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You’re Not Always Right

We all have biases that affect the way we interpret the Bible.

There are Christians who have very strong opinions on just about everything: how to vote, how to raise children, how to date, how to stay married, and how to interpret Scripture. Often, Christians back up their opinions with Scripture. But how many of those subjects are truly addressed in the Bible? We might be surprised to find that some of the values we hold most dearly are often a result of our cultural and childhood upbringing and have very little to do with what the Bible actually says.

The Bible says nothing about voting, for instance. In fact, most of the political advice in the Old and New Testaments is about how to deal with a corrupt government. As to raising children, there only a few random passages that are mentioned in the midst of addressing other topics, such as Deuteronomy 6:1–9, Proverbs 13:24, or Ephesians 6:1. Plus, there’s nothing in the Bible about dating and very little about marriage. As to how to interpret Scripture, the Bible seems to be deliberately vague and confusing. Even Jesus cloaked truth in mystery.

You wouldn’t know that from the way these subjects are taught, though. Most who instruct on these topics do it with absolute certainty and ridicule those who disagree or waver. But if that’s the case, what can we be certain about? And how can we—ministers in the church—ensure that we’re teaching others accurately about these topics?

Explicit and Implicit Truth in Scripture

When it comes down to it, there are very few things that can’t be argued with in Scripture. Those are the things we should cling to without wavering. The rest we should hold with caution, knowing that we could very well be influenced by something other than God.

What are the explicit truths in the Bible? John 14:6 is a good example: “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” This is something that can’t be argued with. There’s no wiggle room whatsoever.

There are also many implicit truths in the Bible that we can understand—even if they’re not stated in one clear, succinct sentence. An example of an implicit truth is the Trinity. When you read the Bible as a whole, you see the three persons of the Godhead clearly, even though it’s not spelled out in one verse.

These are the kind of truths that should be informing everything else we believe, even the aforementioned topics. By reading the entire Bible and gleaning the truths there, we do gain insight on things like politics, parenting, dating, marriage, and doctrine. We need to hold those kinds of insights loosely, however, because the Bible says so little directly about these topics. Otherwise we open the door for our culture and background to influence our opinions in unhealthy ways.

Forming Opinions Based on Scripture

What do I mean about the explicit and implicit truths of the Bible informing what we teach about the many important matters of life? I’ll give some examples to help you see what I mean.


There’s nothing in the Bible about how to vote because there was no such thing at the time the Bible was written. All governments at that time were monarchies determined by who held the most power and had the biggest conquering army. So what can Scripture teach us about who to vote for? We take into consideration the explicit and implicit teachings of the Bible. We consider what kind of person Christ is and how he is forming us into a new person, which makes us hold kingdom values. Because of my background and experience, however, I will most likely come to a different conclusion than you will. Those to the right politically may cling to passages on how God values human life. Those to the left politically notice things about helping the poor. Both are biblical values that Christians on both political extremes embrace as important, but disagree as to the government’s role in addressing those concerns. Because of that, we cannot come to a consensus on who is right. That means I can’t condemn someone’s choice, even if it’s different from my own.


Again, the Bible says very little about parenting, but it says a whole lot about what kind of people we should be. Rather than focusing on the parenting passages that tell our kids to obey, perhaps we should focus more on Scriptures such as Matthew 6:33, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” or Micah 6:8, “The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Knowing that, we parent to the best of our ability to help our children become more Christlike. But we will each parent according to our personalities. Some parents can deal with a whole lot more chaos than others. We also compensate by swinging away from what we think our parents did wrong. If we feel they were too strict, we may be more lenient, or vice versa. Regardless of how we parent, our goal should be to do our best to help our children become adults who love God and love others.


Dating is a modern phenomenon and did not exist as we know it in the time the Bible was written. However, it is a reality of today’s world. There are a few societies that continue to arrange marriages for their children—a custom common in biblical times—but it’s becoming rarer. It’s not something that we can implement in our current culture. Therefore, we must teach our children what it means to live as Christlike as possible, even in how they date. So the same Scriptures I mentioned for parenting apply to dating as well. If we keep Christ central in our lives and teach our kids to do the same, it hopefully will carry over to whom they choose to date and how they date that person.

That said, we live in a world full of temptations and even kids raised well may fail. But when they fail, they’ll know they can turn to a Savior who loves and accepts them as they are and is anxious to forgive and restore them. This life lesson will carry them much further than just being able to obey your rules, as necessary as those may be.


The explicit commands of Scripture are never more important than in marriage. Passages such as “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27) are perhaps the hardest to apply in marriage where we often battle for our own way. In marriage, we commit to learning to love one person as ourselves, and we get a lifetime together to work on this unique relationship. Whether you’ve been married 2 years or 60, you will still struggle in applying this verse. Because of that, this verse is far more important to having a good marriage than the passages we usually focus on for marriage.


Of all areas to be wary of our certainty, it should be our theological systems. My husband trains pastors in developing countries and has recognized his own biases as he learns from these pastors. They’ve been taught a system different from his own, and both are challenged equally as they go to Scripture and try to determine what it’s actually saying. This is particularly noteworthy when coming to a verse or passage where you think, It can’t possibly mean that!

The Gray Areas of Scripture

So where does that leave us? What specifically do women in ministry need to remember as they teach, counsel, and disciple in relation to the “grayness” of Scripture on so many of these topics? It means that we get no simple black and white answers. We must wrestle with and admit uncertainty in these areas and be willing to have others disagree with us. But no matter what, we should cling to the clear teachings of Scripture, especially verses such as 1 John 14:6, “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”

JoHannah Reardon is becoming more aware of her biases, which is making her very certain about some things. Find her family devotional, Proverbs for Kids, and her many novels at www.johannahreardon.com.

February29, 2016 at 8:00 AM

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