28 Bible Verses That Even the Most Devout Find Hard to Explain

SharePinEmailThe Bible is revered as the word of God and a guide to faith and morality, and yet numerous passages spark debate, confusion, and sometimes controversy even among the most devout believers. Here’s a run down of some of the most challenging scriptural passages and the questions they raise. God’s Order for Abraham to Sacrifice…

The Bible is revered as the word of God and a guide to faith and morality, and yet numerous passages spark debate, confusion, and sometimes controversy even among the most devout believers. Here’s a run down of some of the most challenging scriptural passages and the questions they raise.

God’s Order for Abraham to Sacrifice Isaac

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One of the most perplexing stories is when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. This story from Genesis raises questions about divine morality and human obedience. How could a loving God demand such a test of faith?

The Curse of Ham

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In Genesis, Noah curses his grandson Canaan, son of Ham, to a life of servitude. This passage has been historically misinterpreted to justify slavery and racial discrimination, which contradicts the broader Biblical message of love and equality.

Lot’s Wife and the Pillar of Salt

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When Lot’s wife turns back to look at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, she’s turned into a pillar of salt, a harsh punishment for a seemingly small act and the cause of much fierce debate on the nature of divine justice.

Jephthah’s Vow

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In the Book of Judges, Jephthah promises to sacrifice the first thing that comes out of his house if he wins a battle. Tragically, his daughter greets him, and he feels compelled to fulfill his vow.

God-Ordered Genocides

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The Old Testament contains several accounts of God ordering the Israelites to annihilate entire populations, including women and children. These passages, such as those in Joshua, pose significant ethical dilemmas.

The Binding of Women

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Paul’s letters in the New Testament, particularly in 1 Timothy, contain instructions that women should be silent and submissive in churches, and this has been a particularly contentious issue, especially in the context of modern gender equality.

Imprecatory Psalms

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The Psalms are known for their beautiful poetry and expressions of faith, but some, like Psalm 137, include curses and calls for violence against enemies, which can be jarring and difficult to reconcile with the overall message of love and forgiveness.

David and Bathsheba

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King David’s affair with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband Uriah is a scandalous story, as well as a serious examination of morality, power, and repentance, as well as God’s justice.

The Rape of Dinah

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The story of Dinah in Genesis 34 involves her being raped by Shechem, who then wants to marry her. The subsequent violent revenge by her brothers complicates the narrative with themes of honor and justice.

The Flood

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God’s decision to flood the entire world, sparing only Noah and his family, is a dramatic and devastating judgment, dealing with profound ideas such as divine mercy and wrath.

Job’s Suffering

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The Book of Job tackles the problem of suffering and the justice of God. Job, a righteous man, endures immense pain and humiliation as part of a divine test. This narrative explores the depths of faith and the reasons behind human suffering.

Jesus Cursing the Fig Tree

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In the New Testament, Jesus curses a fig tree for not bearing fruit out of season, causing it to wither. This seemingly uncharacteristic act has puzzled many readers regarding its symbolic meaning.

Elisha and the Bears

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The prophet Elisha curses a group of boys who mock him, and they are mauled by bears. This violent episode from 2 Kings is disturbing and difficult to justify.

The Story of Tamar

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One particularly complex story from Genesis deals with themes of justice, deception, and survival, as Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah, disguises herself as a prostitute to seduce Judah and secure her rights.

Concubines and Polygamy

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The Old Testament contains numerous accounts of polygamy and the use of concubines by prominent figures like King Solomon, practices that conflict with modern views on marriage and relationships.


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Passages like those in Leviticus and Romans that condemn homosexual acts have been used to justify discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals and prove to be highly controversial in contemporary discussions on sexuality and faith.

End Times Prophecies

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The Book of Revelation is filled with vivid and often terrifying imagery about the end times. Interpreting these prophecies has led to much debate and speculation throughout history.

Paul’s Views on Slavery

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Paul’s letters, such as Philemon and Ephesians, seem to accept the institution of slavery and have frequently been misused to justify the practice.

Divine Plagues

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The ten plagues of Egypt described in Exodus, including the death of the firstborn, reveal God’s power but also raise ethical concerns about collective punishment and suffering.

Jacob’s Deception

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Jacob deceives his father Isaac to receive his brother Esau’s blessing. Followed by Jacob’s eventual favor with God, this act of trickery poses many questions about morality and divine favoritism.

Wars in the Old Testament

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Many wars described in the Old Testament, often portrayed as divinely sanctioned, challenge modern readers to reconcile these violent episodes with the message of peace and love found elsewhere in the Bible.

Ritual Cleanliness Laws

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Leviticus contains numerous laws about ritual cleanliness, including menstruation and childbirth. Such ideas are viewed as archaic and outdated in the modern world.

Judas’s Betrayal and Suicide

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Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus and subsequent suicide is a dark and tragic part of the New Testament wrestling with complex issues about guilt, repentance, and forgiveness.

Saul and the Witch of Endor

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King Saul’s consultation with a witch to summon the spirit of Samuel is a strange and controversial story from 1 Samuel, touching on themes of necromancy, desperation, and divine will.

The Virgin Birth

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The concept of the Virgin Birth of Jesus, central to Christian belief, is a miraculous event that has been the subject of much theological debate and skepticism over the centuries.

The Role of Women

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Throughout the Bible, women’s roles are often depicted in ways that conflict with modern understandings of gender equality. Stories like those of Deborah, Esther, and Mary Magdalene portray diverse and sometimes contradictory views on women.

The Nephilim

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The mysterious Nephilim mentioned in Genesis as the offspring of the “sons of God” and human women have sparked various interpretations and myths, leading to speculative theology.

The Tower of Babel

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The tale of the Tower of Babel explains the origin of different languages but also explores themes of human pride and divine intervention in human affairs.

The Bible remains a complex and multifaceted text that continues to inspire, challenge, and provoke thought among its readers. These controversial passages unveil the rich array of stories and teachings that make the Bible a profound and enduring work.

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