The ways in which people wield the sacred text of the Holy Bible often frightens me. It also makes me extra careful and prayerful when I am writing a message, preparing for Bible study, and offering counsel. I shudder at the thought of launching gospel grenades, using the Bible to espouse my own stuff, or simply misrepresenting Almighty God. When I stand to declare, "What thus saith the Lord" I want to be speaking just that.
Where is this coming from, you ask. Well, this morning I had the privilege of having my car towed by the most bigoted, misogynistic, all around gross truck driver in the whole wide world. Before I even stepped outside good he starting ranting about the fact that he was just about to leave me and call off the truck because he thought I was "one of those Indians who come to this country and think that they can do whatever they want." At this point, please note that he was a very dark skinned man, who I later found out is from Dominica, who I am sure has encountered racism while in this country. After hitching my car, he makes a comment about the snow and the crazy way that people drive. Somehow, I still cannot figure out how he did it, he made a seamless transition in the conversation from crazy drivers to women who expect their men not to cheat on them. Huh? In my mind I was thinking, God help me...we are less than two miles from my house and I have at least another 20 minutes in the car with this guy.
As the pop psychologist/entrepreneur/marriage counselor/financial advisor/truck driver continued on, he came back to subject of men cheating on women and how in this country (here we go again) there are too many law protecting women. He said, and I quote, "There are too many human rights." Too many human rights. Is that possible?
I remained silent. It was hard, but I nodded and grunted and kept my words to a minimum. Even without words, my face must have clearly expressed my disgust. But he went on. Next up: domestic violence. He compared the response of police in the Caribbean to those in the US to domestic violence disputes. Steam must have been coming from my ears at this point because he said, "I don't believe in hitting a woman. I've never done it and I didn't see my parents fight, but sometimes a woman needs some sense knocked into her."
That was it.
"Are you saying that some women deserve to be hit?"
"I'm not saying they deserve it, but some women need a wake up call."
"...and knocking her around is the solution?"
"The issue is that women in this country think that they are equal. Women aren't equal to the man. The Bible says that women are to be submissive."
The Bible says...
The Bible says...
Dude, you have no idea who you are in the car with...
After xenophobic comments about Indians and defending adultery, he pulls out the Bible....Jesus, be a fence.
"Yes, the Bible does say that. Do you know what it says immediately before that? It says that men should love their wives as Christ loved the church. That means laying down ones life...not knocking them around or cheating on them. By the way, I'm a minister. You may want to be careful with your selective use of the Bible."
He was on his best behavior after that...still defending adultery, calling his son's mother crazy, and ragging on so-called independent women, but he never went back to using the Bible to defend his foolishness.
When I finally sat down to reflect, first I thanked God for blessing me with a wonderful husband who loves me, believes in monogamy, is welcoming to all people, and who is as gentle as they come.
Secondly, and perhaps at the crux of my reflection, I thought about how this kind of behavior, this kind of talk, this kind of flippant use of the Bible is more common than not. And how dangerous it is. It doesn't only happen in tow trucks on the way to Strauss Auto out of the mouths of men with grease laden fingernails, but often times it happens in sanctuaries, from lecterns, and lofty pulpits from men and women robed in ecclesiastical authority. Maybe I'm being too sensitive. Maybe i'm being too serious. I'll just have to be that. Without moving into the world of Bible idolatry, I believe it is important to have a reverence of and love for the Word of God. If anything speaks to the kind of relationship that we, as believers, ought to have with the Word, it is Psalm 119. This Psalm reads like a song in praise of the Word, recognizing that the Word is the way in which God reveals Himself to humanity. With that, I leave you with a meditation from the Psalmist...
How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
Blessed are You, O LORD!
Teach me Your statutes.
With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.
(Psalm 119:9-16 NKJV)
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