Now, I loathe “Johnny Gets a Touchdown”-class football metaphors as much as anybody, but it just happens to fit this chronic attitude problem with some Churches I’ve experienced. I would have even more trouble if I tried to frame the issue with references to Paul Harvey. So, in football terms, we’re often only playing the “first half”.
This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course. In John 8:3-11, when the Pharisees and religion lawyers brought an adulteress to Jesus to try to catch Him being all liberal, they quoted a curiously-parsed version of Leviticus 20:10 according to a more comfortable interpretation, probably from their oral traditions. We are not told what Jesus wrote on the ground in this story, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it was the unmodified, original Scripture—they only brought Him the woman.
It’s been a while since something posing as a Christian Church stoned or burned anyone, but we still have these sort of blinders on when we read our Bibles. This verse is popular in certain types of Churches:
24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything…
Of course, the full Scripture, disregarding the arbitrary numbering scheme imposed on it long after it was first written, says:
24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…
There are probably those who still feel comfortable in maintaining these key members of their families as child-rearing housemaids. But do you remember what Love is about? Support, encouragement, building up…? There’s a war on, and if someone else is given a breakthrough, don’t jump in front of them, fall in and push forward.
Some of the worst examples of these “Scriptural filters” I can think of are also easily the most popular. There are these two special quotations from Paul which we are taught to partially memorize from an early age. They are especially favored as references when downloading the “Salvation program” into unbelievers (more on that in the next post):
23…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
23For the wages of sin is death….
I suspect relatively few Church members can finish the Scriptures from memory. The part we don’t remember, of course, is the important part. As in other places, it isn’t what the situation looks like at the start or in the middle that counts, it’s how it ends:
23…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Scriptures from NIV)