Thoughts on political incorrectness

Being needlessly politically incorrect is like flipping the bird at someone else’s sensibilities. I’ll explain what I mean in a few minutes, but let me just get this off my chest:

The Christian version of “political correctness” is to be deliberately politically incorrect. It’s accepted, almost made into a virtue, as if speaking in unnecessarily derogatory terms or ridiculing those terms/opinions were a good thing. “Just calling it like I see it,” some claim. “Just telling the truth.”

Fine, let’s flip the scenario around. What if the predominant, accepted “Christian” viewpoints were the standard for what is PC, and anything else outside of those “acceptable” views was politically incorrect?

Are there cherished thoughts and phrases and ideologies within evangelical churches that are the church’s version of “politically correct”? That is, if these general opinions were spoken against or derided and ridiculed, would there be outrage? Would there be an effort—openly or subtly—to silence those who spoke against the church PC standard?

Let me be clear, I am NOT speaking of the essentials of our faith, such as the need for salvation, salvation by faith alone, etc. Those are vital to the Christian faith. They must be defended. Tolerating  heresy isn’t acceptable.

I’m talking about non-essentials. I’ve been in churches where it was acceptable to view “tolerance” as a negative thing, talk from the pulpit about George W. Bush as “God’s choice for America”, snicker at Al Gore’s warnings of global warning, roll your eyes at charges of racism/sexism/homophobia; it was assumed that everyone else within the church held those opinions. Anyone who objected was kowtowing to “political correctness.”

I hate that because it puts up an unnecessary barrier to the gospel.

There is enough that is essential to my faith that will be offensive to those outside of it. Sometimes when I speak the truth and defend true religion, I will have to use offensive language. Jesus called the Pharisees and teachers of the law “whited sepulchres”. The apostle Paul referred to Judaizers “dogs” and “mutilators of the flesh.”

Powerful. Offensive. Fiery. I can’t imagine that calling someone a “flesh mutilator” would make them feel lovey-dovey towards me.

But why did Jesus say this? He was deriding the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders who put unnecessary burdens on the people while ignoring the most important commandments: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Loving God is essential.

Likewise, Paul was defending the doctrine of salvation by faith, and not by works. Using strong language emphasized that works (such as circumcision) and following the Law were not the path to salvation. Another essential.

Strongly stating that it is wrong to make every religion “equal” to one another is politically incorrect but essential to the gospel. (In other words, not all faiths lead to salvation. Inclusive language that implies/states this is wrong. Period.)

Deriding any inclusive terminology in any situation isn’t an essential. Do you really think using the term “firefighter” rather than the gender-specific “fireman” is a bad thing? And being derogatory about someone else’s religion will make them dislike you, and put up another barrier to them accepting Christ. (How do you feel when someone ridicules your religion? Defensive? Dig in your heels? Clench your fists?)

Think about the analogy I made at the beginning of this post. “Being needlessly politically incorrect is like flipping the bird at someone else’s sensibilities.”

If someone cuts you off in traffic, how do you react?

Honking on your horn is necessary; it alerts the other driver to the dangerous maneuver they just made. That’s like using offensive words to defend the gospel or to confront someone with the truth. It’s like holding an intervention with an alcoholic or sex addict. It alerts others to the truth and points out the dangers of the situation. Sometimes it conveys care for another person.

Flipping the bird at them is unnecessary and will make the other driver either angry or frightened. Sure, they encroached on your boundaries. But did you have to use an offensive gesture to get your meaning across? (That’s inviting road rage. Not good.) Did you have to deliberately use sexist or racist terminology to make your point? Did you have to ridicule the idea of nondiscrimination? Did you open up a conversation or shut one down?

Let me share why I wrote this post. Recently, I read a book geared toward Christian men that employed the terms “feminine” and “masculine” to describe various stages of a Christian man’s journey through life. The “feminine” stages were submission and sacrifice, the “masculine” one was “strength”.

Throughout the book, the author repeatedly talked about the church “emasculating” men and how the church had become too feminized, etc., etc., and that’s why churches are in trouble. (Um, isn’t this a diss against femininity?) He even claimed that if men were really doing their job, there wouldn’t be a need for women’s or children’s ministries. (Bull.)

He claimed that this wasn’t about women being “weak” or men being “strong” but that cultures had always identified “softer” traits as “feminine” and “harder” ones as “masculine.” At this point, the author noted that this wasn’t PC, but the labels were “instantly understandable”.

And for all he claimed that he was begging men to embrace their feminine side and for women to embrace their masculine side, there remained an undercurrent of doubt as to whether women even needed to embark on the “strength”/”masculine” aspect of the Christian journey.

I threw the book against the wall. Repeatedly.

The gender terms were unnecessary. Any truths he taught were lost on me because I was so offended by his sexist language. If he had simply used “harder” or “softer” to describe the traits, I might have had a different perception of his book and of him, and been more open to thinking about what he said.

I’ll leave you with some questions. I have to ask myself these, too.

  • What is your motivation for using politically incorrect terms? Politically correct terms?
  • In what situations is it necessary to be politically incorrect?
  • Am I putting up a barrier to the gospel and the truth through my word choices?
  • And above all, am I glorifying God in my words?
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