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Cherry Picking the Bible
by Paul Jeter
December 24, 2004

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The practice of choosing only those facts, often out of context, that supports a personal view while blatantly disregarding information contradictory to your position constitutes “cherry picking.” Many Republicans practice this to the extreme when it comes to moral values.  Many fundamentalist Christians practice “cherry picking”, as well.  In the recent presidential election President Bush received numerous votes cast on the basis of “moral value”, and many of these votes came from the Religious Right.  Gay marriage and abortion serve as the two most divisive issues comprising the “moral values” stance.  So, let us visit the “cherry tree” and take a Biblical look at these issues, and several others, including the war in Iraq.

Does God frown on Homosexuality? Yes. In Romans 1:26-28 Paul refers to the perversions of men’s shameful “lust for on another.”  Okay, but does God frown on any other sins that you do not hear the Religious Right decrying? In Exodus 20:14 the seventh commandment states, “You shall not commit adultery.” The Religious Right frowns on adultery, but they have offered no constitutional amendments to stop it. In fact the Bible assails adultery on a much more consistent basis than it does homosexuality. Also, the act of adultery poses no less a threat to the sanctity of marriage and family than homosexuality. But, adultery does not frighten the Religious Right as much as homosexuality. Why not? Also, in Psalms 15:5 David states that one who dwells with the Lord lends his money without usury.  Usury refers to lending money at interest.  Have you heard Republicans calling for a constitutional amendment to ban banks?  Me neither.  On the topic of money Jesus himself said in Matthew 19:24 that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” How many Republican fat cats bemoaning our state of moral values have given away all their riches and pledged to lead a life of poverty and service?  I thought so.  “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me. When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth,” says Matthew 19:21-22.

In Exodus 20:8 the fourth commandment says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord you God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter.” Again, anyone standing up and demanding businesses and factories close on Sunday?  Not often.  (I would like to mention I have an enormous amount of respect for the owners of Chik-fil-a who do close on Sunday.)

Now, let us address the most polarizing issue of all, abortion. Common sense dictates that no one wants more abortions.  The debate exists over choice.  The Religious Right does not want a woman to be able to choose abortion.  That strikes me as odd.  God created the freedom of choice.  Don’t believe me?  Then ask Adam.  God is all-powerful and could have easily placed the forbidden fruit beyond Adam’s grasp, but he did not.  If God is all-powerful, all good, and all knowing, then we as a people should respect the rights he has given to us.  Ask many Christians where evil originates, and they will answer “free will.” Adam chose to disobey God, and thus evil was introduced to the human race.  The Religious Right will argue, “when a woman chooses abortion she is making a decision for someone other than herself.”  Aren’t we all condemned to life as sinners because of Adam?  Adam’s choice had consequences for people beyond just himself.  It seems that the Religious Right wants to usurp God’s authority and limit a person’s right to free will.  In the eyes of God we all have the right to screw up.  Yet, the Religious Right should not stand idly by when it comes to abortion. Instead of attempting to ban the practice they should pour their money and efforts to decrease the need for abortions, and in providing unconditional love and support for women in difficult situations.  They need to focus their beliefs in a positive manner.

As to the war in Iraq, known to some as the “War on Terror.” How many wars did Jesus start?  None.  Jesus preached peace. In Matthew 5:39 Jesus says, “if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” This man practiced what he preached.  Even with the power of heaven at his fingertips, he subjugated himself to brutality unimagined by most of us.  Yet, the Religious Right often supports President Bush and his war-waging tactics.  Jesus did not offer any conditions that would make war acceptable.  Oil, revenge, and security: it does not matter what reasons exist for war.  Support for the war seems an indefensible position for a person who bases his or her decisions on their Christianity.

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written:  ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”  (Romans 12:17-19)

*All verses were quoted from the NIV study bible.

Paul Jeter is a veterinarian in Athens, Tennessee.  He has a B.A. in Greek and Latin studies. He received his DVM from the University of Tennessee.  He can be reached at: