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I was recently asked what was the best way to dispose of a Bible?  This is an interesting question.  Interesting because the average Christian probably does not face this situation on a regular basis.   If the Bible is in decent condition it can be donated to a library or church or given to someone who needs a Bible.   However, every now and then we are faced with the question of what to do with a Bible that is so well worn that it is no longer usable and therefore should not be donated.

For Lutherans there is no set policy.  You can throw out a Bible with the trash.  There is one problem with this solution.  Most Christians cannot throw a Bible into the trash regardless of its condition.  It is also considered acceptable to tear off the cover (or what is left of it) and recycle the paper.  Although this is better then tossing the Bible into the trash, it still does not feel right.  The words in the Bible convey to us the message of the holy, the word of God and therefore we do not feel right about disposing it along with everyday things.

In former times it was acceptable to collect old unusable Bibles and burn them together in a respectable ceremony much like we do with unusable American flags.  I have never actually been part of such a ceremony, but I have read about them.  In today’s world where the burning of sacred texts has become an ‘incendiary’ topic between Christians and Muslims it is not recommended.

I would follow the Advice of Wayne Weissenbuehler in his article appearing in the April 2003 edition of the Lutheran Magazine:

“But in this disposable world where everything is printed, used, recycled or trashed and there is little of the sense of the sacred and holy around us, here's another suggestion of how to treat these old servants of God: Follow the practice of our Jewish friends.
When Hebrew scrolls of the Scripture that contain the written sacred name of God are no longer usable, they are gathered, placed in a coffin and buried in a cemetery with a liturgy of committal. Why not take a Bible that has become unusable, wrap it in a protective cover and bury it with an appropriate liturgy of committal? Don't burn old Bibles because in our day this would signal just the opposite of what we want to say about the Bible.”

There is something about respectfully burying the Bible that seems to preserve the sacred message of the words within the book.  Although the options may vary, it seems the preferred way of disposing of sacred texts from ancient times to the present from Jews to pagans to Christians to Muslims is to bury them.

Now that you know what to do with that old unusable Bible there is one more question; before you bury that old Bible, have you written the Word of God upon your heart?

Grace and Peace,