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Should the Bible be interpreted literally?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/4/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,157 times Debate No: 28898
Debate Rounds (4)
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Some people believe that the bible should be interpreted literally, and that they should follow God's commands when it comes to sinning, and forgiving. Some people thing that with time, the Bible should be adjusted to match today's lifestyle.


I accept.

I will argue that the Bible should be interpreted literally (specifically, according to its genres or sub-genres), and that God's commands should be followed. I am against "adjusting" the Bible "to match today's lifestyle" - particularly when it is pitted against keeping God's commands.
Debate Round No. 1


I believe that it is unethical to follow God's commands as they once were in the Bible, as I do respect the morals of some of the fables in the Bible, I find it rational to adjust most ideas proposed by God. Ideas such as marriage prohibition between two people of the same sex, in what way is that doing harm to God or others? I also believe that "laws" proposed by God such as the idea that a rape victim must marry his/her rapist are unethical. This was expressed in the book of Deuteronomy Chapter 22 Verses 28-29. This law is obviously not practiced in America, do you believe it should be? If this law is adjusted, why shouldn't other laws against marriage be adjusted as well?


I'll start with homosexuality. Firstly, it runs contrary to the created order. God made man, then made woman from his rib and ordained that man should leave his parents and cleave to his wife and they become one flesh. Secondly, marriage was the picture that God used to represent his relationship with his people, Israel, in Hosea. Thirdly, marriage is the picture that God gave man to understand Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5).

Concerning Deuteronomy 22, I think you are looking at it somewhat backwards. The previous verses 25-27, make it clear that in cases of rape, the woman who is raped is not at fault and is not to be punished. But, there is also a different word used in verse 25 than in verse 28. That, combined with the phrase "they are discovered" in verse 28, probably suggests that there is some sort of consent.

Nevertheless, for the sake of argument, lets say it was out-and-out rape. Certainly in that time, though not limited to just then, virginity was desired in a bride. So, if a woman was raped she would likely have a much harder time finding a husband. And, if she did not have a father who could provide for her or a husband who could provide for her, she would almost certainly be poor, if not desperate and destitute. So, the rapist was to pay a heavy sum to the girl's father and marry the woman and provide for her without the option of leaving her.

Furthermore, it isn't necessarily the case that the woman is just chained to her rapist. In Exodus 22:16-17 say that if a man seduces and lays with a virgin, then he must pay a dowry to the father and marry her - unless the father refuses. If the father doesn't think the man can provide for her or won't treat her rightly, he can refuse. The onus is on the man seducing or raping to marry her - the law places the imperatives on him rather than the girl or her father. As far as I can tell, the law does not prohibit either of them from refusing marriage.

Perhaps something that should be discussed, rather than just examples is WHY the Bible should be taken "literally."

If God did design people and the world around them, and sustains their existence, who would know better what is good for mankind? Even if God were merely a cosmic expert rather than an authority to whom we owe obedience, we should listen to him just as a child should listen to his parents to learn what to do or not do.

And why listen literally? If you could provide a way to understand Deuteronomy 22:28-29 allegorically, I'm all ears. But it seem that at least in that case, you think it should be interpreted literally. If you think the application should be different, I'm open to discussing how the Mosaic Law is broken into categories and its relationship to the New Covenant. But, I have yet to see why it should change to conform to modern non-Christian standards of ethics.
Debate Round No. 2


I don't think you understand that while many laws that were present in the biblical times, most are outlawed today or not enforced due to the unethical manor of them.
What I am saying is that, if most of those laws are outlawed since times have changed them, why can't the other ideas of God be changed as well? Or do you believe that the outlawed laws today should be enforced? Laws such as slavery, and no rebel against government.

Romans 13:1 states that:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Do you really think that we should follow this? If so, Nazi Germany would be the way it was during the horrible times.

The Bible, is simple is immoral.

He tells his disciples to turn the other cheek, but he also tells them to slay his enemies before him. (Luke 19:27). He says, "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Mt. 7:1) but Jesus himself judge all his opponents and enemies (usually to eternal torture in Hell) all the time. "He that is not with me is against me" (Mt. 12:30). He says ""but whosoever shall say, Thou fool [to his brother], shall be in danger of hell fire. (Mt. 5:22), but then Jesus himself calls people "Fool" on several occasions (Mt 23:17, Luke 11:40; 24:25).

This whole website is full of examples of things presented in the Bible that are completely absurd:

My main argument and what I guess I'm trying to get at is why is there prejudice against gays and gay marriage? Just because the Bible doesn't see it as a good thing doesn't mean it shouldn't be allowed.

Wouldn't you rather see a child grow up with two supportive parents, regardless of gender, rather than no parents at all?

I'm pretty sure every human response is yes. So why aren't we allowing that to happen? Because the Bible has laid down a curtain between fable/olden times and reality.

Like seriously, we need to get with the times.

Christianity and the Bible can't even be proved to be true. It's a religion based on faith, meaning everyone is hoping it's true without and fact.

