Personal Consistency

51ddjftbRHL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_-2“What our contemporary writers often do not understand is why our Western experience washes away at our own personal reality. Of course, our Western societies are consumer-driven, suffused with change, large and anonymous in how they work. They favor – indeed, almost demand – a self that is flexible, malleable, light, and free, that can move when movement is called for and adapt when adaptation is called for. A flexible biography, a self that can remake itself, shift and change, refurbish itself, reinvent itself, reimagine itself, is the counterpart to our market-driven economy with its constantly changing conditions, demands, and opportunities. This, of course, makes a mockery of what was once thought to be a virtue – the ideas of personal consistency.

“Consistency was most commonly met in the thought that a person’s word was his or her bond. A promise made was a promise kept, even if the circumstances had changed and it was no longer advantageous to honor the commitment.

“A good illustration of this is marriage. On the day someone promises to be a ‘loving and faithful husband, for better or for worse, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health,’ that person has not the faintest idea of what will be involved in keeping that promise. The future lies unopened and unread. As days follow each other, and the years unfold, it becomes clearer what is being demanded of him as he is called upon to be a loving and faithful husband. The same goes for the wife. The marriage starts out with mutually given promises, but after that, day by day, life throws up its difficulties, heartaches, and challenges. The commitment to love each other now becomes very specific. What this means becomes inescapable.”

David F. Wells The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2008), 113.

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