No, I don’t really believe that God doesn’t like red. Quite the opposite, actually.
But… if I am careless (and biased) in my approach to biblical interpretation, I can make a pretty strong case from the Bible that God doesn’t like red. He might even hate it!
“Guilty-By-Association”?Ask a preacher about what God thinks about nakedness, and you’ll almost always hear, “Throughout the Bible, you’ll find nakedness associated with shame. Therefore, nakedness is shameful and wrong.” In other words, Nakedness is Guilty-by-Association.
To start with, it’s worth observing that they will not point you to any Scripture passage which simply and clearly condemns nudity. In fact we can make quite a list of “rules” about nudity that are not found in the bible.
- No verse that forbids you to see others naked.
- No verse that warns you against allowing anyone to see you naked.
- No verse that says you can see your spouse naked.
- No verse that says doctors are permitted to see their patients naked.
- No verse that says how young your child may be and still see you naked.
So, they have to utilize the next best thing… the Guilty-by-Association argument.
“Guilty-by-Association” on TrialOK… let me say up front that I don’t believe “guilty by association” is any proof of “guilt” at all. Scripture interpretations based on “Guilty-by-Association” are false. I know of no teaching about moral standards—accepted among biblical Christians as doctrinally sound—which is based solely on the “guilty by association” argument.
Wait… I know of one… the argument against social nudity. That’s the only one.
But if “Guilty-by-Association” is not accepted for any other moral teaching, why is it accepted for this one issue? Is “Guilty-by-Association” actually is a sound interpretational means to discern God’s moral perspective on a matter?
If “Guilty-by-Association” is a valid way to interpret the Bible, then God hates RED. And I can prove it!
God Hates RED!A survey of the Bible shows how the color red is associated with sin or sinfulness.
In the Old Testament:
- Isa. 1:18 - “Come now, and let us reason
together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.
- Obviously, God wants us to know that sin is associated with the color red, for He repeats Himself, comparing sin to scarlet AND crimson.
- Numbers 19:1-10 – This law calls for the slaughter of a Red Heifer for the sin of the Israelites.
The entire animal was to be burned (no eating any part of it) along with some
- The priest who performed the sacrifice was to be considered unclean. Being unclean is obviously not a good thing.
- Likewise, the one who gathered up the ashes after it was burned was to be considered unclean.
- Proverbs 23:31 – “Do not look on the wine when it is
- God’s disdain for the color even extends to what we drink.
- Genesis 25:25 - “Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau.”
In the New Testament:
- Matthew 6:13 – Jesus said, ‘There will be a storm today,
for the sky is red and
- Bad weather is associated with the color red.
- Rev. 6:4 – “And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on
it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would
slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.”
- The Second Horseman of the Apocalypse, sitting on a red horse, bringing war, and death.
- Rev. 12:3 – “Then another sign appeared in
heaven: and behold, a great red
dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on
his heads were seven diadems.”
- This perhaps the most damning verse of all, for red is the color of the Dragon… Satan himself!
It’s Innate!This is something that God has built into every person, too. Think of these facts about how we respond to the color red in our lives:
- We naturally recoil at the sight of blood, which is red.
- When someone gets very angry, we describe them as “seeing red.”
- If our financial ledgers have a negative balance, we are “in the red.”
- We use red to tell people to STOP!! And no one likes to be told to stop.
- Red is the sign for danger.
- Red is color of destructive fire.
- Women painted with red lipstick are a source of temptation to lust for men.
The Christian who wishes to live a life pleasing to God will judiciously eliminate red from his or her life.
STOP!!Everything I’ve just written about how God hates the color red is utter poppycock.
Terrible, terrible interpretation.
And it’s because I’ve invoked the “Guilty-by-Association” argument.
“Guilty-By-Association” Fails the TestLet’s look at how bad it is and why it’s so wrong.
- I was prooftexting. I searched for and cherry-picked verses that I could somehow twist into supporting my pre-determined conclusion. If it didn’t support my point, I skipped it.
- And that brings me to my next error… there were many references to red in the Bible that are NOT associated with sin or anything bad. So if red is not always associated with sin or bad things, the color itself cannot be the issue!
- I lifted the passages completely out of context. I quoted only that portion which I deemed to support my conclusion. Esau was not rejected by God because he had red hair. The red sky at night (as opposed to the morning) indicated good weather to come. There were four horsemen, each on a different color horse.
- I focused on the color to the exclusion of any other part of each passage, making it sound like the color was THE reason the text indicated anything sinful or bad.
