The Pick and Choose Fallacy

I don’t support slaves submitting to their masters (1 Peter 2:18), I cut my hair (1 Corinthians 11:13-15), I don’t believe divorce is the same as adultery (Mark:10 11-12), and I’m keeping my stuff (Luke 18:22).  Because of this, among other things, I am partaking in what many like to call, “picking and choosing” from the Bible.

I think it’s a shame Christians remain so quiet on this issue, since so many who oppose Christianity oppose a faith they see as Biblicist. Why should Biblicists get to represent Christianity when it is clearly such a diverse faith? Is it simply because those folks are the most vocal and get the news coverage?

Some scholars argue that such as worldview, Bible Literalist, actually does not exist in the modern world.

I agree with what Rachel Held Evans says on this issue:

“… we are ALL selective in our interpretation and application of Scripture. It will not do to spend our theological debates accusing one another of “picking and choosing” from Scripture when selectivity is something in which we all engage.

The better questions, I believe, are 1) “why do we pick and choose the way that we do?”  and 2) “how should we pick and choose?”

She has an entire series dedicated to this topic and, if this interests you, please go read her brilliant writing in Loving the Bible for what it is, not what I want it to be. It seems to me, thus far, that her takeaway is that a Christ-centered life trumps a Bible-centered life. As you might imagine, she’s pissing people off.  Good for her.

Now, for an emotional take on this issue (as if it weren’t emotional enough), let’s look at the Christian meme from — A Mountain I’m willing to Die On.

It starts as a powerful commentary on bullying and ends with a letter to her six year old son written, as it would be, if he told her he was gay. But it is obviously so much more. She is Christian and raising Chase in a Christian home, but says what many believe are controversial things.  Here are my favorite quotes from her letter:

“Chase, you are okay. You are a child of God. As is everyone else. There is nothing that you can become or do that will make God love you any more or any less. Nothing that you already are or will become is a surprise to God. Tomorrow has already been approved.”

“Several years ago I was in a Bible study at church, and there was some talk about homosexuality being sinful, and I spoke up. I quoted Mother Teresa and said “When we judge people we have no time to love them.” And I was immediately reprimanded for my blasphemy by a woman who reminded me of 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10. But I was very confused because this woman was speaking. In church. And she was also wearing a necklace. And I could see her hair, baby. She had no head covering.”

“What I’m trying to say is that each Christian uses different criteria to decide what parts of the Bible to prioritize and demonstrate in their lives. Our criteria is that if it doesn’t bring us closer to seeing humanity as one, as connected, if it turns our judgment outward instead of inward, if it doesn’t help us become better lovers of God and others, if it distracts us from remembering what we are really supposed to be doing down here, which is finding God in every human being, serving each other before ourselves, feeding hungry people, comforting the sick and sad, giving up everything we have for others, laying down our lives for our friends . . . then we just assume we don’t understand it yet, we put it on a shelf, and we move on.”

814 comments and counting on her beautiful message to her boy. I recommend reading the Full Version Here.



  1. Sort of like constitutional originalism…in addition, we can’t be literalists with the Bible because too much of it was written as poetry. And proverb. It’s too bad the beauty of this can be missed in a all-out search for literal truth.

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