Recently we had a friend over at our house, just hanging out and chatting. We were in my living room, where I have 2 small bookcases. One of the bookcases is full of fiction books we regularly re-read, and the other is full of non-fiction books that we sometimes peruse. Well, it used to be full of non-fiction books. But then I left the church. I didn’t feel it necessary to keep all my old study manuals and general authority books around, so I tossed them. The top shelf now only has a family history book, a FARMS book that I want to keep because of its ridiculousness, a CES conference summary manual and my set of large print scriptures.
Our friend casually asked us why we have the scriptures there on the shelf. This is a very good question to ask! Why do I keep my scriptures right there, highly accessible, when I never read them anymore? Why do I keep them in the first place?
I loved the scriptures. This is not to say that I read them every day or that I knew them backwards and forwards. But I did love them. I loved cross-referencing. I loved making sense of things by comparing stories in the scriptures to my own life. I loved thinking of the scriptures historically. I especially loved reading the Book of Abraham, the Book of Mormon, and the Old Testament, in that order.
Just because I left the church doesn’t mean my feelings for certain things have gone away. I still think back on my days of teaching early-morning seminary fondly. I still love the stuff I learned at the CES conference I attended a few years back. And I still have residual love of the scriptures.
I guess the simple answer to my friend’s question is that I keep the scriptures just because. I don’t feel a need to purge them from my house or my life. I don’t take them as divine word anymore, but I still like them for the stories. Also, I guess you could call it a cultural decision. Our society is affected by the bible on so many levels, and to not understand it is ignorance.
I’m not bitter or angry for the 28 years I spent entrenched in the church. Some days I get a little sad, but mostly I’m looking forward.