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Mama_Cakes's avatar

Religious folks, is it all about picking and choosing when it comes to the bible?

Asked by Mama_Cakes (11160points) September 13th, 2013

Matthew 6:5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.”

You get what I’m saying here.

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57 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

I’m not a religious person, but I suggest reading any of the books by Bart Ehrmann. He is a religious studies scholar/professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, so I see him as a learned man.

His books (of which there are a couple of dozen) point out the inconsistencies in the biblical narrative – all over the New Testament – which leads him to the same general question you asked.

Specifically, I recommend:

- Misquoting Jesus
– jesus, interrupted
– The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture

He’s easy to read and makes some good points. But decide for yourself.

glacial's avatar

It has to be about picking and choosing, because the bible is full of contradictions.

drhat77's avatar

There was a Hasidic Rabbi who said something to the tune of “People spend too much time worrying about their own material welfare, and the spiritual welfare of others, when they should be doing the exact opposite”.
For me, religion is about making myself a better person, and it spurs me on to help others materially. For many this means not arguing with them about religion, because it is fruitless.
If the bible commands me to do something which, in my assessment, would be detrimental to another, I cannot in good conscience do it. It’s not their religion, it’s mine. If they want to shoulder the burden, then OK. But making someone else suffer for my beliefs is the antithesis of what the goal of religion is to me.

jonsblond's avatar

<——(not religious)

This was an interesting discussion on Bill Maher about this subject.

Reza Aslan made the simple point that literally everyone picks and chooses what parts of the Bible to follow, “even the most literalist literalist.”

People who don’t follow the bible will also pick and choose which parts they want to criticize, often leaving out the good examples to follow. We all do it. The followers cherry pick the good parts, and the criticizers cherry pick the bad.

CWOTUS's avatar

I would join @drhat77‘s church.

antimatter's avatar

Religion in general is a control mechanism to control us and to dictate how we should live.
I will not choose sides because there is absolutely no evidence that any thing is right or wrong.

KNOWITALL's avatar

To a degree you do have to pick and choose the ‘rules’ you follow, yes. That is why there are so many sects, usually your preacher or priest tells you ‘what to do’.

On the other part of your Q, you shouldn’t pray to ‘show off’ your religion, or be a ‘perfect Christian’, which is doing everything exactly right to hold it over other folks for your own ego or glory. Frankly, I’ve talked more about my personal beliefs here to you all than anywhere in my life I think, it’s odd to me.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@drhat77 Does that mean you are good with SSM?

I think your post is lovely by the way, and I agree with you for the most part.

DominicX's avatar

Sometimes it seems that way, but other times I think it’s just a matter of different interpretations. There are many possible interpretations to the Biblical text. And everyone thinks that their own interpretation is correct and all others have it wrong. To some people, a different interpretation might seem like “picking and choosing” even though it may be internally consistent, just not in line with other interpretations.

That said, there are definitely times where picking and choosing occur. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people quote Leviticus to disparage homosexuality, but will then write off the rest of the OT by saying it’s “outdated because of the new covenant”. In other words, certain lines are used simply for their convenience and are not examined within context.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@drhat77 Same Sex Marriage.

drhat77's avatar

I am personally against it, which means I would not do it.
But I am more against turning the US Constitution, which has shielded me and my beliefs, into a sword to attack others.
I believe this government has been specifically constituted so religious prerogative cannot serve as a basis for laws.
So unless someone can definitively demonstrate that SSM somehow harms somebody, any legal opposition to SSM in this country is entirely without basis.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@drhat77 Agreed. I actually feel that it does more disservice to a whole segment of our society by NOT allowing legal SSM. Like allowing anti-gay parents to ‘unplug’ a person from life support while the spouse is there with no legal rights.

drhat77's avatar

@KNOWITALL I did spend quite a bit of time at Saved Souls Ministries website trying to see if that was what you were talking about. They don’t seem terribly controversial.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@drhat77 You mean they are accepting of LGBT’s and SSM?

drhat77's avatar

@KNOWITALL meaning they have nothing to do with anything, it’s the only remotely religious thing I found when searching for SSM

Blondesjon's avatar

A wise man once said something that I believe applies itself to this question quite well:

No, you can’t always get what you want.
You can’t always get what you want.
You can’t always get what you want.
But if you try sometime, you find
You get what you need.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Blondesjon – I believe that was the Rolling Stones…..

Judi's avatar

For me, it has been a life long study of the Bible. I try to live by the common thread as I see it.
God’s desire is to be in relationship with his people. He asks us to love others and be in relationship with them as a reflection of his love for us.
I agree that flaunting your religion usually does more harm than good.
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

Paradox25's avatar

When the intentions of the person behind a religion is to promote kindness, and being in service to others, rather than to promote their absolute truth, then I see little problem with religion. Religion also needs room for flexibility, and needs to veer away from absolutism.

