When you go to church, you probably hear the same handful of verses repeated over and over again. The same stories are retold every year, if not every few weeks, and the same handful of readings are done all the time. This can leave someone who has never read the Bible feeling like they know the book back to front. After all, people generally only repeat things when they have run out of new information, right? Why else would your pastor keep cycling through the same readings and using them to make different points if there was another story that could be used to impart the same lesson? Well, your pastor might be reusing stories because there are only so many stories in the Bible that people would usually consider appropriate for church. That is right. There are entire books of the Scripture that are seen as being too violent or lewd for church. Somehow the backbone of Christianity is inappropriate for Christian worship services. It seems bizarre, but it is true. You will not hear these shocking Bible verses discussed in church.
The Song of SolomonIf you are going to read the Song of Solomon, you might need to be prepared to take a cold shower about halfway through the book. The first line of the song reads, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” and the initial stanza ends with, “Take me away with you–let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers.” From there, it only gets more scandalous. The song is a dialogue between a man and a woman with their friends acting as the peanut gallery in the background. In chapter one, the woman tells the man, “My perfume spread its fragrance. My beloved is to me a sachet of myrrh resting between my breasts…Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant.” This erotic exchange sets the tone for the rest of the book, all eight chapters.
The Song of Solomon is poetic and beautiful, but it is not in the slightest what anyone would expect to hear read aloud in church. The words are erotic and carry a raw passion that most people would find very uncomfortable to discuss in God’s house. In fact, the book used to be considered too scandalous to read at all. Despite the fact that the book oozes sensuality, it has a place of pride smack in the middle of the Old Testament. Ironically, the very next book in the Scripture is the book of Isaiah which is one of the most commonly quoted Old Testament books in Christianity.
Streaking JerusalemThe story of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion is retold year after year in Christian churches across the globe. It is a solemn and holy tale about how God loved humanity enough to die for them. It also involves one of the disciples streaking the streets of Jerusalem. In Mark 14, Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested. As He is being led to the Sanhedrin, “a young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus.” The officials noticed they were being followed by one of the disciples and went to seize him as well. In response, the man “fled naked, leaving his garment behind.” Try to keep that image out of your head next time you read the Passion story. While Jesus was on trial, one of His disciples was stuck running through the streets of the holy city in his birthday suit. To make things even stranger, the odd anecdote only appears in Mark, and the young man who was stuck without his clothes on Passover is generally believed to have been none other than Mark himself.
Biblical Drink RecommendationsIf you asked just about any Christian what the Bible has to say about indulging in alcohol, they would tell you that the Bible urges either complete abstinence, despite Jesus serving wine at the Last Supper, or at least moderation. Scripture, after all, has plenty of provisions against drunkenness. The Bible also, however, gives some recommendations on what you should be drinking when you indulge. According to Proverbs 31, “beer [is] for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.” Apparently King Lemuel did not quite get the memo when it comes to how the Bible handles alcohol.
The Story No One UnderstandsChristians have been arguing over different interpretations of the Bible since Jesus began sharing parables with the Apostles. It is not surprising to find that Christians disagree on the exact message imparted in a specific story. It is unusual for there to be stories where scholars and average Christians come to completely different conclusions. Then, there are the stories where neither group has any idea what is happening. Such is the case in Exodus 4. For some reason that is never explained, God decides to kill Moses shortly after sending him to free the Israelites. Zipporah realizes what is happening, cuts off her son’s foreskin and touches Moses’ feet with it. This, somehow, convinces God to let Moses live. The incident is never mentioned or alluded to again, and to this day, no one has any idea what on earth the story is really about.
Americans generally have a specific view of what they want and expect church to look like. Unfortunately, that idealized vision does not always fit with what is actually contained in the Scripture that churches and Christians alike claim to venerate. The Bible is full of sex, violence, betrayal and completely off the wall events. It does not always fit the common perception of what people expect from a holy item. That, however, should surprise no Christian. After all, Christ Himself had been expected for centuries, but the form He took when He arrived was nothing at all like what people had envisioned.