One might rightly challenge why a loving God would not make the Bible clearer. Misinterpretations of the Bible have led to defending racism, inequality of the sexes, or that God favors certain nations over other nations. God didn’t purposely make the Bible unclear, but can a God who values freedom make a writer’s words not subject to confusion. How can the Bible be different than other literatures, especially written over a thousand years ago by different authors in different languages, and not be subject to different interpretations by future generations? What I am writing today is subject to misunderstandings so therefore should I never write?
Let’s say it was possible to write without words being subject to confusion by the reader. If the Bible were plain in meaning would there be less selfishness in the world, which was Jesus’ main message? Nathan convicted King David of his adulterous and murderous actions though the use of an allegory. David was less likely to regret his actions with plainspoken talk. Jesus didn’t purposely use parables to confuse his audience. Parables though enable one to continue to think on a subject to eventually accept the lesson intended. Straight talk often falls on deaf ears both with children and adults. Clear meaning doesn’t always produce positive results.
There can be some benefits to lack of clarity if necessary. I often wish I knew exactly what gifts my wife wanted. I angst over what gift my wife may wish for on her birthday or special holiday. If I knew exactly what she wanted, I miss out on the greater joy of giving her the perfect gift that I discovered on my own. I would feel a void in my life if deprived of the inspiration that results from intellectual curiosity and exploration of the meaning of a biblical test. If I fully understood God and didn’t have to discover that over time, I may think less often about God rather than spend time getting to know God. Getting to know God over time allows me make changes in my life later that I may not when initially reading God’s guidance.
The problem may not be that the Bible is confusing; the bigger challenge is what we do with lack of clarity. Confusion allows me to develop in the area of charity if I should choose. Certainty has led me to push “supposed” truth onto others. The Bible isn’t always crystal clear yet we are offended when people do not accept what we think the Bible means. Clearness doesn’t always produce graciousness toward others. There is reasonable debate whether Genesis 1-11 reveals historical facts or whether writers used other literary genres to convey theological truths about God’s relationship with humans. Does clearness matter more than how we handle confusion?
Confusion would be less problematic if we all considered one another’s opinion gracefully, as long as they don’t violate the freedom of others, so to work out our own convictions with as much consistency as possible. The truth is I might be wrong, you might be wrong, or we both might be wrong. Even if God could control us both being wrong, there is so much of the Bible that is clear that we can agree on and live by. We often try to make the Bible a bunch of rules that only divide people. Lack of clarity can lead to developing charity in our life and allow us to be more engaged and dependent on God that we would otherwise. I am convinced understanding meaning over time may lead to more meaningful changes in my life when looking back.