Be Not Afraid
Accusations have been made — recently and in the past — that I hold the social views that I do out of fear and hate. “Why do you fear sex?” “Why do you hate homosexuals?” “Why are you afraid of progress?”
If not for the realization that these are clichés that have more to do with the speaker than with the object, I’d find such question perplexing, the personal experience of being myself having been what it’s been. I was much more fearful back when I was an atheist with all of the proper opinions — pro-choice, fully tolerantTM, and so on.
To be sure, a large contributor to my unease was the underlying sense that there was something flawed in the opinions I felt obliged to have, and that the results were dangerous and harmful, not the least to those who were supposed to benefit by them. What if I was ostracized? What if agreeing with the wrong crowd diminished my potential for accomplishing those goals on which I’d set my sights? What if I one day proved to have been backwards and culpably incorrect?
With faith came courage.
With more to the world than material accomplishments, things that I knew to be wrong could be decried on their lack of merit. Our God became human, going so far as to allow His begotten Son, with whom He is one, to doubt Him, and for His lesson to humanity, He allowed us to torture and kill him for speaking the truth. Of what should we, then, be afraid, except perhaps cowardice and complacency?
Men and women of good will disagree about the specific requirements of religion, as a matter of worship, of intellect, and of action, but to suppose that those whose conclusions and consciences run contrary to the temper of the times speak against that fever out of fear is to misunderstand faith. It is, I would suggest, to misunderstand the significance of our celebrations this week: God’s gifts to us are manifold, but justifications for courage and for hope rise high among them.
Christmas is a merry time, indeed.