CNN reports on Andre L. Thomas, a Texan accused of killing and cutting out the hearts of his son, estranged wife and her daughter:
[H]e tore his eye out of its socket with his hands, said Grayson County Sheriff Keith Gary. Thomas, 21, then quoted the verse Mark 9:47: "And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell."
Granted, plucking out your eye is pretty stupid - but so what? Why is it wrong to take that verse literally but not others? It's not enough to say that Christians, in our enlightened modern culture, agree with one verse and not another. Christians can't appeal to "common consent" to decide which verses can be taken literally in a sane way and which can't - at least, not unless Christians want to assert that our understanding of the Bible must be evaluated according to extra-biblical standard.s There are no internal standards which require that certain verses be taken literally and which aren't.
When a Christian says "he is insane" for taking one verse in the Bible literally, it seems to amount to saying "I don't agree with his religious perspective. " However, it has the added feature of using the mental health and criminal justice system in order to enforce their religious perspective against others by asserting that only certain religious perspectives can qualify as "sane." The same issue is at stake in the case of Deanna Laney who killed two of her three sons and claimed that God told her to do so.
It's arrogant and self-serving for Christians to claim that such people couldn't possibly be communicating with God and/or couldn't possibly be sane. Sure, I won't deny that such Christians couldn't be right - but I doubt that they have any good reasons to assert that they are right and they certainly don't have any good reasons to convince others that they are right. The most they can argue is that their personal religious beliefs don't allow for such actions/beliefs, but that's it - and that's not enough to regard others as insane, is it?