It is amazing what power a few words can have.
“This means war!”
“Will you marry me?”
Each sentence can be stated with less than a breath, yet those syllables will have far-reaching implications. We even can vividly bring to mind powerful images, and broad implications from just a snippet:
“I have a dream…”
”Fourscore and seven years ago…”
“One small step for man…”
Hollywood is well-aware of the power of just a few words. I’ll bet most people could immediately state the movie in which we heard:
“I’ll be back.”
”Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
“You had me at ‘Hello.’”
Think of the impact a smattering of words have, when labeled with the ostentatious sticker of “God said,” on the world at large.
1 Cor. 14:34-35 and 1 Tim. 2:11-12 consist of only 85 English words out of the more than Three-Quarter of a Million of English words in the entire Bible. Less than 1/100th of a percentage. Yet those few verses, and their clear statement of “Women be silent in Church” have resulted in centuries of the female gender being subjected to lesser status.
We can have female leaders of countries, leaders of business ventures, leaders in social organizations and leaders in any field imaginable. Yet within the Catholic church, there has never been, and will never be a female bishop, cardinal or pope. Because of 85 words.
Within the Evangelical Church, no Female Pastors. No Female elders. No Female Deacons. In the 21st Century, it is amazing to me that a church I attended for more than two decades had to re-work its entire Sunday School format because some adult males enjoyed the teaching of a certain adult female. And, as much as they enjoyed it, the Bible doesn’t allow it. 85 words prohibit it. (They now meet all together for a period of “exhortation” and then divide off so the men can be “taught” by a man. And no, I am not kidding.)
In America we could gain a female President. Which means, depending on the church she attends, on Sunday Morning at 10 a.m. she would not be allowed to stand up and say certain things to certain males. At 11 a.m. she could sign the order to send them to war and die.
Churches are splitting and fighting and ostracizing, as well as whispering, gossiping, pointing fingers and dragging out the “true Christian” stamp regarding the controversy of where women can fit in the hierarchy of a church. Over 85 words.
One of the largest divisive topics in the United States is how many rights do we grant a homosexual. Can they marry? Can they adopt? Can they dare to be seen in public holding hands without a death threat?
Rom. 1:26-27. 64 words. Even less than women leadership in church. Oh, I know about the Mosaic Law. But parts of the Mosaic Law were fulfilled in the New Testament. In Christianity, the New Testament trumps the Mosaic Law. The best the homophobes have is two little verses in Romans.
Think about all the hate that is poured out from Evangelical Christians. The literal killings. The discrimination (all done under the guise of “love,” of course). People attempt to deny who they are because they think it is a “sin” so they enter a heterosexual marriage in the hopes that God will bless them; only to be racked with guilt, and divorce (hurting another person) or worse—commit suicide.
64 words that are defining the world we live in. Oh, you can talk about not liking it because it is “unnatural” or because of procreation, or because of whatever excuse you want to make up, but underneath it all is the long-standing Christian tradition that homosexuality is a sin.
Can you believe that fewer words then John Belushi’s speech in Animal House (“Was it over when the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?”) have caused states to change their constitutions, 100,000’s of peoples to rally, churches to hold services and people to die? Because of a few, simple words.
797 words. In light of the numbers we have seen, that seems like a lot! Genesis 1. The story of creation. But how many millions and billions of words have been expended over whether Genesis 1 literally happened?
A quick search of “creationism” on Amazon.com revealed almost 5000 books on the topic! That is more than 6 books per word, dedicated to the proposition that Genesis 1 is completely literal, partially literal, wholly allegorical, or completely irrelevant.
Through research, scientists produce cures and medicine, and data, all based upon the proposition of evolution. Christianity takes their pills and shrugs. Scientists propose the theory of gravity, the theory of relativity, and atomic theory. Christianity reads and learns. But if a scientist dares to invade what is considered sacred ground, by even suggesting that natural processes caused species to evolve, the axe must fall. Because such language speaks against 797 words.
How amazing that we have become so militantly engaged in this debate, to the point of bringing to bear the American Judicial system in an attempt to resolve it. And the Dover School district had to pay $1 Million dollars as a result. $1,250 per word.
When we review the Bible, it is fascinating to see how few words are dedicated to a prospect, yet result in vast schisms, and debate and argument. Not very many regarding divorce, slavery, how women should dress, or the unpardonable sin. Yet within those scant words, divisions of churches have separated and entire libraries created over how those words must be applied.
Why? What makes words that constitute less than a child’s paragraph so contentious? Because unlike any other words, people believe that these, in some way, came from God. These are not mere human words, but edicts from the very creator of the Universe. 20 or 30 words in the Bible are more valuable than all the laws and all the statutes of all the countries ever enacted.
(As a sidenote, isn’t it humorous that on the one hand the Bible is held in such reverence, yet on the other, Christians have to create regimented schedules, actively commit time and pursue with all their willpower just to read it? Most Christians have not even read the entire Bible!
They don’t need “Read through Harry Potter in a Year” to read the up-coming book. Yet to dredge through the very writing of the creator, it takes all they can muster.)
And how do we know it is from God? Because it says so. In one (1), tiny hyphenated word. “God-breathed.” 2 Tim. 3:16. “All scripture that is God-breathed is profitable for doctrine…”
Of course, we don’t even know what qualifies as “scripture” nor what the author meant by the word “God-breathed.” We have no other instance to compare the word to, for explanation.
Similar to my saying, “All blogs that are God-infused are edicts for what you must do.” The first question is what does it mean for something to be God-infused, and the second question is what method we use to determine which blogs qualify and which ones don’t. We have the same problem with determining which scriptures are God-breathed.
Completely baffling is that God appeared for a moment in time, inspired a few books, with only the briefest of mentions on some important topics, and then disappeared for 2000 years to let the humans wrestle over their meaning.
Think of the issues God’s Church would never have encountered if He had bothered to provide a succinct plan of salvation. Or mentioned the trinity. Gave direction regarding divorce, church hierarchy, sola scriptura, slavery and speaking in tongues. Or, even better, as new issues arise, explain His demands in…I don’t know…maybe some more writing?
We are fighting over mere sentences in books written by a different culture in a much different millennium. If those sparse words are impacting our world today so significantly, it is time we fully investigate and are fully knowledgeable as to why it is claimed to be from God. Hearing from a pastor or on Sunday morning is not enough.
If you want to tell me those words are as powerful as a two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12) you ought to be fully researched as to what method you use to claim they came from God. Otherwise, they are significant words, but not edicts.
Because if these ARE just words…
“Words do not pay for my dead people.” - Chief Joseph.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)