1.) Romans 13: 1-7
I always wonder where the 'Christian Nation' argument comes from when I read this passage. Paul is telling Christians in Rome that God himself has approved their government, which was killing them for sport. Then, he tells them not to rebel, and reminds them to pay their taxes without complaining. I think if more Christians took this passage to heart we could really make some positive changes in our country. Instead, we insist that we must take charge because our leadership is immoral. We go on TV and tell everyone that rebelling against the British was God's idea in the first place, and therefore the US is His favorite nation in the world, and belongs to primarily to Christians. But Paul was pretty clear, political revolution is not our job, no matter how awful our government gets, and we are not in charge.
2.) Ephesians 6: 4
We all know that the Bible tells children repeatedly to obey their parents, but I have never once heard a pastor preach from the pulpit that parents have a responsibility to earn their children's respect by raising them well and encouraging them. And they ought to. Far too many people neglect their own moral development when they become parents, or just assume that parenthood makes them right about everything. But Paul reminded the Ephesians that making sure you don't frustrate your children is an important part of raising them in a holy, God-fearing way. If you are not the kind of people your kids can look up to, then they won't listen to you anyway.
3.) I Corinthians 7: 3-4
It would take years to tease out all of the ways Christianity has skewed Bible passages in a sexist fashion, but this one is my favorite. Traditionally, we think of men as having a right to sex, and that women have to be taught to go along and always give him what he wants. But this passage makes sexual rights, and logically needs and desires as well, totally mutual. Women have a Biblical right to sex, because they need and want it. No pastor preaches this to the whole congregation. Maybe a young pastor's wife, in a Women's Ministry staff meeting, might hint around at it, but women's sexuality is just not a Sunday morning topic. There could be teens in the sanctuary! Which reminds me: DH, I want you. Now. Naked. In the kitchen. Unloading the dishwasher. While I watch.
4.) I Corinthians 7:12, 25
I was raised to believe that the whole Bible was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in all it's truthy, God-breathed wonder, but verses like these make me pause. If Paul can just openly stick his own personal opinions in there with no consequences whatsoever, what else have the authors of the Bible been getting away with? I shudder to contemplate the pranks Moses or Ezekiel or Luke may have been pulling on centuries of blindly trusting believers. This is why I favor historical, context-based interpretations. Sure it opens some issues up for debate, but is that really so bad? If Christianity is built on a foundation of Judaism, and Judaism has not only endured but been strengthened by generations of continuing debate, surely Christianity can take the hits. If we are seeking the truth together in love, only good will come of it.
5.) I Corinthians 7: 32-35
Paul was really on a roll the day he wrote I Corinthians, chapter 7. When I planned this article, I just thought up all the passages I wanted to use, and figured I'd find the exact references later. Little did I know that 50% of the passages I thought were laughably neglected would come from the same place.
In this one, Paul is still talking about men, women, and marriage, but now in the context of how to live fully for God and he comes to a conclusion: devotion to a spouse and devotion to God are mutually exclusive. Very discouraging news, since Christian culture has become so family-oriented that reaching out to unmarried adults has been a huge issue facing churches for years. However, I think I have a solution. For Catholics, these verses should be the lynch-pin of their arguments for priestly celibacy. I've never heard them reference it, I'm not sure why, because it really speaks to the idea they want to get across of not dividing priestly loyalties. As for Protestants, they really ought to know by now how dangerous it can be to overtax ministers, both professional and laity, but they continue to rest most of the burden of running churches on folks who are already busy with families. There is a perception that single or childless Christians are somehow 'less': less wise, less dedicated, less experienced, or less reliable than married parents. (Don't get me started on how some denominations treat the divorced Christian, we'll be here all day.) Churches must stop this discrimination against single, divorced and childless Christians immediately and start taking advantage of their time, energy, and money. And if you are a single, divorced, or childless Christian, don't take no for an answer. Show up, make yourself invaluable for the Lord, and watch your faith grow.
6.) Ecclesiastes 7: 1-4
Well, so much for positive thinking. Ecclesiastes is well-known for being the little dark cloud of the Bible, but that is also why we seem so afraid, as Christians, to fully explore it. Who wants to read about the wisdom in mourning when we could do a whole study on joy, or abundance (whatever that means)? Naturally, we want to focus on the positives of the faith we've chosen for ourselves, and the Bible has a lot of positive to focus on, but we are still sinners, and we are still living in a bleak, fallen world. And we cannot write off this bleak, fallen world, not only because we are called to reach it, but also because it is still the beautiful, valuable creation of God, even in it's fallen, rebellious state. We cannot have light without darkness, and light is pointless unless it is used to examine things hidden in darkness. If we have the light, we can be secure in that, and use it to illuminate the wisdom of the darkness in ourselves, in God's creation, and in God's word (John 1: 1-10).