by DeeDee Baldwin
April 24, 2005
When I was little – okay, even for a year or two in college – I saw the Bible as something I had to defend. I had to argue with people who believed in evolution. I had to argue with people who didn’t believe in miracles. I had to argue with people about women and gay people and war. In college, I started having to argue about what a certain verb meant. Who REALLY wrote a certain one of Paul’s letters. Whether or not certain scholars dated the Exodus right.
I went through a phase when I hated the Bible. I was tired of it. The debates seemed pointless. People used it for often hateful and manipulative reasons. 5-year-old DeeDee, who loved her Bible coloring book and eventually owned several because there were certain scenes she loved to color over and over… 10-year-old DeeDee, who waved her hand to answer questions in Sunday school like her life depended on it… 16-year-old DeeDee, who faced tough questions and stubbornly debated with her friends in high school – she had turned into 21-year-old DeeDee, who thought she never wanted to look at the Bible again.
They say there’s a thin line between love and hate. Some people think the Bible is boring. They open it with due reverence and don’t usually care about it enough to love it or hate it. Some people don’t give it the compliment of questioning it. Do I really believe this? Did that really happen? I love the Bible because it makes people think. It tells us to love our God with all of our hearts, souls, and MINDS. God wants us to know what we believe and why we believe it.
I love the Bible because we can never fully understand it, no matter how many commentaries line our shelves. I love the Bible because ancient people passed it along by word of mouth, chiseled it in stone, and carried it around in enormous scrolls. I love it because medieval monks hunched over it, painstakingly copying every single letter and word. I love it because John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, and others were persecuted and actually died for the seemingly obvious idea that all people should be able to read it.
I love the Bible because it has something for everyone to enjoy. Poetry? Check. Action? Check. Soap opera worthy family sagas? Check. Days of Our Lives has nothing on Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. Potiphar’s wife would fit right in on Desperate Housewives, flirting with a servant. The Bible has everything from a dark comedy about a man murdered while sitting on the toilet (that’s in Judges) to the glorious theology in Hebrews and James. It has more adult content than any R-rated movie. The Bible is violent and funny and passionate.
But most importantly, the poetry and prose in the Bible reveal what our ancestors learned about God over thousands of years. Whatever is literal, whatever is figurative, whatever is poetic, it points to God. That’s how I re-learned how to love the Bible. I learned to stop debating and defending and apologizing, and focus instead on looking for what each chapter, each verse says about God. I learned to stop reading it as a boring, controversial textbook and read it instead as a fascinating mystery with more twists than Agatha Christie could ever dream up. The best twist is that God created us, loves us, and gave everything for us. There’s no book with a plot that good. There’s no book with a plot that true.