“It’s complicated” is the way some who use the social media describe their “relationship status.” Though I think that means that the person is in some kind of relationship that leaves him/her comfortable describing himself/herself as neither single nor “in a relationship”, the phrase is not a bad description of marriage itself (unless you are a Bayly or Bayly disciple) . However, the phrase is apt for me regarding the majority of political issues and some ecclesiastical ones. I am a gut level conservative who thinks life in this world is complicated.
When I listen to Rush I often find myself talking back – saying something like “that’s bull-hockey.” Does he honestly misunderstand or deliberately misstate issues? Perhaps it is just an attempt to simplify things for his ditto-head audience. (I feel the same way only more so on the rare occasions I watch MSNBC.) Back when I was obligated as an elder to attend meetings of church courts, I often got the same feeling as I heard brothers make statements about issues they considered perfectly clear and self-evident. I have felt like Justice Alito hearing the President describe a Supreme Court decision in State of the Union address. I would shake my head and want to say aloud, “No, that’s not the way it is.”
Consider the health care issue, the complicatedness of which can be illustrated by considering the PCA experience with health insurance. The plan was for a number of years a real blessing to ministers and other church employees. Then insurance agents saw that certain ministers were good prospects and that they could undersell the PCA plan. And, those who were young and well saw an opportunity to divert less of their packages to insurance costs. The costs of the PCA plan began to increase, as the pool included fewer young and well and more old and sick. Eventually the plan collapsed. It was the victim of individualism – the “every minister for himself” mentality. Now in the
we have reached the place that the
majority are not willing to say that some people will just have to die because
they do not have insurance. They may not be able to get a heart transplant or
go to M.D. Anderson to get their cancer treatment, but they will get treated. US
Both conservatives and liberals as well those in the “mushy middle” will eventually have to face up to the fact that the health care issue is very, very complicated, stop speaking in and listening to sound bites and clichés, and work for solutions. Conservatives, who are convinced that the issues have to do with the Constitution, precedents, laws, and prudence, but not clear Biblical principles, will have opportunities to work toward solutions. Those who see the issue as involving Biblical principles that cannot be compromised will not, unless they can prevail, which they cannot. I am not saying they should compromise where they are bound by conscience, but I am saying that some, who believe the Bible as much as they do, do not believe the Bible speaks on all the issues of health care, and their consciences are not similarly bound. They may be wrong, but they are not wishy-washy when they say about health care, “It’s complicated.”
Consider the hoopla over Condi Rice as a possible VP candidate. I like her for reasons that do not relate to my faith. She is smart, and she conducts herself with dignity. Moreover, I think she would show up Joe Biden for the blowhard he is. But she has made some mildly pro-choice statements, and for some Christians that settles it. I think it’s more complicated. Politics can be played only by those purists who are able to accept that politics is also about what is possible. I think it was Bismarck who said that there are two things you don’t want to watch being made – sausages and laws. I think that applies to the way political decisions are made.
Consider the relationship of science and the first two chapters of Genesis. I was exposed to Henry Morris (actually heard him speak at the Pensacola Theological Institute) from the time I was a boy, but I do not find the case for “creation science” compelling. Nor do I find the case for unguided natural processes compelling. Nor do I think the intelligent design people are compromisers. Nor would I be wiling to vote with the majority of my Presbytery not to receive Warfield or Machen into membership, or to bind E.J. Young’s teaching. I think the issues of how science and the Bible interface are complicated. I don’t have the solutions, nor do I expect to in this world.
Consider Roman Catholics and salvation. I grew up thinking most people in the churches were going to hell, surely Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, and PCUSA Presbyterians, along with a bunch of Methodists and Lutherans and PCUS Presbyterians. Then it was quite likely not a few conservative Presbyterians were not real Christians either. It’s not because I think these are “good people” who deserve to go to heaven that I am forced to think more. It’s the fact that many of them sincerely confess the Nicene Creed. Didn’t that express what the church said Christians must believe to be saved? Was that/is that wrong? To me it’s complicated.
I could go on to speak of other people and issues – like Joe Paterno, his
statue at the stadium, his status in Happy Valley, not to say his Roman Catholic faith. I could write of the issue raised regarding the NAE and whether “the church” should promote birth control for singles. When did the NAE become “the church”? (My motto is “Get the PCA out of the NAE!”.) But, as to the people and issues, I say, “They’re complicated.”
In a great number of ways my life would be much easier if “It’s simple” were my outlook.” But simple does not correspond to reality. It’s complicated. BTW, I got my Medicare Card in the mail this week.