in Judaism, for discounting the validity of those statements within Leviticus?

  • It took me a while to realize what this complaint really meant. They
    were disappointed that I hadn’t recited an environmentalist
    clobber-text. Without a specific clobber-text on the specific topic in
    question, it seemed, they were unable to regard anything in the Bible as

    The thought at the core of this statement is one of the prime reasons I cite my history degree as a primary reason for leaving Evangelical Christianity. It’s not that I spent all of my time reading histories that refuted Christianity (far from it, in fact), it’s that I started looking at the history of Christianity and Judaism as a historian and I started reading the Bible as a historical text.

    Good historians don’t look for clobber texts. They create bibliographies and historiographies and build a case based on all the available evidence. They might take a single line from here or there to illustrate a point, but if the rest of the record doesn’t support the point thusly illustrated the point will be rejected. I ended up thinking about that a lot in contrast with all the conversations in church where someone would say, “The Bible says [paraphrase of thing everyone knew* was somewhere in the Bible] so I know I have to do it.” The more I thought about such things the more annoyed I became with them.

    I don’t think I knew the term “clobber verse” at the time. I do know that I instinctively knew what clobber verses (or, really, clobber-made-up-crap) were and I reacted negatively to them. That’s also where history came in, since I had a religious studies minor and for the first time I looked at Christianity as a historian rather than trying to look at history as a Christian. It’s really hard to accept the ascendancy of clobber texts when you realize that the Bible was constructed in the same manner as any other ancient text and includes any number of disputed parts.

    It’s really hard for someone who didn’t grow up with that sort of thing to understand. It’s similarly hard for someone who is still in that world to understand why people on the outside don’t accept, “Well, the Bible says…” as an actual argument. Everyone ends up talking past each other. Which is awkward.

    *”Everyone knowing” it’s in the Bible does not, of course, mean it’s actually in the Bible. For instance, a lot of people “know” that “The Lord helps those who help themselves” is somewhere in the Bible. It most certainly is not, unless Ben Franklin wrote the Bible.

  • LL

    So, these people’s argument is:

    “Waaah, the parts that tell me to love people and treat them with mercy don’t work for me, so they don’t count, waaah …”

    Explains a lot.

    Maybe that’s why they’re all so vehemently “anti-abortion,” because it satisfies their biblical text’s “be nice to people” rule (babies! how can anyone not like babies?) while leaving them free to be as assholish as they want to the people they wanted to be assholish to all along: the gays, the feminists, the poors, the coloreds.

    I’m sure this point’s been made before, maybe even by Fred, but it’s worth repeating. That’s why the anti-abortion people are so creepy to me. It’s so obvious (they often don’t even bother covering this up) they couldn’t possibly care less about the rest of us, compared to the precious unborn. I feel bad for these people’s families. And really anyone they come in contact with. Most of them seem extremely hateful and utterly unconcerned with the welfare of anyone who exists outside of a uterus.

  • Jurgan

    It actually predates The West Wing, and was a letter sent to the real Dr. Laura: http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/drlaura.asp

  • dpolicar

    In my experience with LGBT-friendly temples, this isn’t treated as a Battle of the Proof Texts so much as a Don’t Be a Dick situation.

  • I should have stuck an “in this context” in there for fear that it could be taken that way- I meant specifically people who quote Leviticus as part of the Old Testament, since the text clearly has a different meaning in the context of the Torah (which I can’t speak to at all.)

  • Albanaeon

    They aren’t even all that concerned with the intra-uterine given the general.
    lack of support for prenatal healthcare and maternity leave and wages that would allow one to properly care for a fetus while its developing and regulating corporations so they aren’t poisoning it and….

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Here’s a brief rundown of how conservative Judaism has evolved over the last 20 years. The process is ongoing:

    In 1992, the CJLS [Committee on Jewish Law and Standards] action affirmed its traditional prohibition on homosexual conduct, blessing same-sex unions, and ordaining openly gay, bisexual, and lesbian clergy. However, these prohibitions grew increasingly controversial within the Conservative movement….

    Some argued that a change in Jewish understanding and law on this issue must change due to new information about the biology and genetics concerning human sexuality. Others argued that a change was required solely on ethical grounds….

    Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson…used historical, sociological and ethical considerations to argue that homosexuality, as it is now understood today, was not described by the Torah, or understood by traditional rabbis. As such, one would be able to restrict the understanding of the Torah prohibition to cases not being considered today.

    Rabbi Gordon Tucker sus up what I think is the general view of most liberal Jews:

    When someone says, “What can we do? The Torah is clear on the subject!”, what is being said amounts to a claim of infallibility and irrefutability for the text of the Torah. And that claim ultimately rests on the assumption that the words of Leviticus (and, of course, those of the other four books of the Pentateuch) express directly and completely the will of God. (Indeed, treating a text as infallible on any basis other than on such an assumption would surely count as a form of idolatry.) But that assumption (that the Torah is the direct and complete expression of God’s will) is one that, for all its currency in parts of the Jewish world, is not accepted in our Conservative Jewish world.[…]

    But if we confess that we do not accept the axiom of biblical infallibility, then let us honor our teachers by abandoning this theological argument, and by no longer permitting ourselves to say, when the matter of gays and lesbians comes up, “What can we do? The Torah is clear on the subject!” Could it perhaps be that critical study itself was given to us precisely so that we would not let the text of the Torah stand as an impediment to the acceptance, fulfilment, and normalization of God’s creatures?

    And then:

    On June 2012, the American branch of Conservative Judaism formally approved same-sex marriage ceremonies in a 13-0 vote.[…] However, the Conservative decision did not call same-sex marriages kiddushin, the traditional Jewish legal term for marriage, because that act of consecration is nonegalitarian and gender-specific. In the traditional kiddushin ceremony, a pair of blessings is recited and the bridegroom gives his bride a ring, proclaiming that he is marrying his bride “according to the laws of Moses and Israel.”</blockquote?


  • Jason Jones

    Flannery O’Connor did it first in Wise Blood! Sorry, I just got excited because that was one of my favorite jokes from that book. It follows that an undereducated usher from a movie theater then breaks into the MVSEVM to steal a mummy that he thinks has magical powers. Southern Grotesque is awesome.

  • Fusina

    Yeah, well that would require actual, ya know, work. I don’t think a lot of them like that word. Sacrifice is another one, unless it is someone else doing it.

    Sorry about the snarkiness of above, I had a rough day yesterday, involving sacrifices I made to help someone else out–and I did it gladly, as she needed help, but I am so peeved with people who would take away what little help she has to make a point to their constituency that they are being thrifty.

  • Boze Herrington

    Interestingly, Relevant Magazine just released an article with a similar message:


  • Boze Herrington

    Best quote: “In my (biased) view, many folks “have faith” in Christianity because
    they believe Christianity is “right.” In other words, that it’s
    historically true, morally sound and spiritually resonant. But once
    they’ve taken the name “Christian” and now stand on the “right side,”
    they reverse-engineer their newfound faith to match their long-standing
    beliefs, biases and preferences.”

  • JustinL

    Page 1 of a book says “Kill no one.” Page 2 says “Kill everyone.”

    Would you live your life by this book? Would you say this book is full of morality while ignoring the reprehensible awfulness waiting just one page away? Would you not question the sincerity or even the sanity of the person who supposedly wrote it?

    The inquisitor, whether knowingly or not, brings up a great point: the source material is unreliable.

  • Vass

    I do, ever since an Orthodox Jewish friend wrote about how she found it hurtful seeing that letter reposted all the time. It’s not anti-Semitic to say “you’re taking the gay bits of Leviticus out of context, and you’re not even Jewish, so it’s not for you anyway.” It is kind of anti-Semitic to say “ha ha look at all those ridiculous rules, no one could keep all of those, that’s why Jesus overturned them, silly Jews and their sideburns and unblended fabrics!”

  • FearlessSon

    All the more reason to read it with a critical eye and a take a more holistic interpretation instead of trying to assume every passage is entirely true at face value devoid of context, as those clobber-verse types are fond of doing.

  • It’s evolved into a sort of catch-all anti-clobber verse and as such it’s really lost a lot of its dramatic effect. :(

  • FearlessSon

    It’s early, it’s hot and I haven’t eaten yet . . . did any of the above make any sense?

    Perfectly, Reverend. Amen.

  • Makes me think of a piece I copied down recently from a Mercedes Lackey book, Redoubt.

