The Bible is not a manufacturer’s handbook, neither is it a science textbook nor a guidebook for public policy

I love the Bible. I read it every day. I spend 10 hours a week studying it. It has affected my life in profound ways. I am inspired when I read it. In its pages I find the truths that guide my daily life — truths that represent my highest ideals and greatest aspirations. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. The Bible is my primary way of knowing him and what it means to follow him. And I am a pastor and I teach and preach the Bible to my congregation every week. But the Bible is not a manufacturer’s handbook. Neither is it a science textbook nor a guidebook for public policy…

…looking at the Bible to teach us “how to run public policy and everything in our society” is a frightening notion. Written over a period of more than 1,000 years, the biblical authors include much that today we would suggest was drawn from cultural practices and which does not reflect the “manufacturer’s” will. For instance, there are more than 300 references to slavery in the Bible. In nearly every one it is assumed that slavery was acceptable to God. Slave owners were permitted to beat their slaves with rods, provided they did not kill them or permanently maim them. Women were considered worth half the value of a man, were required to marry their rapists if their father insisted, and, in the New Testament, were to remain silent in the church. Homosexuals and disobedient children were to be stoned to death, along with adulterers.



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