It never ceases to amaze me on how it stirs the pot. People get mad at it. They get offended by it. Some get angry at it. For some the answer is to ban it or boycott it while others think everyone should have a copy of it. In light of all the drama in our community recently you've probably guessed at what it is. If not, let me invite you into the controversy. It's the Bible.
The issue? Should parents be given the option to have schools provide a free Bible to their grade 5 kids?
Some argue that religious material should not be given to students. Others say it should be an option if parents grant permission. One thing we can be clear about though is that no one is being forced to read the Bible. I understand that the process is optional and open to any religious group so we need to be careful not to punish the passion of one party because others have failed to take the same opportunity. But let's be honest. Is handing out Bibles really the issue? I don't think so. Whether or not you accept it schools already promote religious beliefs and practices.
So, if you're going to throw out the option for kids to receive a Bible then you're going to have to be consistent across the board and toss out all forms of religion and spirituality. I don't think that's the answer which is why I think the issue has more to do with the personal opinions and beliefs that many people hold regarding the Bible and its teachings.
Those people would say, "I don't need the Bible to tell me or my kids how to live?" And they're right. No one has to do anything the Bible says. You don't have to read it, study it, live it or accept it. That's the beauty of the free country we live in. You can believe whatever you want. So why get so wound up about a book that most people don't take seriously anyway? I've never understood why people are bent on eradicating it. For hundreds of years people have tried to ban it, burn it and boycott it.
They've attempted to discredit it and devalue it. But the Bible is like the Energizer Bunny. It just keeps going and going. No one has ever been successful in actually stopping it.
History has demonstrated that opposition is what's fueled the success of the best-selling book of all time. The Bible actually thrives in an environment of controversy. Every time someone tries to discredit the Bible, people notice.
They start thinking about it, it becomes a point of conversation and some even decide to pick it up and read it. Think about that for a moment. One individual whose goal is to eliminate the option for students to receive and read the Bible actually has given it more attention than they probably ever wanted to. So I just wanted to say "thank you"-your initiative has helped foster a greater sense of Bible awareness in our community.
But that's what the Bible does. It stirs people. It creates emotion. It surfaces opinions. It creates divisions. You may disagree with it, you don't have to like it and you can even ignore it. People have done that for centuries and will continue to do so. But it won't change the fact that the Bible will always be around. Maybe not in the classrooms of Grade 5 students but I can assure you it will always be front and centre in the changed hearts and minds of those who would choose to actually read, study, apply and submit their lives to it.
? Shawn is pastor of Promontory Church. You can connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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