I study my Bible nightly. It always amazes me when a verse I’ve read dozens of times before can suddenly become so profound when I face a specific circumstance in my life. The scriptures thrill me, touch me and humble me.

I take the Bible figuratively.

Jesus taught in parables—clearly, not a literal approach. I believe much of the Holy Book conveys the same message through stories. If I took every word literally, I would miss the larger picture.

Science is compatible with the Bible.

In the 1980s, I attended an astronomy class taught by an insightful professor. He said evolution is compatible with creationism. The Holy Book reads that God’s time is not the same as ours on Earth; one of God’s days could be thousands and thousands of years to us. The teacher pointed out that the order of creation in Genesis follows the same general progression as evolution, just over a very long period of time.

The Bible originally was written to relate to a culture 2,000 years ago.

That doesn’t mean its contents aren’t divinely inspired—it’s just that we need to consider the civilization it was written for. I believe the Bible is timeless, but we can’t read everything without considering societal advances. Consider these examples:

         1. Intercourse outside of marriage. In Biblical times, women couldn’t financially support themselves or a family on their own. Effective birth control didn’t exist. And, women were largely seen as property. Isn’t it possible that in the 21st century, the Holy Book’s real emphasis on sexuality is to extol caution about activity outside of marriage? To respect those we are in relationships with, warn of sexual disease transmission and to seriously consider not creating life when we aren’t ready for it?

         2. Resting on the Sabbath. The scripture’s intent may have served to encourage people to take a break from toil and allow their bodies and minds to recharge. I don’t think God ever intended for people to go to church and then just sit all day. Go ahead and hike in the Lord’s majestic creation, have fun with family and friends, or clean out that closet if it does your psyche good.

We do not know the true meaning of some Ancient Hebrew words.

A rabbi told me this language depended a great deal on context and that no one today definitively knows what some of these words actually mean, which can skew our modern perspective.

Just like in life, there are times we need to step back and study the larger picture. See the Bible as your guide to a healthier, happier life and a richer relationship with the Great I Am.