Q & R: Does God desire losers?

Here’s the Q:

I hope this email finds you well.
I recently read your book “Cross The Road” with great delight. It gave me hope that there are other people out there that feel similarly about religion.
I’ve been following your blog regarding the current conflict in the middle-east. I’m confused about something. How can you as a Christian talk about a win-win situation when that is not the will of God? I’ve been struggling to understand your concept. On one side we have the word of God:
Genesis 17:7-8 states: “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
On the other side you seem to support rabbi Siegman (a brave man!) who questions Israel’s morality in this conflict. But isn’t Israel simply claiming and defending what God promised? It seems clear to me that the bible leaves no doubt about the rightful owners of that land.
We can’t have it both ways. My personal opinion/morality is in stark contrast with God’s will in the OT, because I’m a firm believer that Palestinians also have the right to live there. How do you reconcile something that is mutually exclusive? I don’t see how we can have a win-win situation given God’s word.
I know you must be getting hundreds of emails each day, but I hope you may find 2 minutes to reply.

Here’s the R:
What an important question!
I need to tell you something terribly important – and scary and unsettling for many: that way of reading the Bible – quoting a Bible verse in isolation to respond to a contemporary situation – has caused a lot of damage in the world. It is an irresponsible way to use the Bible, especially for an American. In our history, that way of using the Bible justified the slaughter and land theft of Native Americans, justified enslavement of kidnapped black Africans, justified segregation/apartheid and white privilege, justified the subjugation of women, justified the exploitation of the earth, and many other horrible things. It’s called “proof-texting” – and it is a methodology that needs to be rejected once and for all, especially by people who love the Bible.
It’s an abuse of the Bible and it needs to be left in the past, along with the injustices it was used to perpetuate.
That doesn’t mean rejecting the Bible; it means rejecting one discredited way of using/abusing the Bible. I offer a better way of reading the Bible in my new book, We Make the Road by Walking.
You’re right – Genesis 17 says what you say. But it doesn’t necessarily mean what you’ve been told it means. For starters, consider how you would interpret Genesis 17 in light of Deuteronomy 10 and Leviticus 19 and 26 … I wrote about those Scriptures here.
If you’re a Christian, more importantly, how would you square using those verses to justify oppression of the Palestinians in light of Jesus’ teaching – say, to do unto others as you would have them do to you, or to love your enemies, or to seek first God’s restorative justice?
So – we may not be able to find a win-win solution if we only quote one verse – in isolation from the rest of the Bible. But if allow God to speak, not through one disconnected, out-of-context verse, but through the whole of Scripture, centered in the life and teaching of Christ … I think win-win solutions are possible.
If some of our ancestors didn’t seek that alternative approach, we would still be quoting verses to justify slavery, apartheid, suppression of women, exploitation of the environment, and much more. (Oops. I guess some people still are using the Bible in these sad ways!) So – good news! You can still love the Bible without using it as a source for proof-texts.