April 16, 2024

Is Scripture-Quoting a Sign that You’re Nuts?

Currently in theaters is the movie “Safe Haven,” based on the book by Nicholas Sparks. In the book, the bad guy goes around quoting Scripture.

Is quoting Bible verses indicative of a mental imbalance? To some of our cultural elites it would seem so.

By way of full disclosure, I have neither read the book nor seen the movie. (Nor do I want to vote with my money by buying a ticket for it, saying, “Yes, Hollywood, make more Christian-bashing movies.”) However, my wife read the book and said it’s a great story about an abused wife, fleeing from her mentally imbalanced, Scripture-quoting husband, who is a bullying cop. I have no idea if the movie has mollified the anti-Christian aspect of the novel; hopefully, it has.

My wife said, “It’s such a good story. Why should the horrible husband quote the Bible and base his irrational behavior on what he believes it to say. I’m so upset.”

Why is the bad guy – in many a movie and TV show – quoting the Bible? In the vast majority of cases of a character quoting the Scriptures, is that a cue that he or she is a good character or a bad one, or even just comic relief?

I remember on “Sanford and Son” from the 1970s a crazy aunt who would tote her Bible around and quote different verses, like, “The truth shall set you free!” She was a whack job.

Do you know anyone like that personally?

One man I used to know who went around quoting Scripture was among the nicest people I’ve ever known in my whole life. Charlie used to memorize Bible verses and quote them all the time. He was also one of the happiest people I’ve ever known. He had the most irrepressible smile.

Charlie used to go to prisons six days a week for ministry, from the time he retired in 1964 until he died in 1994. By the end of his life, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) so disabled him that the prison authorities said he couldn’t visit anymore unless he had a volunteer to wheel him around.

Every single day he found a volunteer. I was that volunteer on Jan. 1, 1994. It was the first time in my life I had been in a prison.

Charlie gave out 8-by-10 certificates to inmates for having memorized key Bible verses – 1 John 1:9 on the forgiveness of sins or John 3:16 on God’s gift of Jesus to the world, etc. Yes, he went around quoting the Bible all the time. And no, he didn’t go around killing people the way Hollywood’s Bible-quoters do. He only helped people – everyone, without discrimination.

Hollywood and our popular culture have brainwashed millions to think that if someone quotes the Holy Book, then we know he’s certifiably insane or worse.

You’d think if someone was filled with Bible references, then he must be mentally unbalanced.

And yet Shakespeare’s writings are replete with some 1,300 biblical quotes and references.

Even the world’s leading atheist, Richard Dawkins, professor at Oxford and author of the best-selling book “The God Delusion,” essentially says you’re culturally illiterate if you are not familiar with the Bible. In page after page of blasting the Christian faith (and Islam), after saying terrible things about the Scriptures, suddenly, he says positive things about the Bible – as literature.

Dawkins states, “The King James Bible of 1611 – the Authorized Version – includes passages of outstanding literary merit in its own right, for example the Song of Songs and the sublime Ecclesiastes (which I am told is pretty good in the original Hebrew too). But the main reason the English Bible needs to be part of our education is that is a major source book for literary culture.”

Dawkins goes on to cite scores and scores of phrases from the Bible that are common in our parlance, such as “Be fruitful and multiply,” “East of Eden,” “Adam’s rib,” etc.

This does not mean he in any way respects the Bible as holy writ or anything close. He concludes this section: “We can give up belief in God while not losing touch with a treasured heritage.” That strikes me as a fruitless venture – but I quote it because he refers to the Bible in general, and the 400-year-old King James in particular, as a “treasured heritage.”

For those who have never taken the time to read it, the Bible contains a great deal of wisdom – teaching such concepts as: As a man thinks in his heart so is he; you reap what you sow; do unto others as you would have them do unto you; love your neighbor as yourself, and so on.

Several years ago, David Van Biema wrote a cover story for Time magazine (April 2, 2007), wherein he said: “Should the Holy Book be on the public menu? Yes. It’s the bedrock of Western culture. And it’s constitutional – as long as we teach but don’t preach it.”

He even implies life would be boring without it: “Without the Bible and a few imposing secular sources, we face a numbing horizontality in our culture – blogs, political announcements, ads. The world is flat, sure. But Scripture is among our few means to make it deep.”

Sadly, when you see a character on the big screen, if he or she is quoting the Bible, it’s almost a sure sign that he’s crazy or evil or both. The other characters need to hold on to their wallets and get ready to defend themselves. Thankfully, reality is far different.