McAlister: Evading the hard truths of life

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

This quotation from H. Richard Niebuhr came to mind as I encountered a recent column by Editor Emeritus Phil Latham in June 12 edition of the News-Journal. Mr. Latham speaks positively of “Pride Month,” which has to do with the celebration of “sexual minorities,” and continues to be dismayed that “so much of the rest of the world” wants them to feel shame.

It should be noted that that portion of the world that is opposed to said “pride” seems to be contracting. Indeed, Mr. Latham refers to his visit to a United Methodist church in Denver, which supports “inclusion … in all facets of what the church does, including marriage and ordination.”

This to me is a telling reminder of the wide gulf fixed between the teaching and practice of many contemporary churches on the one hand and that of historic Christianity on the other.

Mr. Latham often writes faith-based columns, but noticeably absent from this column is any conception of sin, repentance and redemption. He concludes by saying, “All I know is that embracing others feels so much better than turning them away.” But does the embrace of others include condoning behavior that has been condemned by the church for two millennia, and by Judaism for even longer? Jesus refused to condemn the woman caught in adultery, but he also told her, “Go and sin no more.” Similarly, upon encountering the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus did not shrink from reminding her of the sexual irregularities of her life, even while demonstrating compassion. Of what Jesus held to be true about marriage there is no secret (see Matthew 19), and it did not involve the idea of same-sex couples or transgenderism either.

It is hard to see what we, especially those of us who are Christians, gain by yielding to the alphabet-soup-and-rainbows ideology, especially as it encourages deliberate sterility. Likewise, it is difficult for this writer to understand why some of those who confess Christianity would condone virtual infanticide in the name of “bodily autonomy.”

But these people exist.

Mr. Latham is no doubt well intentioned. But the strenuous efforts of what essayist Joseph Epstein calls “the Good Intentions Paving Company” rarely if ever result in good infrastructure. The unregenerate Scrooge may well have smiled if he could have seen the triumph of the sexual revolution, so adept as it has been at “decreasing the surplus population.”

We pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves for encouraging “inclusion” and “diversity.” Meanwhile, there is abundant spiritual starvation and emptiness, and our “progressive” values bring no genuine progress toward the good. If churches welcome those from outside but proceed to destroy their own foundations, who exactly are we helping?

Flannery O’Connor wrote something to the effect that sentimentality has essentially the same relation to Christianity as pornography does to art. In the name of sentimentality and the therapeutic, we are evading the hard truths of life. We cannot do that forever.

— Jeff McAlister, a Longview resident, is a regular contributor to the Saturday Forum.

Today's Bible verse

“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’ ”

— Mark 9:35

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