How (not) to Talk About Cultural and Social Issues
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Let’s start with an outrageous statement designed to get you angry at someone or some group.
Now a “quote from an extreme, fringe representative of that group.”
We’ll throw in some vague evidence that a small but powerful clique is secretly manipulating the whole country.
And then tell a sentimental story about a member of our group that was slandered by their group, only to courageously stand for our values.
Might be helpful to include a “gotcha” story where we really made one of them look stupid.
To add some weight, pick a few out-of-context Scripture passages (mixed with a mangled quote from Thomas Jefferson):
“The righteous will rule over the wicked.”
“Morality must be the bedrock of a free people.”
“The wicked will be destroyed.”
Finally, we’ll bring it home with a call to action that reminds us which group of people is THE enemy, and ways we can win the battle to force them into submission.
Why not do it that way? There are some very crucial, serious, and important issues being discussed right now. Shouldn’t we deploy whatever means necessary to try to win the day?
We are indeed called to talk, to write, to advocate, and to be fully involved in the legal and political process. But the manner and method in which we do so is just as important as our message. And when we adopt methods that do not follow the Golden Rule and the Great Commandment, we are refuting our own message in the very act of communicating it.
Christians believe the words of St. Paul, “Our enemy is not flesh and blood, but principalities and powers…” We aren’t called to win wars or fight people, we are called to love, to persuade, and to seek the common good.
And our message is the Gospel, and it is not coercive or forced. Our message is that Christian beliefs about God, about humanity, and about relationships in society are beneficial and a blessing to others. Society and people may or may not agree with us, may not receive our goodwill. But we who believe in Jesus Christ are not greater than our master, who became a servant.
Our job is not to incite outrage, but to be peacemakers. Our job is not to exaggerate the statements of others, but to listen, understand, and tell the truth. Our job is not to defend everything Christians or the Church do blindly, but to be willing to repent of our own sins, individual or collective. We may love our country, but we aren’t called to idolize the founding fathers, but to point to the King of Kings as our ultimate authority.
So please advocate, please write, please talk, and please pray. We never retreat, we always take the Gospel forward into every area of life. But we do so as followers of Jesus Christ, the one who “came not to condemn, but to save.”
Photo: Church Fire by Dan Rademacher from Oakland, CA, USA
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