I have got to get me one of those new small Bibles. I haven’t seen one yet, but I know they must be out there. From what I hear, lots and lots of people have them. It certainly sounds like these new small Bibles make life a whole lot simpler. They are smaller and they cover less material.
These small Bibles must be what so many of the Christian fundamentalists have been reading and studying.
The reports from all the exit polls after the election last Nov. 2 indicate that the No. 1 issue mentioned by voters was morality. Of course, lots of things were mentioned in those polls, but the item that got mentioned the most was moral issues, which is exciting. People care about the quality and the morality of society. The polling data went on to claim that “moral issues” were defined as abortion, gay rights, and same-sex unions by the Christian fundamentalist who voted.
Those are important moral issues. Society has been engaged in a very long and heated debate over the issue of abortion. The questions of gay rights and same-sex unions have come to the top of the list in the last few years. They are issues that every church in the country is talking about and they will be in front of us for a very long time to come. They are very significant moral challenges for our society. I am glad so many people take them seriously.
But if the Christian fundamentalists only have these three issues as a part of their moral agenda, then I need to get the small Bible they are reading. If abortion, gay rights and same-sex unions are the only moral issues they find in their Bible, then I need to get a copy of that small Bible. My Bible has a host of other moral issues that keep me up at night.
My Bible has a whole host of pages in which Jesus is talking about how to treat the poor. In my bigger Bible, Jesus tells his disciples that entrance into the kingdom of heaven depends on how one cares for the sick, the thirsty and those in prison. So for me in my Bible, the whole issue of how to care for the poor and the troubled is a moral issue.
My large Bible has lots of pages about how the people of God are supposed to welcome and care for the aliens in their midst. Be kind to strangers for thereby you may entertain angels. So the whole issue of immigration is a moral issue in my thick Bible.
This new small Bible talks about three moral problems: abortion, gay rights and same-sex unions. My big black Bible has stuff in it that makes me think that prisons and the death penalty have to be called moral issues. There are passages in my Bible that say we are supposed to be stewards of creation and that means environmental issues are moral issues.
There is even this one line that says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” To me, this seems to make the national debt a moral issue because we are sticking the grandchildren with a pretty big problem. In fact that line about loving our neighbors means the question of taxation has to be seen as a moral issue. And I am not sure that going to war is a good way to love my neighbors.
See! My big black Bible has too much in it. It makes too many things moral issues. I need to get me one of those small, shorter, easier Bibles where the only moral issues are abortion, gay rights and same-sex unions. Those aren’t easy issues, but it is easier than having so many moral issues.
If you see a copy of that new Bible, I hope you will let me know.
Rick Brand is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Henderson, N.C.