Proof texting. Ugh. I’ve become so annoyed by proof texting that I decided to address it in a brief post. (Perhaps a longer post later.) What is proof texting? Ya know, it is basing your belief or argument about an issue on…one, single, isolated Bible verse. Without regard to context, lesser and greater: the surrounding text and the whole of Scripture.
I do not have a certain issue in mind, as I have observed proof texting with a plethora of issues.
Leviticus 19:28 says “‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” See, tattoos are wrong!
1 Timothy 2:12 says “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” That is clear! Women can not have authority in church.
Leviticus 20:13 says “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.” See, homosexuality is sinful!
First of all, this makes you look ignorant and illogical. Yes, it does! Stop it. You are making us all look idiotic.
In addition, this does not create dialogue, but only shuts things down. Or the other person may just throw verses back at you! This is not helpful.
For example, if you use 1 Timothy 2:12 against women, then the person with a different view can give you examples of women in the Bible who did exercise authority and were not quiet.
You may have a verse (which could portray an accurate truth) but…
What are the underlying reasons for an action being wrong or right? What is the principle behind the precept? If you feel strongly enough about an issue to throw a single verse around, surely you should be able to articulate the truths that are behind it.
Have you carefully considered the surrounding context of the verse? And the rest of Scripture?
Most Christians seem to have no problem doing this with other things. I don’t observe Christians taking isolated verses from the OT Law about sacrificing animals for sin, in order to argue that we should be sacrificing animals for sin today! Jesus completed that system, and became our final and ultimate sacrifice.
Some things may have only applied to a certain place and time, while other truths and precepts are timeless. Some things were completed or fulfilled, while other things continue on as truths to be believed and obeyed.
(Yes, I open up the issue of Bible interpretation. But this is meant to be a brief post.)
Against tattoos? (By the way, I consider tattoos to be an example of “disputable” matters that Paul talks about – where different Christian can come to differing conclusions and freedom is needed here.) But if you are against tattoos, a more thoughtful argument than throwing Leviticus 19:28 at someone might be 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and honoring God with your body. And considering the personal motives behind getting a tattoo. The apostle Paul offers good guidance on making decisions about disputable matters in Romans and elsewhere.
And the homosexuality issue, which I must touch on in closing. Sadly, too many gay people have only had Leviticus thrown at them! No wonder so many gay people have issues with Christians. Too many Christians are unable to present a coherent view of their beliefs on this matter, specifically the principles behind the precept.
Recently someone who is gay read my 2-part article on homosexuality. They were pleasantly surprised. Yes. They expected Leviticus. Please note that I NEVER even mention Leviticus. In fact, verses that specifically mention homosexuality are my lesser argument. Instead I appeal to underlying biblical truths about God and humanity. This gay individual said this was the most coherent and logical explanation they had ever seen from a Christian. They still disagreed, but now have a little more empathy regarding my position.
Lets make God look good, and not like an idiot, as we discuss controversial or disputable matters.