Yesterday I mentioned my article on doubt in this month’s New Church Connection. The whole issue this month is devoted to “doubt, disbelief, and despair.” All the articles are worth reading; if I had to single out one, I’d suggest Rev. Dr. Jonathan Rose’s article on what it means to “take up our cross daily.” An excerpt:
How are we to bear our cross? Paul says in Galatians, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another…. Those who practice [the works of the flesh] will not inherit the kingdom of God…. [While] those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:16, 17, 21, 24). This passage is talking about crucifixion not as a physical thing but as a spiritual thing, and not as something that Jesus alone went through, but something we have to go through if we are to follow Him. Bearing the cross is the pain of dealing with the burden of our lower nature and warring against its passions. We need Jesus, because we have no power against hell on our own. And yet we have to repent and cooperate in bringing our lower nature into order. That we can do daily.
Previously I had found relief in prayer and scripture, but they are completely pointless if indeed there is no God. It felt like the seed of doubt had stolen away all the meaning of my life. But that was not true. I instinctively knew that the doubt had only gotten in because my faith was not strong, and I had to find out why I wanted to believe in the teachings of the New Church, and what was keeping me from knowing they are true. I had to find a rock; my own personal ground zero; a truth I know is true and do not question even a little bit. For me it came not from heaven, but from hell.
The teachings of the New Church on married partners have always been dear to me, though they too got thrown into the doubting pot. The ideas that one man is created for one woman and they live together for eternity as conjugial partners, that fornication does not add to the married partners spiritual life, and that adultery is a terrible sin are all truths I hold today to be very sacred. When I became aware of an extramarital relationship between some people I knew, I felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time – conviction. I knew in my heart that adultery is wrong, that marriage is sacred. And I felt no doubt.