Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Lion shall Lay Down with the Lamb

G. K. Chesterton, you sexy, sexy beast.

No caption needed.

I refer, obviously, to his mind and not his looks. This quote from "Orthodoxy" has been in and out of my thoughts all day...

"And sometimes this pure gentleness and this pure fierceness met and justified their juncture; the paradox of all the prophets was fulfilled, and, in the soul of St. Louis, the lion lay down with the lamb. But remember that this text is too lightly interpreted. It is constantly assured, especially in our Tolstoyan tendencies, that when the lion lies down with the lamb the lion becomes lamb-like. But that is brutal annexation and imperialism on the part of the lamb. That is simply the lamb absorbing the lion instead of the lion eating the lamb. The real problem is -- Can the lion lie down with the lamb and still retain his royal ferocity? That is the problem the Church attempted; that is the miracle she achieved."

Jesus is both meek and mighty. He is our Judge and our Deliverer. He is both the sacrificial Lamb and the Priest who offers the sacrifice. Chesterton says:

"It is true that the historic Church has at once emphasized celibacy and emphasized the family; has at once (if one may put it so) been fiercely for having children and fiercely for not having children. It has kept them side by side like two strong colors, red and white, like the red and white upon the shield of St. George. It has always had a healthy hatred of pink. It hates that combination of two colors which is the feeble expedient of the philosophers. It hates that evolution of black into white which is tantamount to a dirty gray. In fact, the whole theory of the Church on virginity might be symbolized in the statement that white is a color: not merely the absence of a color. All that I am urging here can be expressed by saying that Christianity sought in most of these cases to keep two colors coexistent but pure."

When you compromise on your convictions, they become lost, gray and lifeless, in a middle ground that is neither one thing or the other. The lion lays down with the lamb but he does not become like the lamb. He is a king, he is fierce, and strong, and mighty. The lamb is gentle, meek, and humble. They are complete opposites and yet they exist together. Like so many of the paradoxes of our great faith, we don't stand on a weak middle ground. We don't want a god who is half-human and half-divine. Our God is fully man and fully divine.

And how much do I love that quote about virginity. Most people today see celibacy as simply the absence of sex. Celibacy is not just the lack of sex. That would be the middle ground. Celibacy is a beautiful act of self-giving motivated by virtue. The church celebrates virginity as fully pure and holy, and celebrates marriage in the same way. Although they are on opposite ends of the spectrum, we are fiercely in favor of both. To lose our respect for celibacy would be to let go of the rope in a game of tug-of-war where each side is perfectly matched. The profound beauty of marriage would be left to fall to the ground. In order to keep the balance, if one side stops pulling as hard as it can, the other side must do the same, until we are left with all the people just standing in the middle holding on to a limp and lifeless rope.

And now to apply this to children. Sorry to make everything about kids, but its the season of my life right now, that's just how it is. So often we want to subdue children, but if we chip away at their passions we no longer allow them to partake in the balancing act. We tamp down all their colors until we are left with a muddy gray. I want my children to feel something extremely, to explore something completely, to question so intensely, and to go all the way out to the end of the rope, knowing that there is a full and equal force on the other side that they can search just as deeply, knowing that as long as they keep their balance, they will never fall down.

I want my children to be fiercely loud, strong, wild, unencumbered, and free. I also want them to be intensely quiet, introspective, restrained, and peaceful. Lenny is free one moment to soothe the baby and caress her cheek ever so gently, while whispering sweet odes of love into her ear. He is also free to kick the floor and scream in frustration or limitless joy. Children were not made to be tamed beasts. You can put a rope around the neck of a tiger but you will not make him meek. You have made a slave. You can throw a fawn into a den of wolves but you will not make him savage. You have sent him to his death.


The lion shall lay down with the lamb. To embrace one extreme is to be free to embrace the other. That is the beauty of our Church.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know the Bible states "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb" but I'm just using the well-known phrase here.
Post a Comment