Textjackers: Justifying Violence with the Bible

Youth Daily Devotional Blog: 06/25

Written by: Intern Sam B. Nguyen
Scripture Reading: Luke 4:9-13

Content Warning: Violence, Holocaust, Slavery

One of the most common themes of Western history is the use of the bible to justify absolutely horrible things. During World War II, Nazi-dominated Germany used Matthew 27:24-25 to morally justify the slaughter of over a million Jewish people. Before that, Ephesians 6:5 was used to justify the enslavement of Black men and woman throughout American history. Pretty regularly today, Matthew 26:11 has been used to justify the continued abuse done against those in poverty. Like it or not, our book has been used throughout history to manipulate Christians and violently attack those living on the margins of society. Robert E. Van Voorst, an American theologian, calls these justifications “textjacking”, where someone pulls a piece of the bible out of context and uses it to justify terrible things.

Even Satan knows the bible. I think that this passage illustrates that in frightening clearness. Here, Jesus and the Devil meet face to face, and the Devil attempts to persuade Jesus to act against God. To us, it’s pretty clear who is the good guy and the bad guy, but what’s interesting is that they both quote the bible. The Devil uses it to justify a number of things that would be against God’s will, but Jesus proves that he knows the bible better, and calls the Devil out on his “textjacking”. Even today, we see people using the bible to justify violent acts, taken without the love and grace that is at the core of God’s relationship with humanity. If we are not careful in how we understand the bible, we might find ourselves believing textjackers rather than what God actually wants for us.