Thursday, December 20, 2012

Preaching about scriptures we'd rather ignore

This billboard appeared last March in Harrisburg, Pa.  According to a Religion News Service story, it was paid for by a local chapter of American Atheists in response to the state legislature declaring 2012 as “the year of the Bible.”

This is why we need to preach and teach about these kinds of verses in the Bible. I try to periodically preach about passages of Scripture I'd rather ignore. Not long ago I did a sermon on Ephesians 5:22 "Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord."

After that sermon I got an anonymous letter postmarked at a North Carolina post office from someone visiting Foundry who told me they had not heard the gospel preached that Sunday. I take that kind of response seriously, because if I haven't preached the gospel I haven't done my job. But it did occur to me that a sermon that is not gospel or good news to one person may be good news to someone else.

At any rate, I believe we need to help folk with these kinds of verses. They maybe do not make the most giddily inspiring sermons but we need to deal with these texts.  


  1. I have very mixed feelings about your decision to preach on Ephesians 5:22. On the one hand, I understand that you are concerned that otherwise we will form our own views and reach very negative conclusions about the Bible. On the other hand, having just read your blog and sermon, I'm thanking my lucky star that I wasn't in church that week. As a newcomer who was not yet aware of your true attitude toward women, I would have walked out after the reading of the passage in Ephesians. I would never have heard or read your sermon, and would never have returned to Foundry. I would have advised everyone I met who believes in the equality of men and women to avoid your church. So, perhaps it would be good to preface the reading of any "scriptures we'd rather ignore" with a very clear statement that the superficial meaning of the scripture is not what the pastors at Foundry believe and that more details will be provided during the sermon.

    Even now, having read your sermon and learned more about your attitudes from other sermons that I've heard you give, I feel sucker punched by the Ephesians reference. I had been going to return to Foundry next Sunday, but now find myself dreading what other scriptures will be read.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't read them or preach about them, just that this is a concern for me. It might be different for people who have been at Foundry for longer.

    Do you have other sermons online? If so, where? I would like to read more.

  2. Yes. I get this. When we did a five part series on "What we can learn from scriptures we wish weren't in the Bible," we used other scripture lessons rather than the ones we were discussing. It probably would have been good to do that here as well. That series was in August 2010 and you can find links to those sermons here

    thanks for your comment.

  3. Thanks for the link to your past sermons. I'll start reading those now.

    For what it's worth, I did go to church on Sunday, and was relieved to find both the scriptures and the sermon inoffensive. You got me thinking about changes I would like to make in my life. However, learning to like Ephesians is not one of those changes. ;-)

  4. I've now read your sermons, and found them very informative. I was especially blown away by the bit about how diakonos has been translated differently depending on whether the person being referred to was male or female.

    By the way, none of the audio recordings on the sermon page were working. That isn't a problem when it comes to your sermons, since you have the text online too, but there were a few sermons by other pastors that don't have either a transcript or a functioning audio recording.

  5. Thanks, MZF. Our staff checked the audio and it worked for them. Do us a favor and email ahammer at if it still doesn't work so he can figure out what's going on.