We all wonder what happens when we read ancient holy books and take them literally.
The answer is that sometimes people die.
Like snake handlers, who believe God is going to protect them from a snakes deadly venom because the bible told them so. For example, we have exhibit A: John David Brock.
According to WKYT, the Bell County Sheriff’s Office reported that John David Brock was bitten during Sunday morning services at the Mossy Simpson Pentecostal Church. Brock refused medical treatment and died four hours later at his brother’s home in the town of Jenson.
And why did John think he was going to walk away after being bit by a snake?
True followers of Christ, says Mark 16:18, “will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Holiness followers believe that God will stop the snakes from biting them, and if they do bite, then God will save them from the poisonous effects of the venom.
God was either sleeping, isn’t around to back up his biblical statements or he was talking in analogies or something, because clearly the best way to survive a snake bite is to seek medical attention. Unfortunately, if you believe God is going to swoop down and save you and refuse real medical attention, you might just die before realizing your bible was telling you a fib.
And it gets worse:
An estimated 300 churches in the U.S. practice snake-handling as a rite of worship.
So this isn’t one or two people doing this but 300 freaking churches that we know about. And sad to say, John isn’t alone in dying due to snake bite:
Jamie Coots, the pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, Ky., was handling a rattlesnake during a service when he was bitten on his right hand Saturday night. But when the ambulance arrived at 8:30 p.m., the EMS team found that Coots had gone home, according to a statement from the Middlesboro Police Department.
Middlesboro Police Chief Jeff Sharpe told ABC News that, according to people at the church, Coots verbally refused treatment at the church. He said Coots was unconscious when he got to his house. When the ambulance crew arrived at Coots’ home, his wife Linda Coots signed a form declining medical treatment, police said.
Emergency personnel left about 9:10 p.m. that night. When they returned about an hour later to check on Coots, police said he was dead from a venomous snake bite.
Not only did the guy who got bit refuse medical treatment but his wife did as well.
Damn, imagine how she must feel now. If my wife came home with a snake bite and told me she refused medical treatment and then promptly fell unconscious on our couch, my first call would be to 911.
Despite his father dying, the son just keeps on snake handling:
Despite his father’s death, Cody Coots said he doesn’t believe snake handling is dangerous. “It’s the word of God,” he said. “We’ve always said it’s a good way to live by and a good way to die by.”
The Christian Post even tried to tell people to stop taking the bible literally:
To outsiders, mainstream Christians included, snake handling seems foolhardy at best and deadly at worst. And despite commending their desire to be obedient to Scripture, Christians have argued that snake handlers are wrong to take Jesus’ words in Mark 16:17-18 literally. His statement, they argue, is not a commandment and, what’s more, intentionally putting oneself in danger is tantamount to tempting God.
Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., suggested in a Facebook response to a reader doubtful that God “would agree with this practice,” that the passage in Mark is to be interpreted spiritually and not literally, as it “means that we as Christians are indestructible until God is done with us.”
Well, if you can’t take Jesus’ word for it, who can you believe? And although I’m glad most Christians have the sense to ignore such bad advice, I have to ask myself why they think Jesus lied to them here?
There’s no allegory to be found. He must have known some people would take his words literally and die as a consequence.
Even though Facebook Christian in the quote above thinks you’re indestructible until God is done with you, I think the snakes provided you with some evidence to the contrary.
And from good old Wiki:
Although exact records are difficult to substantiate, at least 71 people have been killed by venomous snakebites during religious services in the United States
Memo to biblical literalists: Venomous snakes kill. Seek medical treatment if you’re bit.