O Me of Little Faith

Ship of Fools is a fun, British religious web-magazine that has been doing great work for at least a decade. Like The Wittenburg Door in the U.S., Ship of Fools is committed to the Christian faith but not afraid to debunk, pop balloons, and otherwise make a nuisance of itself to religious goofery.

In related news, I’m pretty sure I just made up a new word: goofery.

If you’re unfamiliar with Ship, check out its ongoing Mystery Worshiper series, in which reporters attend a church service and report on its goings-on. The Mystery Worshiper idea, I’ll admit, was the inspiration behind my “6 Denominations in 6 Weeks” article for Relevant in the summer of 2008.

Anyhow, that’s just an introduction to the results of a new list compiled by Ship of Fools readers of the 10 worst Bible passages. It was called “Chapter & Worse.” The results, in order:


1: Paul doesn’t think women should teach men in church:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. (1 Timothy 2:12)


2: The prophet Samuel orders genocide against a neighbouring people:

This is what the Lord Almighty says… ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ (1 Samuel 15:3)


3: Moses doesn’t like witches:

Do not allow a sorceress to live. (Exodus 22:18)


4: The ending of Psalm 137, which equates happiness with, um, violence to babies:

Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us – he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks. (Psalm 137:9)


5: The story from the Book of Judges in which a man tries to appease a mob outside his door by offering up his concubine to them for sexual abuse:

So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home. (Judges 19:25-28)


6: Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality:

In the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:27)


7: Jephthah’s horrible vow in the book of Judges, which he then actually carries out:

And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, ‘If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord’s, to be offered up by me as a burnt-offering.’ Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and there was his daughter coming out to meet him with timbrels and with dancing. She was his only child; he had no son or daughter except her. When he saw her, he tore his clothes, and said, ‘Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.’ (Judges 11:30-1, 34-5)


8: God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his son:

Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you. (Genesis 22:2)


9: Paul’s encouragement of wifely submission:

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)


10: Paul’s encouragement of slavely submission, even to cruel masters:

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. (1 Peter 2:18)


Your turn. Are there any passages on this list you disagree with? Any you would add to it? Are you bothered by the entire idea of “worst” Bible passages?

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