The Damage Niceness Does

In this and moments like it, I find myself wishing I prized politeness less and had the interior freedom to kick out my friend and his mistress—or in some way to give the moral truth that has been jammed into a far corner of my conscience some purchase on reality, some public expression. For a purely internal commitment, a moral conviction that never emerges out in the open when confronted by its negation, can easily, perhaps inevitably, become spectral, inconsequential, and eventually lifeless. (“Marriage Matters” in First Things, November 2013, p. 4)

R. R. Reno | “‘Marriage Matters'” in First Things, November 2013, p. 4 (via: Kevin DeYoung)


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  1. …And this sentiment I do not consign to a transformationalism, RC, or Theonomic mindset. I believe this is the standard issue Christian hope of the righteous world to come and, per the Psalms, yearning to institute in our own lives and circles, and in our own way and jurisdiction, that rightness which is to come. We can all appreciate this quest for appropriate action. I had one recently myself and may not have been sufficiently proactive.

  2. Dr. Clark,

    I just encountered a rather similar (and very convicting) thought in Thomas Boston’s Fourfold State, in one of his applications of the doctrine of the state of innocence. I take it his term for “niceness” is “neighbor-like.” After speaking of those “who put religion to shame, and those who are ashamed of religion” and “who make so bold with the God who made them, and can in a moment crush them, that they ridicule piety,” he continues with the following:

    There are others that secretly approve of religion, and in religious company will profess it, who, at other times, to be neighbor-like, are ashamed to own it; so weak are they, that they are blown over with the wind of the wicked’s mouth. A broad laughter, an impious jest, a scoffing jeer, out of a profane mouth, is to many an unanswerable argument against piety and seriousness; for, in the cause of religion, they are as silly doves without heart. O, that such would consider that weighty sentence, ‘Whoever therefore shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels,’ Mark 8:38.

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