As I write this I am tempted to never pick up another bible again, let alone read or study it. I’m giving up the Bible to worship the true God.
Why the drastic action? Because I’m following the depressing news on television and radio about fundamentalists of every major or minor religion killing and maiming those they’ve labeled as “unbelievers” because their scriptures (i.e. God) tell them to…..reading passages like Ezekiel16 & 17 in the Jewish Scriptures where God uses sick metaphors about abused women and girls to somehow declare “his love” for Israel and to “shame her” into returning to her master and lord…reading the Qur’an where men’s preteen wives can be given a declaration of divorce immediately because they’ve not started menstruating yet and are safe from pregnancy that might come back to haunt them if they’re not careful. Who invents this crap? Men do that’s who. All the world’s scriptures are written by and ADDRESSED to men as if men were the owners of the world and the world’s women and children. Women did not and do not have the privilege of writing scripture or if they did these scriptures were relegated to the status of non-scripture and made non-canonical by men. You can bet that their religion would be very different if women’s scripture were followed as meticulously as men follow their own. This is why I’m giving up the bible for awhile. The bible gets in the way of true worship. As much study as I do I begin to mistake the bible for the real object of worship; God. As a christian feminist I believe in the value of the scriptures as testimonies of those who have gone before us, but clearly we cannot idolize or worship scripture as stagnant a document which can mean only one thing for all time.
I believe in a God whose mercy and privilege towards women extends far beyond the written words of mere men. I cannot find such mercy in these scriptures so I believe it’s perfectly reasonable NOT to read scriptures written by men if the picture is incomplete for us women. Giving up scripture is not giving up God. I believe God dwells in each of us through the Spirit, through Sophia, Wisdom. Without the scriptures I can still hear God speak. Fundies will be aghast however! Well, let me ask a question:
If the Bible did not exist or did not come into existence would there still be Christians in the world?
Think carefully about your answer, it reveals a lot about your faith and where you place it. The answer is, of course there would be Christians! There were Christians before the bible ever came into existence and there will be Christians should the bible ever disappear from the earth. The point I’m trying to make is that I can be a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ, and never read the bible again. Why? Because God communicates through the Holy Spirit and not exclusively through the pages of an inanimate object. God speaks through human flesh and always has. Some fundies will fume and say, but you wouldn’t be much of a Christian because God “feeds” us through his “Word” and without that “Word” (i.e. bible) we aren’t spiritually “fed.” How did millions of Christians thrive as Christians without a printing press? Through sermon, word of mouth, through art, through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. Despite all the efforts to confine God, God still breaks out. God, through time immemorial has communicated with ‘his’ people without the use of paper, pens, or any written word whatsoever. God, throughout history has spoken through his Spirit to millions of people INCLUDING women! Our voices have been quashed, silenced, murdered, and censored, but God has spoken to us nonetheless. We can’t help that men won’t listen. We can’t help that God forgives but men will not.
There will come a day when women will thrive in the church despite the violence of a male God and men-only scriptures. I look forward to that day. I think I’m giving up scripture for my own sanity, or at least portions of it. I am advocating for Theological Revision not Rejection. I firmly believe that giving up daily scripture reading will be good for the soul. I refuse to use Scripture as a weapon any longer. I refuse to give credence to Logos over Eros–words over passion. This week I’m going to find God in art….I’m going to listen for God….in sermon……in nature…..in silence. I’m going to see God in the face of an abandoned kitten…on an icon…….a billboard….I’m going to feel God in a breeze….the heat of the sun…..in other words, I’m going to find God everywhere but in the pages of a book.
Jesus even admonished those for looking at the wrong thing to find life. He said,
“You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.” (John 5:39,40).
Don’t look to a book to find life, look to the source of life itself; Jesus. As Alan Watts also pointed out,
“The common error of ordinary religious practice is to mistake the symbol for the reality, to look at the finger pointing the way and then to suck it for comfort rather than follow it”
Where is Jesus’ finger pointing? To God. Where are the scriptures pointing? To God and God alone. Don’t look to religion to find God, don’t look to institutions, not to men, and not even to women. Go to the source.