Fee and Stuart do, however, agree that the Bible has what they call "historical particularity," meaning that it is conditioned by language, time, and culture. When reading and interpreting the Bible, they say it is important to first consider the way it was intended for its original audience, and then move into speculation as to how and why it's relevant today.
With this in mind, I could refute many of Knust's arguments by quoting biblical commentaries, pastors, and sermon notes that show how Ruth's encounter with Boaz was not a seduction scene, but a business arrangement. The very idea of it being a seduction does not fit within the larger context of the story, and the story itself likely wasn't meant to be an endorsement of premarital sex.
I could also quote Pastor Darren Rouanzoin, of The Garden Church in Long Beach, Calif., who argues that David and Jonathan could not have been anything more than friends because Jewish culture never would have supported it, and certainly wouldn't have recorded and celebrated their sexual union. In fact, the Life Application Bible says that homosexuality was subject to the death penalty at that point in Jewish history. I Went From Muslim To Jewish For Love
Perhaps the Bible doesn't contradict itself nearly as much as Knust thought.
However, in arguing against Knust's claims, I also want to be sensitive to her overarching premise—that the Bible needs to stop being misused in the name of "cruelty masquerading as righteousness." And truly, it does. But that was never God's intention for it.
Let's look at Knust's injustice—being labeled a slut. Throughout all four of the Gospels, we see Jesus encountering prostitutes and adulterers. Never once does he call any of them sluts. On the contrary, he shows them great mercy and tells them their sins are forgiven on account of their faith in him. When a crowd wanted Jesus to condemn an adulterous woman, he forgives her instead: "'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her'" (John 8:7 NIV). When no one steps forward, he continues: "'Neither do I condemn you,' Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin'" (v. 11).
Jesus also never forces his ideas down anyone's throat. You will not find him manipulating or begging people to believe in him, and he certainly isn't in the business of controlling their behavior. In Matthew Chapter 7, Jesus makes it clear that if a person insists he wants nothing to do with his teachings, he will honor that person's request. But if a person wants the the light of life, he must simply ask: "'Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you'" (Matthew 7:7, NIV). Jesus shares with people his knowledge and tells them they would be wise to listen and obey. Then, he gives them space to either follow him or walk away. But above all, his approach is love. Is This You? 10 Personality Types Who Struggle To Find True Love
In 1 Corinthians 13, it says that love is patient and kind and that it does not keep a record of wrongs. It says that love forgives all things. If God is love, as the Bible says he is, then he regards all people with a loving attitude—even when we make poor decisions, when we ignore his word, or when we mess up. He shows us love, and that is what he expects us to show each other.
Oddly enough, Knust spends 248 pages discussing sex, desire, marriage, and celibacy, but she never once mentions anything about love. However, love is what I think she is ultimately referring to when she suggests that we stop using the Bible to justify the mistreatment of others. Rather than trying to discredit the Bible as a whole, perhaps Knust should have illustrated this: That it's not the word of God that's fallible, but the people who interpret it that are.
Consider this scene where Jesus is questioned about the greatest commandment of all—the one the whole of humankind should always remember. He gives two: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV).
Love your neighbor as yourself. Notice it's not "judge your neighbor if you don't agree with him" or "openly condemn your neighbor's actions..." Love. Jesus likens loving your neighbor to loving the God of the universe.
If ever a biblical interpretation leads people to act unloving towards each other, then there's something wrong with their interpretation. Make no mistake, Jesus is a proponent of love. He is love.
So what about Knust's book? Well, the takeaway of it, for me, is this: Greet everyone you meet with love. Even if we don't agree with the gay lifestyle, or having premarital sex, or getting abortions, we must regard people who partake in them with a spirit of kindness, humility, and love. That, I think, is what Knust was ultimately trying to do and say in her book. And although I may find fault with the majority of her other claims, on that particular point, I wholeheartedly agree.