Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Does Proverbs 22:28 mean we should not tear down Confederate Memorials?

There is a lot of discussion in our country right now regarding statues and monuments. Many find these monuments to be offensive because they are associated with the Confederacy and even slavery. This article is not about whether or not they should be removed, but instead this article intends to examine a passage that is often used in defense of not removing them.

The Passage
In seeking Biblical support of their position to not remove these potentially offensive memorials, some will quote (Proverbs 22:28) which reads: “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set”.

We must be careful to not quote passages we do not fully understand. The “landmarks” being referenced in this passage are not historical statues or military memorials, instead they are landmarks designating a property boundary. The Proverb writer is encouraging the reader to not rip someone off by encroaching onto their property by moving a landmark designed to designate the boundary. Most translations besides the KJV actually translate the term “landmark” as “boundary”, or “boundary stone”.

Here are some other passages that teach the same same command:

  • “Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless” (Proverbs 23:10).
  • "You shall not move your neighbor's boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess” (Deuteronomy 19:14)
  • “Cursed is he who moves his neighbor's boundary mark.' And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’” (Deuteronomy 27:17)
Let’s use the word of God properly. Let’s never fall into the trap of making the Bible say what we want it to say. Instead of speaking for God, allow God to speak to you by using the Bible the way it was meant to be used. Never just grab a verse and assume it relates to whatever cause you are promoting. Instead ask, “what does it say” and “what does it mean”, before trying to make application to a modern situation.

Proverbs 22:28 and other passages like it are great passages to teach that one should NOT deceive their neighbor in order to take what does not belong to them. This is a passage that relates to cheating, fudging the numbers and ripping people off, it has nothing to do with tearing down or not tearing down Confederate statues.