Does the Bible say anything about being left-handed?

The right hand or right side of a person has great honor in the Bible. Psalm 110:1 prophesied that David's Lord would sit at the right hand of God. In Matthew 26:64 and Mark 14:62, Jesus identified Himself with the prophecy; and in Acts 7:56, Stephen saw it come true. Exodus 15:6 and Psalm 118:16 identify the right hand with strength and Galatians 2:9 with fellowship. But why?

  • The fact that 90 percent of people around the world are right-handed means the vast majority have a stronger right arm than left. It's natural that the right hand would be identified with strength.

  • Since the right hand was stronger, and usually carried the sword, presenting or shaking with one's empty right hand became a sign of peace and trust.

  • Ancient Western civilizations not only valued the right hand more than the left but actually associated the left hand with evil, darkness, and, strangely enough, women. This unreasoned bias was picked up by the Catholic Church and even into today where some cults insist left-handed people are naturally satanic. Jesus used this belief metaphorically when He told of sheep being separated to the right and goats to the left (Matthew 25:33).

  • More recent research shows that right-handed athletes are more successful in cooperative sports while left-handers do better in directly competitive sports — thus the popularity of left-handed baseball players, boxers, hockey players, and fencers. While left-handed competitors move in ways right-handers aren't used to, right-handers can cooperate by sharing equipment and moving together more fluidly. Strangely enough, since the beginning of the TV era (when voters were able to see candidates before voting for them), a hugely disproportionate number of US presidents have been left-handed.

  • In Asia, the left hand is for cleaning one's feet and bottom and is never used to touch another, point at a person, or pass an object.

  • While the Bible does record characters assuming cultural norms, it doesn't state that the tradition of reproaching the left-hand side is valid. Isaac used his left hand to give a lesser blessing to Joseph's older son Manasseh, but it was still a good blessing (Genesis 48:14, 19). Left-handed warriors were singled out for their skill in battle (Judges 3:15-21; 20:16; 1 Chronicles 12:2). And Matthew 20:21 shows that being seated at the left side of the king was still a coveted position of authority and power.

    Biologically, it's unknown why right-handedness is so much more common than left. Culturally, the right hand has been given much more honor than the left. But biblically, there's no justification. Any modern remnants of left-handed bigotry are based on ancient superstition. The only "evil" associated with being left-handed is getting your palm smudged when you write and never being able to find good scissors.

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