Life Verses

verseWhile it’s unclear where the tradition began, it is now an accepted rule that every fundamentalist is required to come up with some passage of Scripture that they can claim as a “life verse.” The earlier this is done, the better. Not having a life verse by the time one enters high school is tantamount to a confession of being a reprobate. Although how exactly a sixteen-year-old is suppose to know which bit of the Bible is going to have the most relevance for the rest of their life is somewhat of a mystery.

Being without a life verse results in a great deal of awkwardness. There are few things worse for the unversed fundy then having a youth leader or pastor ask everyone in a group to share their life verse and what it means to them. The only solution at that point is to mumble Jeremiah 33:3 and stand in shame as the other kids rattle off much more spiritually obscure passages from the minor prophets.

Many questions surround the logistics of life verses. Is it cheating to steal the life verse of a famous pastor? Is one allowed to change their life verse if they grow up and find out the one they picked in kindergarten is actually a promise to national Israel to be carried out during the millennial reign? Can a person use a “life verse” that is only half a verse long? Is it too ostentatious of an aspiring preacher boy to have a “life paragraph” or “life chapter”?

As for me, my life verse is and will remain Matthew 19:12. It’s a great conversation starter at fundamentalist picnics.

19 thoughts on “Life Verses”

  1. LOL! I knew several people who had Jude 1:22 as a life verse, which I thought was weird until I realized that “diakrino” (to contend, waver, doubt) was translated in the KJV as “making a difference.” So I guess they thought it meant something like “Your compassion can make a difference.” Oops. 🙂

    1. Ugh. I heard sooo many fundy sermons about how compassion makes a difference before I realized that the KJV translation was too outdated to make sense in this passage.
      That was actually the realization that prompted my move to the NASB and eventually the ESV. I’ve never owned a KJV since.

  2. It used to amaze me that people would have their Bible’s signed by some famous fundy and the signature always had a Bible verse attached (I assume that it was their life verse).

  3. Ezekiel 23:20 also makes a good life verse. And if you really really want to mess with a fundy read it from the NIV. =) Lets just say its not something from Sunday school class.

  4. Well, I must make a confession. I am a fundy without a life verse. I have some favorite verses that are a comfort to me or that are a blessing, but no life verse. You can imagine the pain this has caused me in my life since I attended a Christian Elementary/Jr. High/High School/College. Strangely enough, I was never asked why I didn’t have a life verse. I wonder if anyone was concerned by this lack in my life?

  5. Darrell, you left you one key point: the ideal life verse is one that has been ripped out of its context with complete disregard for pesky little details like proper hermeneutics. Even better if you can pick one that is not only ripped out of context, but is also at odds with your particular theological position (e.g., the dispensational separation of the various covenants). And of course, that’s not to forget that in addition to having a life verse, every good fundy is also expected to have a favorite book of the Bible.

    1. the ideal life verse is one that has been ripped out of its context with complete disregard for pesky little details like proper hermeneutics.

      that was my point when I asked “Is one allowed to change their life verse if they grow up and find out the one they picked in kindergarten is actually a promise to national Israel to be carried out during the millennial reign?”

      It seems that context simply doesn’t exist where Life Verses are concerned.

  6. Oh boy, Bible signing. I travel with a singing group and occasionally there will be some youngster coming up to the table in the same way I’d go to the sidewalk outside the locker room at Eagles training camp: walking the line, paraphernalia outstretched hoping to get an autograph of someone marginally more famous than myself. I can testify that every single last time, mine is the only signature without a reference beneath it. A few times the more cynical side of me has wanted to randomly pick a book, chapter, and verse and pray it’s something deep and mystical that will haunt the child for the rest of the time he has that Bible.

  7. ha. i remembered during one IFB “shepherd group meeting” (small group meeting) we were asked a question – what did you learn from your devotions?

    A young guy couldn’t answer the qn and you could immediately see the pastor’s face change to a stern, serious expression.

  8. “You will be required to wear dresses or skirts at all services, practices, etc. You will be required to sign the church’s standard for your position. This position can be male or female.” Oh the poor male piano player.

  9. When someone asks me what’s my life verse I give them the reference to this verse and laugh about what they will think if they look it up!!

    Deuteronomy 23:12-13 Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. 13 As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.

  10. A nearby Christian school had each student pick a Bible verse to go with their senior pictures. One girl I knew picked Ps. 119:99: “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.”

    The doctors told my mom that I might not survive when I was born. While reading the Bible, Ps. 118:17 spoke to her heart. I’ve sort of taken it as a life verse: “I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord.”

  11. Sorry for necro-posting, but this came up as a “random post” at the top of the page, and brought back a priceless moment from my teenage years–when I was asked by an evangelist what my “life verse” was.
    My answer? That verse from Genesis: “I have slain a man to my wounding and a young man to my hurt” 😯
    The evangelist went red, stammered, and finally got around to asking me what that verse meant to me.
    I responded with “It means don’t cross me” and walked off. 😛

  12. So, having a patron saint and asking him/her to pray for you is idolatry, but having a life verse that’s ripped completely from it’s original context and “applied to your life”? Perfectly hunky-dory.

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