How to Make the Bible Say What You Want

Warning: This blog is a “tongue-in-cheek” article that is sadly based on real-life experiences… read at your risk and please, do the opposite of what it says! My commentary is stated in each section after the word “NOTE:

There’s no getting around the fact that the Bible has a lot to say. Christians see the Bible as God’s Holy Word and most ought to want to do what it says. Of course, most want others to do what it says even more. But quite frankly, the Bible isn’t always clear and doesn’t always say what we think it should say. Do we interpret passages literally? Figuratively? And if we do, does it say what we think it ought to say? Well, if not, here’s a few tips I’ve taken from people who’ve twisted God’s Word for their own gain. If you want to make the Bible say what you want, start off with these basic assumptions:

  • Assume you are right. If we start off with this basic assumption, we will not have to worry about being wrong with any interpretation…because we are right. We will be able to argue with anyone, and in fact, we may enjoy the argument, because who doesn’t like to be right? There’s no need to look at or study original Greek or Hebrew words because English is good enough. Now, if you like to be right or feel the need to be right, this is an easy assumption to begin with that will anchor your understanding of what the Bible says. If you think you are right, you will interpret rightly and often do what is right – which is all right, right?
    • Note: Judges 17:6 “…and everyone did what was right in their own eyes…”   As sinners, we are wrong an awful lot. Maybe our understanding can be wrong, too. Best to be humble in our interpretations with others and with God’s Word. After all, “Stupid people always think they are right. Wise people listen to advice” (Prov 12:15). Nuff said.

 

  • Assume your interpretation is equal to or more important than the original author’s intent. Even though the Bible is inspired by God, if we place our interpretations on an equal or greater footing than the inspired author’s intent, we will be sure to believe our own interpretation. After all, our interpretation can be inspired as well, can’t it? Therefore, when you ask, “What does this verse mean to me?”, you can simply determine an answer and believe it to be true. 
    • Example: Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  What do you need strength for? Getting through a test? Talking to the boss? Strength to bench press 500 lbs? Whatever you want! It doesn’t matter because you can do it with God’s strength! Though the author’s intent found in the context is about contentment in any situation, but if you want it to mean the strength to run 100 miles in 100 minutes – knock yourself out and good luck!
      • NOTE: This verse is about contentment. When we communicate with others, would we want them to understand what we said or meant or are we really OK with them interpreting our statements their own way. Communication is better and intimacy grows when we understand the author’s intent and believe the other person over our own interpretations.

 

  • Assume the Bible is about your happiness. There are so many helpful verses in the Bible where God provides promises of comfort and strength. After all, God is for us! Since God wants us to be happy and it’s all about my happiness, then we can interpret verses about others and tell people what to do using these verses.
    • Example: 1 Corinthians 7:5 – “Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent…” This verse is talking about sexual relations with your spouse. If you read this with your happiness and wants in mind, and recognize that it’s all about you, you can tell your spouse the following, “God says you can’t deprive me of sex unless I consent – which I don’t – so you are being disobedient to God and are a bad Christian.”  When you do this, you inform your spouse that God is for you alone, and that God wants what you want – for the other person to exist to satisfy and serve you. After all, it is about you, right?
      • NOTE: Neither God nor our spouses exist for our happiness. To use God’s Word for our own personal gain or against others is selfish. While He is for you (Rom 8:31), He is more concerned about your heart conforming to His likeness than your personal pleasure (Rom 8:29). He emphasizes our need to love and serve others than to be served by them (Jn 13:34). 

 

  • Assume your preconceived notion / thoughts / conclusions are true – Truth is in the eye of the beholder. We might believe, “Your truth is different than my truth,” but what we are often saying is “My truth is really Truth (and you’re wrong).” This is similar to the first assumption, assume you are right. If we have an idea of who God is and know what God really meant to say, we can easily read any verse and make conclusions based on what we think is true. Or, if we start with an internal belief we think is true, then God’s Word simply is there to show that we are right.

    • EXAMPLE: God is love (this is true!). Therefore, the following conclusions must also be true:

      • 1) We should love ourselves – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We read this verse and we conclude, as many psychotherapists do, that we should love ourselves. It doesn’t matter that the words “AS yourself” are not “AND yourself” if you already believe that the Bible teaches us to love ourselves. If we start to believe what these psychotherapists tell us first, we can then look at Scripture to prove that it is true by how we interpret the verse. In other words, start with something we believe to be true and use God’s Word to prove that it is true. Simply Google “Loving yourself in the Bible” and you will get all these verses about loving God and others that you can interpret – God is really saying we should love ourselves.
        • NOTE: While loving self is implied, it is never commanded. We are actually warned against loving ourselves (Mt 16:24, 2 Tim 3:2) and called to love God and neighbor (Deut 6:5). We’re actually commanded to deny ourselves, which is a far cry from loving ourselves.
      • 2) Homosexual love is from God because it is love and love comes from God. Any verse that says the contrary is being misread. The Bible really means that homosexuality with multiple partners is wrong, just like it is with heterosexuality. But since monogamous homosexual relationships are loving, it must be from God.
        • NOTE: While we agree God is love, that means He defines love, how love ought to be expressed, and who love ought to be expressed to. We are His creation living under His dominion. What He says goes and we can’t re-interpret his Word or look for loopholes and declare we’re innocent because we didn’t know.
      • 3) God hates homosexuals – Rom 1:24-28 “…shameful lusts…unnatural to natural relations…” Since God has labelled homosexual activity as shameful lusts and unnatural, and He speaks against such sins, he must hate homosexuals. A conclusion is drawn based on a statement, and some are very passionate about this.
        • NOTE: Many other sins are mentioned in the context of this passage (v 28-32). Does he hate all those people, too? Of course not! God’s love, mercy, and grace is extended to all – as ours should. While we many do not agree or support homosexual acts, the concept of God hating people He sent His Son to die for is ludicrous.

Twisting God’s Word is as easy as pie. As long as we start off with these assumptions, making His words that say one thing mean another is not a far reach. But if we want to be true to His Word and not twist it at all, we want to do the opposite:

We need to 1) See ourselves as the learner trying to understand an infinite God; 2) Interpret His Word through the context of the paragraph, chapter, book, testament, and then the entire Scriptures; 3) Approach His Word humbly without preconceived notions, but allow God’s Word to speak to itself and challenge any preconceptions; and 4) understand the Bible is about God revealing Himself to us so that we may grow in our relationship with Him and become like Christ.

If you have been guilty of twisting God’s Word, please seek forgiveness and ask for humility and clarity of His Word. Challenge yourself and meet with other mature believers to learn and grow together. If you are approached by others who say you are twisting His Word, don’t take offense, but listen to their criticisms. We can’t do it alone!