The Erosion of Common Decency

We hear a lot about political correctness and how it gets in the way of the truth.  Everyone is enamored with Donald Trump for his tell it like it is bravado.  He says that political correctness is bad for America.  Let me preface this post by saying up front that this is not an anti-Trump diatribe.  It is not my intention to sway anyone's political position because at the end of the day, everyone has a right to vote for whichever candidate they choose.  Politics aside, is being rude, brash and apathetic towards our neighbors' feelings really the proper Christian attitude to have?  We need not reference a political candidate when considering how we are to treat one another.  Our best guide is the Bible!

The Bible does indeed tell us to speak the truth.  Not with hate or in an acrimonious fashion but rather the truth is spoken with love.  That's not politically correct, it is Biblical.  There is nothing wrong with speaking the truth but the way something is said goes a long way in determining how it is received.  Truth spoken with vitriol does not solve anything and most times will exacerbate an already awkward situaiton.  Truth spoken with love reminds the recipient of said truth that we are concerned about their feelings and their well being.  The Bible says in Proverbs 15:1 "A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger."  Harsh words hurt, period. 

What we are witnessing in America is the erosion of common decency.  Politeness, tact and discretion are giving way to just flat out rudeness.  Often that rudeness is applauded.  Since tact requires restraint, when are able to be unrestrained, especially in our speech, there is a certain liberating quality about that.  However, we must not be so quick to jump on that train.  James teaches us to tame our tongue, not let it loose.  He says that the tongue is the smallest member of the body but wields the most power!  Look at what he says here in James chapter 3:

"4Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."

The Bible also says that the life and death is in the power of the tongue.  We can figuratively kill people or give them life with our words!   The age of the internet has expedited our departure from decency.  The internet is a place where people can concoct fake identities, hide behind avatars and spit venom from a distance without fear of retribution.  Read the comments section of any article, especially in the area of politics or any topic that people disagree about, and you will need a wet wipe for your brain to cleanse it of the filth that is ingested by reading it.  The language that is used is deplorable.  Twitter is particularly vicious because of the free-for-all that it facilitates.  Any stranger from any part of the world can denigrate you in 140 characters, or less.  Once in a debate with an atheist, I was mobbed, insulted, cursed and moked by hundreds of people who disagreed with my stance on God.  This was over the course of about two hours!  Needless to say, I ended up protecting my account to decrease the unwanted traffic.

When I think of Olympian and gold-medalist, Gabby Douglass and the hatred that she's had to endure while representing this country, I can only pray for her family and her close friends.  Being called a n***er or a monkey or being bullied for having natural hair by online cowards has to be particularly hurtful when you are doing nothing more than minding your own business.  Again, common decency says if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything. 

We cannot allow the current cultural phenomenon to infiltrate the church.  Sure, the church has been on the end of vitriolic attacks from numerous detractors but we've always responded in love.  A sermon can make the point against sin without sounding hateful.  We can be real without being rude.  We can tell the truth without pouring vinegar into the wound.  I don't like the idea that being "politically correct" somehow diminishes our ability to speak the truth.  We don't have to cave in to cultural pressures but we don't have to be hateful either.  We must be loving just as Christ was loving.  When it was time for Jesus to expose hypocrisy, He did so with tact, even though he did not mince His words.  We should act like Christians and never allow ideology to supersede our theology.  That is a dangerous position to take in that it puts us into the position of being a cultural Christian i.e. being a Christian when it is convenient for us.  

I will leave you with a passage of Scripture where Paul instructs Timothy on how to carry himself.  Yes, this is a Pastoral epistle.  Yes, Timothy is a Pastor.  However, His position in the church does not change the principle communicated in the message which can be applied to all Christians.  There's not a double standard of conduct for Pastors and those under their care.  The Pastor should be the model.  Look at Paul's teaching in2 Timothy 2:22-26:

"22Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will."

Grace and peace.