17 Surprising Practices The Bible Discourages

17 Surprising Practices The Bible Discourages Shutterstock

The Bible is a complex text that’s very much open to interpretation (though I know some Christians would disagree with me on that). There are the well-known commandments, but also passages that challenge our ideas of how a Godly person “should” act. Whether it’s judging other people to bragging about so-called good deeds, the Bible reminds us that true spirituality lies in humility and inner transformation, not just the appearance of religious devotion. Here are some things believers (and human beings in general) should avoid doing.

1. Performing good deeds for public praise

Jesus repeatedly criticizes those who pray loudly in public or flaunt their charity for attention. True goodness, he argues, comes from a pure heart, not seeking applause or admiration from other people. It’s a reminder that virtue-signaling is the opposite of what the Bible actually promotes.

2. Obsession with rituals over relationship

The Pharisees were meticulous about religious law, Britannica notes, but they lacked compassion. Jesus emphasizes that God desires a genuine connection, not just rote adherence to rules. Empty rituals without love and kindness miss the core point entirely. What good is your religion if you have no true relationship with God?

3. Bragging about spiritual superiority

Self-righteousness was a major pet peeve for Jesus. Thinking you’re better than others due to your religious practice is the antithesis of the humility the Bible teaches. True spiritual growth involves recognizing your own flaws and extending grace to others, not feeling smug about your own piety.

4. Judging other people harshly

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” is an iconic reminder that we’re all flawed. The Bible calls repeatedly for mercy and forgiveness. Focusing on other people’s faults while ignoring your own failings is spiritual blindness, not godly conduct. Who are you to tell anyone else how to live their lives? That’s between them and God.

5. Using religion to justify cruelty

Throughout history, people have twisted Biblical passages to excuse hatred, violence, and oppression. This is a fundamental misreading. The God of the Bible is characterized by love, compassion, and justice. Using faith as a weapon against others is a profound distortion of its true meaning.

6. Proselytizing aggressively

Sharing your faith can be beautiful, but the Bible doesn’t endorse forcing it on others. Respectful dialogue and demonstrating love through actions are far more powerful than pushy conversions that prioritize winning arguments over genuinely connecting with others as unique individuals.

7. Neglecting your physical and mental health

The Bible sees our bodies as temples. While some passages discuss fasting, this is meant to be temporary, not chronic self-neglect. God wants us to flourish holistically – body, mind, and spirit. Obsessively denying yourself basic needs isn’t pious, it can be harmful. Look after your health, for goodness’ sake.

8. Spiritual bypassing

This modern term means using spiritual platitudes to avoid dealing with difficult emotions or life problems. The Bible acknowledges pain is part of being human. True spiritual maturity means facing your struggles with both faith and the tools needed to navigate them, whether that’s therapy, asking for support, or practical problem-solving.

9. Fear-based faith

While the Bible speaks of fearing God, this means reverence, not living in terror of punishment, The Guardian points out. A relationship based solely on fear misses the core message of God’s love. Obsessive worry over “sinning” can create spiritual paralysis instead of the peace and joy the Bible promises.

10. Ignoring social justice

The prophets repeatedly rail against those who are outwardly religious but ignore the plight of the poor, oppressed, and marginalized. The Bible makes it clear that true faith involves actively working for a more just and compassionate world.

11. Viewing wealth as a sign of divine favor

The Bible has complex views on money, but it repeatedly warns against greed and materialism. Some passages even suggest difficulty detaching from wealth can hinder spiritual progress. Prospering financially isn’t inherently bad, but equating it with righteousness is a harmful misconception.

12. Passivity in the face of injustice

While the Bible promotes peace, it doesn’t mean being a doormat. Turning a blind eye to evil isn’t holy. Sometimes, courageous action is required, whether it’s standing up for what’s right within your community or speaking out against broader social ills.

13. Seeing doubt as a failure


Faith and doubt often coexist. Many Biblical figures wrestled with questions and uncertainties. Struggling with big questions can ultimately deepen your faith, while pretending to have unwavering certainty can create a brittle spirituality that crumbles when challenged.

14. Confusing self-sufficiency and Godliness


Some misinterpret biblical self-discipline as not needing anyone. However, humans are designed for connection. Refusing support from loved ones or denying your own emotional needs isn’t strength; it can lead to isolation and spiritual stagnation.

15. Using your faith to control people


Whether it’s parents using religion to manipulate children or partners twisting Scripture to justify abusive behavior, this is an abhorrent abuse of faith. God gives us free will. Using the Bible as a tool for domination is the opposite of its teachings about love and respect.

16. Equating suffering with holiness


Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. While some Bible passages speak of redemptive suffering, it doesn’t glorify all hardship. Seeking to uplift those in pain is virtuous, but believing suffering automatically makes you closer to God can lead to harmful passivity in the face of avoidable problems.

17. Clinging to outdated interpretations


The Bible was written in specific historical contexts. While core truths endure, applying ancient rules rigidly to a modern world can be misguided. Discernment is vital – some traditions hold value, while it’s okay to question or discard those that cause harm or stifle growth.

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Jeff graduated from NYU with a degree in Political Science and moved to Australia for a year before eventually settling back in Brooklyn with his yellow lab, Sunny, and his girlfriend, Mia. He works in IT during the day and writes at night. In the future, he hopes to publish his own novel.