|In which I justify this guy’s existence.|
There is an underlying theme in the word of God and an underlying principle in our religion that might be considered shocking: in all things go hard. Or, in an attempt to give Catholic hard-liners something to toast with; omnia valere. (Or, in an attempt to relate to teenagers of 1999-2004: Go Big or Go Home.) In matters of sin and virtue the greatest crime is not to be evil; it is to be lukewarm, neither good nor evil but full of evasion, justification and weakness. The paradox is troubling; God would prefer you a Nietzsche, Genghis Khan or a Vlad the Impaler than a Unitarian. I hesitate in sharing these thoughts for fear of offering some sort of justification for sinning, but since I’ve said that I hesitated, I am now morally in the clear to continue writing. (And that’s ethics for you.)
There is a certain divine disdain for the lukewarm apparent throughout Scripture. Revelation 3:16 is one I’ve used often. And, I think that part of the reason the fatted calf was never killed for the son-who-stayed-home was not only because he was never lost, but he never risked being lost; he never went hard. But that leaves a question for God. Why? Why is it better to be evil than half-hearted? Why is it the lukewarm you spit out of your mouth, is it not those frozen to you and your love that are most offensive? Why would you have us be all-out sinners rather than uncommitted flip-floppers? Because it seems that the lukewarm – at the very least – don’t do as much harm? Unitarians have killed less people, right?
Here’s what I think, take from it what you will. Being evil acknowledges God. You can’t actively and intentionally go against the will of God unless you know the will of God. To put it another way, the very act of intentional sinning admits that you are a sinner, and this, my friends, is something God wants very much. Thus, sinning like a boss, going hard by saying, “I know it’s wrong but I’m going to do it anyways”, while it may very well lead you to hell, it might just as well lead you to conversion. Not being lukewarm in sin leaves room for God; it admits his majesty while defying it. It sets an ultimatum, it declares war against God, and the wonderful, beautiful truth is that God is very good at winning wars.
Compare that sin with the wannabe sinners that we tend to be. When we are faced with the choice to sin we don’t very often say “I know God wants me to do otherwise, but I don’t care, I’m doing this…” or “I know there is objective morality, and don’t give a damn about it…” rather we justify our sins, essentially becoming the arbiters of our own morality. This cuts God out of the equation. We don’t set ourselves at opposition with God, we become gods: the oldest, shittiest sin around. We say things like “I was forced into this situation…” or “Well if you’d have been there you would have done the same thing…” or my personal favorite “The woman made me do it!” ( I actually use that a lot. 20 miles over the limit, officer? Ah, you see, ’twas the woman made me do it.) How can we open to conversion if our very sin, our very rebellion, is a denial of sin and rebellion? In his masterpiece Heretics, Chesterton faults modern day heretics for not believing in their own heresy, for having a snarky sort of “oh-aren’t-I-so-heretical” attitude, not the old-school “I’m-right-and-everyone-else-is-wrong” heresy. The same can be said of sin. Our very sin is very weak.
Do you think St. Paul would have been knocked off his horse if his motto had been, “Well I have my morality and everyone else has their own, and I’m just practicing mine.” Do you think Francis Collins might have converted at the sight of a waterfall if his atheism had been lukewarm? If you didn’t click on my oh-so-tantalizing link to Vlad the Impaler, do. The truth that the author lightly touches on is that it is much more likely and sensible that Dracula would accept Christ and convert then that Nancy Pelosi ever will. The difference between them is certainly not their physical appearance, it is that one went hard, while the other stayed lukewarm. As we speak, our culture is in danger of being spat out of the mouth of God. If we acted like real human beings and not justification-robots, we would say “it is alright to kill babies for convenience.” How I wish we would be honest like this! How I wish we would go hard in our sin, and kill babies with guns. But we have nothing but weakness in our taste for murder; we wash our hands, say that a baby is not a person – that elusive and ever-evolving definition – while in the womb, and can thus be killed halfway out of the womb, etc. etc. We – by being weak – block out the chance for a conversion. If abortions were performed by guillotine then there would be hope for conversion, hope for revolution, hope for outrage. But abortions are performed by a potent relativism and deadly evasion. So to go back to a previous point, yes, Unitarianism and all it entails has killed many more people than those going hard in their sin.
Now for the disclaimer. I’m not advocating the practice of all-out evil. I am advocating that, when we are going to sin, we be as honest with ourselves as any other time. I think, I hope and I pray that this practice will make it much more difficult to sin. For us Catholics, there’s something about saying “I’m actively opposing God and inviting his wrath into my life” that makes doing that with that girl/guy seem less appealing.
So there you are. In all things go hard. In all things be strong. God is saying, “Look, I give you these commandments, I give you this Church, I give you these things to live for. Accept them or reject them, but whatever you do, go hard.”
If there’s anything I want you to take from anything I’ve written so far it’s this post. Many apologies for it’s lateness, but I haven’t been able to write it like I wanted to.