- I paid no attention at all to the fact that there are multiple words that are translated as “red” in the Bible. They are not all used the same way.
- I completely ignored the fact that red is a natural color found abundantly in creation… utilized to great beauty in the natural (and very good!) world!
- Finally, NONE of the passage were in ANY way given to us to communicate God’s attitude towards the color red!
God knows how to declare His standards of conduct. His clear words of moral absolutes are found throughout the Bible. When God doesn’t clearly call something sin or forbid it, then we must not presume to “add it in” using a spurious or false argument to support it.
Nakedness is not a new thing among humans. It is simply inconceivable that God would have failed to clearly state his will regarding nakedness if He really did wish to forbid it (see Inconceivable Omission).
Let’s review how those who use “Guilty-by-Association” make the same sort of errors that I made trying to prove that God hates red…
- They use prooftexting. I have seen many people simply list Scripture references rather than present clear interpretation of those verses based on the context. If they do quote a verse, they never present it in its context. When I respond to such folks, I take the scripture reference they’ve given me and quote it back to them in its full context (with an explanation of what it really means), I simply get no reply back! Prooftexting always fails the test of careful and honest exegesis.
- There ARE verses in the Bible that present nakedness without any shame or sin associated! Sadly, many of them have been translated out of the English language Bible (See Squeamish Translating) so that the references to nudity that remain in the English translations are mostly negative (Seriously...see Squeamish Translating)! Studying the matter by consulting the original languages reveals this bias against nudity and deals a blow to the “Guilty-by-Association” effort. The fact is, unless all occasions of nudity are equally “shameful,” we cannot conclude that the nakedness is the de facto source of the shame.
- Passages about nudity are often lifted out of context. Most notably is the teaching against incest in Leviticus 18… which uses the euphemism “uncover the nakedness of…” for incest (since there is no Hebrew word for “incest”). The phrase absolutely and unequivocally refers to having sexual relations with a close (“blood”) relative (reiterated 4 times in the passage… see Lev. 18:6, 12-13, 17) . Yet those who have pre-determined that the Bible forbids social nudity do not hesitate to rip that phrase in Leviticus 18 right out of its context in their attempt to declare social nudity to be immoral (see also The Meaning of Nakedness).
- Opponents of social nudity regularly quote passages of Scripture that deal with nakedness and shame and they invariably assign the shame to the nakedness rather than the behavior of the “shamed” person. The truth is this… every time there’s shame associated with nakedness, there is ALSO a description of the person’s shameful and sinful behavior! It is indefensible to focus on one aspect of an account and presume that it alone is the source for the shame related in the text.
- There are a number of words in the Old Testament that refer to a person being without clothes. Here’s another very significant FACT about nakedness in the Bible… of all the Hebrew words that reference nudity, only ONE (ervah) is ever associated with sin and shame! That observation by itself should tell us that simple nudity is not the moral problem Bible people seem to want it to be (see The Meaning of Nakedness).
- Opponents of social nudity conveniently ignore the fact that God created Adam and Eve (and all of the other creatures in the world) to live naked and unashamed. It was so significant to His “very good” creation that it merited a special mention in Genesis 2:25. This very positive attitude about His naked creation—expressed by the One who cannot change—is completely ignored and/or discounted. God didn’t change His attitude about the naked human form… people did! (see Who Hates Nudity… God or Satan?)
- Finally, there’s not ONE passage in all the Bible expressly given to us in order to inform us of God’s moral view of nakedness (with the possible exception of Genesis 2:25, which affirms the goodness of nakedness). Therefore, each and every passage cherry-picked to make a guilty-by-association argument against nakedness is a passage that was not given to us for that purpose! Again, if God wanted to tell us what His moral opinion is about simple nudity, He could have, and He would have. But He didn’t.
We Must Not Be Hermeneutically LazyYes, we can all see that there are passages where nakedness and shame are closely associated. But nothing is “Guilty-by-Association” when we study the Bible to determine moral truth. Not even for nakedness. It is simply irresponsible and lazy if someone is willing to accept superficial conclusions about nudity based solely on the Guilty-by-Association argument.
As it turns out, “Guilty-by-Association” is the only argument that’s ever been available for use against social nudity, so it’s the only one that anyone has ever heard. It’s been repeated so frequently that no one ever pays attention to the fact that very foundation of the argument is false. Nor do they bother to examine its conclusions and put them under honest hermeneutical scrutiny.
“Guilty-by-Association” is false. It is always false. And it’s high time that solid and trustworthy teachers of the Bible be honest enough about it to lay it aside… even if it means giving up their opposition to nudity.
— Matthew Neal