There’s an unspoken agreement among many religious people that God is like a good-natured beat cop. He respects and enforces the law, but gives good, ordinary citizens some leeway. He’s not going to ticket you for driving 70 in a 65. He understands that things happen. Just don’t push the envelope.
Crouched inside my conservative heart is a little monster that cheerleads on the liberal agenda. The more pornography spills its sexual sewage into our culture, the more he whoops. The more Miley Cyrus twerks; the more benedictions Obama pronounces upon Planned Parenthood; the more LGBTs couple up, wed, and adopt children, the louder my monster claps. He could flip through channels all day long, watching example after example of the cultural corpse decaying before his eyes, and greet his disgust with gusto. Perhaps I am the lone conservative who cloisters this inner, liberal-loving monster. But I daresay that every right-leaning thinker suffers this trollish beast. I sensed his awakening the other day, and could almost feel his lips smirking, as I studied an article that detailed, quite convincingly, the various ways that sexual “freedom” has undermined the stability of marriage and family. And the thing is, I wholeheartedly agreed with the author’s arguments. It is my firm conviction that he’s logically, biblically, and ethically spot-on. In fact, I’ve echoed his sentiments in my own teaching, writing, and everyday conversations. I loathe the fact that America is slouching toward Sodom. Yet, alas, the monster closeted in my soul laps it up.
Why? For what reason would a conservative Christian find secret religious delight in society’s moral degradation?
Some might say I’m just a hypocrite, one more right-winger who publicly lambasts the very thing he privately loves. And, no doubt, I suffer from that vice to an extent. Lord knows there are few, nay, no men whose words and actions exhibit perfect, perpetual integrity.
I suspect, however, that something else is afoot. I think the chief reason that a faction within me welcomes the disintegration of the American ethos is this: it makes me feel so much better about myself. The smut makes me quite smug. The dirtier things become round about me, the cleaner I sense myself to be. The more porn there is, the more chaste I think I am by comparison. The more homosexuals come out, the more I deem heterosexuals the ethically superior group. The monster within, you see, uses all this when he fulfills this vocation: he is a priest before an altar upon which sits an icon of myself. And to me, his lord, he offers up the sacrifice of self-affirming praise.
I am caught, therefore, in a dilemma. For on the one hand, God calls me to speak the truth in love, to speak out against evil in all its manifestations. But on the other hand, the more evil manifests itself, the more ecstatic my inner monster becomes. What’s a man to do?
Here are my two goals. I shall endeavor, first of all, to see in every manifestation of evil, a crime scene that has my fingerprints all over it. For if there is a problem in society, it is my problem. Every man is my brother, every woman my sister, every problem in society is therefore my family’s problem. If I wish to be part of the solution, I must first acknowledge that I am part of the problem. Rather than isolating myself atop a mountain from which I can decry the iniquities in the valley below me, I will confess that daily I drag my feet through the muck of that valley floor. Along with the abortionists and crack whores and pedophiles and gossiping Grandmas, I am dirtied by sin, plagued by vices, and desperately in need of the Christ who will once and for all shower away my filth and envelop me with his own sacred skin.
And I shall also endeavor, as one who knows the author of all good, to continue to speak out against evil. But I shall speak as a sinner to sinners, as a sick man to comrades in calamity, as a dying man to others who teeter on the brink of the grave. Before I speak against evil, however, I will ask myself: are these the words you would choose if your son or daughter were the object of this address? If not, I will zip shut my lips until I learn to speak the truth in love, for ‘tis better to be mute than to screech orthodoxy in the tones of a finger-wagging Pharisee. As a brother of mine recently commented, “Loveless truth is just as harmful as truthless love,” (Bill Cwirla).
Yes, I confess that my inner monster finds secret delight in society’s moral degradation, but I also profess that I abhor that demonic, immoral delight within me. That is not the man God created me to be, nor the man I desire to be. I wish, and therefore I pray, to be a man who bears the icon of his Creator—the one who, in his fathomless love for mankind, leapt from heaven, enveloped himself in our skin, and befriended the sinners, especially those whom the religious folk of the day shunned as the morally degenerate. And in the mercy of that friend of unfaithfuls, Jesus the Christ, I shall lay hold of peace, as do all those who rest not in their own worth or morality, but in the bleeding wounds of him who died that in him we might live in, but not of, this world.