7 Terrible Things the Bible Clearly Says

7 Terrible Things the Bible Clearly Says July 3, 2018

I’m pretty lucky to have conversations with Christians from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Usually, those conversations go great—but occasionally they’re a disaster. I know there’s a problem the minute they tell me, “the Bible clearly says.” It’s at that point I start looking for the exit.

When you drop a phrase like that into a conversation, it’s evident that you don’t understand how communication works. We’re talking about a document where it’s on us to build a bridge between different cultures, worldviews, languages, etc. There’s no question that the Bible makes statements that are clearer than others, but even then we have to wrestle with some of the differences between cultures separated by thousands of years.

This isn’t because of some “progressive” desire to undermine the Bible’s authority, or because of a desire to wriggle out of personal responsibility. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I often find that the people who are serious about contending with these questions take the Bible far more seriously than those who just take what they see at face value without asking tough questions. In fact, I find a lot of the people that use this conversation ender aren’t overly familiar with Scripture.

So let’s take a look at some things the Bible clearly says—things that you’d be crazy to take at face value:

1. Do not allow a sorceress to live.

(Exodus 22:18)

What are you going to do about that Wiccan down the street? The Bible has given you your marching orders. (Please do not follow them.)

2. Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.

(1 Peter 2:18)

There was a time when Christians used the Bible’s explicit teachings about slavery as a reason not to abolish the slave trade. What do you do when the Bible isn’t not only vague about slavery but places the onus on slaves to submit to cruel masters?

3. If she grabs your junk while you’re fighting someone else, show her no pity.

(Deuteronomy 25:11–12)

The actual two verses read this way:

If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

Crimony. Was this a problem that needed a solution? Either way, the Bible clearly gives a solution to this embarrassing problem.

4. No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the Lord.

(Deuteronomy 23:1)

Had an accident that impacted your privates? Stay the heck out of the church.

5. The men of her town shall stone her to death.

(Deuteronomy 22:20–21)
What do you do if your daughter loses her virginity before marriage? Be careful how you answer—because this is what the Bible clearly says:

If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done an outrageous thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.

6. Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.

(Leviticus 20:9)

Seems harsh, right? Too bad.

7. God encourages the murder of pagan children—and infants

(Hosea 13:4, 9, 16)

You shall acknowledge no God but me. . . . You are destroyed, Israel. . . . The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.

It’s kind of hard to maintain a pro-life stance in the face of this clear statement in the Bible. Maybe we should only worry about Christian fetuses?

But what about . . .

If your natural desire to any of these (or the hundreds of others) is to explain to me why I’m misrepresenting them, congratulations! You are beginning to get my point. But first, you need to recognize that these are things the Bible clearly says. They’re not obscure passages being twisted to make a point. They’re explicit statements that you need to do some interpretive work to understand and justify.

Stop trying to shut people down with “the Bible clearly says,” unless you plan on executing disobedient children.


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  • jekylldoc

    And I was so looking forward to killing my son for that word he used about me. Sigh. Guess I’ll have to forgive him.

    It’s hard for me to engage with bibliolatry these days. The connections go like this: [ belief that salvation depends on right doctrine ] >>>> [insistence that the Bible is the only way to know right doctrine is true ] >>>> [desperate defense of Biblical infallibility ]. And yes, I agree with Jesus’ denunciation of “blind guides” and “whitewashed sepulchres.” But I have faith that love and kindness will sway these people even within their bibliolatry frameworks. After all, many of them are getting love, joy, kindness and patience from their frameworks, even if the other stuff (doctrinal correctness, moral superiority, judgmentalism, fantasy spinning) are simultaneously undermining these fruits. The Bible does have some really good stuff in it.

  • My son once said, “But Dad” and I thought that he called me “Butt Dad” so I had him stoned to death.

    Whoops.

  • Brianna LaPoint

    Big reasons im not a christian. They dont practice what they preach. Also, I like myself as I am, also, this is a big one, i am a stronger leader without following Jesus.

  • Robert J Naumann

    So the why do you not consider yourself not a Christian?

  • steve

    It does not matter one little bit what the bible says about anything.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “Big reasons im not a christian. They dont practice what they preach.”

    The Bible has Jesus saying he was sent only for the lost sheep of Israel ( the Jews). That being the case, the only TRUE Christians would be people that were Jewish but then became Christians.

  • Jim C

    Somewhere I read that the one about killing a sorceress is not translated well. The claim is that it should say that if you prove that someone is a poisoner, you should execute them. Seems like common sense to me.

