We all base our wisdom on something. I base mine on my life experiences and what I see to be great Wisdom in the bible. As I continue to grow as an adult and as a follower of Christ I am able to recall scripture that supports my thinking. I would really like to include it in my answers for my benefit and also for the OP and future readers.

I can foresee this may be an issue, so I would like to ask is there a rule pertaining to this or some community expectation?

To give a simple reason for thinking it is okay I offer this argument. If someone can quote an article or journal it seems to make perfect sense to quote the bible. I would expect the bible to be considered a legitimate reference for parenting, morality, ethics, etc...

There are multiple 'theories' in childhood development and one may post something that another disagrees with. I think the fact that not everyone believes in Christ doesn't mean the wisdom of the bible is not a valid reference.


  • I detest dishonesty. To this day, my kids can recite Prov 6:16-19 by heart, they had it quoted to them so often. But it was also supported by how lying hurts relationships, i.e. not just Scripture for Scripture's sake, but the relevance of it in life. Commented May 23, 2017 at 14:51

6 Answers 6


I think how you use Bible verses matters.

I don't think quoting appropriate Bible verses is banned on any Stack Exchange site, but (and I'm not saying you have this intention) exangelizing may be seen as a kind of spamming, and may be removed if it detracts from your answer. This is no different in policy than for someone who, for instance, goes on and on extolling the virtue of drinking Dr. X's mineral tonic for curing all childhood ills.

Also, please be aware that Stack Exchange users tend heavily towards atheism, so any reference to Scripture on most SE sites (with obvious exceptions, e.g. Christianity) will likely be met with down votes (usual scenario) and (worst case scenario) hostility and personal attacks, references to the flying spaghetti monster, etc. It's unfortunate but it is too often the case.

As I said, how you use Bible verses matters. Take "He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently." - Prov 13:24 If you use this to support corporal punishment, be prepared for a nasty battle. Nasty battles get moved to a chatroom or deleted completely. If you use it for explaining the importance of discipline (as in teaching) benefiting the child, I imagine you'll catch less flak.

It's your decision, and as a moderator, it's part of my responsibility to enforce the Be Nice policy to anyone who responds rudely. Flagging rude comments - rude for any reason - should be done by any user seeing it.

FWIW, I'm a Christian, and I believe there is a great wealth of wisdom in Scripture. I am also a physician, though, and the benefits of scientific studies has been reinforced for decades. I tend to use what has been shown to work to support my answers. However, they also change as we learn more, whereas Scripture hasn't changed for up to thousands of years.

  • Your answer seems very reasonable and it is what I hoped for. Thank you.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 15:04
  • Before accepting my answer, you might want to see what others have to say. :) Commented May 23, 2017 at 15:09
  • If everyone followed your listed guidelines here I'd be happy, so I'd like to mark your response as the right one :) Whenever I take tests with multiple choice questions, if I know A is right I never look at the other answers - just the way I've always been, and you're answer, imo, is right.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 15:31
  • I don't know that your second paragraph is appropriate in a post coming from a moderator. I understand why you include it, but it is fairly offensive to someone who, while not being religious, also prefers not to be hostile to, well, anyone, and it seems fairly prejudiced, at least the way you word it - assuming malicious actions.
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 19:52
  • @Joe - I have experienced everything I mentioned and much, much more. I was very taken aback by the hostility I encountered on several SE sites. As a moderator, I've had to remove comments like this from this very site. Yes, I'm a moderator (and uncertain as to why I should not state the truth about the issue), but I'm also a user. Another moderator's answer basically says the same thing without going into more detail. I didn't point to anyone in particular; if you aren't hostile to religious users, that's great, but there's no need to take the warning personally. Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 23:29
  • I'm sorry you experienced that, but it doesn't change the tone of your answer here - you are stating that it will happen, and that it happens because of 'atheism'. That's basically the definition of prejudice. Rory's answer and yours are diametrically opposite; Rory says that it's likely the answers won't be found useful and may be downvoted for that (entirely reasonable as you point out) while you vilify those users in yours. That's what offends me. It would be better phrased saying you had experienced such, that is sticking to facts and not presupposing malice that hasn't happened yet.
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 2:23
  • @Joe - I'll have someone look into it. I really don't mean to offend anyone. It has happened repeatedly and is likely to happen again. I don't really see the prejudice there... Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 3:13
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    Hi Joe - I'm guessing there is some interpretation problem here. To me my answer is very similar to @anongoodnurse's one. We both agree that content that is solely based on scripture is not likely to be useful or accepted here. Where we differ slightly is that she can pull from scripture and build on it with science, but I am an atheist so I don't use the scripture end. We have had a lot of prejudice caused by differing religious views - we delete it as fast as we can, but it is not pleasant, and anongoodnurse was referring to that.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 15:27
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    @Joe I'm sure anongoodnurse will delete rude content that's flagged. I think her point is that you should consider your audience. Folks on this network tend to be skeptical of religion. The best way to change that is to provide great answers informed by ancient wisdom. Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 18:58

I'd be remiss not to start with a quote from Good Subjective, Bad Subjective:

Parenting is one of the most subjective subjects I can imagine; every child is different, every parent is different, and whole cultures are wildly different in how they approach child rearing.

