"A man knocking on the door of a brothel is knocking for God"

I am often asked for the source of the quotation, “A man knocking on the door of a brothel is knocking for God.” The line has been attributed to Chesterton because it is startling and obviously paradoxical. It tells a truth that is the opposite of what we expect. We assume that a man consciously sinning is avoiding God. And though this is true, there is a more profound truth that a man seeking a thrill, seeking comfort, seeking pleasure, is really yearning for something more than the shallow and disappointing experience he is going to find in soulless sex.

The quotation, as it turns out, is not from Chesterton. It is from a Scottish writer named Bruce Marshall, a Catholic convert, who was a soldier in World War I, where he lost a leg. In 1945, he wrote a bestselling book called The World, The Flesh, and Father Smith. It is a sweet and reflective story, filled with quiet integrity, still well worth picking up. And the famous line actually reads: “I still prefer to believe that sex is a substitute for religion and that the young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God.
continue at Chesterton Society 

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