Truth is a precious good


Talk about God is generally to be avoided by politicians. When they go beyond a pious “God bless America” it can mean big trouble, as Richard Mourdock, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Indiana, found out in the late days of his campaign.
He tried to burnish his pro-life credentials with a comment on rape that went so far into theological clouds even his political friends left him. That he spoke a truth made little difference. Election campaigns are too much about appearance, not the truth.
Mourdock said this: “Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” His phrasing may be awkward but his view of divine providence, or the will of God, has a place in Christian theology.
However, he got in trouble because everything in his statement depends on the meaning of “it.” Mourdock’s “it” was misplaced, allowing both his enemies and friends to act as if he meant to put God on the side of rape.
We can assume — and in any circumstances other than a political campaign we would assume — that Mourdock means God’s intention is for the life conceived, not the manner of its conception, not the rape.
As St. Thomas Aquinas says in his Summa Theologica, “All good things that exist, God wills to be.” The evil mixed in life is a consequence of the freedom which God intends for human good but we can misuse.
Philosophers and theologians have spent centuries arguing over the precise way divine providence and human freedom are related. The rest of us can get along very well by simply trying to find the good in everything, and then doing it.
One of the most precious of goods is truth. Political contests treat the truth as relative, not absolute. If the truth will give an advantage, it is used; if not, distortions and outright lies will be used. We can assume that God does not intend this. It’s a consequence of human freedom.
In a few days we will be free of the truth-defying and truth-bending political speech that goes with a winner-take-all political campaign. All of us should pledge to be more careful of the truth ourselves, and respect it from every source. It’s always from God.
Frank Wessling

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1 thought on “Truth is a precious good

  1. Amen! Thank you for wading into this extremely contentious media moment and clarifying Mourdock’s statement. The act of rape is so horrifically evil and so utterly contrary to the grace and goodness of God, that it is easy to lose sight of the good that comes–not FROM it but, perhaps–IN SPITE of it. A human life, no matter the circumstances of its conception, comes from God and is good.

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