While 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.