People cherry pick all the time, whether it pertains to religion, philosophy, politics, etc. Conservatives cherry pick the U.S Constitution, but so do Liberals. I’m sure that many religionist cherry pick from their own religious books/texts. Even young earth creationists cherry pick from the Bible, and don’t take everything literally, though they tend to take their holy book more literally than most other Christians do.

snowberry's avatar

The church is the people, not a building, so I don’t have any idea why this guy thought he had to break into a building to pray.

I do not cherry pick my Bible. It’s too bad that some people assume all Christians are like this one guy. How unbalanced is that?

filmfann's avatar

The Bible is difficult to understand, and difficult to translate. I am currently reading 3 different translations at the same time, and I find it infuriating and amusing that one translation sometimes directly conflicts with the other two.
Some things in the Bible make no sense to me, like saying men shouldn’t cut their hair. My approach to such things is usually framed in terms of “this applied to the people of that time”.
There is a Bible verse, though I don’t remember where exactly, that says something like: men should not take pride in their knowledge of the book, since they often don’t understand it’s heart.

jnogood74's avatar

If someone tells me ” get out of the street!. Cars are coming” I am getting out of the street. I do not care who said it.

mattbrowne's avatar

No, it’s about intelligent interpretation. Can snakes speak? No. What does the speaking snake symbolize? What is its deeper meaning? Can Jesus walk on water?

And so on.

glacial's avatar

“Interpretation” is exactly the same thing as “picking and choosing”. It means that you decide what the meaning is; you decide what you will and will not accept to be true, and what you will and will not do as a result.

mattbrowne's avatar

I understand “picking and choosing” as a method of repeatedly quoting verses that fit open or hidden agendas, while omitting to quote other verses that do not fit open or hidden agendas.

Honest and open-minded followers of religions reject such a strategy. They demand that every verse of a holy book requires attention and careful interpretation. An important factor is the historical context. And language as such, of course, is highly ambiguous, and it even changes over time. In that regard religious texts are no different from any other type of text. When we read ‘The Wealth of Nations’ by Adam Smith we are faced with the same challenge. How do we interpret his text today?

When you read my answer, you try to interpret it, which is fine. If you pick and choose, you respond to certain parts only, while ignoring the rest. This happens on Fluther quite frequently, which is normal, especially when posts are very long.

josie's avatar

I am atheist. Having said that, Christians need only accept that Jesus rose from the dead. That is what makes a Christian, a Christian. The rest is just little lessons in life.

snowberry's avatar

@josie There’s more to it than that. If you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but that he is not God, it is much different than if you think he’s a turtle for example. It’s not the same. There are other considerations as well…

josie's avatar

A Christian, plain and simple, is defined by the Resurrection. You can say what you want to, but that is what a Christian is. If you do not believe that, you might be something, say a Jesusist, but you are not a Christian. I am a provincial, atheist, knuckle dragging Neanderthal, and I know that much.

keobooks's avatar

It’s not only the resurrection. The Apostle’s Creed spells out exactly what most Christians believe about Jesus, except many denominations leave out the part about descending into Hell.

snowberry's avatar

@josie Your definition of Christianity would not cut it with many other Christians I know. There are all sorts of people who believe in Jesus, and/or that he rose from the dead. But what they believe he is can vary widely from one person to the next, and from one religion to the next. @keobooks put it well also.

Blondesjon's avatar

I think what @josie is trying to say is that all that other motherfuckin’ Christian considerations are rendered motherfuckin’ moot without acceptance that the motherfucker done come back from the dead.

@josie did not add the vulgar language. i just like to pepper shit up with a couple of motherfuckers now and then.

snowberry's avatar

I wish there was a way to mute people here, especially the ones that add absolutely nothing of value to a conversation

josie's avatar

I like it a lot

Blondesjon's avatar

I can say that there is not a single Jelly that I would mute, nor am I better than enough people here to apply the label of what is truly ‘valuable’ to any conversation. That’s probably a good thing because I’m wrong right around thirty times a day. Only by listening to everything and everyone do I feel like I am able to really know what an issue is about. That’s just me though. as of right now I’ve only been wrong twenty-seven times today. There’s always room for a couple more.

and i really like using ‘motherfucker’ in a sentence

snowberry's avatar

@Blondesjon and @josie Then carry on and without me. Obviously my sentiments as a Christian have no bearing on this question. I am not surprised. It turned out to be just another one of those Christian bashing excuses for questions on Fluther, and there are so many….

