One of the rules for interpreting the Bible is: “if the plain sense of the Bible makes sense, seek no other sense” (author unknown).
- When God says He created the world by speaking and in six days, that’s what He did.
- When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, we understand what they say.
- When God promised Abraham progeny like the stars in number, we believe he would have a great family.
- When God took care of Jacob’s family through Joseph, who rose to be second to Pharaoh in Egypt, we believe it.
- That Jonah was actually swallowed by “a great fish” isn’t hard to believe, either.
God says it in plain language, and we believe the stories because they’re Bible. That means God inspired them. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21). You probably noticed all my examples above were taken from the Old Testament.
In the New Testament, we learn about the life of Jesus in the Gospels, then in Acts we find out about the establishment of the church. In Romans, we get doctrine, and in the rest of the New Testament, there’s teaching and preaching about how to live the Christian life. What does God expect of born-again people? We read it in the New Testament epistles. The Book of Revelation is prophetical.
So, why is it that we can accept the Old Testament miracles and history as true—on face value—and we have a hard time with New Testament teachings? Could it be that we think we’re too modern to take them literally? For example, we read:
- And he (Jesus) answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matthew 19:4-6). According to these words, what is God’s design for marriage?
- Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. . . . Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing (Ephesians 5:22, 24). Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband (Ephesians 5:33). Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord (Colossians 3:18). What do these verses say about the relationship between husbands and wives?
- And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery (Mark 10:12). So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man (Romans 7:3). What do these verses actually say? What do you think they mean?
- In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works (1Timothy 2:9-10). Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands (1 Peter 3:3-5) What does this actually say about a Christian woman’s dress and behavior?
- Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law (1 Corinthians 14:34). Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence (1 Timothy 2:11-12). What do these verses teach about how women are to act in church?
- Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:17-20). According to these verses, what should a Christian’s life be like?
It’s true that there are some obscure passages in the New Testament, especially in Revelation, but most of the New Testament is easy to understand. It’s straightforward. It says what it means to say. So, why do we take the passages above, for example, and twist them to conform to modern times and the way we want to live our lives?
- Why are Christian people divorcing instead of sticking together and working things out?*
- Why do married women refuse to yield to their husbands’ leadership?
- Why do divorced women with living husbands remarry and think it’s okay?
- Why are women brash and bold, and they don’t wear modest clothing?
- Why are women teaching men in our churches?
- Why are Christians joyless and unthankful?
To combat ignorance and complacence, do little Bible studies on your own. Focus on subjects that interest you. Find out what God wants for your marriage and family. Find out what kind of life Christians should live. Find out how to be joyful—even in difficult times. The Bible is easy to understand. Its message is clear. It’s for us to obey.
For this is the love of God,
that we keep his commandments:
and his commandments are not grievous.
(1 John 5:3)
*I believe there is biblical provision for separation—not divorce—in the cases of abuse and physical danger.