For many years the words of Romans 3:9-20 raised uneasy questions in my mind. I had no trouble seeing those verses as describing the selfishness, cruelty, immorality, crime, and conflict of our society. But the harsh words didn't seem to fit most of the people I knew, including many non-Christians. They often did kind deeds, spoke truthfully, tried to avoid conflict, and showed respect for me and my faith. It didn't seem right to describe them as being "unprofitable" (v.12), as having the "poison of asps . . . under their lips" (v.13), or as being "swift to shed blood" (v.15).