Last summer I heard a story on the National Public Radio program All Things Considered that really irritated me. I thought the on-air correspondent took a cheap shot at the Bible. In fact, I was so frustrated I felt I had to do something to set the record straight.
Have you ever felt that way? Offended, frustrated even angry by how the media portrays the Bible and Bible-believing people? We all have, but the question is: What’s the best way to defend the Bible in a pluralistic society?
There’s no easy answer. And too often, Christians do a bad job of defending the Good Book. We forget to “speak the truth in love.” Or we’re content to speak only to ourselves. Demonizing “them” may be good for getting a hearty Amen! (or for fund raising), but it won’t change anyone’s mind. If we really want to defend the Bible, we must first read it and live it ourselves. Then we must thoughtfully and lovingly engage with those who don’t believe it.
So what did I do last summer? The radio story was about the struggles of a gay black man, infected with HIV, living in the south. I thought, prayed and then sent the following email:
I appreciated Brenda Wilson’s segment about the rising rate of HIV infection among gay black men because it was informative and helped me understand the pain of the man she interviewed.
But in the middle of her story, Ms. Wilson injected her own bias against Bible-believing people, at one point referring to the source of the man’s struggles by saying, “This is, after all, the Bible belt” with a condescending tone. It’s true that some Bible believers, and non-Bible believers, are not compassionate towards those infected by HIV, and that’s wrong. But the source of the man’s problem, as he admitted, was his own high risk sexual behavior.
It is not intolerant or unloving to say that the Bible is the solution to, not the source of, the problems Ms. Wilson highlighted in her story. If more people followed the Bible’s teaching on sexuality, there would be less sexually transmitted disease and more married couples enjoying God’s gift of sex. And if more people followed the Bible’s teaching about showing compassion to the sick, the friendless and the needy, there would be less people experiencing the kind of anguish as the man in the story.
What happened as a result of my effort? Well, nothing that I could see. I never heard back from Brenda Wilson, All Things Considered or National Public Radio. But I did what I could to thoughtfully and lovingly speak up for God’s Word. I believe that’s the best way to defend the Bible to a skeptical and needy world. And that’s the opportunity both you and I have, every day.