Desecrating the Holy Book
by Alan Allegra
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The recent allegations regarding desecration of the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, have sent shockwaves through both the Islamic and Western worlds. Muslim detainees have alleged that their Qur’ans have been stepped on, torn up, kicked around, and stuffed into toilets and latrines. Americans, the great proponents of religious freedom, are repulsed by such actions, and rightfully so. Our written guarantee of freedom of speech, which some pundits say allows for desecration of treasured symbols, icons, and works of art and literature, does not trump the same guarantees of freedom of religion and ownership of property. In other words, I can burn my own flag, step on my own holy book, or tear up my picture of the president, but I can’t come after yours. As Jesus said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).
Ironically, Christian influence gave us the Bill of Rights. Americans can worship as they wish, or not at all, and seek to spread that right to all men.
There are two baffling, and even troubling, thoughts about this situation: the Christian world’s desecration of its own holy book, and the world’s lack of outrage at the desecration of Christians. Let’s start with the latter.
Rampant persecution of Christians overseas doesn’t make the headlines. Destruction of Bibles is small potatoes. Every day, hundreds of human beings are being chased, displaced, raped, tortured, and dismembered, with entire villages pillaged for bearing the name of Christ. Mere ownership of a Bible is punishable by death in many Middle Eastern countries. Where is the public outcry? Instead, in our own free country, there is outcry over any attempt to integrate the teachings of the Bible into public life. At one time, it was de rigueur to be a Christian; now they are fair game. This shouldn’t be surprising, for Jesus said, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” (Matthew 24:9). So, why aren’t Christians rioting over such desecration? Jesus also said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight . . . ” (John 18:36). Christians await a new kingdom, when all will be put right.
Perhaps a more troubling reason Christians don’t raise an outcry is because some don’t reverence their holy book. It has become too accessible and, therefore, common. Or too controversial. Or we’ve become too complacent.
We have Christian radio, TV, video games, comics, bookstores, seminars, toys, candy, jewelry, movies, etc. Most homes have more than one Bible. Perhaps we’ve become jaded to our holy book.
Living by the Bible has become unpopular. Creation, the Ten Commandments, prayer in the name of Jesus, justice, and personal responsibility are no longer politically correct. It’s easier just to conform to the popular culture and downplay the Scriptures. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).
Perhaps complacency has become the Christian’s biggest enemy. A little dab of Bible on Sunday morning is enough to get us by, so we don’t need to attend other services. A one-dimensional God of Love is enough to make us feel good. Sin is too harsh a concept, so let’s dilute the Word with psychology. There is a declining interest in “stuffy, irrelevant, incomprehensible” doctrine, so dumb down for us; just give us some principles to satisfy our felt needs. Where strict Muslims are very careful about how the Qur’an is translated, modern Bible paraphrases, carefully screened to omit offensive words, become big sellers. Consequently, questionable song lyrics, man-centered philosophies, and Christian celebrities with unexamined lifestyles slip under the church’s radar. The recent article entitled, “A meeting on Mary: Anglican-Catholic panel reaches agreement on the role of the mother of Jesus” By Gene Johnson Of The Associated Press, states, “The remaining question between the faiths is the authority on which those dogmas are based, he said — a question to be tackled in future discussions. ‘For Anglicans, that old complaint that these dogmas were not provable by scripture will disappear,’ Carnley said during a news conference with Seattle's Catholic Archbishop, Alexander Brunett.” It seems the authority of the Bible is being questioned.
The Christian is not called to defend the faith with violence, but to spread it through a life of grace and truth. He is not called to please himself but to please God. Fundamentally, he is called to imbibe the words of the Holy Bible so as to become mature and able to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:12–14). Let us not desecrate our holy book by neglecting it.
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