In light of the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris and the controversy surrounding Islamic extremism, a pair of Dutch comedians took a Bible, wrapped a Koran cover on it, and then quoted certain texts from the Scriptures to passersby, telling them the verses came from Islam’s sacred text. People reacted to what they heard by saying things like, “Ridiculous,” “Unbelievable,” and “Oppressive.” One man even said, “The Koran is more aggressive [than the Bible].” (1)
The comedians were attempting to show how people can have prejudicial views toward non-Christian religions and quoted Scripture to make their point. But merely quoting Bible verses is not the same as properly understanding a passage from the Word of God. For instance, the men quoted, “And I do not permit a woman to teach” (1 Timothy 2:12), and then added, “You will have to cut off her hand,” a passage from Deuteronomy 25:12. This second passage has nothing to do with a woman teaching.
Another example the comedians used in their experiment was to tell people that if you do not obey God, “You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters” (Leviticus 26:29). What they neglected to explain was that God did not command the Israelites to eat their children. The Lord predicted that if His people turned away from His law, their sins would remove His protective care over them. When the Israelites turned from the Lord, their enemies conducted siege warfare against the Hebrews, many of who resorted to cannibalism (see 2 Kings 6:28, 29).
When we misquote God’s Word, taking sentences out of context or only using partial verses, we can do violence to the text. Paul encouraged one young pastor to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, emphasis added). If we are not careful in how we quote the Word of God, we are prone to “profane and idle babblings” (v. 16) with misinformation that “will spread like cancer” (v. 17).
If someone reads you a Bible verse that sounds shocking, take time to prayerfully read the context. Compare the passage with other Scriptures on the topic. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. You can be assured, “The Lord tests the righteous, but … the one who loves violence His souls hates” (Psalm 11:5). (See also Matthew 26:52–54; Isaiah 60:18; Matthew 5:38–39; and Proverbs 3:31.)