In reference to this recently closed question.

I'm curious to know if there is or should be a precedence between biblical basis and truth/is X a sin? questions? The above linked question was closed as an "is X a sin?" question, but it wasn't asked from a personal perspective for which pastoral advice would be a necessity. He read the reference in a Christian review of a movie and wanted to know if the Bible said anything about it.

That makes this question a hybrid. Yes, it's asking if X is a sin. But it's also asking if there's a biblical basis for X being a sin. Assuming the question were better worded to use our specific vernacular ("biblical basis" vs. "does the Bible say"), which rule takes precedence? Would the question be on-topic as a biblical-basis question or off-topic as an is X a sin? question?

If the later, it presuposes that it's impossible to as about the biblical basis of any sin/transgression/act-of-disobedience.

Question: In the case of asking for the biblical basis for a sin, which on-/off-topic condition should take precedence? Biblical-basis (on-topic) or "is X a sin?" (off-topic)?

EDIT: This question was not posted to challenge the closure of the linked question and accedes the point that the Help Center states questions about "what the Bible says about a subject (unless you specify a doctrine/tradition)" are off-topic. My question is, given that an original question is precisely formatted to be acceptable as a biblical-basis question, if it is a question about the basis of a sin, which takes precedence? The on-topicishness of being a biblical-basis question, or the off-topicishness of being a "is X a sin?" question?

If we use the linked question as an example, it could have been worded:

From the Pentacostal perspective, what is the biblical basis for believing the use of the phrase "I said what I had to say" is a sin?

Is it...

  • Closed as an "is X a sin?" question, or...

  • Left open as a valid "biblical basis" question?

  • 1
    Note the difference between "Is there a biblical basis?" (opinion-based – some say yes, some say no) and "What is the biblical basis for __?" (not opinion based). This seems much more like the former example, as he doesn't specify which viewpoint (yes it is a sin; no it is not a sin) he wants to see defended. Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 17:13
  • @Nathaniel, I can understand that point, but wouldn't that have been better dealt with as a request to the OP to improve his question? The only comment other than mine is KorvinStarmast's low-research comment, which is usually cause to downvote, not close. This suggests the five VTCers were acting on the pattern of the question (is X a sin?) and not the intent (does the Bible say X is a sin?). I wonder becasue the OP wasn't asking the question for his own sake (needs Pastoral advice) but to rationalize how someone else was defining the issue (what do they mean by this?).
    – JBH
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 17:19
  • 1
    I cast a downvote, and when I saw the other 4 close votes I cast one to close it but I did not agree with the reason. So, I added another reason. I should have said "this is asking other people to do your work for you for looking stuff up in the bible" or a "verse search" reason to close. So that's on me for not checking the correct box. I am not sure that I understand why the answers were closed off as well, and I can't see deleted answers. Not enough rep. Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 17:55
  • @KorvinStarmast, thanks for your input. In the long run, this question is more about better understanding policy than it is seeking to reopen a question. If I ask, "what is the biblical basis for the belief that gambling is a sin?" is it on-topic as A, or off-topic as B? That way I can give OPs advice to clarify questions.
    – JBH
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 18:16
  • As the minority voter, I guess I am of little help in discerning what was driving the close votes. Sorry. I hope there will be a good answer to this in time. Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 18:17
  • For what it's worth, I definitely think that the site should err on the side of being helpful and (when it's needed at all) having the old hands rephrase things to meet pharisaical guidelines rather than expecting innocent questioners to be up to snuff on non-obvious rules. In this case, it was a valid request and it's perfectly straightforward to provide possible rationales for the reviewer, along with data about whether it comports with most denominations' views on the subject.
    – lly
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 18:24
  • What is the point of having a 'biblical-basis' tag if earnest questions about 'does this purported sin have a biblical basis' are going to be 86ed?
    – lly
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 18:26
  • Welcome @lly! Please be patient with us. The most common consequence of not having a well-defined set of "pharisaical guidelines" is the all-too-natural devolution of dialogue into the 1900-year-old shouting match. What may seem obvious and helpful to you, from one theistic perspective, may not be obvious or helpful to another from theirs. That's why I'm seeking understanding rather than blindly chastising for closing a question I felt should be open.
    – JBH
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 18:33
  • 1
  • @Nathaniel, after reading both, I don't disagree at all. My question states the assumption that a question is in the proper form (I'll edit it, though, to be explicit about this). Given that a question is 100% what we expect for biblical basis, which takes precedence when asking the basis of a sin? The accepted on-topic or the accepted off-topic?
    – JBH
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


There isn't a conflict here between this being an "on-topic biblical basis" question and an "off-topic is X a sin" question, because instead of asking "what is the biblical basis for X?" it asks the much broader and opinion-based, "Does the Bible say..." The difference between these two phrasings is explained in this meta post: “Biblical basis” vs “what the Bible says about a subject”

Hopefully it's clear why the question was closed. But there are several paths forward for reopening it – it could be made "on-topic" in this respect as follows:

  • What is the biblical basis for "I said what I had to say" being a sin?
  • What is the biblical basis against "I said what I had to say" being a sin?
  • According to specific denomination/tradition, is "I said what I had to say" a sin?

As the first two examples make clear, it's fine to ask what the basis is for something being or not being sinful. And it's also fine to ask about whether things are sins or not, but only in the context of a tradition. Check out for lots of examples of both of these.

Note too that these improvements only address the "truth question" / "opinion-based" issue. Some close-voters may consider this question to be unclear, trivial and/or a verse-search question, and vote to close on that basis instead.

  • So, "In the case of asking for the biblical basis for a sin, which on-/off-topic condition should take precedence? Biblical-basis (on-topic) or 'is X a sin?' (off-topic)?" Answer: biblical-basis. (Whether or not other issues may intrude is not part of the scope of my question.) Correct? If so, I can act in the future to direct OPs to improve their questions that way, and point back to this discussion for detail.
    – JBH
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 20:03
  • 1
    @JBH That seems simplistic to me... "Is X a sin?" is an example of a "truth question" that can be fixed by adding a tradition, for example,... but then it's no longer an "Is X a sin?" question. It's a "According to Y, is X a sin?" question, which is fine. Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 20:06
  • 1
    Deal! Thank you!
    – JBH
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 21:23
  • 1
    Note that if you want to ask the first (What is the biblical basis for "I said what I had to say" being a sin?) you really need to establish that some group of Christians does actually believe that it is a sin. I'm not sure one movie review would count, especially when it doesn't actually describe the phrase as "sin", but instead "impudence".
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 8:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .