Bible Passages Christians Love To Ignore

Picture of a Bible / Ian Britton, via FreeFotoChristians these days tend not to pay too much attention to what their Bible says. Especially in the case of fundamentalist Protestants, they love to stomp around claiming how “scriptural” they are, how they love their Bibles, and so on. But when push comes to shove, it turns out that the words in these Bibles they say they follow and revere, are of little or no concern to them. The Bible’s words have no effect on their lives. Not only do they not follow its instructions, they go so far as to do precisely the opposite of what it tells them they must do.

It’s time for Christians to pay attention to the Bible’s actual words, and start acting and living as though they’re important. I’ve covered some of these items elsewhere, but what follows here is a compilation of a number of Bible passages they ignore.

About Violence

Jesus abhorred violence and directed his followers never to be violent — not even in self-defense! In fact, Jesus instructed them not even to defend themselves when sued in court!

  • “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42)
  • Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)
  • “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” (Luke 6:27-29)

About Public Piety

Lots of Christians love to make a point of how “Christian” they are. They wear their beliefs on their sleeves and trumpet their religiosity for all to hear. Sadly, Jesus explicitly forbid them to do any such thing:

  • “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.…

    “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-8, 16-18)

  • “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

Please also see my static page on the pervasive problem of public piety in Christianity.

About Wealth & the Profit Motive

Jesus taught that the acquisition of wealth, far from being a good thing, was a hindrance to finding the Kingdom of God:

  • “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. … No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:19-21, 24)
  • Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” (Matthew 19:21-25)
  • Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” (Mark 10:21-26)
  • And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)
  • And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20)
  • “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.” (Luke 6:24)
  • “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)
  • “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Luke 16:13)
  • When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” (Luke 18:22-26)
  • “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: … ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.'” (Revelation 3:14a, 17-18)

About Politics

Quite unlike Christians in the US, Jesus himself was apolitical. He had nothing to say about statecraft or polity. He was unconcerned about the physical realm — of which government was a part — and instead concentrated on the spiritual realm, the Kingdom of Heaven (or of God):

  • “Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:19-21)
  • They brought [a denarius]. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him. (Mark 12:16-17)
  • “Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Luke 20:24-25)

The only thing even remotely resembling a political-economic system mentioned in the New Testament as being distinctively Christian in nature, is the communalism (not necessarily communism!) of the earliest Christians:

  • And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. (Acts 2:44-45)
  • And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. (Acts 4:32-35)

About Mosaic Law

Most Christians since the time of Paul have presumed they’re no longer subject to the terms of Mosaic Law. But this contradicts what Jesus himself said:

  • “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
  • “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.” (Luke 16:17)

About Minimalism

Jesus emphasized to his followers that they should have only minimal possessions; that material things were hindrances, unnecessary for them:

  • “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.” (Matthew 10:9-10)
  • And He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, neither a staff, nor a bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not even have two tunics apiece.” (Luke 9:3)

About Humility

In line with the Jewish scripture of his own time, Jesus taught that God wants his people to be humble, and he punishes pride:

  • But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. (Psalm 37:11)
  • When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)
  • A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)
  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:3, 5)
  • And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Luke 14:7-14)
  • Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (James 4:10)

About Judgment

Christians constantly judge one another, as well as non-Christians. They can always find ways to show they’re “better” than everyone else, or that other folks are “wrong” or “evil.” And they constantly bellyache about other people’s “sins.” Unfortunately for them, this too contradicts what both the Old Testament and Jesus taught (and Paul, based upon both of those sources), which is that everyone is equally “sinful”:

  • They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:3)
  • Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
  • “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5)
  • “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” (Luke 6:37)
  • The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:3-7)
  • What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.” (Romans 3:9:12)
  • Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:22-23)
  • For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. (Romans 11:32)
  • If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

About Knowing When “the End” Will Come

Christians typically love to think they know when “the End” (aka Armageddon) will come. They think the Bible contains all sorts of warnings which they can use to pinpoint it. But Jesus told them that such knowledge is impossible to possess:

  • “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. … Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:36, 42)
  • “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.” (Mark 13:31-33)

About Being True to Christ & His Teachings

Jesus himself was fully aware that not all of his followers would be true to his teachings. Some would — on the surface — appear to be good Christians, yet for any number of reasons, they’d nevertheless fail to meet his own standards. And he had harsh words for such people:

  • “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
  • “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

The Bottom Line

Nearly all of the Christians who read this list of scriptures will likely come up with some kind of rationale or justification for why they won’t follow them. The majority of them have been ignoring them for nearly two millennia. It’s not something they’re going to stop doing any time soon. It’s clear to me — in light of the aforementioned Bible quotations — that a great many Christians these days are actually behaving in un-Christian ways.

My challenge to you, if you’re one of these Christians, is to admit you’ve been doing things your own religion’s founder ordered you not to; to stop doing those things; to resolve to obey these passages in the future; and to encourage your fellow Christians to do the same. If your own religion means anything to you, and if you have sufficient integrity and courage, then you’ll take up this challenge and try to live your Christianity as Jesus Christ intended it to be lived, and as you are admonished in the epistles:

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. (James 1:22)

Are you going to try? Or are you going to rationalize all of this away? This is your religion, after all, not mine. Either it means something to you, or it doesn’t. The choice to live it is entirely yours.

All scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible.

Update: Please see this blog post concerning the reactions I’ve received to these remarks (and there’ve been quite a few, not all of them in the comments below).

Photo credit: FreeFoto.

Page created: October 28, 2012. Last modified: June 30, 2015