I haven’t read my Bible in almost a year. It glares at me, mocking me from its dusty spot on my nightstand, but no matter how many Church services I attend or how large my internal conviction grows, I cannot bring myself to open it.
An intrinsic cynicism, years of my own questioning and two years of intense Bible classes have left me disillusioned with this idea of the Bible as a sacred, flawless text. I don’t feel safe structuring my life around a document that I do not feel is 100 percent accurate.
My faith in God is in no way reliant upon my faith in the Bible. However, almost every belief I have about God ties back into the Bible and, without this cornerstone, I struggle to find reasoning for the most basic of my beliefs. I was at a stalemate in this internal debate until this semester when I took a class on poetry.
Words have always moved me. My notebooks are covered in quotes and I mindlessly doodle phrases that have gotten stuck in my mind on every writing surface at my disposal. I admire the work of poets because their work has resonated for hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of years. Poetry is raw and beautiful. It says things about life that I believed without being able to articulate.
It has occurred to me that the Bible, regardless of my personal opinions about its spiritual authority, has stood this same test of time. The words within its pages have been the blood of people’s morality and belief since they were first written.
When reading the Bible as poetry I don’t question the spiritual authority of the author or whether this is really God’s incarnate word, I simply look for the truth and beauty within the words.
I realize that this is not a foolproof solution. It is in no way grounded in theology and does not offer long-term solutions for how the Bible should be interpreted. But for the first time in a year I can hear scripture without flinching or going on the defensive. When I read the Bible as poetry, I find beauty instead of contradictions, I find truth instead of manipulation and I find God instead of manmade hypocrisy. It’s not perfect, but I consider anything that leads me to God to be a step in the right direction.