The Safe Distance of Doubt

As I watch events unfolding all around me and ask the question: How could this have happened?  I must, if I am going to be honest, look into the mirror and take a good hard look at myself during the past 40 years.

In this absence of moral courage and conviction, and immersing myself in hypocrisy and denial of my own sin and cowardice, I am not unlike King David when confronted by Nathan.


How did I arrive at this dark time?

How did I become a man like King David; blind to my own weakness, cowardice, and sin?

Because I abandoned Truth, in order to live in the safe distance of doubt.

I dressed up moral cowardice and called it, “skepticism.”

In 1978, when I was 19 years old, I became a Christian.

I was strong in my faith back then, and bold in my preaching of God’s Truth.

In 1981, I married a beautiful Christian girl from my church and in 1984 we moved from Phoenix to a small town in West Virginia and I enrolled in a small Bible College in preparation of becoming a full-time Evangelist.

Looking back now, I was rich beyond my wildest dreams.

I had a young, Godly, pretty wife who celebrated the passion of our marriage every night in our marriage bed.  I was certain of my faith and certain that God had called me to the preaching ministry and had given me a beautiful young faithful wife as a life-long companion.

Then, in September of that year, just after I enrolled in Bible college, my younger brother was killed in a horrific auto crash in Tennessee.

At the tender age of 19 my little brother was dead.

I could not really live with that loss.  I dropped out of college, stopped going to church and became angry and bitter.  I wanted nothing more to do with faith or moral certainty.

And what did I do what that anger and bitterness?

I immersed myself in worldly knowledge; history, politics, philosophy, etc.  I became skilled at interjecting doubt into moral certainty.  I become an expert in moral doubt, relativism and skepticism.

I read, celebrated, and championed authors, speakers and worldly philosophers who made a living and a name for themselves by deconstructing any kind of faith or certainty.

I believed myself to be “enlightened” having put away silly outdated ideas about faith, God, patriotism, nation, family, loyalty, honor.

My liberal arts education at Ohio University from 1992 to 1996 only amplified this agnosticism about anything and everything.  Nothing was true.  Nothing was right.  Nothing was certain.  Not life, not morality, not faith, not honor, not virtue.  Everything and everyone was “relative” and open to question.

I thought of myself as wise, but in reality I was foolish.

ND5YFYVQIZHDLMXQDV3D2KENUE Looking back now, at the age of 61 I have come to see many things that I did not see 40 years ago.

Yes, hindsight is 20/20.

First, I have come to see that it wasn’t just my brother who died in that September of 1984.  I died too.  When I abandoned my faith in God, when I abandoned my certainty in the grounding of Truth, I ended up losing everything.

In 1984 my “Moral Compass” was shattered.

That year, the year my brother died, the seeds of death were planted in my marriage.  We made the marriage “work” until 1993, but I was no longer the man she had married in 1981 so she left.

In 1981 she had married a born-again Christian who was on fire for God and was full of conviction about Biblical moral Truth.  When we divorced in 1993, the man she was married to was a bitter, skeptical agnostic doubter who ridiculed the very idea of objective Truth and moral certainty.

I don’t blame her for leaving: I was no longer the man she had married.

I consoled myself about the divorce and my brother’s death with more doubt and skepticism; more worldly knowledge in a vain pursuit of “truth” without faith in God or his Holy Word.  The deeper I fell into the hole, the more furiously I dug the hole deeper.

Second, I have come to see with crystal clarity that what we call “doubt” or “agnosticism” are just a convenient, sophisticated way to cover, obscure and justify our own moral cowardice.

The skeptic or agnostic never has to take a stand on any moral issue because he “doubts” and “sees both sides” of an issue.  He can stand “aloof” high upon a mountaintop of stoic philosophical detachment as his faith, his church, his family, and his nation are ripped apart and pummeled by the forces of darkness and evil.  Hyperbole?  I think not.

I have been a coward, and that is tough to admit,

I have been living in the safe distance of doubt.

I kept silent as greedy, false teachers (like Joel Osteen) preached a false doctrine of “health and wealth” and deceived millions.  I didn’t raise my voice against him and his ilk because I lived in a place called doubt.

I had no interest in going to war again.

I was a “doubter” and a “skeptic” therefore I was exempt from spiritual service in a time of spiritual warfare.

920x920 (1) For almost 40 years I kept quiet and told myself that I was above the fray and besides, I didn’t believe in God anyway.

Spiritual, cultural, moral combat was being waged against my faith, my nation, my race, and God himself.  But I had grow tired of the war and wanted to live in “peace” as everything around me was being burned and torn down.

I lived in the safe distance of doubt.

“Can anyone really know the truth about anything?” I said to myself.


My “sword” (Bible) sat on a shelf gathering dust, as the enemies of civilization, the enemies of Truth, the enemies of God laid waste to the America I was born into.

But no more.

They say that in times of plague or civil war people often find, or re-connect with their faith: I guess I am no different in that sense.

My “truce” with a wicked world is at an end.

I am no longer living in the safe distance of doubt.

Published by Martin Kohl

I belong to another time and place. Sadly, that world no longer exists. I long for my home. I long for the desert. I miss the old America. I mourn for what once was, and will never be again. So I blog and write and remember.

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