I think it is about time we pick up an old book called the Bible. I have no doubt that old Book will give us the perspective we desperately need.
C. S. Lewis once wrote an essay to a very old book wherein he commended the practice of reading old books. He, as a modern writer, did not want people to stop reading modern books but to generously sprinkle their reading of modern books with old ones. However, and this gets his point across, he said, “But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old.” Now, he gave that advice because he didn’t want the reader being carried away unprotected into modern perspectives. So, Lewis went on to commend the reading of old books. It is an excellent essay and I highly commend it and the practice that Lewis commends in it, that is, intentionally reading old books.
There are a variety of reasons for this practice but I think Lewis sums up an important one in the essay. He writes, “Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.” I would like to illustrate this principle in this little essay.
But before I tell you about that experience let me give you some cultural background. Our present Western culture has not abandoned morality. It has changed morality. For example, homosexual practice was once viewed as sin (and even illegal). But the orientation was something that was considered a psychological problem needing to be corrected. If a young man dressed up like a woman he too was considered a candidate for mental health services. In fact, even the church has capitulated to this new morality. Granted, some have not gone as far as mainline liberalism but there are even Reformed churches flirting with the idea of allowing candidates for ministry who identify as gay (as if it were a neutral orientation) but celibate. What is more, criticism of these practices and orientations is considered to be a sin of the worst kind. Enter an old book.