The Proper Way to Dispose of an Old Bible

Does Scripture provide instruction for discarding worn or damaged Bibles?

Donate Used Bibles - Old Bible
Image: © Mary Fairchild

"Is there a proper way to dispose of an old, worn-out Bible that is falling apart? I figured there might be a certain way to respectfully dispose of it, but I am not sure, and I would most certainly not want to simply throw it away."

—Question from an anonymous reader

There are no specific scriptural instructions about how to dispose of an old Bible. While God's word is holy and to be honored (Psalm 138:2), there's nothing sacred or hallowed in the physical materials of the book: the paper, parchment, leather, and ink. We cherish and respect the Bible, but we do not worship it.

Unlike Judaism, which requires a Torah scroll that is damaged beyond repair to be buried in a Jewish cemetery, discarding an old Christian Bible is a matter of personal conviction. In the Catholic faith, there is a custom of disposing of Bibles and other blessed items either by burning or by burial. However, there is no mandated church law on the proper procedure.

While some may prefer to keep cherished copies of the Good Book for sentimental reasons, if a Bible is truly worn or damaged beyond use, it can be disposed of in whatever manner one's conscience dictates.

Often, however, an old Bible can be repaired easily, and many organizations—churches, prison ministries, and charities—are set up to recycle and reuse them.

If your Bible has significant sentimental value, you might want to consider having it restored. A professional book restoration service can likely repair an old or damaged Bible back to nearly new condition.

How to Donate Used Bibles

Countless Christians cannot afford to purchase a new Bible, so a donated Bible is a valuable gift. Before you throw away an old Bible, prayerfully consider giving it to someone or donating it to a local church or ministry. Some Christians like to offer old Bibles free of charge at their own yard sales.

Here Are More Options for What to Do With Old Bibles

  • BibleSenders.org. Bible Senders accepts new, slightly used, recycled, and old Bibles in any language. No Bibles with ripped, torn, loose, or missing pages, please. Donated Bibles will be sent free of charge to anyone who asks. Visit BibleSenders.org for specific mailing instructions.
  • Bible Foundation Network for Sending Bibles. Check out this network for distributing Bibles, holding Bible drives, collection, transportation, etc.
  • Christian Library International. The goal of Christian Library International is to advance Christ’s light in prisons. They collect used Christian books and Bibles and distribute them to prisons in all 50 states. They also offer receipts for tax deduction purposes. Instructions for donating books and Bibles can be found here. Go one step further and volunteer by writing letters to inmates.
  • Love Packages. Love Packages aims to put Christian literature and Bibles into the hands of people around the world who are hungry for God's Word. They accept new or used Bibles, tracts, reference books, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, concordances, Christian fiction and nonfiction (adult or children's), Christian magazines, daily devotionals, Sunday school supplies, CDs, DVDs, puzzles, Bible games, puppets, and more. Learn about their mission to glorify God through the distribution of the word of God to hungry hearts throughout the world.
  • Master Bible Collection/Distribution Centers in U.S.A. and Canada. Find a list of Bible collection and distribution centers in the United States and Canada. New, used, recycled, and old Bibles (even parts of Bibles) can be sent to locations on this list. Be sure to make contact before sending.
  • Many local churches accept used Bibles for believers in need.
  • Consider contacting your local prison or correctional facility and ask to speak to the chaplain. Prison chaplains often need resources for ministering to inmates.
  • Some local libraries may accept donated old Bibles.
  • Used bookstores and thrift stores may accept old Bibles for resale.
  • Homeless shelters and feeding centers may accept old Bibles.

One last tip: In whatever manner you decide to discard or donate that used Bible, be sure to take a moment to check it for papers and notes that may have been inserted over the years. Many people keep sermon notes, family records, and other important documents and references inside the pages of their Bible. You may want to hang on to this information.