The Sacred and the Profane: Five Interpretations of Matthew 7:6

Christianity -

The Sacred and the Profane: Five Interpretations of Matthew 7:6


Many people are familiar with the saying ‘Don’t cast pearls among the swine’.

We asked our resident AI philosophers to consider this saying and to provide some insights we can use during these exponentially accelerating and disruptive times. 


This saying can be traced to Matthew 7:6 and this text:

In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

The World English Bible translates the passage as:

Don't give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw your pearls before the pigs, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

The New International Version provides a more colloquial interpretation for a contemporary worldview:

"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.

If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."

This is the text we used in our considerations.


Matthew 7:6, a verse in the New Testament, remains one of the most enigmatic teachings of Jesus.

In this discourse, we will delve into five distinct interpretations of this verse, opening vistas of wisdom that span across various religious, philosophical, and cultural lenses. 

Literal Interpretation

At a glance, Matthew 7:6 presents a clear, tangible metaphor.

In a purely literal sense, one shouldn't give precious objects to those who are incapable of appreciating their worth or handling them with the required reverence.

This interpretation, while simple, serves as a cautionary principle for mundane interactions, advocating for discernment in bestowing our time, energy, or resources. 

Spiritual Discernment

In a Christian context, this verse is often interpreted as a call to spiritual discernment.

The 'sacred' and 'pearls' symbolize the Gospel, divine truths, and spiritual blessings, while 'dogs' and 'pigs' represent those who cannot, or will not, appreciate these gifts.

It suggests a level of discretion when sharing the Word of God, emphasizing the significance of receptivity and preparedness of the recipient. 

Psychological Perspective

The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung interpreted this verse from a psychological perspective.

He proposed that 'dogs' and 'pigs' represent our lower nature or shadow self, aspects we usually deny or suppress. 'Pearls' and the 'sacred' denote our higher self's potential. 

From this viewpoint, the verse urges us to carefully navigate our inner transformation, not to rush or force enlightenment upon our unprepared subconscious, as it may result in psychological backlash. 

Cross-Cultural Interpretation

In Buddhism, there's a parallel teaching known as the 'Parable of the Raft,' wherein a man uses a raft (representing the Dharma) to cross a dangerous river and then abandons it once he reaches the other side.

The raft is sacred but must be let go when its purpose is fulfilled.

Similarly, the verse could be interpreted to mean not clinging to the sacred or pearls (spiritual teachings) when they no longer serve us or when they're not beneficial to others (dogs and pigs), as it may result in harm. 

Existential Analysis

In an existential light, this verse could be seen as a commentary on authenticity and existential courage.

The 'sacred' and 'pearls' represent our authentic self and deeply held values.

The 'dogs' and 'pigs' symbolize inauthentic people or societal structures that demean or trivialize our authenticity.

Thus, the verse could be an encouragement to protect our authenticity, not to compromise it for the sake of fitting in or pleasing others. 


Matthew 7:6, as demonstrated, carries diverse interpretations and implications, each unfolding a different facet of human wisdom.

By looking at these various interpretations, we're reminded that spiritual teachings, like pearls, have layers of meaning and application, resonating differently with each individual's journey.

As we grapple with these teachings, we learn to appreciate the sacred within us and discern the right contexts to share our 'pearls'.

Ultimately, the value of this verse lies not only in the lessons it provides but also in its capacity to ignite reflection and conversation on discernment, authenticity, transformation, and spiritual wisdom. 


Singularity Assessment

The era of the Singularity, characterized by rapidly accelerating technological progress and disruptive societal shifts, presents unique challenges and opportunities.

Applying the interpretations of Matthew 7:6 in this context provides valuable insights: 

Spiritual Discernment         Score: 65/100

The technological Singularity might deepen the divide between the materially focused and those attuned to spiritual or ethical issues.

This interpretation advises us to use discernment in sharing spiritual insights and ethical values, implying a targeted approach. While it is essential, an overly protective stance may limit the spread of valuable spiritual or ethical wisdom. 

Literal Interpretation           Score: 70/100

Amidst the acceleration of change, resources and time become increasingly valuable.

Hence, the literal advice of not giving precious resources to those who won't value them scores highly.

It speaks to efficiency, focusing our efforts where they can have the most impact.

However, it may overemphasize pragmatism and underestimate the potential in unexpected places. 

Existential Analysis             Score: 80/100

The Singularity poses existential questions about human identity and purpose in an age of AI and advanced technologies.

Authenticity and existential courage, in this context, become significant.

The existential interpretation, which values preserving one's authenticity against societal pressure, scores highly due to its focus on individual integrity and the human spirit amidst technological upheaval.

Psychological Perspective   Score: 85/100

In this era, there's an increased risk of disconnection between our inner selves and the hyper-connected, high-speed external world.

From a Jungian perspective, facing our shadow selves and nurturing our higher potential is crucial.

This advice scores highly due to its emphasis on personal growth and mental health, vital for navigating these tumultuous times. 


Cross-Cultural Interpretation            Score: 90/100

Given the rapid pace of change, adaptability becomes paramount.

The Buddhist parallel teaches us to let go of old ideas, even if they were once precious, when they no longer serve us or others.

This ability to adapt and evolve aligns well with the demands of the Singularity era.

Singularity Conclusions

Each interpretation carries its unique value in these disruptive times.

They encourage us to remain resourceful, discerning, introspective, adaptable, and authentic.

Balancing these aspects will be crucial to navigating the Singularity with wisdom and grace.




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