    What always happens when religion goes to the bad? Power. The love of power overcomes the love of the gods. Priests stop listening for the voice in their hearts and souls–which is very, very hard to hear even at the best of times–and start to listen only to what they wish to hear or to the voice of their own selfish desires. Priests begin to believe that they, and not the gods, are the real authorities. Priests confine broad truths into narrow doctrines, because more rules mean that they have more power. Priests mistake their own prejudice for conscience and mistake what they personally fear for what should universally be feared. Priests look inward to their own small souls and try to impress that smallness on the world, when they should be looking at the greatness of the universe and trying to impress that upon their souls. Priests forget they owe everything to their gods and begin to think the world owes everything to them.

  • Of course, you quote Galatians 5:22-23… and they’ll just quote Galatians 5:19-21. Clobbered.

  • Though, I’m not sure context helps much against mutually contradictory commandments, like Deuteronomy 5:17 and Deuteronomy 13 (which are basically “Kill no one” and “Kill everyone”)…

  • Carstonio

    True. My own stance is that the clobber-texters* are practicing a type of cultural imperialism, telling Jews that they’re mistaken about the meaning of their book. I hope that falls into your first category.

    *Texting quotes from Leviticus to gays at random

  • FearlessSon

    Yeah, but each of those is part of the context of the other. What does it mean when two parts of the Bible cancel each other out?

    It means that maybe people ought to not use individual passages from the Bible as infallible commandments.

  • And on this note, discovering that the Southern Baptist Convention has a chief executive officer at its highest rank, who affirms five pledges, one of which emphasizing the value of money…

    No pun intended, but holy shit.

  • Николай Крутиков

    A better example would be a political manifesto of a Black Hundrend-ish group that calls on people to kill the Jews after extolling the virtue, justice, mercy and humility of the same people. The way to interpret such a manifesto would not to insist that it isn’t anti-Jewish because see, it extolls mercy and humility, but to conclude that for its authors, justice, mercy and humility don’t include not killing Jews, and, in fact, may mandate it.

    There’re two ways to solve that contradiction when it comes to the Bible. One is to go around reinterpreting the “clobber verses”. The other one, the better one, is just to renounce Biblical infallibility, which, like mentioned in further comments, some varieties of Judaism did (they couldn’t rely on ‘jesus cancelled everything’ and ‘it’s ambigious’ techniques, since Leviticus indeed offers fewer ways of reinterpretation then the NT verses).

  • Then again, there is one clobber verse that cuts through all the bullshit.

    Love, be compassionate, be merciful, be tender, be faithful, be forgiving–

    Or there will be no one to love.

    we lost the ability to love our gay son, because we no longer had a gay son. What we had wished for, prayed for, hoped for — that we would not have a gay son — came true. But not at all in the way we had envisioned.

  • One can criticize a religion without being a bigot. It’s not anti-Semitic to think that large chunks of the Old Testament are utterly vile. It would be anti-Semitic to say, “and therefore Jews are terrible”.

    It’s also almost always Christians who attempt to clobber people with the Old Testament, and it is them we are fighting by actually talking about what’s in it. And I am going to make moral judgments about what’s in it. That something is a religion does not give it a free pass to automatic respect.

  • The #1 rule of Judaism, as I understand it from the people in my family who are Jewish, is to be a good person. Do not hurt others and always strive toward what is good and helpful. It is explicit that if the law and what is right/helpful/moral conflict, then it is necessary to amend or discard the law.

    There are, of course, different Jewish sects, just as there are different Christian sects, and they have different stances on this.

  • Yes, and they’re also really mean to actual babies once they’re born. Feed hungry children? But then a poor single black woman somewhere might not be quite miserable enough, and we can’t have that!

    They’re also at the forefront of the “spare the rod and spoil the child” bullshit.

  • ReverendRef

    and they’ll just quote Galatians 5:19-21. Clobbered.

    “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

    Okay . . . let’s start with “fornication.” It’s defined as voluntary sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other. So if we provide for marriage equality, this condemnation goes away because all those gays who are having icky gay sex might actually want to live with a person they love in a committed marital relationship.

    Let’s talk about jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions and factions. How many RTC’s are jealous that gays are being given “special rights” (read, “treated as equally as me”)? How many RTC’s are angry over marriage equality, quarrel with other Christians and non-Christians? How many RTC’s devise political factions with the sole intent of keeping “Those People” out of churches and from participating in general equality?

    So, in this card game of Biblical Clobber Verses, I’m thinking that one from Galatians is rather on the weak side.

  • Sheesh, that’s a rough verse. Anyone who’s even angry ever won’t inherit the Kingdom of God? I wonder if that’s a translation of a word with a different connotation.

    (The fact that dissension is also not allowed seems awfully convenient.)