All of us are guilty of making contradictory statements. We try to avoid them (unless we are politicians), and try to correct ourselves when possible. However, increasingly, I am seeing contradictory statements that are clear enough that it should not be necessary to point out that they are contradictory statements. Worse, there is even a regular denial that there is any contradiction at all going on. And, at its lowest, there are even statements that a person is simply bringing up a contradiction because they believe in the “other side.” This is true, even if the person is otherwise a fellow traveller with the person making the contradictory claim. The cartoon above points out but one contradiction making the rounds:
“So let me get this straight, requiring an ID at the voting booth is protecting our freedoms, but requiring an ID at a gun show is violating our freedoms?”
Let me point out another one that came up just this week. Since the military draft was ended in the 1970’s, we have been comfortable with telling male graduating seniors that they must register for Selective Service. We were even completely comfortable years later with passing laws that automatically registered a youngster for the Selective Service at the time that they applied for their first driver’s license. We even force youngsters to affirm that they have registered for the Selective Service as part of a job application of an application for any state or federal benefit.
And, yet, this last week an uproar broke out about another simple suggestion. Since our male youngsters already have to register for the Selective Service, why not expand that to insure that both male and female youngsters are registered to vote upon high school graduation or at first application for a driver’s license. One would have thought that illegal or immoral mayhem would be the result of that suggestion. And yet, are we saying that it is OK to force our male youngsters to sign up with a Federal bureau that is NOT part of the USA Constitution, but it is wrong to sign up our male and female youngsters so that they may be able to vote, something which is a right enshrined in the Constitution?
In fact, what appears to be more and more true is that many in this nation are quite comfortable with the idea of putting blocks in the path of people exercising their right to vote while removing all blocks from those who wish to own guns and removing all blocks from forcing males to go fight a war simply because the government says to do so. There appears to be some contradiction here, an illogicality here, that I suspect many cannot even see.
But, you know, the same is also true among us Christians. The Our Father has us pray to God, “… forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And, yet, how often do we assume that God will forgive us while pledging to forever remain offended, or hurt, or unable to forgive, those who have sinned against us? The person will often go on to state, almost cheerfully and with anticipation, that there will be justice some day and that the person will get their just desserts. Given that the justice some day will lead to either Heaven or Hell, it appears that the hurt person is assuming that God will send the one who hurt them to Hell. You see this most clearly in those victims of crime who are interviewed and who are certain of the coming punishment. Even if the person converts to Christian, the conversion is denied and the victim has the self-assurance that Hell awaits the perpetrator.
As a priest, I hear all too many confessions in which the person claims to be eternally hurt, and completely unable to forgive the person who hurt them. Why, then, do all these people automatically assume that God will forgive them for sins that they have committed against others, even if the other is unable to forgive them? Have they never hurt anyone deeply? Have they never sinned? In fact, all these people assume that God will treat them differently than the person who hurt them. Somehow, they just made a mistake from which they have repented. God has/will forgive them because he loves them. If the person they hurt is unable to forgive them, why that just shows their lack of Christian maturity. Somehow, they do not link their behavior with the Our Father. Can you see the illogicality there?
Can you see the contradiction here? Yes, we Christians contradict ourselves every bit as much as the two cases I cited above. I am sure that I have engaged in many contradictions. And, most certainly, in confession I get to hear other people’s contradictions. What bothers me is when Christians refuse to learn about their contradictions and continue in them.
May God give me the grace to see my contradictions and to repent of them.