The Danger of Calling ‘Biblical’ Behavior Dangerous

Rachel Held Evans seems to be the newest pop star for the Christian crowd that wants to define the faith with an eye focused on contemporary culture more than on historic teaching. She is on the media circuit to promote her book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and offered up an editorial on CNN’s website last week. The article is titled, My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’.

Please understand that I am not advocating an ignorance of our culture. That is the audience to whom we speak. Since this is the case, we need to be wise in order to clearly communicate that which God has commanded us. The problem is when we let culture define the faith.

It may appear confusing that the woman who has “Biblical Womanhood” in the title of her book would write an article targeting the use of the term ‘biblical’ in adjectival form. I’m not going dig too deeply into that except to say that it appears that biblical womanhood really doesn’t exist for her.

However, the article reveals some other dangerous elements.

Let’s begin with her response to a television conversation between comedian Jon Stewart and Mike Huckabee. When Huckabee used the term “biblical model of marriage”, Stewart responded that “the biblical model of marriage is polygamy.”

Evans response to that exchange?

It may come as some surprise that as an evangelical Christian, I cheered Stewart on from my living room couch.

Really? Evans continues to eschew the use of ‘biblical’ in reference to any kind of ethical teaching. In siding with Stewart she reveals a serious lack of understanding when it comes to interpreting the Bible.

Yes, the Bible does describe polygamist marriage in several sections. But it does not prescribe polygamy. We could backtrack to the first marriage in the Garden of Eden, but let’s fast forward to the teaching of Jesus.

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
(Matthew 19:4-6 ESV)

When we read the Bible, we should always ask whether the passage we are reading is descriptive or prescriptive. Another question to ask is where does this passage fit in the overall story of God revealing himself in the redemption story.

If Evans applied those two questions, I don’t think she would be as quick to dismiss ‘biblical’ teaching. Before I end I need to say that misusing the text often happens among those who would hold to a higher view of Scripture. When that happens, it is just as dangerous.