Blondesjon's avatar

sure your sentiments matter. i wouldn’t mute them.

josie's avatar

You’re the one that implied the Resurrection is sort of arbitrary. You’re wrong. It is the focal point. Not saying that is bad or good, just sayin. If you believe in The Resurrection, then you know what I mean. If you don’t believe it, then you are not a Christian, and so what you call “Christian bashing” may be you bashing, but in your case it would not really be Christian bashing. So what is the problem?

snowberry's avatar

I’m done here. You apparently think you know all about Christianity, but you don’t even pretend to be a Christian. Have at it with your bashing. Bye.

Blondesjon's avatar

For the record I am an atheist and have stood up for Christians who have been treated unfairly in my opinion here. It’s very easy to look up.

glacial's avatar

@josie It’s not enough to simply believe that the resurrection happened for one to be called a Christian. @snowberry is right, believing that Christ is god is key – but more than that, one has to believe that he died for our sins, and that his resurrection has the power to cleanse us of those sins. Just believing that he was brought back from death is not enough.

Now stop bickering and get back to bickering.

KNOWITALL's avatar

The Bible says “whomsoever believeth in me…”.
I was raised that you have to accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

There are different beliefs for just about every theist of a different sect.

@Blondesjon It’s not that you don’t add value usually, but it feels like you’re mocking when you cuss in a Q about Jesus/ religion, I think that’s what @snowberry is offended by.

Blondesjon's avatar

Where is “motherfucker” covered in the bible?

I can understand being offended by taking the Lord’s name in vain, which is clearly stated as a no-no, but saying “motherfucker” is me using the air God gave me to breathe to vibrate the vocal cords he installed in my body that He made in His own image.

I tend to think that the Big Guy isn’t anywhere near as concerned with words as we are. I bet when He’s out puttering around in His Son’s wood shop and bangs His thumb with a hammer He still hollers, “Shit!”.

shit of course being a waste product that is passed through the body which He made

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Blondesjon I don’t know that it is. Some people don’t know that SOME theists sects or individuals are very strict about drinking, cussing, fornicating outside of wedlock, even dancing or speaking in tongues, a/k/a SIN- just trying to help a brother out.

Blondesjon's avatar

Then we are back to picking and choosing because I have been through the Bible cover to cove and never seen the word ‘motherfucker’.

i’ve never seen the no drinking clause either.

DominicX's avatar

A lot of those things, like prohibitions against all alcohol (despite the use of wine in the Bible) and prohibitions against swearing and dancing and such are not explicitly based on Biblical texts. That said, one doesn’t necessarily need to curb their behavior for the benefit of various people’s idiosyncratic ideas about what behaviors are unacceptable.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@DominicX True, and @Blondesjon already says his Christian friends drink and swear in another Q. Different boundaries for different folks. Peace.

GrandmaC's avatar

I seldom see people showing off by praying publicly in the streets for the purpose of impressing people like the Pharisees did.

GrandmaC's avatar

Most Christians I know drink in moderation. Jesus turned water into wine because it was a tradition for wedding parties to last for days and it was a disgrace for a host to run out of wine.

Judi's avatar

@GrandmaC, didn’t you see Ted Cruz?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Um, no I don’t see what you are saying. I don’t even see a correlation of that passage of scripture to the question. What are you implying exactally?

Leadfoot's avatar

As for ‘What defines a Christian’, according to the book. a hell of a lot more than recognizing Jesus’ resurrection is required. It says that when he returns a lot of people will come to him proclaiming their Christian creds and he will say ‘I never knew Ya’.

Says you have to be born again. I suppose if you were you’d know it.

VenusFanelli's avatar

I suppose it amounts to that. Some parts of the Bible must be allegorical. I am a student of sciences, so I see some flaws in some Bible stories. They exist to teach lessons and aren’t literally true. Fundamentalists have no good arguments and are inconsistent.

Qav's avatar

For me, as a believer, I believe that the whole of Scripture, not just a few verses, not just the “New Testament,” not just the “Old Testament,” not just the parts I like, are to be followed as I can understand them, in strong correlation with the rest of the Scriptures. If a Scripture is impossible to live out in this time, in my country, then I accept that. If I cannot understand a Scripture, I study it, research it, read it (the best I can) in Hebrew/Greek, ask questions of authorities, then comply.

A little example: as a teen, I asked why the church organization I attended then had their main worship-gathering day on Sunday, and not one leader/individual could answer. I kept studying, reading, and asking until, when I was 42, someone gave me a straight answer that matched with Scripture.

For living, for life, it is all the Scripture or none of it. There is no way I will live by any antiquated book without an awfully good reason, no way I will follow a god without 100% belief. It would not be worth the trouble. I would merely eat, drink, and be merry.

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