What the Bible does not need from you or the government

A Louisiana state legislator had a bright idea. Since that state, like all the others, has an official state bird (the brown pelican), an official flower (the Louisiana iris), plus an official fossil (the petrified palmwood, whatever that is), why not have an official book and make it the King James Version of the Holy Bible.

Great idea, huh?

He must have thought so.

The (presumably) well-intentioned lawmaker introduced the bill to make this official and promptly announced it to the world. Most everyone seemed to react in surprise and some with a good deal of negativity. “This is the last thing we need,” many felt.

And they were right.

But this being Louisiana, not my state of origin but the one where I lived for a full 30 years, the bill actually cleared a house committee even though opponents predicted it would attract lawsuits. “Adopting the Bible as our official book is tantamount to making Christianity the official religion,” one representative said.

I imagine that was the whole idea.

Finally, after the pundits and smart alecks had their fill of making fun of Louisianans in particular and Christians in general as the result of this idea, the legislator withdrew his bill. There were just too many more pressing issues needing attention, he said. And he was right.

Personally, I thought this was the worst idea in many a year from a legislature noted for bizarre schemes.

The Bible does not need your endorsement, state government.

The Bible does not need a bumper sticker across its spine saying “Official book of the state of Louisiana.”

The Bible does not even need to be the official anything of the United States of America. It’s far bigger than any one government, greater than any legislative body, and stronger than the judgment of any country’s citizens.

The Bible is the inspired Word of the Living God.

Just about the worst thing you can do for the gospel of Jesus Christ is to attach it to any government.

It might come as a surprise to some that historically one of the best things a government can do for the gospel is to try to stamp it out.

Historically, one of the best gifts a government can bestow on the Holy Scriptures is to outlaw them.

Many governments have learned the hard way that the more they persecute God’s people and try to smother the gospel, the more this work flourishes.

Fire burns brighter under pressure. Ask any high school science student.

Therefore, God’s people must avoid two extremes:

–1) We must not get upset when a court or judge, a congress or a jury, rules that the Bible is not authoritative and/or has no place in the classroom, courtroom, or committeeroom, even though we know the ruling is wrong-headed and a serious error in judgment. God’s Word is bigger than the latest ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court.

–2) We must not waste time trying to get high officials to put their endorsement on the Bible. It does not need their imprimatur.

A few years back, Neil Degrasse Tyson spoke at Tulane University….

This is the guy who hosts the popular “Cosmos Spacetime Odyssey” television series. Students and others lined up hours in advance for the limited seats and some had to be turned away.

As Tyson was talking about the lessons we are learning about our universe, he made the obligatory put-downs of Louisiana. The newspaper said he got lots of laughs as he depicted our citizens as ignorant bayou folk. Most of Tulane’s students are very bright and from out of state, a combination that feeds the superiority feelings of some, I imagine, all of which played into the hands of Tyson’s mean-spirited wise-cracking.

Then, he started in on Christians. Everyone had a big laugh when he talked about how Christians wanted to make the Bible the official book of our state.

Thanks a lot, state legislator. Just what we need–one more reason for the watching world to poke fun at us.

Now, let them laugh all they please because we hold to the inspiration of Scriptures and believe in the Virgin Birth and are dead-certain about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. But when possible, we would prefer they not scoff at our ignorance and shallowness, our foolishness or our willfulness.

If that’s possible.

When the Apostle Peter spoke to First Century believers about the persecution and harassment so many were receiving, he had this important caution: “It is better that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong” (I Peter 3:17). “If you suffer,” he said, “let it not be as a murderer or evildoer, but for Christ” (4:15ff).

One wonders what would happen if God’s people spent as much time reading God’s Word (not to say obeying it!) as we do arguing over it and defending it.

I do not question the legislator’s motives. Only his judgment.