(Photo by Dwight Stone, Creative Commons)
Biblical principles seem to be all the rage today.
By which I mean people seem to be raging about them all the time.
From the Hobby Lobby case to same-sex marriage to the wave of child immigrants to the age old debate over the role of women in the church, Christians everywhere are fighting for the biblical principles they believe we should all be living our lives by.
It’s simple we say.
The Bible says it, I believe it, and that settles it we say.
Or at least something like that. The idea always being that if the Bible prohibits, prescribes, and implies something we should or shouldn’t do it.
It’s that simple.
So, in the spirit of simplicity I want to help my fellow Christians better embody their “the Bible says so” faith by calling attention to 12 Biblical principles that are too often overlooked by the faithful.
Because if the Bible says it, we believe it, and that settles it, then in order to maintain our integrity with that sort of claim, we need to be consistent in following everything the Bible says to do or not do.
Otherwise, we’re just being faithful to part of the Bible and not all of it, right?
At least, that’s what I’m told the alternative is.
So, in order to guide my brothers and sisters in their quest to be faithful to all of the Bible, I’m drawing from both the Old and the New Testaments to offer 12 biblical principles you’re probably not living by, but should be if you’re really being faithful to everything the Bible says.
1. Are you living a life of poverty? We all know about the time Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything and give it to the poor. And we all remember Jesus’ famous saying about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. So, obviously Jesus isn’t big on being rich. But do you remember when he said not to store up treasures for yourself on earth? You know what money and material possessions are? Treasures. Put all of those teachings together and you’ve got a pretty clear biblical principle – we need to live in poverty.
2. Are you executing your children when they misbehave? There’s a lot of controversy about spanking children these days, but biblically speaking that’s not going nearly far enough. If we are going to live by biblical principles, then Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 20:9, and Deuteronomy 21:18-21 are all clear that we need to be putting our children to death when they misbehave. Sure, this one might be technically against the law. But the Supreme Court has made it clear that Christian businesses can be exempt from following laws that violate their deeply held beliefs. So, if you’ve got an unruly child of appropriate age and want to rest easy knowing you’re being faithful to scripture, simply make sure your child’s day care is following biblical principles and has a pile of stones ready out back for when the time comes.
3. Have you cut off your hands and gouged out your eyes? Chances are good that you’re a sinner. I’m also willing to go out on a limb (get it??) and guess that you’ve sinned with your eyes and/or your hands before. If that’s the case and you’re a true biblical Christian, then Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew, 18:9, Mark 9:43, and Mark 9:47 are clear about what you need to do – gouge out those eyes and chop off those hands because it’s better to live without them than to be cast into the fire. Otherwise, you’re being a hypocrite when you condemn other people for what they do or don’t do with their bodies, right?
4. Do you eat bacon? I confess. This is one of the biblical principles I struggle with most. I absolutely love bacon. But Leviticus 11:7 is clear that pork is a no-no for biblically faithful believers. So, bye-bye bacon and pulled pork and smoked ribs and is too late to change faiths??
5. Do you own any slaves? Why not? Great heroes of the faith like Abraham did. Ok, maybe owning a slave is too expensive for you. After all, you’re also trying to adhere to the biblical principle of poverty. Then are you supporting the world’s slave holders by campaigning against the abolition of slavery? If not, then you’re in pretty clear violation of Colossians 3:22, Ephesians 6:5, and 1 Peter 2:18, to say nothing about all those Old Testament laws governing the owning of slaves.
6. Do you wear clothes of mixed material? Quick, check the tag on your shirt. Does it say 100% cotton? Or 100% something else? Because if not, you’re living in sin according to Deuteronomy 22:11. So, God help you on judgment day if you think you’re getting into heaven wearing that poly-cotton blend t-shirt.
7. Have you ever prayed in public? See you at the pole? I better not. Praying at graduation? God, forgive us. And that family prayer before Sunday lunch at Cracker Barrel? It’s gotta go. Matthew 6:5 lays down the law when it comes to praying in public – it makes you a Pharisee. So don’t do it. It’s that simple.
8. Do you hate your family? With all of our ministries and programs dedicated to children, youth, and families this is an area nearly all of us in the church struggle with. You might say we focus on the family too much. But if we’re going to live by biblical principles, then Luke 14:26 is clear – we need to hate our families.
9. Have you been baptized for the dead? “But I’m not a Mormon,” you say, “Why would I do that?” Well, because the Bible says so. Paul is clear in 1 Corinthians 15:29 that early church members took turns standing in as baptismal candidates for people who couldn’t be there because, you know, they were dead and what not. So, the next time your church has a baptismal service, make sure you’re first in line to volunteer to be baptized for folks in the cemetery down the street. Better yet, go ahead and start collecting names from the obituary in your local paper so you’re prepared in season and out.
10. Are you drinking wine every day? Now, I know this one is probably easier to follow for some in the church than others, since some denominations already condone social drinking. But if (like me) you’re part of one of those denominations that unfortunately rejects this biblical value and condemns drinking, take a stand for the biblical principle found in 1 Timothy 5:23, build a wine cellar in your basement, and bottoms up for your health.
11. Do you give anything to anyone who asks? This biblical principle found in both Matthew 5:42 and Luke 6:30 is great because it’ll go a long way in helping you live out that poverty principle. It might even help a few need folks along the way. Who knows? Oh, and just think how this will help lower crime rates if we eradicate the word “no” from our vocabulary!! “Give me your wallet!” Sure. “And you’re car!” Here are the keys. “Well, while we’re at it, I want your house too!” As you wish.
12. When’s the last time you participated in ethnic cleansing? This biblical principle is getting a lot harder to follow these days, what with that Geneva Convention nonsense. But we all know that laws against genocide are really just Christian persecution in disguise. After all, why would the Bible mention ethnic cleansing so many times if we weren’t supposed to wipe out the modern day Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them, not sparing them, but putting to death men and women, children and infants (1 Samuel 15:3)?
Now, you may be thinking to yourself that a couple of these don’t sound that bad, but some of them sound really icky and more than a bit illegal.
Which is I’m guessing you might be wondering, “Do I really have to follow all of these biblical principles?”
Well, if living by biblical principles means following all of the Bible and not just the parts you’re comfortable with, then yeah you do.
But don’t context and matter? Well, no, not if they don’t matter for keeping women silent in the church, condemning homosexuality, waging war, and keeping aliens from a foreign land out of our country.
You see, the problem is that if context and interpretation do matter when it comes to following biblical principles, then the firm foundation for our claim to follow the Bible even when it makes us uncomfortable begins to crumble.
Because if we concede the importance of context and interpretation when following biblical principles, then we’ll ultimately have to concede the unthinkable.
That it can’t be as simple as “the Bible says so and that settles it” when we’re not actually doing most of what the Bible says to do to begin with.