  • Where? Please provide a source. In all scholarly translations and sources for Biblical Hebrew I have read this is the sole translation (incl some variants). It also fits in with the context of this legal passage. 🙂

  • Sophotroph

    The amount of places in the bible that are poorly translated (and still left in most versions anyway) is astounding.

    Look up “malakoi” and “Elohim” for some real fun. Google “centurion pais” if you really want your world rocked.

  • Kevin R. Cross

    To be fair, it matters to Christians. It only matters to us if they try to force their beliefs on us – which, unfortunately, they commonly do.

  • Kishan Aria

    Oh dear how much of this is just out of context and will this person dare write such things about Islam which are clear instructions for all Muslims rather than certain instances of God instructing people at those particular times?

  • Nathan

    It’s getting hard to differentiate you “Progressive Christian’s” from the New Atheists. Especially with your allergic reaction to someone trying to explain context and meaning to you. What’s wrong? You worried listening to those pesky scholars and historians might hurt your favorite talking point and force you to take the Bible seriously?

    By the way, if you read the Bible and come away with the desire to write a blog insulting and blaspheming God, while also downplaying the evils of sin for fear of hurting someones feelings, you’re not a Progressive Christian, you’re a Heretical Christian.

  • David Brown

    Nathan, you miss the whole point of the article. People who proclaim “the Bible clearly says” are bypassing the necessary interpretative process “to explain context and meaning.” Jayson’s appeal is to stop using “the Bible clearly says” as an argument to make your point. Rejecting that form of argumentation is not an “allergic reaction.”

  • Mister Man

    The big reason I’m not a Christian is because the whole story is a ridiculous work of fiction.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    “Sorceress”, or at least ” fortune teller / astrologer” seems to be the consensus translation , but the verb on the other hand means “keep alive”, so you might read it as “you shall not provide a living for fortune tellers “. This is a translation I have certainly seen somewhere.

  • a r tompkins

    love that comeback – stoning your daughter to death used to be not just acceptable, but required. I guess “people at those particular times” were just fine with that, eh?

  • a r tompkins

    If someone tells me about America’s great principles of government as being based on “Judeo-Christian” values again, I’ll be tempted to stone the a–hole to death. And his whore of a daughter too!

  • Laurel Linc Dunstan

    Hey Kev, go live in a totally non Christian society, if it’s so bad. I’ll come and wave you goodby and shake your hand!!

  • Kevin R. Cross

    I’d rather not. Most of the Christians I know are good people who respect the reasonable boundaries of civilized discourse. I just wish they’d stop enabling the minority of a-holes.
    Anyway, I’d just be swapping one problem for another. There’s nowhere on this planet that isn’t dominated by one religion or another, save maybe China, and I like civil rights.

  • Kishan Aria

    Jesus Christ eradicated the death penalty when he did not condemn the adulterous woman

    But where does it teach to stone daughters ?

  • Kishan Aria

    Oh dear you seem to be advocating killing people you disagree with. I assume this is an exaggeration on your part rather than a real desire

  • Jim C

    Well, I certainly made a mistake in not doing some research before speaking up. Scratch the poison thing entirely. It is not involved at all. From some of the translations and discussions I have seen, “Sorceress” is a pretty heavy description to hang on someone, in that it signifies that a person who can kill at a distance, by whispering evil words. They would be difficult to bring to justice by normal processes–your key witness would not survive the night.

    The Wiccan thing is not a consideration. It is a whole different thing, from a different time.This is not speaking to witchcraft.

  • a r tompkins

    Jesus! what a man, eh? let an adulterous woman live. so kind.

    did you even read the article? have you ever read the Bible? Jesus’ old man makes Tony Soprano look like Mr Rogers.

  • Kishan Aria

    Yes the article is as useful as horse manure in your burger and I read the Bible most days

  • Joanne Lindstrand

    Luther said, and I know that I don’t have the words exactly right, “The Bible is not the Word of God. Christ is the Word of God. The Bible is the cradle that holds the Christ Child.” If you consider that Jesus’s cradle was a manger, this quote is even more relevant. A manger isn’t made by a master craftsman. It’s just a primitively built place to put animal fodder. The fodder itself is not top quality alfalfa. It’s full of weeds and bugs, and if it is being stored for long periods, maybe mold. Sheep and goats thrive on stuff that would kill a horse, or even a cow. It is Christ that makes the stable and the manger holy, an it is Christ makes the Bible a Holy book.
    Bibliolatry is just another form of idolatry. It confuses means with ends. The Bible is not God. If you make it a god, it will only lead you away from God.

