November 03, 2015

Dear Christians: Here are some of my favorite Bible verses.

I hope you didn't go into this thinking this was a "gotchya". It's not.

The Bible can be an absolutely beautiful book in places (alas, I have to be honest and say that the literary quality fails in other places), and it's still got many passages that I personally find inspiring.

Here's a few of my favorites.

Ecclesiastes 9:10  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Like many secularists, I find Ecclesiastes to be a fascinating book. It's places, but the overall theme is that this is it, this is all we have, so do your best with it.

This verse speaks to me, because obviously as an atheist, I don't believe in an afterlife. This means that I am driven to devote as much of myself to getting done as much of what I want to in this life as I possibly, humanly can. I try to do everything with all of my might.

Jeremiah 22:3      This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.

I love the social justice in this verse. There are a lot of terrible Bible verses--let's be real, I think we can all acknowledge that the god of the Old Testament in particular is often wrathful and vengeful in his definition of "justice"--but this one just beautifully expresses my own ideas on life and justice.

Philippians 4:8     Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

This is something of a mantra for me, personally. I have obsessive thoughts, and sometimes, they linger on ugly subjects. Remembering this admonishment actually helps me shake out of it. It's a great precept, period.

Proverbs 4:13       Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.

My mom really pushed to make us "lifelong learners", and she succeeded--I love learning new things, and this verse aligns well with the view that I hold of learning as crucial for one's wellbeing.

Proverbs 15:1       A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

I am trying to remember this one as I take a new approach to dealing with other commenters in the cybersphere. It's easy to try to answer blows with blows, especially when it is only online and we are all anonymous. It's hard to control my temper, personally, but I'm hoping that it will be worth it for the knowledge I can gain and the minds that maybe--just maybe--I can change.

Proverbs 18:15     The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.

Again, this plays into my personal desire to be a lifelong learner.

Proverbs 29:7       The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

Again, I adore the social justice concept that this verse articulates so well.

I Thessalonians 5:20-22     Do not treat prophecies with contempt, but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.

Obviously, I'm not a fan of prophecies. I do hold them in contempt. But I think of this as arguments, and instead of treating an argument from the outset with contempt, I test it, hold onto what is good and reject what isn't.

So, those are my favorite bible verses, personally. What about you?

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