Something is bugging me. I tend to question a lot of what the man-made institutional church pounded into my skull since childhood. As I wander the post-institutional wilderness, my heart is telling me something different when it comes to the subject of scripture memorization. I feel that it is not a command or rule like it is typically taught.
I feel scripture memorization is a bunch of hooey. There I said it. I am sure I knocked some of you over with that statement, especially the fundies out there. This is just the way I feel, and I do not know why.
Let me explain what has been traveling through my head.
Just like any other so-called “spiritual discipline”, scripture memorization is no different. Many Christians look down upon other Christians that do not hold up to what the “church” expects you to do. If you do not pray, read, study, or volunteer enough, you are a luke-warm Christian and need to step it up. So, not memorizing enough elevates other people over the one’s that do not memorize enough. It creates a hierarchy of “Christian” awesomeness. It tears the Body apart.
I think about the people who are not very good at memorization (like me), or some that could be dyslexic or have some other infliction that causes them to struggle with memorizing things. Does this make them second class citizens? I can see a lot of people feeling this way and chucking the whole thing.
A lot of times people will cherry pick a verse to prove that memorization is a command. They typically go straight to Psalm 119:11. This verse says “I have hidden your word in my heart…”. So, they take this verse to say we must memorize. Since the psalm writer did it means we must, not! I think that is a bunch of BS. To hide the word in your heart, for me, is to put Christ in your heart since He is The Word. That is putting the word in your heart to me. Also, common sense to me says that you use your head for memorization, not your heart. (But of course it is open for interpretation, and I am not looking for a debate.. but would like to hear your points if you have some)
A lot of memorization is reward based, especially with children. Memorize this verse and get candy, or a prize of some sort. They will memorize it and then just forget it the next week. Just like cramming for an exam. Get what you need to pass and the reward of a good grade is the prize. For the adults, like me, I was rewarded for memorizing scripture in discipleship class with a certificate and a real sword at a graduation ceremony (this is another whole pile of BS I will write about another time)
I just do not understand the memorization priority anymore. We have the printing press and a billion different interpretations. We do not need to memorize to keep the scripture alive. God will do that for us if He wants to. I am not saying we should never read and soak up what we read, but memorizing individual verses here and there just leads to cutting, pasting, and de-contexualizing scripture (much like pasters do from the pulpit).
When I was in the system, the norm was to do all of this stuff like a checklist, and if you did not the guilt would be piled on like thick icing. Serve an hour a week, read, study, and memorize all the flippin time. Instead why don’t we just do what we feel in our heart is right. Like living in Christ together as One Body, and loving one another. For me memorizing scripture has no part in building up community together. Christ is.