The entire post is worth reading as is the original Back It Up! principle. But the Reader's Digest version is that good answers are more than the author's personal opinion. The potential difficulty with quoting Scripture is that it adds authority from your perspective and does nothing for readers who don't accept the Bible as gospel (so to speak).

Parents are bombarded with conflicting advice. Most of it is well-intentioned. But it's just not very useful. To quote from a post on Meta Islam:

Being correct is not the same as being useful.

In my opinion, the goal of a Q&A site about parenting isn't so much to have a bunch of correct answers as to have answers that are useful for helping parents raise their children. Given the wide range of experiences and circumstances, that's an exceedingly difficult thing to do in the best of circumstances. It's certainly not going to work to cite the Bible as an authority when many parents don't accept it as authoritative.

Even so, I think there are ways to bring religious texts into a post in a way that is useful. An obvious situation is when askers themselves use the Bible as an authority. Less obvious is when the religious text played a part in "experiences that happened to you personally". For instance:

When my oldest son was in elementary school, he often got frustrated with my jokes and teasing while we walked to school. I figured it didn't hurt since my own father used to do the same thing with me. But then I read:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.—Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)

After thinking about that verse, I remembered how my dad would catch himself in the middle of horseplay and get serious. He must have noticed I wasn't having fun anymore, so he'd stop well before I got angry with him. I realized I was being selfish and that I needed to treat my son the way I'd like to be treated.

So I started using the walk to school to find out what sorts of things he was interested in, which gave me tons of parenting opportunities. We didn't stop having fun, but I stopped pushing my teasing to the limit of his patience.

Notice that it really doesn't matter whether you trust the Bible verse to be reliable. The important bit is that the verse changed the way I approached my job as parent. It's entirely possible I misinterpreted the verse, but that's not really a problem because the verse was useful in helping me fix the way I interact with my son. For the right question, my story could be helpful to any reader who interacts with children.

Just as important, you can immediately identify whether the advice fits into your parenting style or philosophy. If, by chance, you pattern yourself on George Bluth, you can skip this advice altogether.

Finally, I should note that if you always quote the Bible, your posts might be seen as propaganda. To paraphrase the help center:

If a large percentage of your posts include a mention of your [religious convictions], you're probably here for the wrong reasons.

The same would be true if every post mentioned, say, The Bradley Method® or a specific scientific study or anything that a person might be promoting.

  • I never thought I'd see the day Arrested Development was cited on Parenting.SE! Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 15:19
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    Wow, impressive amount of effort and thought in this answer. Thank you for adding your input Jon.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 23:37

I don't think you base your wisdom on the Bible. You say yourself that you recall scripture that supports your thinking rather than basing your thinking on scripture. Why not then phrase it as that? You can start with that you've found that what the Bible says in [x] to be true because of life experience [a,b,c,d]. A witty or deep quote from any source can help a reader in understanding and remembering your answer. I don't see any reason why that quote couldn't be from the Bible. Even if it is not part of the argument or a reference. It's still useful in conveying the argument.

  • Very interesting response. Your point about how to present a verse is very good. Also, I appreciate the fact your response is impartial and practical.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 15:44
  • You're welcome! :-)
    – user28011
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 18:26

I am one of those damned atheists/agnostics. If it is pertinent to explain your thought, I personally might not object to an occasional Bible verse, but if it is your reason, then I won't listen to your message. I will say that your Bible verse works more against you than for you. I think argument and reasoning should not be recited.

If for example, "be good to others" is solely because of a Bible verse, it is pointless. If it is reasoned and the way you think, I might.

Science and experience count for more than anything written centuries ago. That doesn't mean there is no wisdom in the words. SE insists on us backing up our answers.

I think that your morality and kindness, your examples and words based on both your experience as a parent and your research, will count more and carry more weight. The objective is to help, afterall.

Some people will downvote you for no good reason and some for the reason that they simply disagree with you. Personally, the most I would do is not upvote that answer. Bible verses or any other religious material are sometimes met with downvotes -- whether or not the message is good or has merit.

So in my own opinion, you should use prose instead of verses, and not as quoted material. You still get to make your point. Most people will understand your reasoning and no one can object.

Hillel's message: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow", counts as much as the later quote, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It is far better imo, to simply say, "Treat others the way you want to be treated." We all 'get it' and it is simply reasonable and rational.

No one thinks you are trying to deliver a religious message but the message is still delivered.


Similarly to @Willow's answer, I would suggest that using any religious guidance as a reason for any answer is not going to be useful. Most of our readers are not going to be Christian, and many will have no religion at all, so your answer will be of no value to them, and could be considered offensive, potentially.

If you have good advice to give, and you have learned it via the bible, that's excellent, but please answer with the advice only, otherwise you may find your posts receive downvotes, or even flags.

  • If someone doesn't like an answer, it is perfectly legitimate to use downvotes to show that. The OP has been warned that he will receive downvotes at best and open, personal attack at worst, so I think he is prepared for that, and if offended by that response, he will tailor his answers accordingly. (I don't disagree with that part; I myself have downvoted answers that rely only on "the Bible says...). However, if you know of policy regarding quoting Scripture that I am unaware of, please link to it. Thanks so much. Commented May 24, 2017 at 15:13
  • I agree that the majority are most likely not Christian, but based on the world's current data more readers will be Christian than any other belief system. The point is, quoting the Bible is relevant to a simple majority of readers right off the bat, and certainly more relevant than quoting Norse Mythology as an example. If some people have a dislike of Christianity and feel the need to express it I can handle it. It isn't me they have a problem with and I understand that.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 15:56
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    Interesting comment- to me, Old Norse legend is much more relevant than quoting Christian Mythology. You should really be treating them exactly the same.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2017 at 16:04

The Bible differs from scientific articles or even advice books in that it is not an attempt at scientific or even practical thought. The Bible is a set of instructions set down by a particular religion, that you should follow if you wish to belong to that religion.

In that sense it is much more akin to the laws of a country. As such, I think it's appropriate to quote from the Bible if and only if the question makes it appropriate.

So for example, if someone asks a question about parenting in Australia, it is entirely cogent to quote Australian law to them. However, it is not appropriate to quote American or French law, right? And if the question is generic and not asking a question where legal matters apply - such as "what's the best way to nurse a child" - then no laws should be quoted.

Similarly, I think quoting the Bible is appropriate if the question invites it, by asking something like "How would I do XYZ as a Christian". Then it's entirely cogent and appropriate. But if the question does not mention religion, it's not.

Of course, there are texts like Augustine's, for example, which are more in the realm of practical thought or scientific thought; to the extent they discuss non-religious life (as opposed to being specific to the religion) I think they make perfect sense (though they're, perhaps, outdated, there could be cases where that's not a problem).

But the Bible itself, I would suggest, is not going to be appropriate for most questions. You're either quoting the laws, or the interpretation of the laws, or the justification for the laws; or you're making an argument from authority which is inappropriate for a non-religious site (while you may respect the authority of the Bible, it is not something that is assumed here nor appropriate to assume here).

A good test, if the question isn't specific to religion, might be, how would I feel about a similar quote from the Quran in that context? Or from any particular religious text? If it wouldn't feel appropriate to you, then leave your quote out for sure.

  • I've quoted The Art of War by Sun Tsu in an answer once. I'm not Chinese and the question was not about the military. Wisdom is wisdom, regardless of origin. I'm guessing that quoting Confucius would not be a problem. I don't see that quoting the Quran or a famous Rabbi would be offensive either; if it's wise and a propos, it seems ok to me. (Oh, and much of the Bible is not about laws at all. Much of it is stories, some is wisdom passed down from father to son [Solomon to his sons], some are stories of wars, acts of heroism, etc. No law says "Be wise else you die, here's how to do that.") Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 3:24
  • I mostly agree with your answer, although I do suggest revising your first paragraph to be less inflammatory.
    – user24631
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 21:22
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    @Physics-Compute I'm curious why you feel it's inflammatory. I don't feel that it is - it's certainly not intended to; it's a statement of fact. The Bible is not intended to be an attempt at ... anything, really; it's considered the stated Word of God and is, explicitly, the rules on which a religion is based (Christianity), and the rules by which one is intended to live ones' life. It's not a philosophical treatise; those do exist (Augustine, for example), separate from Scripture itself.
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 20:55
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    @Joe my guess would be the 'practical thought' part. That is very different type of comment from the preceding 'scientific' statement.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 23:45

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