You Decide p3: Upworthy and the Quran Experiment

Image: Tariq786 (Pixabay)

If you like social experiments, this a clever one.

People wrapped a Bible in a Quran cover and read out problematic passages to pedestrians. Condemnation of the “Islamic” passages dissolved into hilarity when they discovered the book is the Bible.

While I am inclined towards Christianity, I think the video raises up fair questions and concerns about the Bible.

However when Upworthy reported on the experiment, I was quite bothered. (Upworthy is a media company that publishes on social issues in an engaging and feel-good way.)

Upworthy’s article:

Quran passages or Bible verses? People react negatively — and then learn the truth.

Here are some Biblical passages the article writer says were used in the social experiment.



“A woman should live in quietness and full submission.”

No Biblical references are provided by the video or article. The quote seems to be from 1 Timothy 2:11.

1 Timothy 2:11 (NIV):

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.”

Question 1:

You may disagree with the verse. However, do these two sentences mean the same thing? If not, what is the difference?




“If you reject my commands and abhor my laws, you will eat the flesh of your own sons. And your own daughters.”

Question 2a:

What do you think that verse means?

No Biblical reference was provided in the video or article. It seems to be a combination of Leviticus 26:15 and Leviticus 26:29.

Leviticus 26:15 (NIV):

15 and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant,

Leviticus 26:29 (NIV):

29 You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.

Here is the full chapter of Leviticus 26 with <comments> based on my understanding.

Leviticus 26 (NIV) :


26 “‘Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the Lord your God.

“‘Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.

<Blessings for obedience>

“‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.

“‘I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country. You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.

“‘I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. 10 You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. 11 I will put my dwelling place[a] among you, and I will not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.

<Reminder of past blessings>

13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.

<Punishments for disobedience>

14 “‘But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands,15 and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant,16 then I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. 17 I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.

<Incremental punishment>

18 “‘If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. 19 I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. 20 Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of your land yield their fruit.

21 “‘If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve. 22 I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted.

23 “‘If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me, 24 I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over. 25 And I will bring the sword on you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands. 26 When I cut off your supply of bread, ten women will be able to bake your bread in one oven, and they will dole out the bread by weight. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied.

27 “‘If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, 28 then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over.29 You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies[b] on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you. 31 I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings. 32 I myself will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled. 33 I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. 34 Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. 35 All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it.

36 “‘As for those of you who are left, I will make their hearts so fearful in the lands of their enemies that the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight. They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and they will fall, even though no one is pursuing them. 37 They will stumble over one another as though fleeing from the sword, even though no one is pursuing them. So you will not be able to stand before your enemies. 38 You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you. 39 Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their ancestors’ sins they will waste away.

<God remembers his covenant with Israel if they repent and pay for their sins>

40 “‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. 44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the Lord their God. 45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the Lord.’”

<The commands are between God and Israel.>

46 These are the decrees, the laws and the regulations that the Lord established at Mount Sinai between himself and the Israelites through Moses.

Question 2b:

Going back to your answer in 2a, has your understanding of the verses changed?

For me…

<I think the other verses mix some good in with the bad.>

<I’m still freaked out by the really severe punishment and suffering promised for breaking the covenant (v. 14-39) brrr…>

<God’s promise to remember his covenant with Israel, if they repent (v.40-45) is comforting but still scary.>

<I’m thinking, if the agreement was between the Israelites and God, what is the connection to Christianity? They’re in the same book / they’re about the same God?>




“I don’t allow for a woman to teach. You will have to cut off her hand. Do not forgive her.”

No Biblical reference was provided by the video or the article. The quote seems to be a combination of 1 Timothy 2:12 and Deuteronomy 25:12.

1 Timothy 2:12 (NIV):

I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.”

Deuteronomy 25:12 (NIV):

11If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, 12you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

Question 3:

You may not approve of the verses. However, does Upworthy’s quote mean the same as 1 Timothy 2:12 and Deuteronomy 25:12?

Additional info:

Video subtitles (0.51 – 0:57)

I don’t allow for a woman to teach. (video cuts to next shot) You will have to cut off her hand. (video cuts to next shot) Do not forgive her.

<Upworthy could have assumed the video was discussing the same passage in all three scenes. That’s poor journalism though.>


QUOTE 4 (a fairly complete quote by Upworthy):


“If two men sleep with each other, they will both have to be killed.”

Leviticus 20:13 (NIV)

13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Question 4:

What are your thoughts on this command?

For me…

<I think there is a discussion to be had about gay sexuality, and the experience of gay men and their struggle. It seems very harsh to hold this standard on them.

<However, it is noteworthy imo that’s from the Old Testament, and in the New Testament we see this:

1 Corinthians 6 : 9-11 (NIV):

9Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with mena 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

<Paul is speaking to men who had had sex with men. No mention of execution. Mention of already being sanctified by Jesus. That’s hopeful imo.>

<Maybe the New Testament supersedes the punishments prescribed in the Old Testament.>



Final Question:

Overall, do you think Upworthy’s article accurately represented the Bible verses?

  • If you think yes, what am I missing?
  • If you think no, do such quotes unfairly affect the public perception of Christianity?


Thoughts appreciated.




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