I’ve been seeing more and more articles, blogs, and social media posts about how people have become more and more uncivilized towards each other. Christians vs. Non-believers, Christians vs. Christians, Democrat vs. Republican, Independent vs. the rest of the system…. my points here will focus on Christians.
Many people are calling for others to stop vilifying and hating those who disagree with them. “We need to stop seeing those on the ‘other’ side of any issue as evil” is something I’ve seen come up often in these past months. I think this is a good point (although bigotry does deserve to be called out). When having discussions with people othering doesn’t usually get anywhere and rarely if ever convinces people to see things from another perspective.
The problem for Christians is that good and evil are the terms we’ve been told to use in how we look at ourselves and the world. Most of the culture war mentality of the 80s and 90s were about fighting evil. This included labeling people we saw as such (sexual deviants and baby killers were a couple descriptors I remember hearing growing up). But now that people want to judge what Christians are doing (in terms of who or what they supported this past election cycle) we hear cries to stop judging and hating. Umm…. which is it? Do only Christians get to pass judgment? Does no one outside our bubble get to hold us accountable for the consequences of our actions?
One problem I’ve consistently seen in (myself) as well as fellow Christians is the idea that since we are right (so we believe) about who we’ve put our faith in that really makes us wiser (and lets be honest… better) than anyone outside our group. And since we hold to our beliefs sincerely (religiously and politically) no one has a right to judge us for them. Except we act like no one else came to their belief system sincerely but we apparently have the right to force our ‘way’ (via laws, ect.) on to those poor ignorant fools who just don’t know any better.
[Here’s a thought church… try actually listening to and engaging with those outside your bubble. I’m trying to do this and while I don’t agree with everything I come across that doesn’t mean I’m not learning something or trying to take seriously how others see me and my fellow Christians.]
Christians help set up the framework of evil vs. good in our country/culture and now that others view some of our choices as potentially being evil we can’t handle being given a taste of the medicine we’ve been insisting others take.
I understand no one lives up to the standards they claim to believe 100%. Yet when those who don’t claim the title Christian can see the obvious discrepancy between what we claim to believe and how we behave we might try considering that we’ve lost the plot (aka the gospel). And maybe we should try practicing some humility towards those unlike us instead of digging in our heels and refusing to even consider if some of our critics have valid points.
By all means hold to your convictions just stop acting like you and yours are the only group on the planet who has that right. And consider that when someone tells you that what you are saying or doing to them is hurtful you are in fact doing harm regardless of your intentions.
I realize this may get tricky for people who believe the gospel and its truth will be seen as hurtful to those who don’t believe it (though unfortunately some Christians seem to view being offensive and hurtful as something to be proud of and proof that they’re doing something right). But somewhere along the way I think the sick twisting together of nationalism and Christianity has become something that no longer resembles the gospel. And yet we still keep pushing our ideas and conclusions of how we think God wants us to take over the planet via the passing into law of our religious beliefs that we forgot we are supposed to go out and do as Jesus did.
Help, serve, love and get to know those different than you so that so that the church gains back a reputation of doing all these things from a place of genuine care. And if you find you can’t empathize with anyone outside your bubble and belief system consider why that is and whether you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere.
All this to say I totally agree that Christians as well as all Americans no matter their convictions should seek to be civilized in how we engage anyone about the situations of our day. But also try remembering (Christians) that we’ve played a significant part in pushing our country toward incivility.