Sunday, April 15, 2007

Andrew Sullivan and the Path of Least Resistance

Christianity recognizes that mankind’s path of least resistance leads to the embrace of sin and evil – “For we like sheep, have gone astray, each to his own way.” Even the apostle Paul struggled with temptation: “that which I do not want to do, these things I do. What a wretched man am I! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Without Christ as our moral leader, and the hope of our redemption, there is little to lose and much to gain in casting off the quaint burdens of guilt and self-discipline.

Ignoring small cracks in my own moral foundation has been very destructive to me in the past. The justification of my favorite, seemingly trivial sins has repeatedly led me to a life of debauchery, licentiousness, and utter disregard for my own spiritual well-being. My personal quest for reconciliation with God has not been a straight line, but more like a “Family Circus” cartoon, where little Billy wanders around in circles, distracted by all of the attractive nuisances in his path.

So where am I going with this, and how does it relate to Andrew Sullivan? I admire Andrew as a person, but I find his public moral journey to be a distressing example of the consequence of trying to rationalize one’s favored sins. His defense of homosexual behavior, contrary to the tenets of Catholicism, has brought him to a point where he proclaims that “doubt” is a necessary and beneficial component of “faith”. Doubt and faith are antonyms, and mutually exclusive. I don’t condemn Andrew for having homosexual tendencies, or even for indulging them. I only condemn his attempts to to re-interpret God’s laws to soothe his own conscience.

I place little value on moral certitude, nor do I insist on legalistic adherence to biblical doctrine. There are many questions that mankind cannot answer with divine authority. Why does God allow His children to suffer? Is it possible to lose one’s salvation? Can “faith without works” be genuine? Will the “heathen” who has never heard the Gospel be saved? These have been the subject of scholarly debate for centuries, and their answers are “seen through a glass darkly”. However, for many other questions, the scriptures provide us with straightforward guidelines. We undermine the foundations of our faith, when we deny these simple truths for personal gain.

Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient to purchase salvation for all mankind. If we truly believe this, there remains no motivation for us to deny our sinful natures, or to attempt, through our own efforts, to reconcile ourselves to God. Why defend ourselves against the judgment of our fellow man, when through faith, we can lay claim to all the righteousness of Christ?

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