A Kansas public elementary school is ending the free distribution of Bibles to students after complaints that the practice violates the constitutional separation of church and state, the school superintendent said. (Dreamstime)

Point-counterpoint: Should people paint their Bibles?

November 5, 2018

There are better uses for a Bible than as a canvas

“I thought it’d be cute to paint the cover of my Bible … but I accidentally did it backwards, so now there’s an upside down cross on the back of my Bible. Great. I love me.” writes Twitter user @sydeyreneec.

Sydnee’s blunder somehow found its way onto my timeline and prompted me to question: Why would a person paint the Bible in the first place? Bibles are better left read than painted. And in this case, simply opening the book and reading its pages would have signaled to the painter which way was right-side up.

Painting Bibles happens to be one of my least-favorite trends I see on social media. From Snapchat to Instagram, users publicize their artwork on the inside and outside of the Bible. I, too, enjoy marking my favorite verses with highlighter to refer back to and spreading it with my followers, but somehow, I have never gathered up the energy to use a page as a canvas. The only writing found anywhere in my Bible reads “Just because I love you!!!” in my uncle’s handwriting on the inside cover.

I write my favorite verses on a yellow notepad and place it in the most central area of my room. It’s tattered, wrinkly, and not the most visually pleasing to look at. What’s beautiful about it are the words that fill its pages; words that have affected me in my best and worst of times. No artwork of mine could ever compare to the hope and joy that the Bible has given me.

My point: The best way to celebrate the Bible is to read, understand, and spread its word to others in need of it. All options would be a more productive form of worship that many of us make far too little time for in the first place.

Painting pages in the Bible is a way to express yourself

Painting over the pages of text is an incredible commitment, a daring step — especially when that text is the word of God. So, is it a good idea to take artistic skill and scribble it across Scripture?

I have always been someone who learns as she does — someone who remembers things when it has a story, shape, and structure. And reading Scripture is no different. When I spend time reading my Bible, it’s important for me to scrawl out the message in a way that makes sense to me. And studies show I’m not alone in that.

Psychology Today says people learn material better when they make out a summary of what they’re reading or learning, and painting is an easy way to encapsulate what Scripture is saying, by summary and by illustrating what you’re seeing in the Scripture you’re reading.

It’s easy to get hesitant in marking the Word of God, but if it makes us better believers by being able to reflect and remember verses, then why not? I will say, the aesthetic of painting the pages of the Bible has less appeal when the person doing the painting is not necessarily prioritizing what is being said.

But either way, the point of reading the Bible is less about us and more about what God is saying to us through His Scripture. It’s more about talking with him while we thumb through his text. And if what helps us in prayer or in conversation with God is painting, then let’s glorify Him through painting pages as a way of making better sense of his timeless message.

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