I love the Bible. I’m not sure I know a clearer way to say it than that.
I find the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be amazing expressions of a God who pursues people who would rather not be pursued. I am amazed at the ways I see my own life mirrored in the narratives I read. I am in awe of the Psalms while uncomfortable at the truths they reveal, all at the same time.
I am, admittedly, bored by the prophets, but convicted and inspired when I actually take the time to read what they say. Like any stereotypical American male, I have found the war and conquest stories of the Old Testament to be fascinating. These were the pages I returned to over and over again as a youngster who stayed up too late reading my Picture Bible. The Bible as a comic book – genius!
I find myself drawn to Jacob the Liar, because I know that, at my core, I’m 10 lbs of shit in a 5 lb bag. I, myself, have been the conniving bastard who was then petrified of the consequences of my actions, only to be greeted with the open arms of forgiveness.
I find myself drawn to Jonah the prophet, because I know that, all too often, I am a pouty little baby when God doesn’t do what I want. When God decides to show mercy and forgiveness to people I can’t stand, I kick and scream and shout, kick and scream and shout, kick and scream and shout.
I could go on and on, but my point is this: I take the Bible seriously. Very seriously.
And, because I take the Bible so seriously, I don’t treat all the different texts of the Bible as if they were scientific or historical documents. I allow genres to be themselves. Poetry is poetry, Wisdom is wisdom. I understand that the Bible was written by a people who, at that time of human development, were the functional cognitive equivalents of the modern six year old. They believed the earth to be flat and encased in a dome, with “heaven” above it and “hell” below it (kind of like The Truman Show). Likewise, I recognize that there was no modern medicine or psychology during the writing of the text. People were “demon possessed,” not suffering from a wide variety of psychological disorders. And so, like when my own sons were six years old and I didn’t take them literally when they tried to describe something big and tremendous and life-changing, I try to find the “thing behind the thing” and make sure it guides my life.
But beyond that are the ways I allow the text to rend my heart. Seeing the love and compassion Jesus had for everyone around him that demonstrated consistency with the whole of the Hebrew scriptures leading up to his life… To witness his willingness to be crucified because he wanted people to be free… I pale in comparison and it is a liberating discovery.
I read how Paul changes from a monster of fundamentalism to a maniac for the Gospel. Sure, I get queasy at his insistence that women should sit down and shut up, but most who disagree with me don’t take him seriously there either. To imagine him toe to toe with Peter in Antioch is my favorite image. To have been inside his brain as he composed the letters to Corinth and Rome would have been stupendous. To bear witness to a man who lives according to a strict behavioral code advocating for Gentiles not needing to is a priceless gift.
It is because I take the Bible so very serious that I stand for my sisters and brothers who are being told they are less than. So, you can disagree with my theology. You can disagree with my ethics. You can disagree with whatever you want, but don’t you dare tell me that it’s because I don’t take the Bible seriously.