If we are honest with ourselves, all of us want the Bible to support our existing beliefs and practices. We want it to support the teachings of the religious tradition we were raised in, or are currently part of. We want it to affirm that which we think is morally right, and condemn that which we think is morally wrong. There is always a danger, then, that we will engage in hermeneutical and logical gymnastics to ensure that we can walk away from the Bible without having to change our beliefs and practices.
I often ask myself, Would I interpret this passage in this way if I had been raised in a different tradition? Would I think X is wrong or Y is right if I was Presbyterian rather than Pentecostal? Are my reasons for interpreting the Bible as I do good enough to rationally compel others to adopt my position, or just good enough to for me to feel justified in my present beliefs? Would I adopt my position if I were an outsider, listening to the same arguments? If not, why not?
While I fully understand the desire to avoid change and theological conflict with one’s religious community, truth should always be our first priority. If good hermeneutics and sound reason cause us to walk away from the Bible confirmed in our present beliefs, then great. But if good hermeneutics and sound reason require us to change our beliefs and/or practices, then so be it. Truth is more valuable than tradition.