The Tragedy of Sound Bite Prophecy

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of The Christian Post or its editors.

Human life is a gift from God, and even if that person is conceived through the "horrible situation of rape," God "intended it to happen."

So spoke Richard Mourdock, the Indiana Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in a debate October 23.

The response: Frenzy. Establishment banshees wailed, mediadom wrung its hands, all midst much sniffing from the sensitive folk who support President Obama's positions that favor expansion of abortion generally, including partial-birth abortion and pregnancy termination so late it borders on infanticide, all paid for by the taxpayer.

In his rightful opposition to such heinous public policy, Mourdock introduced us to a vital political principle: Prophets do not good candidates make. The prophetic voice is needed urgently in the political arena. However, prophets have a hard time winning elections because some voters – especially the non-ideological swings and undecided vital for victory – prefer broad platitudes to narrow truth.

Check that with Jeremiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Haggai and a few others.

The establishment reactions also demonstrate what Jesus meant when He warned against giving gems of priceless truth to people whose worldviews would only trample the treasures into the mud.

A third principle is this: A statement of biblical truth that begs for careful exegesis and contextual background is not the stuff of a sound bite.

Mourdock needed to elaborate, to explain that he did not mean (I hope) that God intended the rape, but that the Creator has a purpose for all human beings, including those conceived in the trauma of sexual abuse. To get all that across would have made a campaign moment into a Bible class, something many deadline-anxious reporters desperately need, but would not sit still for, or take seriously.

Mourdock later tried to explain what he meant, but it's hard when your back is already pushed to the wall and your political opponents and your own party are teamed in digging your grave.

America needs men and women like Mourdock, who understand the bitter reality of rape, and its consequences for the mother, father, and child conceived through the violation of the woman. People who are willing to state the truth in-your-face are a refreshing alternative to the equivocators and mumblers. However they bring disfavor to the cause when they fail to understand that the hardest of truths must be well-framed, that understanding them is so vital that much care must be given in their careful communication so that people truly comprehend.

Otherwise what should be apples of gold in settings of silver come out as indigestible rot ensconced in corroding aluminum.

The Sermon on the Mount is an example. Jesus gives the sound bites in the Beatitudes, then elaborates with principles and illustrative parables to which all His hearers could relate. But Jesus' startling, world-upsetting message wouldn't be tight enough for the six o'clock news.

Mourdock left the rich doctrine of the will of God in a murky state in the minds of biblically illiterate media and voters. They do not understand the difference between the intentional will of God and the permissive will. Many in the media and among the masses don't connect the dots that without the permissive will of God – that zone where things God never intended do occur – humanity would have no freedom. Without the permissive will of God, we would live in a robot world, and all of us would be R2D2 or Commander Data, rather than human beings who sadly pluck evil fruit off the tree of good and evil as well as healthy fruit.

How much more convenient if there had been only one tree in the Garden. But then we would not be free.

All this gets ground into the muddy political pit when profound truth is turned into a sound bite.

Wallace Henley, a former Birmingham News staff writer, was an aide in the Nixon White House, and congressional chief of staff. He is a teaching pastor at Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas. He is a regular contributor to The Christian Post.