Sadly, Biblical scripture is very often misused in order to make our point. I understand why we do it. I mean, we like believing what we believe and being proven wrong is never fun. However, God’s word is awesome, and understanding it’s truth for all it’s worth should be the goal of every Christ follower.
I did a Google search for the term, “frequently misused scriptures” and I was given 1,730,00 hits! Wow! Nearly two million hits! I know that not everything you read on the Internet is true, but that tells me that a huge number of people are concerned and/or confused about scriptural misuse.
It is our responsibility to study the Bible, get to know Jesus, His heart, and His ministry, and to pray for discernment. If we just blindly accept a pastor’s interpretation, or the words of a volunteer guiding a Bible study, then we could be led down the wrong spiritual path. I have found that one of the enemy’s best tactics is to use scripture to choke us with feelings of unworthiness. Likewise, people use God’s word to guilt us into giving money, donating time, teaching 2-year-olds, or selling off everything we own.
Several years ago a close family member gave birth to a beautiful little girl. That child was well loved, but she was conceived outside of marriage. She grew and was raised by a single good mom and a marginal father. It was made clear to the family that we were expected to give of our time and resources to aid this little family. After all, my mother said, “the Bible tells us to help widows and orphans”.
And there it is…a classic misuse of scripture meant to guilt someone into doing something. The verse being referenced here is found in the first chapter of James. In this passage James begins by admonishing us to consider it “pure joy” whenever we face trials, and to ask God for wisdom. He ends the chapter by encouraging us to be authentic Christians—people who are quick to listen, slow to speak, and who keep a tight reign on our tongue. James ends the chapter in verse 27 with; Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
The real trouble with using that particular passage to motivate us to give our time and resource to care for the little family is that the little girl wasn’t an orphan and her mom was not a widow. She chose to be in a relationship outside of marriage and the result was that she brought a child into a less than ideal situation.
Reaching out to a child in need, or a mom in pain is a great thing—a noble thing. But, taking scripture out of context to guilt a person into anything is just wrong. So, get off the pew and study God’s word for yourself so you can be discerning. Get off the pew!