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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