In the messy middle of the story

At the beginning of the book of Ruth, Naomi was bitter. No doubt about it. She said she was bitter. She changed her name to “Bitter.” (That’s what “Mara” means.) Preachers and writers often point to her as an example of sinful bitterness.

When many preachers and writers talk about Naomi they say that she—and you—should instead be like Joseph in the book of Genesis. After he was betrayed by his brothers, he said, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

But there are a couple of problems with this way of thinking. For one thing, when we look at the word bitter elsewhere in the Bible, we can see that the majority of the time, it’s talking about grief.  Naomi was grieving. (Untwisting Scriptures talks about what grief really is and how a lot of people don’t understand it and don’t want to acknowledge it.)
naomi-in-the-middle

And there’s another important point we should observe about Naomi in contrast to Joseph. Continue reading

Bitterness in the Bible? It’s not what you thought it was

This post is Part Three of a larger series on the Biblical concept of bitterness. Parts One and Two were published earlier this month, covering the “root of bitterness” in Hebrews and the “gall of bitterness” in Acts.

Update October 2016: The topic of bitterness is addressed at length in the new book Untwisting Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind, which you can read more about here.

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griefFar and away the most common use for the Biblical words translated “bitterness” Continue reading

The “gall of bitterness” in Acts — it isn’t resentment

In this series, I’m addressing the concept of bitterness in the Bible, how it is used to shame and blame victims of abuse who are seeking help from their churches.

The first post in this series addressed the “root of bitterness” in Hebrews, explaining how it isn’t unforgiveness, as it’s often presented to be, but is something else instead.

Update October 2016: The topic of bitterness is addressed at length in the new book Untwisting Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind, which you can read more about here.

 

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The “root of bitterness” in Hebrews–it isn’t unforgiveness

 This post is part of a much larger project  exploring the Biblical concept of “bitterness,” looking at all the occurrences of the Hebrew and Greek words as they’re used throughout the Bible.

This is important, because the accusation of “bitterness” is often used to shame and blame and silence victims and survivors of abuse. (I’ve been listening to many sermons and reading articles and books to that effect.)

I believe the Bible makes it clear that bitterness definitely doesn’t always mean what we’ve been led to think it means.

Note October 2016  Untwisting Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind, has devoted a chapter to the truth of the “root of bitterness,” reworking the information in this blog post and adding many quotations, both from those who teach it as a tool of shaming and blaming those who have been oppressed, and from those who have understood it to mean what is presented here.

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