As someone who suffers from the life-threatening, lifestyle-destroying Celiac disease, and who also happens to be a Christian, I have become increasingly aware that the Bible is not safe for those of us who are celiac or gluten-intolerant. As a result, I propose that we make a few small changes to the Bible so that it meets our specific dietary requirements, either by removing, editing, or with small additions to the text. I will make my suggestions below, but no doubt those in the lactose free, egg free, nut free, fructose free, and artificial food colouring free communities will also want to weigh in to make sure the Bible can meet all dietary requirements, and ensure God’s Word is safe for all.
Manna from Heaven – Warning
In Exodus, we are told that God sent manna from heaven. Manna is a bread-like substance that arrived every morning like dew on the ground. I suggest adding a note to the text that this manna would have been gluten-free. There is no chance that a loving God would have inflicted those of his chosen people with gluten sensitivity to any dangerous food. It is theologically inconceivable. So I would make sure that the text is clear about this so that God’s loving character is not defamed in Scripture.
References to Wheat and Barley
Throughout the Bible, there are many references to wheat and barley. As you probably know, these are both trigger foods for those in my community. Over recent years Gluten-free Bible scholars have raised doubts about whether the Hebrew words chittah and seorah can accurately be translated as wheat and barley respectively. They suggest that it is unclear exactly what grains are being talked about here, and there is high likelihood that these are in-fact ancient grains. As a result the Bible should be translated to reflect this. So, for instance, the Gluten Safe Bible (GSB) would more accurately translate Ruth 2:23:
Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the quinoa and sorghum harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
In John 6:35, Jesus Christ calls himself “the bread of life”. While it is important to remember that Jesus is speaking metaphorically here, it still doesn’t mean that this title for Jesus is acceptable or appropriate. I would suggest that Jesus, while obviously very spiritually wise, was also a man of his time, and unaware of the harm the use of such a traumatic self-designation might cause. As a result, I recommend that John 6:35 be rewritten to read “I am the rice cracker (or corn thin) of life”. I would also say that Jesus should always be referred to as Jesus Crisp (instead of Christ) as a reminder that yesterday, today, and forever, the second person of the Trinity will always be gluten-free.
For thousands of years, communion has been a wonderful reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for all personkind at the cross. However, celebrating it can be incredibly dangerous. Imagine if a devout follower were to take some bread as an act of worship thinking that acts of devotion nullify gluten’s toxic qualities. They may soon find themselves bloated or perhaps even worse, endangering both their bowels and faith. This is not a risk we can take. My solution would be to remove communion from the Bible altogether, so that those who identify as having a gluten disability will not be caught out when celebrating the sacraments. If churches insist on continuing to celebrate this dangerous ritual, I would demand that churches clearly post signs stating that the sanctuary is a gluten danger zone and glutards best not enter, and verbally remind each person taking communion that there is gluten present and they partake at their own risk.
There are obviously other references to danger foods within Scripture, but I think these four changes will at least get the ball rolling. Hopefully, this will raise awareness so that the public will take our safety more seriously and we celiacs and gluten intolerants will be free to worship without the spectre of wheat, barley, oats or rye hanging over our heads as we read and study God’s word.