Dumb Stuff People Say About the Bible


I hear a lot of people saying dumb things about the Bible. That may sound harsh, but “dumb” is really the only word that does their statements justice. These people don’t like a lot of the Bible’s rules, so the easy response is to attack the messenger.

So why would people attack a 2000+ year old book they say they don’t believe in anyway? Because that book contains rules and guidelines that rub against their own values and opinions. 

You see, in our culture, personal freedom is our “holy communion.” It’s our sacrament, and we get ticked off when the Bible tells us that freedom is actually destroying us.

Much like the ancient pagan cultures who surrounded Israel in the Old Testament, we are bowing down at altars that encourage every license and abuse imaginable. So we don’t like it when the real God starts messing with our little handmade “gods.”

To destroy the Bible’s authority, some people look for things in its pages that sound outrageous in order to discredit it. They flash these things in the faces of believers, claiming, “Don’t tell me the Bible says my actions are wrong when there’s all this other crazy stuff in there too!” Unprepared believers often feel dumbfounded to answer these claims, and either say something silly or nothing at all.

But the real problem is not with the Bible. The problem is in approaching a 2000+-year-old book with no understanding of history, archeology, or ancient culture…

It’s a bit like the sarcastic teenager who watches Shakespeare and snickers at “how silly they talk and dress.” He doesn’t realize his lack of understanding doesn’t indict the play at all. Instead, his words convict him of his own ignorance and arrogance!

Here are just a few of the things I hear people saying things…

The Bible is filled with lots of ridiculous laws about shellfish and mixed fabrics, proving it has no place in our enlightened modern culture, right?


Actually, they’re only ridiculous if you don’t bother to take the time to understand the context and history behind them.

Thousands of years before the concept of germs, God taught his people how to avoid disease through sanitation. There were warnings like, “Don’t go to the bathroom near where you prepare your food.” These seem laughably obvious to us…nowadays. But in our intellectual arrogance, we forget that the occasion of this writing was thousands of years before the creation of the microscope.

So how did the ancient Hebrews come up with these rules, while not understanding anything of modern sanitation, disease, etc.? What incredible luck that the rules they came up with just happened to be things that, in that primitive culture, would end up saving their lives.

The fact is, the presence of the Old Testament sanitary laws is terrific proof that the Bible really is the product of a divine Intelligence. Whom else could have understood how germs are spread in a barbaric, nomadic ancient culture?

In addition, God also put them on a diet that even Dr. Oz would endorse. Shellfish was indeed one item on the restricted list along with pork, just as it is for many seeking healthier eating habits today! God was trying to keep his people healthy within an incredibly unhealthy environment. Their dietary laws were one good reason their people did not die out from disease like many of the surrounding cultures.

And in the lesson of not mixing fabrics, he gave a visual aid reminding them not to intermarry with the child-sacrificing, sexually perverse, barbaric tribes around them. He was reminding them to stay true to him while saving their lives in an ancient, hostile culture.

So Christians are hypocrites to preach some of the Bible’s ethical laws but ignore dietary rules, right?


In Acts chapter 10, God told Peter those dietary laws were no longer necessary for Christian believers. God was now doing a new thing spiritually, which involved reaching out to the “unclean” peoples around the Israelites. So dispensing with the laws about “unclean foods” had both a practical and a religious significance.

Just as they were to no longer call any food “unclean,” so also they were not allowed to call any people “unclean.” Christ’s forgiveness could cover anyone, Jew or non-Jew alike!  So there’s no inconsistency, just rules about food from another era that were no longer relevant.

But the Bible does say that slavery is OK, right?


Not in the way we define “slavery,” not at all. In Old Testament times, a form of mutually-agreed upon indentured servitude was a common way of paying off debts. Often, a grown son or daughter would enter servitude to help their family financially.

However, most of the slavery spoken of in the Bible was entered into by mutual agreement, and always for a specific, defined period of time. It was not unwilling service until death.

So when the Bible seems to allow for slavery, it is this kind of limited servitude, not at all what we experienced in the two hundred years before the American Civil War. And note that the Bible is seeking to put reasonable limits on how people can be treated as indentured servants. Where others treated their servants harshly, the Bible was a clear voice calling for compassionate and responsible treatment.

By the time we get to the New Testament, Paul writes a complete book, Philemon, as a plea for a slave owner to treat a runaway slave now as his free brother in Christ. With this, we can see God’s complete revelation and how he ultimately feels about slavery.

The Old Testament starts a process of compassion that is fulfilled ultimately in the New Testament. It was so with our salvation, which began with animal sacrifices as a picture of the eventual sacrifice of Christ on the cross. So that progression takes place in ethics, finally manifesting the pinnacle of Godly behavior in Christ himself.

It’s really amazing how much sense the Bible makes…when, instead of criticizing it, you have the sense to try and understand it.

Dave Gipson
Comments 1
  1. Dave, your analysis is spot on but you don’t take it far enough to help young people and millennials engage the Bible in the way you have presented. For example, when the Sadducees came to Jesus in Matthew 22 to defend their view of resurrection, they use theology from the Law to try to make their point by questioning whose wife at the resurrection would a woman be after being married to seven brothers. For us in the 21st century, it highlights that this woman in their illustration and in the Law in Deuteronomy 25, is not marrying someone she chose or loved, but rather was chosen for her by lineage, which is now despicable as it should have been back then. As you noted about unclean food, this outrageous custom should have died long before the Law was subjugated. And although Paul notes in multiple passages that he had died to the Law, that is not the case as he continually beat gentile churches over the head with the Law’s precepts about women. Deuteronomy 25 instructed women to be genealogical prostitutes as they were to have sex with men they did not chose nor love to grow their numbers for strength and security. As Paul tried to get Timothy to get gentile women in Ephesus to conform to something they wouldn’t do for Paul, he had Timothy try the “saved through childbearing” mantra, which is like saying “there is a special place in heaven for someone who will have sex with someone they did not chose nor love in order to keep the family lineage alive”. Paul found out how hard it was to be a Jew in a gentile world, and dragging around the Law to beat them over the head with a theological carcass didn’t work then and is driving away young people now, at least those whose indoctrination has worn off.

    Women should have always been equals in the church so that whoever had the most talent and leadership ability uses it to God’s glory. It may have been a necessary evil back then to treat women like second class citizens, in exchange for safety and security, but doing so now that women are as educated as any man and have demonstrated their leadership skills makes their treatment by the church inexcusable.

    I applaud your thesis; please carry it to all areas of scripture and you will change the world all by yourself.

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