Defending God

You are having a great conversation with a non-believer about God. Then they ask a question about one of those uncomfortable passages in Scripture, for instance perhaps one of these:

Timothy 2:11 “I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent.”

Matthew 5:40 “And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”

Ephesians 6:9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. (OK to have slaves?)Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yoursis in heaven, and there is no favoritismwith him.


You feel like they have put God on the spot. After all, that is what the Bible says, but you don’t want to lose the chance to win them over. So you perhaps try to soften the meaning of the words.


Do we have to defend God? Do we have to make up excuses, or to try to explain things away that are embarrassing, or that we don’t quite get ourselves? In the end, when we downplay or amplify anything that God has said, we risk causing damage much worse than if we merely let His words stand unexplained.


I think of the very first example of this in the Bible: God had said: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

The serpent purposely misconstrues those words when he says “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

In defense of God, Eve then says “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ “.


Why are we not content to let God defend himself? We see that Eve chose to step in, to defend God’s honor, and in the process she tries to make God’s words closer to what she feels this other wants to hear. Don’t we do the same thing, albeit perhaps in the opposite direction, when we perceive that the other that we are talking to wants a softer, more comfortable God? Once Eve had let herself stretch the truth just a bit, there was an opening for greater damage.


Maybe we need to be willing to trust God to defend himself, and instead focus on the need of the person at hand. I think of how Jesus handled the woman at the well, as also he did others, in each case addressing their need, but not equivocating on the reality of their sin. I can’t help but think that Eve would have been much more able to resist the serpent’s follow-up temptation if she had stood simply on God’s Word as it was spoken, neither weakened or amplified. And perhaps if we trust God’s difficult to swallow words enough to let them stand unaltered, then perhaps we can trust his words of grace to stand unaltered as well. And we can share that good news with more passion – and compassion.

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