Wetting my Pants and my Bible

This morning, I was sitting on the couch in my typical reading spot (right next to our largest, southern most facing window), reading my Bible for my morning devotions, when I turned a page and suddenly felt my pants saturated with icy cold water.  I threw the Bible off my lap and jumped up from the couch to see that I’d tipped over my water bottle, right onto myself and my Bible.  I’d soaked my pants, all the way through to my underwear, a sensation I can’t recall having since I went for a swim, fully clothed, to chase after a canoe (click here to read about that soggy experience). 

The cushion was soaked.  I picked it up and watched as the scotch guard pooled some of the drops, while most of it saturated the foam core.  Throwing the cushion aside, I bent down to examine the Bible.  I’d been reading Revelation, so thankfully, it looked like the most waterlogged parts were the concordance and the last few chapters of that book.  John’s letters and Jude got a little drippy, but overall, it could have been worse. I could have been my coffee that spilled.

After I changed my clothes, I sat back down on a different cushion and resumed my reading. 

This afternoon, I was reading an article called “The Novelist and the Bible,” written by Chaim Potok, the highly acclaimed author of The Chosen, and I was struck by a statement he made about the reverence Jews have for the Torah, the first five books of the Bible: 

The very book itself was sacred: its printed words, its paper, its binding.  If you dropped a copy of the Five Books of Moses, you quickly picked it up and put it to your lips in a reverential kiss.  If you placed a copy of the Five Books of Moses on a table, you were not to place any other sort of book on top of it; ultimate sanctity was not to be demeaned by serving as a prop for any works of lesser consequence. 

This Jewish author made me recognize what little regard I have for the Bible, as a book.  I treat it as I do all my other books.  I was careless enough to sit with an open bottle of water precariously balanced next to it, and when I spilt it, I was quick to throw the book down to preserve my own comfort.  I didn’t even take the time to lovingly dry it out. I just threw it on the floor and hoped it would dry decently. 

I do have some lines I don’t cross with the Bible, though.  We have Bibles in every room of our home except for the kitchen and the bathrooms.  In the Kitchen, I’d get it encrusted with food.  As for the bathrooms, I just have a hard time justifying reading the Bible on the toilet.  Yes, it’s a great book for reading at all times, but I think it deserves a little more honor than that. I can still “meditate on it all day long” (Psalm 199:97) without introducing fecal matter to God’s holy Word.  Leave the Readers Digest or Crossword puzzles in there for that purpose.

Compared to other religions, we Christians don’t have much honor to bestow on our most holy of books.  After reading Potok’s description of Jewish practice toward Torah books, I did a little research about other religions and how they treat their holy writ. 

According to one news article I read, very orthodox Jews will fast for 40 days if the synagogue’s torah scroll is dropped.  If they are torn or the letters have faded, the Torah scrolls are buried in a Jewish cemetery.  They get a whole burial ceremony.  If I abided by these rules, my Bible might be R.I.P. right now, in one of those cute, miniature coffins from the pet store.

Devout Muslims won’t even touch the Q’uran unless they’ve ritually cleaned themselves first.  On a bookshelf, the Q’uran gets top shelf, so no other books are above it.  (I wonder if there’s a ranking system among Q’urans?  For shipping, do the nicer ones go on top?)

In Buddhism, their holy texts aren’t supposed to touch the ground (so much for throwing my Bible on the floor after it got wet).  In addition, the texts are often wrapped in silk cloth when they’re not used.  We Christians like to put our Bibles in zippered cases that look like purses or other fashion accessories (or is that just me?).  It’s less about honoring the Bible than making it more convenient or pleasing to the eye.

I probably won’t be putting my Bibles on the top shelf, mostly because my least read books go up there (I can’t reach them as easily).  And, I’m not going to stop writing in my Bibles, because that’s how God and I do a lot of talking, right there in the margins.  

But, I can show some more respect to the best book I’ve ever read.  People have died to secure copies of this book (If you’ve never read God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew, put that next on your list), and the authors who wrote it could have just have well written it in their own blood.  I should honor their sacrifice and the God who gave us his Word.


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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very Good! I got here by clicking “random blog” in the top right. I really enjoyed it and have thought about this subject often. I have great love for scripture and also write in every margin available. I prefer Bibles without notes as I like to approach it fresh all the time, without other’s thoughts encroaching before God has a chance to speak to me–or before I am ready to hear, as the case may be.

    I know that devout Hindus certainly don’t allow the Bhagavad Gita to touch the floor or to have another book on top of it. Other than that, I, too, am at a loss.

    I write about the literary structure of the Bible if you care to come by ever. I think I’ll likely be back. Thanks.

  2. Hi Eric,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I’ve never found those “random blog” things to work for me. I usually end up at some site devoted to Paris Hilton or something inane like that.

    It sounds like we have very similar interests. I recently purchased the brand, spanking new ESV Literary Study Bible, edited by Leland Ryken (Professor at Wheaton College), my favorite Bible as Literature scholar. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly suggest it. There’s a lot of great info on its website, too. You can do a free trial there as well: http://www.esvliterarystudybible.org/

    I like your point about buying a bible without notes, but I think in this case, the notes can be a great tool to helping you dig even deeper. I like when the notes are at the bottom of the page. I can ignore them if I want to. There are some bible versions that cut out the chapter and verse numbers entirely, so it reads more like a novel, which I think would be a really interesting way to read it as well (since those are more modern additions, anyway).

  3. my thoughts are kind of mixed. yes, it deserves more respect than i give it, but, its meant to be in my life and involved with me…. which sort of requires a toughness to things like water bottles. and its more the contents that have the reverence, not the paper and binding.

    i could treat it nicer. but if it never got other things on top of it, how often would i take it somewhere with me in my bag to read it and use it? and as you mentioned, if i put it on a top shelf, its not going to get much use.

    like the “sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath”, i think god would probably happier that im using the contents even if it occasionally gets tossed around or dumped on, than to have to have it treated with more honor but never become involved in my crazy daily life.

  4. The first time I saw a parading of the Torah, I was amazed. People touching it, then touching their lips with where they had touched the Torah to savor the sweetness.

    A week later a baby was baptised in our church. The baby was carried through the congregation the same way the Torah had been. It made me ponder.

  5. Very good. I enjoyed this very much. People really do treat the words of God in a way that is much too common. I’m glad that you addressed this.

    AL: Thanks for stopping by.

  6. First of all you have to ask yourself, is the Bible the words on the page or the thoughts of God? You could, of course, say both, but that sort of begs the question. The Bible is a book of pages with words on them. We, Believers, make those words sacred. We do so when we read, respect, and obey them. And while we may think the physical book is important because it contains words which reveal God’s thoughts, we must never devolve to the point where the book (as an object) is endowed with any mystical powers by which it claims some sacred space. The magic is in the relationship between our Savior and ourself. Everything else must always be kept from becoming a talisman of magic.

    AL: I love the point about it “becoming a talisman of magic.” It’s possible to make the Bible itself a form of idol. Thanks for sharing.

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