  • Laurel Linc Dunstan

    Kev, I like your answer!! BUT, a JudaicChristian country sure as hell beats all the alternatives,

  • a r tompkins

    and you still believe any of it? amazing. do you read ALL of “God’s word”, or just the parts you find least obtuse and offensive?

  • a r tompkins

    if you don’t recognize satire, even really bad satire like mine, you should probably stay away from places on the internet where adults try to converse. you won’t get any of it.

  • Kishan Aria

    Oh dear you have resorted to insults as you have nothing to say

  • Kishan Aria

    I read it all hence I know this person is clueless

  • a r tompkins

    Why is “this person” clueless?

  • a r tompkins

    Oh dear, what insults?

  • tony

    I have had a vasectomy therefore I have been emasculated. This means, I suppose, that I cannot attend church which is just as well as I am an atheist.

  • Doubting Thomas

    So people have been murdering others for the misunderstood passage for centuries. I know if people started killing other people because they mistook something I said the first thing I would do is immediately and unequivocally tell them to stop. I wonder why god hasn’t cleared up the error himself?

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  • Nope. Look at northern Europe–very little Christianity, and they beat the US on important social metrics.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/06/christianity-lead-better-society-2/

  • Widuran

    oh dear these tired old arguments. Ironically the Muslims still practice these things. Yet Christians nor Jews do.

    The author is does not know what he is talking about. The Bible clearly says many things and most of his arguments are destroyed if you actually read the New Testament.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    Looks like you get the money by being an asshole & posting annoying messages

  • John Gills

    If the Bible “clearly says” anything, why are there 43,000+ Christian denominations?

  • Laurel Linc Dunstan

    Just remember to reciprocate…that’s all

  • David Cromie

    So christians have never burned, or otherwise put to death, witches, for example?

  • Ruth1940

    The KJV said witch, right there with a whole bunch more terrible ideas! https://skepticsannotatedbible.com/ex/22.html#18

  • Ruth1940

    I’m no Xn, heretical or otherwise, but the huge variety of those context explanations (especially when they have been used to do horrible things in past generations) should leave anyone with half a sense of critical thinking a skeptic at the end of the day.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Yeah well English Christians weren’t that good at Hebrew in the 17th Century.

  • Ruth1940

    But the two words mean the same thing (according to the Oxford English Dictionary)!

    1. witch, n.1
    …A man who practises witchcraft or magic; a magician, sorcerer, wizard. See also white witch…
    2. witch, n.2
    …A female magician, sorceress; in later use esp. a woman supposed to have dealings with the devil or evil spirits and to be able by their co-operation to perform supernatural…
    Etymology: Old English wicce (feminine), corresponding to wicca WITCH n.1, both of which are apparently derivatives of wiccian
    a. A female magician, sorceress; in later use esp. a woman supposed to have dealings with the devil or evil spirits and to be able by their co-operation to perform supernatural acts. See also WHITE WITCH n.
    c1000 ÆLFRIC Lives Saints vii. 209 Animað..þa reðan wiccan, Seo þe ðus awent þurh wiccecræft manna mod.
    a1100 Aldhelm Glosses I. 1926 in A. S. Napier Old Eng. Glosses (1900) 52/1 P(h)itonissam, .i. diuinatricem, helhrunan, wiccan.
    c1290 St. Kath. 279 in S. Eng. Leg. 100 Faste ȝe schulle þe wychche binde,..And smitez of hire heued a-non.
    1303 R. MANNYNG Handlyng Synne 499 Lo here a tale of a wycche, Þat leued no better þan a bycche.
    1440 WYRCESTER in Wars Eng. in Fr. (Rolls) II. II. 763 Alia mulier magica, vocata vulgariter Wyche of Eye,..capta est.., et apud Smythfeld cremata.
    ?1473 CAXTON tr. R. Le Fèvre Recuyell Hist. Troye (1894) I. lf. 121 Iuno the false wycche and sorceresse.
    c1480 (▸a1400) St. Katherine 1088 in W. M. Metcalfe Legends Saints Sc. Dial. (1896) II. 473 [He] gert þis katrine till hyme feite, & sad hir: ‘þu wikide wiche, quhat wenis þu ws lang to preche?’
    ▸ ?a1513 W. DUNBAR Poems (1998) I. 115 Ionet the wedo on a bwsum hame rydand, Off wytchis with ane windir garesoun.
    c1540 (▸?a1400) Destr. Troy 11182 The worthy, þat wicche hase wastid to dethe.
    a1616 SHAKESPEARE Henry VI, Pt. 1 (1623) V. iv. 5 See how the vgly Witch doth bend her browes, As if with Circe, she would change my shape.
    1656 W. COLES Art of Simpling 67 Leaves of Elder..which to disappoint the Charmes of Witches, they had affixed to their Doores and Windowes.
    http://www.oed.com

  • gimpi1

    Well, a few people who call themselves Christian have tried to kill people calling themselves Wiccan. Some have succeeded. Perhaps Christians should work harder at clarifying this… and at making it clear that no religious dogma ever justifies violence ever.

