Grow where you are planted … and other “granny scriptures”

One lesson my professor taught in my homiletics class back in 1989 was to make sure you did your background research on your text/topic thoroughly to avoid relying on “granny scriptures” as the authority behind your main points.

A “granny scripture,” he explained, was something that granny said so often everyone accepted was in scripture and had as much authority. A favourite, and most worn out cliché, example is, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” There’s no such text or principle cited or taught in scripture.

If you rely on a “granny scripture” as your main point then, to use the modern meme parlance, you are relying on #alternativefacts and #fakenews. You’re not relying on fact or truth.

Another popular meme is, “grow where you’re planted” or “bloom where you’re planted.” This meme is used to advocate against proactive change. It might something go something like, “Be happy and content with your lot. You’re being ungrateful if you try to change your circumstances.

Often actual scripture is cited to support this notion, the most frequent used is 1 Corinthians 7. The context the entire letter addresses is that societal status is not an excuse for the prejudice occurring in Corinth or the resulting in-fighting among the church community there. Free citizens don’t outrank slaves, married do not have more importance than singles etc. in the church economy. Paul’s point, in chapter 7, is you won’t overcome prejudice by changing your social status.

He is not advocating the meme of seeking change is wrong. This is shown by his caveat statements, about the difference between the enslaved and the free in v.21 of “if you can gain your freedom, do so” and v.23 “do not become slaves of human beings.

There’s nothing in this chapter that advocates, if you’re a victim of domestic abuse, stay in the marriage and bloom where you’re planted. Or, if you’re working for a dishonest or unethical employer, stay in the job and bloom where you’re planted. As a couple of examples.

What if the legislators, like William Wilberforce, who lobbied against slavery had ‘bloomed where they were planted’? What if the Allies fighting against Nazi Germany had bloomed where they were planted instead of fighting on the  beaches, fighting on the landing grounds etc.?

Bloom where you’re planted, sounds noble and altruistic. But it is, often, self destructive. A more accurate application of 1 Corinthians 7, that isn’t a “granny scripture,” would be the well known Serenity Prayer.

“God, Give us the grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed, Courage
to change the things which should be changed,
And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”

Advertisements