The Bible (As Seen On TV)

By way of trying something new, as I lead the Summit students through an exploration of the Bible this summer, I’ve been starting our time by playing this series of clips posing about 25 perspectives and objections to the Bible pulled from 11 movies and TV shows (if you’re viewing this in e-mail, click here):

The students’ reaction to these clips are varied and passionate and usually lead to about 2 hours of classroom discussion where we explore (1) how much the students actually know about their Bible and (2) how their knee-jerk reactions shape the direction of the discussion and their participation in it.

It can get a bit emotional (one student refused an invitation to participate in a classroom exercise because, “I don’t like you.”), but invariably a handful of students will concede that the conversation opened their eyes to their own ignorance, the discord among their fellow Christians, and their inarticulateness about their own beliefs.

In that moment, the exercise, as lengthy as it is, seems worth it.

For those of you wanting a written list, here are the questions and objections in their order of appearance.

  1. Leviticus 18:22 calls homosexuality an “abomination”. If that’s true, then can a person to sell their daughter into slavary as is sanctioned by Exodus 21:7?
  2. Genesis 19:5 says Lot offered his two virgin daughters as an appeasement to the men of Sodom who wanted to homosexual rape the angels.
  3. God turned to Abraham, the first man to believe in Him, and asked him to Bar-B-Que his son.
  4. All monotheists are called to admire the man who was going to gut his kid to show his love of God.
  5. The Bible is “broken”, full of contradictions, false logistics, and doesn’t make sense.
  6. Leviticus 11:7 forbids people to touch the skin of a dead pig, if the players agree to wear gloves, can they still football?
  7. Noah’s Ark is a problem because you can’t fit 5,000 species of mammals on the same boat.
  8. 28% of Americans believe the Bible is literally true. Are you one of those?
  9. The Bible says slaves should submit themselves to their masters no matter how harsh. The Bible believes in slavery.
  10. Religion has convinced people that an invisible man in the sky that watches everything you do.
  11. The Bible says that if a woman has sex before she’s married, the men of the city should stone her to death.
  12. Exodus 35:2 says we should put to death a person who works on the sabbath.
  13. Does the whole town have to stone somebody for planting two different crops side-by-side?
  14. How should we burn people for wearing garments made with two different threads?
  15. Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt. Do you think that actually happened?
  16. God has a list of 10 things he doesn’t want people to do. And if you do them, he’ll send you to hell. But he loves you.
  17. If the Bible is a perfect book written by a perfect God, why does Jesus have to come along and correct his Dad?
  18. What happened to God over time that made him less about judgement and sin?
  19. Literalists are only literalists until there’s something they don’t like. Then it’s figurative.
  20. The Bible can be true even if it’s not accurate.
  21. The reason the Bible matters is because it can mean whatever you want it to mean.
  22. The Bible says a rebellious kid can be brought to the city gates and stoned to death. It says homosexuality is an abomination punishable by death. It says men can be polygamists and slavery is acceptable. That may have been the best wisdom of its time, but it’s just plain wrong by any modern standard.
  23. During the civil war, people used the same Bible and the same verses to argue for and against slavery.
  24. The Bible is about who reads it, not what it says.
  25. The Bible isn’t about making sense, it’s about believing in something.

And for those of you keeping score, the clips are pulled from the following movies and shows:

  1. The West Wing (Season 2, Episode 18) The Midterms
  2. The Big Questions (Season 4, Episode 15) Is the Bible Still Relevant Today?
  3. Louis Black Red, White and Screwed
  4. Christopher Hitchens vs. Jay Richards at Stanford University (January 27, 2008)
  5. Firefly (Episode 7) Jaynestown
  6. Real Time with Bill Maher (Season 12, Episode 18)
  7. George Carlin: You Are All Diseased
  8. The Worlds End
  9. Real Time with Bill Maher (Season 11, Episode 24)
  10. The West Wing (Season 1, Episode 14) Take This Sabbath Day
  11. The Good Wife (Season 6, Episode 3) Dear God

I’ve been very grateful for the people who have helped me with this compilation (especially Matt and Andrew, who gave me great recommendation and helpful notes). If you see a moment in a movie or TV show that discusses the Bible (pro or con), send it on over; I’d love to add it to our collection.