I found myself on the receiving end of yet another email from a loved one, with a cherry-picked Bible verse designed to bully the reader.
This time I responded.
Here is the email I received, with the personal message, "I thought you might like this":
Left & Right...
Origin of Left & Right...
I have often wondered why it is that Conservatives are called the "right" and Liberals are called the "left".
By chance I stumbled upon this verse in the Bible:
"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)
Thus sayeth the Lord. Amen.
Can't get any simpler than that.
Now A Spelling Lesson
The last four letters in American..........I Can
The last four letters in Republican........I Can
The last four letters in Democrats.........Rats
End of lesson. Test to follow in November, 2014
Remember, November is to be set aside as rodent removal month.
I always try to respond with composure, although the little spelling lesson tempted me to make a comment about having a battle of wits with an unarmed person. However, I managed to refrain.
Here is my response:
You thought I'd like this? Not at all, I don't like petty, mean-spirited forwards which are designed to make other people feel bad. I don't believe that bullying others is part of God's way. It can be very good to have one's own, strong beliefs, but it's not appropriate to expect or try to force others to have the same beliefs, not in a free country.
Anyone who plays the game with quotations like this one, might want to remember from biology class that the heart is situated slightly to the left. And one can only assume that is what God intended.
And it is also important to remember that the brain is what controls the actions of the body. And as I am sure you remember from school, it is the left hemisphere of the brain that controls the right side of the body (and vice versa.) So one could just as easily say that the left brain is always right!
It's important to remember that many statements in the Bible were based on cultural idiosyncrasies at the time, which no longer make sense in the context of modern life. Back in biblical days, right-handedness was considered to be "correct," whereas left-handedness was considered to be "wrong," most likely because few people were left-handed.
Thankfully, schools no longer force left-handed children to become right-handed! But ancient associations with right and left often go back to these erroneous concepts that left-handed people are somehow bad and wrong, and this is related to our phrase, "left-handed compliment."
Also, due to primitive hygiene at the time, in many places it was customary to eat with the right hand and perform personal hygiene with the left. This is true for Hindus, Muslims and probably a number of other cultures - and it makes perfect sense in a world with no running water, toilet paper or antibacterial hand gel! So this probably saved many lives, but of course it is a custom that would not make much sense to follow today. Therefore these things must always be considered within their original context.
Also, in the ancient world, the right hand implies or symbolizes strength, and this makes sense, because most people are right-handed, and therefore their right hands are stronger.
Upon thoughtful inspection, what the author (usually thought to be Solomon) seems to be saying in your Bible verse, is that the wise person's heart inclines them to do the right (handed) or strong, thing. And the fool's heart inclines them to do the foolish, left (handed) or weak, thing.
What seems so sad to me is that many of the people who forward emails like this don't bother to think these things through. Many seem to just jump for the most mean-spirited definition designed to mock and deride anyone who thinks differently, and then smugly forward the email. I doubt that they even realize that thoughtful people on the receiving end of these emails can easily figure out what is going on.