When theory breaks down as practice begins

I can’t separate the theoretical from the practical. I have tried, but I can’t. It is what makes me, me I think, like my double jointed fingers or my dark brown eyes, the way I laugh too loud in mildly inappropriate situations. It is the reason I role those eyes when both Presidential candidates yell into the microphones and the moderator interrupts to say “I think we can agree, we all love teachers.” That statement alone makes me want to yell at the screen (an embarrassment  avoided only because the kids were already asleep).

I don’t believe the lip service because I don’t see any evidence of it. No Child Left Behind is a piece of bi-partisan legislation that went flying through both house and senate to land on the Presidents desk and signed with a flourish and a camera flash. Even in 2001 the teachers were crying that it was a bad idea. That we were already doing everything we could to not leave children behind. We are teachers, that is what we do. The teachers and the advocates for the teachers tried to make the politicians understand the impending implications of the cleverly titled bill, and no one wanted to listen.

Teachers who were calling that this would not in fact do what the politicians wanted it to do, they were decried as lazy and uncooperative. These teachers, the ones crying into the wilderness were shut down and labeled “the problem.” Even now, when everyone agrees the bill is a disaster, no one has taken any steps to repeal it. So pardon me if I find it hard to stomach when the only thing either side has to say about education is that they  love teachers. Class sizes are up (I once taught a full year with a class of 42 kids. We couldn’t even physically cram enough desks in the room.) and pay is down, (I am told if I love the kids enough, it shouldn’t matter.) but hey, at least everyone loves us!

I am having the same problem in my church. I am not expecting everyone to agree on all things where the Bible is concerned. I know that there will always be differences in interpretation. But I don’t know how to not be mad when someone says that they think Dude A is right and Dude A is saying that only homes where the man makes more money is biblical, that the dad as the primary care giver is an abomination.

You can “theoretically” and “well, in your case” me all day long. But if you believe that Dude A is always right and Dude A says that about the home, then you think my home isn’t being run within the context of God’s will. It is what you said. It is how the theory is applied, and I don’t know how to not be offended by that. I don’t know how to be gracious about it.

I am tired of people shrugging their shoulders and telling me “it is in the Bible so we have to believe it” when as Rachel Held Evans points out in the book I was given to review A Year of Biblical Womenhood,

“I’ve…never heard a sermon on 1 Timothy 2:8 in which Paul tells Timothy, “I want men everywhere to lift up their hands when they pray, lifting holy hands without anger or disputing” that all men everywhere must raise their hands whenever they pray. But I’ve heard more than I can count on 1 Timothy 2:11 just three verses later which says, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission” that have included universal dictums that all women everywhere should submit to male authority in the church.”

I don’t know what to do with the information, with the inconsistencies, especially when they are presented with a shrug of the shoulders and a “Whelp, the Bible says it. ” When the Bible also says that women should cover their heads while praying in 1st Corinthians 11 (But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.)

It is the same theory to practice problem. I am told the theory is that the Bible needs to be taken literally  and cultural context is simply an excuse to not do as the Bible says. But no one has ever asked me to cover my hear when I pray.  After all, the Bible says that too, or what about the part about men greeting each other with a holy kiss? That part isn’t meant literally either?

The theory breaks down when the practice begins. The laws don’t work the way we were hoping. We say we love teachers but we don’t pay them well. We apply all of the bible literally except when we don’t. I don’t know how to not see that, and right now I can’t figure out how to be gracious about it.

2 thoughts on “When theory breaks down as practice begins

  1. Pingback: On Being Kind and Praying Backwards | Accidental Devotional

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