Mamma Mia!

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Righteousness has its good points. God seems to like it a lot, for one thing. Because of this there are some nifty perks attached to it. The Bible says that God listens to the righteous and will uphold their causes. The righteous will also be rewarded and get their names written in the book of life to boot. (The wicked, by contrast, are pretty much pre-charcoal.) Overall, righteousness is probably a good bet for those with long-term investments in mind.

On the other hand, righteousness can be pretty boring. Long stretches of holiness and goodness can get to you after a while. It’s kind of like getting snowed in; all that whiteness may be pretty, but it’s not long before you’ve got yourself a major attack of cabin fever. What fun the righteous do have can be pretty lame. There’s UNO, of course, and bowling, and potlucks, and a lot of character-building activities like free car washes, Bible studies, and helping old people. These can be okay in small doses, but on a long-haul trip they could make a guy could lose his marbles.

That’s why most Christians think of righteousness as either a part-time job or as more of a technical religious thing that needs little maintainance. The part-timers generally schedule their righteousness for specific times (say, Sunday mornings) or during special seasons (bringing shut-ins Thanksgiving dinner). They may also do some surgical acts of righteousness which can be done quickly and without residual responsibility, like contributing a cheap plastic toy to a giving tree drive or throwing a quarter at some bum with a cardboard sign. On the other hand, those who see righteousness as a technical condition point to the Apostle Paul’s claim that “the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” Christian techies are pretty much free to do whatever they want, trusting the Big Guy to cough up the righteousness free of charge.

Now it’s probably true that darkness has little in common with light, but Christians hardly ever try to enjoy them at the same time. Most of the time Christians alternate between righteousness and wickedness so as not to mix the two, which would create confusion, lessen the value of each, and make it difficult to keep score. But as long as there’s a clear line between the sacred and the profane things work pretty well and can even be beneficial. Brief forays into the dark are, for Christians, like a harmless little affair is for a boring marriage. The the Christian, a little innocent tête-à-tête once in a while helps burn up the extra carnality left over from salvation and can even enhance the Christian’s appreciation for the grace and unconditional love of God. Not only that, quick visits to the shadowlands often evoke a pleasant feeling of remorse so cherished by serious born-again practitioners.

Experience testifies that a dash of iniquity now and then helps make the righteous life much less of a drag. Taking advantage of the many minor trespassing opportunities available is not only satisfying in and of itself but can keep a person’s religious passions burning brightly as well. Righteousness and wickedness may indeed have little in common, but that’s exactly why they work so well together. As far as I can see, it’s a win-win situation all around.

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