Because we are, as Ross Douthat points out, a nation of heretics…

we do not have, in our national vocabulary, a place for grasping things like redemptive suffering, or distinguishing between a morally evil act and God bringing good out of such an act, or in a word, the notion of the cross and the resurrection.  We are a simple, straightforward people who believe God is here to bless America and Americans with prosperity, to tell us and the world how fantastic we are, and to lead us by his Holy Spirit of Progress into a bright future of material riches, sexual pleasure, self-esteem, health, death to our enemies, and, above all, no demands and tons of divine approval.  God bringing good out of evil is therefore simply impossible.  Any suggestion to the contrary is really a claim that God wills evil and the person suggesting *that* is simply a member of the Oppressor Class.

So when a politician suggests that, while rape is evil, the baby who results from it is still a blessing from God whose is existence is fundamentally good, our culture blows a gasket and the normal heresy proceedings are initiated.

Nonetheless, some members of the old tradition (it used to be called “Christianity” before it became Spirituality or Self-Esteem or the American Spirit), who have not yet adapted to the simplicities of this Land of Simplicity strangely cling to the idea that God sometimes allows us to choose the evil we are bent on choosing–and even to inflict it on innocents such as, say, his only Begotten Son–because, in his mysterious Providence some greater good will come of it.  That does not mean the evil done was good or that God approved of it–Judas remains the Son of Perdition–but that God really does value what we only play at valuing: Freedom of Choice. 

God values it so much he lets us, alas, really choose to reject the love of God and neighbor–as large swaths of our culture have already done–and get the consequences such a rejection inevitably leads to (such as turning oneself into a disgusting and evil rapist, among other things).  We are, in short, free to turn ourselves into monsters as well as saints. And monsters are free to inflict their evil on innocents sometimes, till they are stopped. However, the promise of the gospel is that even when our species chooses to be rapists–even when we choose to do worse things than that in complete freedom–God’s freedom to turn that to good is not cancelled. And so Judas’ choice–and ours–to betray Jesus remains evil through all time–while God’s choice to turn it to the Resurrection means that evil, whether the rapist’s or the traitor’s or ours, will never have the last word.

Here’s Exhibit A:

So well done, Richard Mourdock. You have been duly crucified for your fidelity. Take it as a compliment. What you did was more important than winning political power. You did one of the rarest things a pol can possibly do: you told the truth.

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  • Esther

    OK, I teared up a little bit at that video.

    I was having a conversation about this with an atheist friend who was defending Mourdock against a bunch of other people on the internet. This friend has the rare quality of not letting his feelings drown out his thoughts.

  • Magdaleno

    Well-said, Mark. There is no concept in the cultural discourse that God could even will rape as part of the temporal punishment for the evil for which even the victim is responsible, merited by his or her own free choices, given his or her individual participation in the fallen human condition.

    Meanwhile, we have the equally pernicious error circulating in Catholic Culture, as That Thing We Used To Call Semipelagianism before it became the Human Spirit quietly diverts the masses from truth. Here, too, the masses collectively call for the crucifixion of the Mourdocks, led in their cry by the Really Orthodox heroes who make their living firing arrows at the enemy, including these Enemies of Development, from the Neo-Orthodox Monolith. Sworn in fealty to a Creeping Infallibilty, these Truly Catholic soldiers are unable and unwilling to ever bite the hand that feeds them their error.

    • Anna

      “There is no concept in the cultural discourse that God could even will rape as part of the temporal punishment for the evil for which even the victim is responsible, merited by his or her own free choices, given his or her individual participation in the fallen human condition.”
      As well there shouldn’t be. God cannot will evil.

      • Magdaleno

        Anna, somebody just referred me back to this post, and I saw your helpful comment for the first time. You’re right, and it is more exact to say that God wills to permit evil.

  • Good article. I once had a debate with an atheist who insisted it was God who actually “invented” evil. Ended up writing an essay about it:

    • Ted Seeber

      Thank you for that Frank. Natural disasters are only disasters because we human beings got in the way. I think that explains Southern California to me.

      • I absolutely agree with you, Ted. Thanks for adding to the conversation! 🙂

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    Why is my comment rejected as spam? It’s really not spam.

  • Andy S

    Great article, Mark. Nice to see people stand up for the truth. I really feel like we have crossed into 1984/Animal Farm territory. People don’t even know why they are crucifying Mourdock, but they see a pack heading towards him with pitchforks and torches and want to join in.

  • Ted Seeber

    Every day, in little ways, I see that the Temple of the Holy Orgasm has become, since 1968, the real American Established Religion.