I remember the first time I heard the phrase. I was a young man sitting in a church with a white shirt collar that was too small for me, wearing a colorful tie which
had to be tucked into my pants because it was perniciously uneven.
The phrase was “decency and order.”
The minister was pretty sure he knew understood. He preached a sermon offering a cadence of commitment to form and reason. He contended that Godly ways had to be morally correct and follow a sequence which left no doubt of the purity of the intention.
For instance: sin–but not too much, to where it leaves a lasting mark. Come to your senses, find God, repent, get a job, marry, have children and donate adequate sums to your local congregation.
I hated it.
It’s not that I favored immorality nor was an anarchist. Even though I had an immature young mind, I understood that this was not the true cadence of life. Life arrives in chaos and requires triage.
What do I take care of first? How can I keep this together? What can I seek out to keep from freaking out?
It just seemed to me that sometimes there isn’t enough time and space available to consider the ultimate morality or the best way to stack up possibilities.
I don’t know what the original author of these words was trying to convey, but human beings are rarely “decent” and never “in order.”
If God Almighty is waiting for us to transform into a dutiful and meticulous creation, He certainly failed to provide the raw material. We are erratic. We are uncertain. And our greatest mission in life is to make sure we’re not afraid of who we are.
Sometimes the best we can do is slow things down and use what we’ve got. I suppose that doesn’t sound quite as officious as “decency and order,” but it is more accurate.
Over the years I have tried to become more adept at organization and goodness–but when I fail, I have chosen to laugh at the frailty instead of weeping over my insufficiency.