Columnists > Judgment Calls

Living logically

A New Year's Resolution

Issue: "Year in Review 2000," Dec. 30, 2000

In the 21st century I propose to live more logically. I didn't do so well in the last one, though I had almost half of it to practice; and looking back I can't think of a single instance where it worked out better for me in the long run when I did things my way instead of His. Will any man, at the end of his life, say, "Darn it. I wish I had followed my desires instead of God's word that one time back in 1966"?

And so we find, even empirically, those of us who are God's mules and must be controlled by bit and bridle, that sin is ultimately always destructive, always doomed, always ... illogical.

Living logically means talking to yourself instead of listening to yourself. And when you're talking, talking Scripture. Jesus lived logically when in the wilderness he beat back each temptation with a quote from Deuteronomy.

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Are you mourning? Never mind, life is short. Are you lonely, are you poor? Never mind, our lives are a breath. Are you happy about that big promotion? Keep it in perspective. "This world in its present form is passing away" (midrash on 1 Corinthians 7:29-31).

Logic is what Sue L. spoke when I asked how she keeps her equanimity while raising seven kids and volunteering in the pro-life movement: "I just do the next thing that needs to be done." Wow, I thought, as I mulled it over for the next 15 years: the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man all wrapped up and tied in a bow.

Logic is not what I saw at a Thanksgiving pageant at the local elementary school last year: cute, well-scrubbed tykes performing songs of thanksgiving for sun and sky and seasons-with no one in particular to thank! Just imagine what a number that does on malleable minds just forming "logic."

I have a running argument with a friend about the bumper-sticker, "Whoever dies with the most toys wins." She insists it's serious, but I say it can only be ironic, even evangelical. (Nobody's that illogical, right?)

Logic: What do you do if someone slanders you, or otherwise abuses you? See how King David waxed philosophical (logical) when Abishai asked to sever the head of the seditious Shimei the Benjaminite (2 Samuel 16:10-12). It was a page from the playbook of the Greater David: "When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:23).

Or let's say you've totally blown it, half a century used up and nothing to show for it but wood, hay, and stubble. I'm no Einstein, but it seems to me you have two logical choices here: Judas's or Peter's.

Which reminds me that related to logical living is logical praying: I like the way Daniel does this in chapter 9: "You have told us that you're merciful, Lord! You said it yourself! Therefore, Lord, I come to you for mercy!"

I am keeping two separate piles from now on, based on Deuteronomy 29:29: the things I can do something about, and the things I can't; those that belong to me, and those that belong to God. Responsibility; sovereignty.

"Sin boldly," Luther said: If you're going to choose sin and not Christ, do it whole hog, all the way; be hot or cold but not lukewarm. I'm with him. Or with his soulmate Elijah: "If the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal is god, follow him" (1 Kings18:21).

And logically speaking, if it turns out that Christianity isn't true, then it is more than a mistake; it is the hoax of the universe. In that case I go with Paul: Let's have a party (1 Corinthians 15:32). That's the logical thing, not your bourgeois random-acts-of-kindness morality. Of course we'll all be perfectly miserable because even with God dead we just can't shake this guilt. But we can drown it in margaritas.

All right, so logical isn't in the Bible (neither is hermeneutics or trinity). But I speak as to reasonable men. If you like I can say biblical, but it's all the same to me. Christianity is more than logical, but it is at least logical, calling for the whole heart, and for the whole mind too. I stake my claim on an all-or-nothing, go-for-broke religion. And when I mess up in 2001-as I will-and lapse into the irrationality of sin, I will pray the prayer of Daniel to my God of mercy. It's only logical.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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