Also, I don't understand the concept of praying... How can putting your hands together and closing your eyes allow you to ask for things from God?

It doesn't.

Also, how is it that tombs of ancient mummies from centuries ago can be found but not one trace of God or his disciples can be found?

Did they all disappear?

Please. Explain.

All in all, times are different. We don't need a book full of fantasies to tell us what to do. Christians go against the Bible every single day and suffer no consequences. Why aren't Christians trying to promote those laws that are banned now? It's because its unethical and pointless for our times. Do you really think that its ok to kill thousands of people?

Jesus did.

Do you think we should slaughter gays?

The bible says we should:

Leviticus 20:13 clearly states "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

How about these?

Don't let cattle graze with other kinds of Cattle (Leviticus 19:19)

Don't have a variety of crops on the same field. (Leviticus 19:19)

Don't wear clothes made of more than one fabric (Leviticus 19:19)

Don't cut your hair nor shave. (Leviticus 19:27)

Do you think we should obey these laws??? Well, as you can guess, I don't think we should because.. well we don't. And why's that? Because it's unethical!

So please explain to me in your arguement:
- Should all these laws be enabled today?
- If all those laws aren't in effect in modern society, why should select ones be?


I don't know in what way you think the Mosaic law is "outlawed." If you mean that the Mosaic laws are not exhaustively identical to the laws of the United States, then I do understand.

Concerning Romans 13, it is not as simple as saying that Christians must obey the government in all circumstances. Paul wasn't unfamiliar with the book of Daniel, in which there is civil disobedience. "Lex Rex" written by Samuel Rutherford on the eve of civil war deals with Romans 13 and resisting authorities (see here: So, no, I don't believe in an absolute obedience to the government... Because of the Bible, I believe the governing authorities are subject to be God and are not to be a terror to good conduct, but to bad conduct (Rom 13:3).

Regarding slavery, the leading abolitionists of the modern slave trade were evangelical Christians such as William Wilberforce or William Lloyd Garrison. They argued against slavery and the slave trade using verses like Exodus 21:16 and said it was sinful and man-stealing. You can point out that the Bible allows some forms of slavery, but it never allowed all forms of it.

Addressing some so-called contradictions:

1) Jesus did tell them to turn the other cheek. But the verse in Luke 19 you cite is the end of a parable, as it says in verse 11, "Jesus went on to tell a parable". The parable starts out: "A nobleman went to a distant country..." The people the nobleman is talking to at the end are 'bystanders'. This could easily mean angels, since the conduct of the slaves is the important lesson in the parable and would most likely represent either all people or professing followers of Christ. So, Christ is not telling them to kill people.

2) When Jesus tells people "Do not judge so that you will not be judged", he isn't telling them to never judge. If you keep reading you find in the next verse that "in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." It is a warning against hypocrisy, not judging. For he goes on to say, "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." Jesus didn't teach not to judge. In fact, he tells people to love their neighbor. He wasn't unaware of what Leviticus says about that in chapter 19, verse 17: "You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him."

3) When you point out what Jesus says about saying "You fool!" did you not read the beginning of verse 22? It says that "whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment". And in the verse before, he is elaborating on the command against murder. The context is not the use of the word fool, but rather hating and wronging your brother.

It seems like you don't tend to read the full passage of the Bible verses you quote.

I have already given a reason as to why I think the Bible should be in authority of, not subject to, our zeitgeist. I also have given brief reasons why, according to Scripture, homosexuality is wrong. You haven't addressed those, yet you call it prejudice. In what way am I forming ethical opinions irrationally?

I would rather have regenerate Christians adopt children rather than the ungodly apathy and indifference that plagues the professing church today. If you must know whether I would prefer gay parents to no parents, I'll assert that it's a false dichotomy.

The Bible isn't a collection of fables. If you want to keep referring to it as such, please define fable and argue it.

Like seriously, quit your chronological snobbery.

I'm not just hoping the Bible is true. If you would like to have a debate following this one on whether or not it can be proved to be true, I would be willing to debate it.

Putting your hands together and closing your eyes doesn't allow you to ask things from God. That's not the sum of what prayer consists of. I sometimes pray standing and sometimes pray with my eyes open.

No trace of the disciples? A little over a year ago, I visited St. Andrews, Scotland. Do you have any guesses as to why it was named that?

Why don't Christians follow Christ's commands or engage the world and fight evil? Many professing christians live lives marked by sin and need to repent.

I don't think it's ok to just kill thousands of people needlessly, and you'll have to argue it if you want to assert that Jesus did.

A very simple breakdown of my view of the Mosaic law is this:

1) The ceremonial law was fulfilled in the sacrifice of Christ and is replaced in the New Covenant.
2) The civil law was for the ancient state of Israel and, while it does give insight into ruling and justice, is not necessitated in the New Covenant.
3) The moral law is still in full effect.
Debate Round No. 3


kristinvand forfeited this round.


Unfortunately, my opponent has forfeited the last round. I have nothing to add, other that I thank my opponent for the rounds she did participate in.
Debate Round No. 4
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