http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10349028/ (click link to read full story)

A group of atheists at the University of Texas in San Antonio is trying to
tempt college kids into trading their Bibles for pornography.
It’s part
of a program called Smut for Smut sponsored by the student organization
called Atheist Agenda

its interesting that i just came across this link when at church this past sunday i spent the entire class teaching on the bible, and how it arrived to us in the form it is today. i may post more about that later, but i wanted to bring your attention to this news article.

this is happening in america, at a state university. these people put up a table, and as people would come up to them, (the spokesman of the group makes this point, that his group did not approach people, the people came to them) they would give the “customer” a pornographic magazine such as “playboy” , or “worse”, in exchange for a bible, koran, or other things (including at least one copy of the satanic “bible”) . the president of the “atheist agenda” is quoted as saying

what we were handing out, we had everything labeled from 0 to 5. Zero is
like “Playboy,” things that aren’t really necessarily pornography. I mean, if
you’ve ever read a “Playboy” … you know, it’s not really that hard core, so
people got to decide what they wanted.

i would like to focus on the last part of his sentence… “people got to decide what they wanted.”
i think that statement gets at the core of the issue. sure, i think that the distribution of porn is disgusting, and the fact that they are offering the materials in exchange for the bible is repulsive. but instead of focusing on those things, i think we should zero in on what could be a much bigger problem.

we see this problem when we realize, that in order to get the free porn, a person had to have a bible to trade in. now, while it is not the case that everyone who owns abible is a church member, it is very likely that some of those bibles that were traded for porn came from people who, past or present, had been in church.

i am only speculating, but it is possible that at least some of those who turned in bibles for porn had taken those same bibles with them to church. some of those bibles may have even been given to them by their parents, other relatives, or even by their church upon graduating high school. some of those who chose to barter their bibles to posses pictures and words that degrade women and girls just like their mothers, sisters, cousins, and friends may have had that same bible for years before turning it over to the “athesit agenda”. it is speculation, but very probable.

so what am i getting at? why am i not criticising those who are providing for the trade? well, for one, the name of their group is “atheist agenda”. i dont think they would care one way or another what i have to say. i would rather spend my time looking inwardly… at the church who, more than likely, had some of those who traded their scriptures for sinful sexual arousals within their church walls under their (the churches) teaching for at least some period of time.

how are we, as the church, presenting the bible to our church members? is it a manual that contains stories and rules and regulations. do we treat it like a type of “student handbook” that we try to adhere to and make policy by?
maybe in some instances we speak often about the authority of scripture and its inerrancy, but do we speak of how it has been preserved through the ages and how we can know with much assurrance that what is between our leather covers is overwhelmingly accurrate as to what the early church used.

are we teaching what the bible *is*??

the distinction i am trying to make is, how well to we as a church teach our members that the bible is *not* a book containing what we think moses , the prophets, and apostles might have been getting at or how we think the stories of their lives happened. do our people in the pews know that? or is the bible just another book of moral stories and lessons like “grimm’s fairy tales” and other stories like the boy who cried wolf, the boy who stuck his finger in the dike, or paul bunyan. tales that teach us something, that people have believed for hundreds of years, but at the root of it, they are just stories to teach us how to act?

think of tales such as the tooth fairy, the easter bunny, and santa claus. generations of children have grown up hearing that these figures can see all things (omniscience), can deliever gifts all over the world in one night (omnipresence) and have abundant gifts and riches to reward those who behave.

sound familiar?

so are we to be surprised when some, growing up with such tales and stories, dismiss god? after all, he is everwhere, knows everything, and “rewards those who are good.”- just like santa and the eatser bunny. they aren’t real, but our parents used them to prompt us to good behavior.
are we making the distinction?
how good of a job are we doing in rasing church members who can seperate fact from myth, and families who grow up being taught bible “truths”, not “stories”.

im not trying to create a “new law”, or say we must never mention santa (though *why* we do might be a good thing to consider…perhaps another post for another time), but it is far past time to evaluate how earnestly we communicate that the bible is *truth*, not just tales of morality.

i can’t know what went through the heads of some of those who made the trade. maybe some absolutely denied what was in the bible. maybe some swiped a bible from somewhere else, or had one given to them by a gideon that they never opened. but it is entirely possible that there were some who agreed with the “morality” inside the cover, but thought nothing of trading in “a book” for a magazine.

im sorry that this whole post has been so disjointed. it hits close to home. i went to college w/ several people that i know would have traded their bibles in, and would have still called themselves “christian”. i an hear them now saying ” i have another bible, whats the big deal?”

the big deal is that we must teach respect for the scriptures, they are god’s word to us. our god, the one true and only god, was gracious enough to not leave us wandering around without a clue, but has given us instruction that never changes and is always constant. we can know him and his character, and we can know what pleases him and what angers and saddens him. we are not left to guess. we can know. he has preserved and given us his word. we can have it and read it everyday. we don’t need someone to tell us what god says, we can read what he says.

through the centuries people have been strangled, burned, and stabbed among other things that we may have the bible in our own language. there are countries where tribe members walk for days just to pass around single pages of scripture among their neighbors. in some countries in africa, one copy of the bible cost a years salary. .

are we teaching how much the bible *cost*?

of those who would want one, most people in our culture have at least one copy of the bible per person in their home, and sometimes more. but even with this widespread availability in our country, it is not uncommon to look around in our sunday school classes and corporate worship services and see people without bibles at all. not because they don’t own one, but because they didnt bother to bring it. other people do have theirs, but they simply reached behind the car seat and picked it up from the same spot they last placed it after church last week. what’s worse than even this is the fact that in many pulpits, the bible isn’t read beyond a brief verse or two that somehow, might relate to the next 20-30 minutes of pontification on whatever culturally relevant topic is on the agenda. instead of teaching the scriptures, verses are pulled out to illustrate a point in the “speaker’s” topic.

if there were students who truly *knew* what the bible *is*, and what is *cost*, would they have valued it more highly than trading it in for pictures of naked women?

maybe not.

but maybe. maybe if they had learned in church to value the bible, not to just have one, it would have mattered.

now, i am not suggesting that the church has the power to make sure every single person holds the bible up to the standard that they ought, but we could go along way in teaching the history of scripture, and how we came to be able to have copies. we could hold our teachers accountable to making scripture their primary source of material, and for teaching the bible as god’s authoritative word, not simple suggestions.

so before we are so quick to condemn those who provide pornographic materials in exchange for bibles, even as they openly deny the author, perhaps we should turn our scrutiny inward and examine ourselves, people who claim we base our lives this books message,and see with just how much esteem we as a people and as a church place on the word of god.

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