Anna Karenina, a character in Tolstoy’s novel of the same name, is a young Christian woman who visits her sister in an attempt to help restore her sister’s marriage, which has been ravaged by adultery, bitterness and deceit. Immediately, Anna’s attention is captured by a young attractive man and she discovers that she too is capable of adulterous desires. At first the idea of the affair was exciting, seductive and intoxicating. Very quickly Anna’s family, friends and conscience were so badly compromised by the affair that she became almost unrecognizable. What was thought to be a momentary excursion into forbidden pleasure became a downward spiral; Anna was ashamed, alone and dejected.
Marriage is designed by God to bring out the best in us as we love our spouse, deny ourselves and follow God together. Tolstoy writes, “What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.” As with anything we learn more from our struggles than from our comforts. One of the benefits of a classical education is reading books that have stood the test of time. Great Books stand the test of time because they tell a good story, a human story: stories of tragedy, redemption, weakness and strength.
Sometimes parents will ask me if I think our students sheltered by growing up in a Christian school environment. My answer is yes, and no. They are being sheltered from living in the devastation that sin can bring because we truly do hold one another accountable to follow Scripture. Sin is real and ever present, but it doesn’t have to rule us. This kind of shelter allows our souls to flourish. As we dwell in the protection that Scripture provides, we also extend opportunities for exposure to the world through the liberal arts.
Our students are exposed to the devastation that sin brings through reading great books, having great discussions and holding our thoughts to the standard of the Scriptures. To be human is to make mistakes and hopefully we learn from them as we gain life experience. By reading the Great Books we extend our experiences beyond our own and significantly increase our opportunities to learn. Through Tolstoy’s writing we are shown the devastation that adultery brings as we watch the foolish mistakes of Anna Karenina. The intrigue of an affair, such as with an “anonymous list,” seems perhaps less tempting when one visualizes Anna in despair at the unintended destruction of her family. Through the Scriptures, which Tolstoy treasured, we can find forgiveness and hope in the arms of our faithful Savior.
Posted on Tue, September 1, 2015
by Leslie Collins filed under