How Do I Dispose of an Old Bible?

RC asks: “What should I do with a couple of old bibles that are damaged beyond use? Can I just throw them out?”

Great question!

According to Catholic Answers, there is no specifically mandated way to dispose of an old Bible.

“Some Catholics follow a custom of disposing of religious articles that have been blessed either by burying or burning them, but even that is not mandated by law. If the Bible has been blessed you might choose to follow that custom. If not, dispose of it as you would any other book. If it’s still in fair condition, you might put it on a book donation table to benefit someone else.”

In researching this question, I found that many people just don’t feel right about disposing of it as they would any other book. It is, after all, the Word of God, and must be treated with the respect it deserves. Somehow, putting it in a trash can just doesn’t feel right (although I did come across a story where a garbage collector removed a discarded bible from the trash, read it, and placed his faith in Jesus Christ as Savior).

For those who just can’t bring themselves to do this, here are a few other suggestions:

Have the Bible rebound. This Bible rebinding company has options for as low as $65  which can make your bible as good as new.

Rebind it yourself. Call it a loving labor! WikiHow gives complete instructions here.

Keep the Bible as a family heirloom that can be handed down to future generations. Perhaps place it in a decorative box or display case. When treated in a way that celebrates its age, all those torn and yellowed pages become a part of the family’s heritage and are proof of the many hands that lovingly turned the same pages.

The bottom line is that it’s really up to the owner of the Bible what they feel is the best way to deal with a Bible that has seen better days. If it has been blessed in any way, then it should be disposed of in the way described above.

“ . . . [I]t is up to the person’s conscience to dispose of a Bible as it is generally not considered a sacramental because there does not exist a specific blessing for it,” advises Philip Kosloski in this article appearing on Aleteia.

“God won’t send down a lightning bolt if you do the ‘wrong’ thing, but it is worthwhile making a careful decision as to how we treat our Bibles.”

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