  • gimpi1

    Do you truly believe that you are qualified to decide if someone else’s beliefs constitute heresy? Why? Why isn’t it you that’s in the wrong? Many progressive Christians consider the apparent hypocrisy of conservative Christians in supporting Mr. Trump to be heresy – do they get to declare those Christians heretics? How is that different from your post?

  • Tim

    Erm; I don’t think that’s what they were talking about. I’m also fairly certain they didn’t have vasectomies as a procedure then.

  • Tim

    When I hear that phrase, I stop listening, because they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about.

  • disqus_vs5LC5CBH5 already

  • 2. Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.

    More terrible, IMO, is Lev. 25:44-46, the passage where God authorizes slavery for life. (So much for the attempt to show that slavery in the Bible was never anything more than temporary indentured servitude.)

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Somewhere, along the way, someone said “the Bible is the owners manual for human beings”.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    The thing is that since the end of the first century, Judaic Christianity (Bride of Christ) has been so corrupted, as to become today’s Harlot of Babylon.

    Consider the brand of ‘christianity’ which has plagued the entire planet by foisting that
    most evil, lawless, corrupt, depraved, deceitful, unrepentant, child-raping, sweaty-pig,
    TЯ卐m₽ onto the Earth, endangering all life on God’s Holy Creation.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Except in Romans and Ephesians, Paul states that Gentiles, are “grafted into Israel” when we become truly enlightened (born again) in the true Spirit of Christ.

    https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=grafted+into+israel+bible+verse

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Don’t bet on it.

    Some people will never be “swayed”. Take for instance those who have allowed themselves to be deceived by the “prosperity gospel” and those who have dared support, defend and worship TЯ卐m₽-the-Beast.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    Except that the example you posted is quoting what Paul says. I quoted what Jesus said.

    Does Paul trump Jesus?

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Paul, in his letters to the Romans and Ephesians, explains to those anti-Semitic people the error of their thinking, much like your own erroneous misinterpretation.

    Paul points out that we ALL become Israelites and are equal in God’s eyes … when we become God’s children through Christ Jesus.

    Galatians 3:28-29 (KJV:

    28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

  • Jesus said, “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.”

    Whoops. Jesus didn’t see it the same way as Paul.

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Whoops! That was before Christ ascended into Heaven.

    After the Crucifixion and Resurrection; but right before the Ascension, Christ told his Disciples and Apostles to:

    “Go ye therefore into the world and preach the Gospel to ALL NATIONS, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
    – Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19-20

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+16%3A15%2CMatthew+28%3A19-20&version=KJV

    After the Ascension, from Heaven, Christ told Peter, in a vision, to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. – Acts 10:1-48; 11:1-18

    https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/bible-videos/videos/peters-revelation-to-take-the-gospel-to-the-gentiles?lang=eng

    Whoops! cherry-picking Scripture verses to justify your own anti-Semitism doesn’t make your misinterpretations true.

  • C Nault

    So Jesus says one thing, but Paul steps up to correct what Jesus himself ( according to the Bible) said. I guess Jesus wasn’t as smart as Paul.

    Maybe we should be celebrating Paul’s birth rather than Christ’s.

  • So you’re arguing that Jesus is inconsistent? Or forgetful? Or contradictory?

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    Enough already of your mocking and scoffing. Your lies may work in your atheistic blogs, but in the hearts of true believers, we can discern the evil spirit you and your ilk spew.

    Clearly you are not an heir to Christ’s salvation when you deliberately attempt distract from the true Gospel message and confuse the Words of Christ to fit your own agenda.

    One other thing our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ said:

    “Give not what is holy unto dogs (unbelievers) nor cast your pearls before swine (mockers and scoffers) lest they trample them underfoot and turn again and rend thee.” – Matthew 7:6

  • Ocelot Aardvark

    I’m not arguing anything. If you seek the truth, then it requires that you take a leap of faith into the waiting arms of Christ our Savior.

    Until you do, the Gospel will not make sense to you… and until you reject that evil spirit of scoffing, you cannot take that necessary leap and you will never become enlightened.

    It’s entirely your choice.

  • And the believer in some other religion demands a leap of faith to their religion. Maybe I’ll just follow the evidence.