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The Test of a First-Rate Intelligence

Martin Luther King in Washington D.C.

Martin Luther King in Washington D.C.

By Matthew Castro

F. Scott Fitzgerald said once, “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” The recent news of the womanizing and drunken behavior of Martin Luther King Jr. exposes the insanity of humanity. New evidence from recent biographer David Garrow reported that King stood by, and even laughed and offered advice, as a fellow minister raped a woman. King had affairs with more than 40 women. He was involved in group sex acts with women. The news is difficult to comprehend in relation to the great achievements he had in the civil rights movement. Fitzgerald was right. King seemed to be able to speak with conviction on the errors of racism, while at the same time fail miserably to treat women with honor and respect.

We live in an era of few heroes. Everyday sheds light on the failures of humanity. Lance Marrow from the Ethics and Public Policy Center wrote about King in WSJ, “What we have today is a toxic compound of savagery and pettiness made even worse by the ruthless self-importance of identity politics. We have grown profligate in destroying heroes. I don’t think we can afford to lose Dr. King.” Do we have heroes anymore?

I am reminded that one of the major heroes of the Bible, King David, was also a man of first-rate intelligence. He was able to praise God in such beautiful ways in his psalms. While at the same time, order Bathsheba, a married women, to have sex with him and then murder her husband, Uriah, to cover his adulterous act. He was an extremely flawed man. I wonder what the reaction on Twitter or Facebook would be to King David’s sin if he was alive today. He would most definitely lose his hero status.

Does our culture allow for heroes anymore? Does our culture have any sense of grace? I think grace is a concept that has been forsaken and replaced with unmerciful law. Marrow wrote, “The way out, I’d say, is grace. If anyone believe in grace anymore. It’s become a rare thing in American public life. Martin Luther King was complicated, and some of his behavior is vile. Yet he gave his life–gave it knowingly–for the sake of the country, for blacks and also for whites. He deserves the grace of his country’s forbearance.”

All of humanity is flawed. None of us are without sin or contradiction. We all are guilty of portraying to the world a saint like exterior, while at the same time reeking of moral failures. We are all full of utter bullshit. Yet, in Christ Jesus, there is hope for grace for the ones with first-rate intelligence.

Paul wrote in Romans 3:23-25, “For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he he had passed over former sins.” God through Christ has shown his divine forbearance by looking over our own grievous flaws and bestowing on us his grace.

Christ Jesus was mocked, shamed, and killed, so that grace may be shown to us, who deserve judgment under the law. Thankfully the Holy God has shown forbearance to us, who trust in the redemption of Christ. Now, we must model to the world what grace on the morally inept looks like. The only true hero is Christ Jesus. He was innocent. Yet, he died a criminals death for the ungodly.

If anything, the news of MLK reminds us all of our own flaws. Too often we look to men and women of history for evidence of greatness to only to be disappointed in the end.. Figures like MLK rather prove that we all are image bearers of God, who have the capacity for great things. While at the same time, we are all creatures of the fall, who are riddled with a sinful nature. Trust in Christ Jesus for grace on your sin, and look to show that same grace to the womanizers and drunkers among us.

Matt Castro