3 Ways to Deal with Political Correctness
Political correctness is driving many people crazy. Worse than that, it’s limiting our ability to speak freely about things that really matter. So, what does an effective Christian response to political correctness look like?
I recently watched an incredibly insightful video about the rampant problem of political correctness by, none other, than British comedian John Cleese. In my view it really hits the nail on the head, so I thought I would share it with you (it’s well worth a watch):
At the heart of what he’s saying is that whilst, yes, it’s quite obviously a very good idea not to be deliberately mean or vindictive toward other people (particularly those who aren’t able to look after themselves), the notion that we should have to tiptoe through the minefield of people’s over-sensitivity, hoping that we won’t step on something that will explode, is a very bad one.
He quotes renowned psychiatrist Robbie Skinner, who said that “People who can’t control their own emotions have to control other people’s behaviour”. And, at its heart, that’s exactly what political correctness is.
Let’s Face It – Christianity is Offensive
We seem to think that the fact that a Christian worldview has become something of a societal pariah, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Not so.
What Jesus said and did was so incredibly offensive to the power-brokers of His day, that they had Him nailed to a cross for it. And remember what Jesus said …
‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. (John 15:20,21)
So let’s not be surprised, or indeed offended, when people shout us down, invoking stereotypes like “narrow-minded”, “bigot”, “fundamentalist”, “conservative” … simply because we hold and express views contrary to theirs.
There’s nothing new in any of that at all. The question is simply, how do we respond?
Here are three ways that you can choose to respond:
1. Speak the Truth with Love and Gentleness
Some Christians seem to believe that we’re in a tribal war against secularism and its views. They think that our team has to win and the only way to do that is to beat the other team.
Of course, historically, that approach has led to conflict, to wars … to all sorts of atrocities. Yet still, I read and hear so many hateful things espoused by Christians. In my view, they’re a bit like Peter the Apostle, who, when Jesus was threatened in Gethsemane, drew his sword and sliced the ear off one of the aggressors. (John 18:1-11) But that wasn’t how Jesus would have him respond.
So often, it’s not so much what we say, but how we say it:
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. (Ephesians 4:14-15)
Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15-16)
Ultimately the truth resonates with people. It just does. But not when they’re gagging on it as we shove it down their throats. There is an incredible power in quietly, gently, lovingly, respectfully speaking the truth and explaining the reason for the hope that is in us.
Remember, all too often, it’s not what we say, it’s how we say it.
2. Speak the Truth with Wisdom
Let’s face it, people in the world who are pushing their particular agendas – whether it be the “pro-choice” lobby, the LGTB community, political forces of any and every colour and hue, businesses, unions …. on and on … they all have agendas that they’re pushing and outcomes that they want. So by and large, they’re excellent at framing their arguments, playing the media and executing their tactics.
In response, I’ve seen Christians say some incredibly stupid things – sorry, but it’s true. The church (and her leaders) don’t seem all that good at framing the truth in a way that resonates with the average punter on the street.
Sometimes, it’s time to say nothing. Jesus made that point:
Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you. (Matthew 7:6)
Is He calling people who disagree with Him swine and dogs? No – it was simply a common form of expression in His day … but you get the point. Sometimes, people aren’t ready for the truth and as is often the case in life, timing is everything.
But other times, it’s a different problem altogether:
See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
It’s a dangerous world out there and whilst, yes, we need to act with gentleness, kindness and love, we also need to be wise in how and when we speak (and act) to mediate God’s truth into the lives of those around us.
I heard a prominent Christian leader recently draw parallels between the LGTB’s “political correctness” and Nazism. The point that he was trying to make, was that the LGTB agenda was to close down freedom of speech, much as Nazism had done in the lead up to WWII. But of course, blind Freddy could have seen that his opponents would twist his meaning (which they did) to decry him invoking the Holocaust in such a way.
So, it was an unwise choice, even if his point was technically the right one.
3. Be Prepared to Suffer Harm and Loss
Let’s go back to that story of Peter and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter thought it was about winning the battle, so he drew his sword. But Jesus didn’t come to win the battle – He came to win the lost. That’s why He went to the Cross, when human wisdom would have had Him avoiding it.
And in the same way, look at what He said to His disciples, following hard on the heels of the swine and dogs metaphor:
Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:17-23)
His point to them? His point to you and me?
You will be persecuted. You will suffer harm and loss for my sake. That’s par for the course.
So … go and speak the truth with love, gentleness, respect and wisdom anyway. Don’t be silenced when the try to shout you down and close you down and run you out of town. That’s just what’s going to happen.
Love them anyway. Share the truth with them anyway. For Christ’s sake.