Consistency, Contradictions, Complications
My oldest son got the idea of predestination very early and his answer to any "why" question was, "Predestination." That was a better answer than, "Free will." He also got the idea of creation. When his younger brother asked me who built a road, he jumped in to reply, "You dummy. God did." That was better than, "God had nothing to do with it." His grasp of truth was simple and hence his answers to questions lacked nuance.
Life has its way of knocking you around enough that you realize it is full of inconsistencies and contradictions, and that consistency isn't all it's cracked up to be. Principle and practice live in tension with each other.
Couples (I guess I better add heterosexual, married couples) who are not yet parents say things like, "As a parent I will never...", or, "My child will always...". When they say such things they often have in mind the failings of their parents. The young will follow rules that will make growing up much better for kids and produce healthy adults:
1. "Never raise your voice. Always speak calmly."
2. "Education is the responsibility of parents. Public school never. Christian school a little better. Home school is the way."
3. "Go ahead and spank your kid and get it over with; it's the Biblical way."
4. "When your kid is bad, try distracting her. When calm speaking and distraction don't work, send her to timeout. Never spank."
5. "Let him express himself. It's OK if he makes himself the center of attention when you have company. Let him run wild. Suppression and repression are bad."
6. "Never tell your child she's is bad. Always speak positively. Positive reinforcement."
7. "Tell your child he's a hopeless little sinner, and unless God changes his heart he always will be."You can only hope such parents will learn enough not to make consistency their parenting god.
One of the problems you run into when you are not consistent or predictable is that you please no one. You get shot at by people committed to consistency on the right or the left. I have been thinking of some of my inconsistencies that displease some folks:
1. There was a time I was considered a liberal on racial matters and got criticized for it. (No need to rehearse this.) Now I am considered insensitive at best, racist at worse. I know a black man was shot in the back in North Charleston, SC, by a white police officer. I also know that Mike Brown was not an innocent black teenager killed by a racist cop and that "Ferguson" is not an honest symbol of black oppression. I am told that I don't get it. No. I get it . But I don't agree with you. Do you get that?
2. I am for changing the state flag (which contains the Confederate battle flag) of my adopted home state of Mississippi. I understand that it cannot ever be a symbol of pride for and cannot stir the loyalty of all Mississippi citizens. But I am tired of the need for endless apologies for being a white Southerner whose ancestors fought in the War. I will support you in changing the flag. But I will not say that Robert E. Lee was a traitor and war criminal. Can we be allies?
3. I am a political conservative, and have been all my life. I want a balanced budget, a smaller government, a strong military, more freedom for the individual, more federalism, judicial restraint, etc. But I am not for flame-throwing rhetoric, not for wreck-and-ruin agendas, not for conservatives, when they get power, using the power of government in ways they object to progressives using it. I understand that Ted Cruz and Chris McDaniel are "true consistent conservatives." But Reagan was a realistic conservative who was both principled and pragmatic - in other words, inconsistent. Stop telling me I am not a "true"conservative. It's not true.
4. I believe parents should require their children to obey and should discipline them, including the use (but not exclusive use of) of spanking. I don't believe schools should spank kids at all. I'm the parent; you're the school. I don't delegate all my parental authority or responsibilities to you. Don't accuse me of being a liberal. Or I may have to whup the tar out of you.
5. I believe welfare is often abused and tends toward the creation of a permanent dependent underclass. I believe in reforming but not dismantling it - because I don't know how to help the permanent underclass in places like the Mississippi Delta. Where are the jobs? I don't want mothers and kids to go without things like food and medical care. You come up with solutions that will work before you call me a liberal.
6. I sometimes watch MSNBC for amusement. But that's also why I listen to Rush Limbaugh. I sometimes wonder about both: Do they deliberately distort or are they that stupid? I talk back to and sometimes yell at both. I also have not liked a single female host since E.D. Hill left Fox and Friends.
7. I am strongly against illegal immigration. I want the borders closed. I oppose President Obama's executive order. But I know it is not possible to round up and ship out the millions and millions who are here now. I favor a path to legal status for the majority.
8. I was against Obamacare when it passed. I hoped the Supreme Court would overturn it. Now that it is in place I am for replacing it, not just repealing it. It's not possible to go back to the system we had before, and I don't think it would be wise. Besides, I like my Medicare with the supplement and drug plan added.
9. I believe in male headship in the home and church. I don't believe that male headship is the principle for all of life. I don't want a woman boss (other than the one I have), but I think it's OK for them to be presidents, managers, etc. I don't think the majority of women have the physical attributes to be policeman and soldiers. I don't think mixing male and females in the services is wise. These issues call for clear headed practicality, not the rigid principledness of either the feminists or patriarachs. I think Rachel Held Evans is nuts. I also think Tim Bayly is nuts. I think Carl Trueman is mostly sane.
10. I am a law and order man. I support the police. But I hate radar, cameras, and most traffic enforcement. I believe the police are under tremendous pressures, but I also believe they sometimes apply too much physical pressure when they make arrests. I think the United States greatly needs sentencing and prison reform. I am very angry whenever a policeman is falsely accused or shot. But put up that radar gun and sell off those motorcycles. Go easy on the taser.So why did I write this? Predestination.