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1 Kings 14:10 and red letter Bibles

By Scott Tibbs, December 10, 2012

Much of what we find in Scripture is scandalous to us today, so what we do is either not deal with it at all or we try to "clean it up" or explain it away. Such things ought not to happen among believers in Jesus Christ.

One example is 1 Kings 14:10, which contains a phrase that is used several times in the King James version - that God will destroy every one that "pisseth against the wall." Other translations "clean up" the language of the verse, so as not to use the "vulgar" language the KJV uses. Those translations describe God's impending judgment against the "males" of the house. But why? Are we more polite than God?

(On a side note, I am not a KJV-only person. I have no quarrel with any other translation that faithfully translates the original text.)

Here's the issue: If we believe the Bible is the inerrant and inspired Word of God, then we cannot simply "clean up" or ignore those parts that make us blush in "polite" society. Of course, given how course and obscene our culture has become - especially with the near-universal availability of hardcore pornography on the Internet, including really strange and downright nasty things - the idea that "pisseth against the wall" makes us blush is downright silly.

Our desire to trim scripture goes well beyond a phrase in 1 Kings. A friend of mine told me once he does not like red letter Bibles, because it elevates the words of Jesus above the rest of Scripture to the point that it allows us to ignore the rest of the Bible. "Well, Jesus did not say this or that," pagans and liberal Christians say, so it must be OK.

There are two huge problems with this. First, all Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and should be revered. Second, Jesus traveled and preached for three years. The Gospels do not cover every word He said, so it is silly to assume that we know what He did not say.

I personally like red-letter Bibles and I always use one. That is a personal preference. But we must be very careful to hold all Scripture in high regard, not just the words printed with red Ink. There is a huge amount of helpful and applicable teaching in the Bible printed in black ink, and we should not ignore it simply because it is convenient for us to pretend to be hyper-spiritual and only follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.