What Makes MY Ears Itch?

Progressive 48For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:3

I see this verse used a lot as a condemnation of progressive teaching, especially the current political hot-button topics. But is it aimed at progressive teaching?

But what if I applied it to myself? What do my ears itch for? What do I really wish for?

  • Not gay rights—I’m heterosexual.
  • Not justice for the poor or oppressed—I’m middle-class and white.
  • Not abortions—I’ve never had one, and I never plan to.

So what do MY itching ears want to hear?

  • That God wants ME to be rich (or at least upper-middle class), and that I’ll never worry about running out of money.
  • That if I work really hard and if I’m good, He will bless me.
  • That “those people” are bad, and I don’t have to actually get to know people who make me uncomfortable.

In other words, if I were to suit my own desires, I would seek out right-wing fundamentalist teachers. I would hear that God blesses me because I please Him (but He doesn’t bless “outsiders”). That I deserve to be comfortable because I tithe and teach Sunday school to children who look a lot like my own children. And that I can ignore or vilify anyone who makes me uncomfortable or unhappy.

It would be so much easier to sit back and enjoy my life as a “good” Christian. But Jesus wants me to care about rights for the oppressed, justice for the poor, and caring for unwanted children.  (FYI, I’m pro-life, not just pro-birth.)

So what kind of teachers was Paul talking about when he said this to Timothy? The answer is found above it, in 2 Timothy 3:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. 2 Timothy 31-4

I know some right-wing ideologues who fit this description. Do you?

Most importantly, I try not to read the Bible with other people’s sins in mind. What matters is that I don’t get too smug or selfish. I don’t assume that any Bible verse is mine to use as an attack on someone else.  All I’m called to do is love them. Yes, I have an opinion, but I believe God’s message can reach anyone, even the hopelessly rich and pious… if they’ll only listen. The only person I need to work on is ME.


5 thoughts on “What Makes MY Ears Itch?

  1. emspears

    Reblogged this on ericspearsblog and commented:
    Profound, Wisdom indeed! Following Christ is not supposed to be convenient or self-serving! …but, instead, much better yet, provides real Love, Joy and Peace leading to real happiness! So, let’s strive to obey God by loving and serving others in loving and serving God! Let’s allow God to purify our hearts and follow his actual Word (as opposed to blindly following culturally-polluted versions from the world)!



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