Everyone does it. This essay is on how to do it with style and panache. For my proof text I will use “let women keep silence in the churches” but any verse will do.
The first approach is to just ignore the scripture. Lots of scriptures get ignored. Who among us has liked the story of Zipporah to ourselves (Exodus 4:24ff)? Who has read that story?
The second approach is to get as far as reading the scripture, but to just not pay attention. Poor Zipporah. Poor Apocrypha.
The third approach is to consider whatever the scripture is to be a random accretion, best ignored in these more enlightened times. The Song of Solomon, Zipporah and 1 Cor. 14:34 often end up in that pile.
The fourth approach is to just put on the shelf any scripture that doesn’t fit our understanding. We just cut and dice the scriptures to fit our predisposed mindsets, figuring it may make sense some day, but we don’t need to worry about it for now. There are thousands of things like that. Those who actually read Zipporah’s story tend to just leave the poor lady on the shelf to be thought about later, after other things.
The fifth approach is to proof text the verse (ahh, you can see I actually know what a proof text is). Commonly 1 Cor. 14:34 is read that women should not gossip in church. Almost any verse of scripture can be re-interpreted or re-read into a different meaning — different enough that it can be ignored as having no meaning that we disagree with.
The sixth way to ignore things is to treat them as superseded. The prohibition against blended fabrics, the need for blue thread, phylacteries, the no shrimp or bacon rules, all of those were temporary and are now superseded or fulfilled. You can easily take that approach with any scripture you disagree with. Surely women were supposed to be quiet then, but it is perfectly alright for them to talk now.
The seventh way is to actually study the context and the history. “Let your women keep silence in the churches for it is not permitted unto them to speak” actually turns out to be an accretion, added to Paul’s words by a later writer. Of course the necessary documents to reliably establish that have only been available for the past twenty years or so, but if you aren’t too picky about what sources you use, you can always find a scholarly basis to alter or redact any scripture you don’t agree with.
The eighth approach is to take the scripture beyond the “proof text” view. Any meaning you disagree with is an out of context proof text and must be thought of as having a warped meaning if it disagrees with you. Many scriptures have dramatically different meanings when taken in context and not abused as proof texts. Just push context far enough and any meaning is possible — eventually diluting meaning so far as to enable you to ignore what ever it is that the scripture seems to say.
The ninth approach is to let the Spirit teach us what the scripture is intended to mean to us. D&C 91:1-6 warns us that many scriptures are meaningful only if read in that fashion.
In all of these approaches it is easy to learn that the letter of the law is seen as death, or at least inconvenient and disagreeable, the Spirit of the law as a way to live as we feel like today. Perhaps in the right way, ignoring the proof texts is the superior way to find the scriptures, in the alternative it is merely a way to turn them into a mirror that agrees with us.
Take a look. What scripture do you feel like ignoring today?
This post takes on more meaning in context with The Scriptures are a What?!