When I started writing this blog (over four years ago!), I was much more direct about my faith and would regularly cite Bible verses to support my statements. I’m still upfront about my faith and sometimes reference the Bible, but not like I used to. I’ve been realizing this about my writing lately, and have thought about why. If you’re interested, here are a few reasons I’ve come up with…
1. I don’t want to cater exclusively to Christians and/or alienate people of other faiths/belief systems. I don’t mean that I want to have a wider appeal and thus gain a larger audience; I mean that I think many of the issues I address are applicable and valuable regardless of one’s faith background (or lack thereof). I want each and every person who comes across my writing to feel respected and valued as a fellow human, whether or not we share a religion.
2. I am tired of Christians citing Bible verses as absolute proof of their views as though multiple translations and interpretations don’t exist. When I say “tired,” I mean less “sick and tired,” and more truly “weary.” I find listening to one person’s interpretation exhausting. For any passage or topic, I hear one person delivering their view, and my mind automatically starts ticking off the other views I have heard (or could just make up on the spot on my own). As I have said before, if the Bible were actually clear and perfectly understandable, we would have figured out a way to agree on it by now. So, while I can easily pull Bible verses that I believe validly support something I’m saying, I know it’s just as easy for someone else to take those verses and reframe them with a valid argument against what I’m saying.
(If you’re interested in reading more about the ways we get all kinds of opposing views from reading the same Bible, Peter Enns is a great place to start).
3. Ultimately, my reluctance to Bible-cite reflects a personal shift. Yes, I am a Christian, and yes, I still value Scripture. As I say on my “About Me” page, my understanding of what it means to be a Christian is ever-changing. Right now, my understanding is much less of an exclusive grouping of people and much more of an inclusive view of all people as being God’s children. As an example, for many years, I’ve been determined to write a book for Christians who are teachers. I’ve worked on the project off and on the past few years, and put together a solid book proposal that I submitted to a few Christians publishers. The response from all of them, essentially, was: “You write well. This is an important topic. But we’re not publishing it because we don’t have the audience for it.”
Between that experience–and experiences I have had with Christian attitudes towards education in general–I have begun considering a different direction for my book: one that is meant for any teacher. It would have a definite spiritual aspect, but not specifically Christian. Christians could still absolutely read it and apply it. But, it wouldn’t be limited to that audience, because unfortunately, that audience is often limited in their thinking.
In some ways, it feels like an unfamiliar balance to strike. But, honestly, in other ways, it feels like a balance I’ve been drawn to my entire life.