"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." ~ Romans 13:1 (ESV)
I've started to write this piece umpteen times since Jeff Sessions used the aforementioned Bible passage to justify sending children to internment camps. Not wanting to get overly political on this blog I deleted draft after draft. Yet, the longer I worked on it the hotter I got under the collar.
He cited THE BIBLE to justify GOVERNMENT SANCTIONED CHILD ABUSE! If I have one spiritual pet peeve, it's people using Scripture to justify crappy behavior. The same verse was used to justify slavery and Jim Crow laws. In fact, I'd bet good money someone in authority was quoting this little get in Berlin in 1933!
It's not just Romans that gets twisted. Men looking to keep their wives barefoot and obedient quote 1 Peter 3:1 (ESV) which commands wives to be subject to their husbands. I once saw a man screaming this verse on a street corner in protest of some women's rights issue. I don't even remember what the issue was; I just remember him being red faced and screaming, desperate to make people understand that God wanted women to obey men.
Of course, he was completely ignoring Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." He's not alone though. The Bible was written by so many people with so many points of view that we can find a passage to support anything we want.
Some people think the Bible's "flexibility" renders it useless as a guide for life's struggles. I'm not sure that's fair. You can take a passage out of context in any great work and miss the point of the piece. One might read a single chapter of Gone With the Wind and come away thinking it's a book about birthin' babies. Loidy, loidy, loidy!
Books are meant to be read in their entirety. It took me two and a half years, but I've read the Bible from cover to cover. It's a lengthy process, but it can be done. Once a person has read the entire book, assuming they've been paying attention, they'll hard pressed to find an overall message of hate.
The story progresses and evolves as it goes along. In the beginning, humanity is an infant child-like species. Thus, God rules with a firm punitive hand. Then when His chosen people have the law pretty much mastered, He sends His son to teach us about forgiveness, mercy, charity, and love.
The Bible, as a whole, conveys a spirit of love. To zero in on a single passage to justify hateful actions and attitudes is not only inappropriate, it's offensive.