I grew up on a fruit farm in Michigan. We grew apples, peaches, plums, and cherries. I picked a lot of cherries.
So when a Biblical apologist said to me recently…”Your quotes from the Bible are just cherry picking,” I thought…”What the f**k does HE know about cherry picking?”
It’s a term I hear a lot these days, and it means something completely different from what it meant when I was up on a ladder, stripping them off the branches, with sweat running in my eyes. If you haven’t done that in the middle of a Michigan summer, you can’t talk about cherry picking.
In the current parlance, it means selectively quoting from a source to support an agenda. Religious apologists do it all the time…picking quotes from the Bible that support their beliefs, and ignoring those that tend to contradict them. There is even a name for it: It’s called “selective literalism.”
So, I found it somewhat ironic that I would be accused of cherry picking, when believers are the worst offenders. It confirms my long-held belief that those who condemn certain actions are often the ones most guilty of those actions. It’s hypocrisy, of course. Welcome to the modern world…or was it always thus?
Biblical literalists…those who claim that the Bible is the “literal word of God,” are the most dishonest in this respect, carefully choosing those passages in the Bible that support their particular agenda: Anti-gay? Leviticus and Deuteronomy give them plenty of ammunition. But they don’t mention the parts that say gays and adulterers should be put to death.James 2:8-9, NIV. “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.”
That sounds good.
But nowhere in the Bible does Jesus condemn the widespread slavery in the Roman world. If slavery was wrong, why does the Bible not condemn it?
There is a difference between a nonbeliever pointing out horrendous crimes condoned by Yahweh, and an apologist pointing out the good stuff that Jesus advocates.
I have a friend who I say is a good guy. Yeah, I know that he beats his wife abuses his kids and whores around, but when I meet him at the bar, he buys me a beer and slaps me on the back. So, I say he’s a good guy. I have “cherry picked” his good deeds from his bad ones. If someone else says that my friend is an asshole for all that other stuff, who’s right?
The point is, if a believer says that the Bible is the basis for our morality, and we should all follow it, and there are things in it that I find abominable, I think he’s wrong. He can “cherry pick” all the good stuff, but if there’s bad stuff there, he has to answer for it.
And if he doesn’t, then I am not the cherry picker…he is.