Someone shared this status update on Facebook:
The devil is using the same trick that he used in the garden by getting people to second guess what God has already told them.
Has not God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
Has not God said that marriage is between a man and a woman?
Has not God said that Jesus is the ONLY way to the Father?
Has not God said come out from among them and be ye separate?
Don’t dare let the devil move you out of the truth that God has delivered unto you.
That deserves some analysis, since it uses several tactics that conservatives use to mislead people, rather ironically placing themselves in the role of the serpent in the story in Genesis 3 while claiming to side with God!
The person who first came up with the status has clearly not read the Genesis story carefully. I say that not just because it doesn’t feature “the devil” but more importantly because the serpent is depicted, not as casting doubt on what God did say, but misquoting what God said in order to cast doubt on divine goodness.
And that’s what this status update does. It asks whether God has said that marriage is only between a man and a woman. The answer is no – that is something that can be read into a variety of passages, but is not said in so many words. It asks whether God has said that Jesus is the only way to the Father – alluding to one phrase in the Gospel of John, and ignoring that the person depicted as saying that is described from the outset as the Word-become-flesh, the Word who is explicitly said to give light to every human being coming into the world. And the last one takes Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:17, offering an inexact quotation of Isaiah 52:11 which was a call to leave Babylon and return from exile, and attributes it to God in Paul’s version and with its own slant.
The status update begins badly, by treating the words of the Bible as though they are God’s own words. But it then makes things worse still by misrepresenting what the Bible and God have said.
And so the advice that the person gives, about not letting people deceive you by deceitful use of things God supposedly said, turns out to be very good advice indeed. But will most of those who read that status update have the wisdom to see that the one offering this advice sounds a lot like the serpent in the garden?