Ever since I realized how common this mistake is with other people, I have been making it a point to be intensely careful that I do not continue to do the same thing. I may not always succeed, but I do try. And I pray others will point out any time I truly take a verse out of context or apply my own meaning to it.
In watching myself in this manner - I have allowed Scripture to correct and change my views on some things, and have let it strengthen my views on other topics.
I have been accused of not believing the Bible. I have been accused of not knowing what I'm talking about. I have been accused of being flat out wrong regarding what God allows/wants, and what He doesn't.
2 Timothy :16-17 (NLT)16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
I DO believe the Bible. I believe in it. My accusers are correct, however, in that I do not always know what I am talking about. I am still learning. I will always be learning. I don't think anyone ever reaches complete knowledge in the Bible, or in God... at least, not in this lifetime. As for the last accusation - sometimes I am quite probably flat out wrong. Sometimes I am quite probably completely right. But I have learned that if you're going to tell me I'm wrong (or, if I am going to tell you I am right), this should be backed up with Scripture that is taken in context and does not have one's own interpretation applied.
So what do I mean by not having one's own interpretation applied?
If God says "This is a cat" - it's a cat. This is plain, understandable language. You cannot twist this. Generally, these type of flat out statements aren't misinterpreted or twisted.. but amazingly, some do try. Some may try to take that as, "well, he doesn't mean specifically that it's a cat. He means that if it meets some other twisted line of thinking that is referenced in this other completely out-of-context-verse, it might actually be something else..."
If God says "This is not a cat" - it's not a cat. This doesn't mean you can accurately say "It's a dog." That is applying your own interpretation. And you cannot fill in the blanks and assume more than what is given. "This is not a cat" cannot mean "because this is not a cat, it cannot climb trees or eat cat food."
To use an actual biblical example (and, I apologize to the person I got this from)...
My last post was in regards to whether or not we are allowed to judge other people. My stance is that we cannot. And I gave a verse which, in my opinion, is very clear about this. Matthew 7:1 - “Do not judge, or you too will be judged." This is one of those "If God says it's a cat - it's a freakin' cat" type verses. I don't think you can be any clearer. Do not judge. Even when you look at it in the full context...
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.It is very clear. At least, it is to me. Even the King James Version, which in my opinion is a bit better of a translation, just often more difficult to understand.... "Judge not, that ye be not judged." It's still crystal clear. Do not judge.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Anyway, I had one person disagree with me. He informed me that we are indeed supposed to judge others. He told me Jesus commanded this of us in Matthew 7:20 - "Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."
I have tried and tried to determine how this person interpreted this as Jesus commanding us to judge others. I just can't see it. Why? Because it is not there. I even placed that verse in the context of which it was written...
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
These verses aren't speaking of every day people judging every day people. These verses are speaking very specifically about false prophets. False prophets are those who claim to be something they are not. They claim they are from God, but they are not. And you can recognize them because what they utter is not God's truth. David Koresh (Wako, Texas) was a false prophet. Those who were weak, believed what he was selling. They didn't see the wolf hiding beneath the sheep costume. But most of us recognized he was a false prophet because of his fruit - because of his teachings. His teachings and prophecies were not of God.
There are many verses that we tend to misuse. Either we're careless in taking a verse without recognizing the context it's used in... or we decide to put our own interpretation to it because we're trying to justify or support something we've said or done. We must be careful with God's Word. We are not to twist it to meet our ends. And we must be willing to study a verse to make sure the translation was not corrupt.
Example of poor translation:
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind," 1 Cor 6:9, KJV This is one of those verses that those against homosexuality will quote, because in the New International Version, the underline portion of that verse was translated to "homosexual offenders".
The underlined portions were translations of the Greek word "arsenokoitai". Several articles I read state this this word was never used to mean homosexuals in ancient text. It meant shrine prostitution, rape, or having sex with angels in every other instance of its use. Granted, I'm not certain on the validity of those articles... or the several other articles I found which translate that one word in other ways. But I think before we decide to use a verse to support our claims of what is or is not allowed by God, we need to make sure we're reading it and understanding it correctly.
We need to stop twisting God's Word to mean what we want it to mean.
As humans, we WANT to judge other people. It makes us feel better to know someone else is sinning more than we are, or worse than we are.
As heterosexual/homophobic humans, we WANT to tell homosexuals that they're evil. We want to wipe them out.
And so we take God's Word and mutilate it. We apply our own selfish desires to it, twisting it for our own pleasure and purpose.
But honestly people... If God says it's a cat, it's just a freakin' cat. Quit assuming there's more to it. Quit applying your lack of understanding to it. Quit destroying God's Word!