Alveda King
Associated Press/Photo by Jose Luis Magana
Alveda King

Sin, conviction, and mercy


I met Alveda King, niece of the late Martin Luther King Jr., years ago at a pro-life luncheon. She’d come to my attention when I did research for an article about the religious affiliations of lawmakers who opposed a bill to ban infanticide, also known as “partial-birth abortion.” King wrote yesterday at Charisma News about the battle against redefining marriage to include two people of the same sex. It’s an issue close to my heart, and I sometimes lose sight of the big picture. King wrote:

“There is too much accusing and too little truth and mercy abroad in this present battle. Let us consider our frail humanity and approach each other with fear of judgment, pleading for mercy.

“‘For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment’ (James 2:13, ESV).”

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I stand convicted. I occasionally allow my anger over the homosexual lobby’s in-your-face tactics to overwhelm the reality of God’s mercy. I, too, am a sinner and just as unworthy of His mercy as the unrepentant. This C.S. Lewis quote King included in her article also hit home:

“When a moral person is confronted with contempt, immorality, disloyalty, or dishonesty, he is so repulsed by the offense that he turns away and in despair closes his heart to the offender. But the miracle of the redemptive reality of God is that the worst and vilest offender can never exhaust the depths of God’s love.”

I’m not always moral, yet I’ve partaken in the miracle of redemption. It’s easy to forget our old selves in light of becoming new creatures in Christ. We’re no longer slaves to sin, but we’re contaminated by sin, through and through. Our reluctance to show mercy to the unrepentant can be sinful, as the story of Jonah attests. God told him to witness in Nineveh, Israel’s enemy. Jonah didn’t want the Ninevites spared, so he disobeyed God and fled. God pursued him. A convicted Jonah eventually did as he was commanded, and God was glorified.

Alveda King’s article and C.S. Lewis’ quote are God’s reminders to me. During those times I want to keep my mouth shut and turn my back on the whole lot, leaving them to their fate, I think of the people who showed me mercy. Among the present generation of rebel sinners are those who will receive God’s gift of forgiveness.

Homosexuality is only one of the sins the apostle Paul mentions in his first letter to the Corinthians, but the lobbying by homosexual advocates makes this sin seem so much worse. We know that sin is sin, and not even the vilest sinner is outside of God’s mercy. Rather than showing or even feeling contempt toward those who push ungodly agendas, we can have a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God moment. As the apostle Paul said, God demonstrated His love toward us and died for us while we were still sinners. We were His enemies, yet we are reconciled through the death of His Son.

La Shawn Barber
La Shawn Barber

La Shawn writes about culture, faith, and politics. Her work has appeared in the Christian Research Journal, Christianity Today, the Washington Examiner, and other publications


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