My talented friend Reid Belew has written the post for this week. He has some very encouraging words for Christians’ approach to the political divide and culture wars going on today.
Fewer phrases spark rapid polarization the way “political correctness” does. There are those who work hard to remain politically correct (looking at you, social justice warriors), and there are those who work hard to oust any scent of political correctness (shouts out to you tea partiers).
In a period of history when the two ends of the political spectrum are further apart than ever before, I feel compelled to speak to the merits of the middle ground. The grey area. The slippery slope. Where those who are far left shuffle to the right, and those who are far right shuffle to the left.
At some point, to reverse this growing ideological gap, there must be a place to meet those standing opposite you. Christians in particular should strive to be those who rest confidently in the middle bringing people together, not wedging people apart. Political correctness, or more specifically, matters of speech, is a good place to start.
What is political correctness?
Our friends at Merriam-Webster have defined political correctness for us. Thank you, Merriam-Webster. Definition is as follows:
…agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people.
Political correctness has become a hot topic as of late. Check out the increase in Google search volume in recent months.
The Pseudo-Corrosion of Values
Those who are ardently anti-political correctness believe that being politically correct is synonymous with “beating around the bush” and not pinpointing what is happening. The discourse against political correctness is the pervasive inquiry “Where does it end?”
A recent and famous instance of this was digital televangelist Joshua Feuerstein and his diatribe against Starbucks’ red holiday cups that said “Happy Holidays” as opposed to customizing their cups to accommodate Joshua’s religion and saying “Merry Christmas.” There’s about a million things wrong with pointless self-martyrdom like this, but I will only speak to what is relevant.
At the end of the video, Feuerstein says “choose to not be politically correct—just correct.”
That’s strong language (and shockingly egotistical). Feuerstein and those who oppose politically correct speech believe that political correctness is the enemy. They believe it waters down our words and erodes our moral foundation. By catering to the beliefs, experiences, and preferences of others in an attempt to not step on toes, we supposedly lack strength and conviction.
Evangelicals Lead the Anti-PC Charge
This matters because the end of the political spectrum that demonizes politically correct speech is the party of 78% of born-again evangelicals. And, as if I need stats to support this claim, Christians are often on the front lines of this debate. Look at evangelical political leaders such as Ben Carson or Ted Cruz. Ten minutes into any speaking engagement, there are swift admonitions of politically correct speech. Time and time again we see this.
Often, flaunting anti-political correctness values is an excuse to say hurtful comments (sort of like when someone says “It’s a free country”).
The goal of political correctness is to avoid offending those sensitive to the subject and be on good terms with those people.
Is that really such an awful thing? Why are we, those who are commanded to be peaceful, against this?
If Christians are called to be above the ways of this world (which we are), and to be peacemakers (definitely are), then we must shift the way we think and approach this issue.
Paul Has Some Thoughts On This
Ephesians 4:15-16 reads
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Just a few verses down in verse 29, Paul writes:
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
The way we speak matters. But this is bigger than vocabulary.
This is about intent.
A New Model
“Political correctness” is a human convention. A term so draped in politics, society, complexity, and polarization creates too small an arena by which to operate. We must be above it. We must think bigger than the black and white of “politically correct” or “not politically correct.”
Few groups of people are better suited to bring people together than Christians. All too often, we get sucked into culture wars that are petty, petulant, and not fruitful (I’m the most guilty of them all. Look at my Facebook feed).
The duty of the Christian is to bring peace. And forging peace, believe it or not, is aided by the removing of divisive, incendiary, polarizing talk from our mouths. Additionally, we shouldn’t be so quick to berate the “PC culture” we live in.
Are we not to strive for decency of speech? Grace in speech is what accurately reflects Christ, and as such, we must work hard to do so no matter how “politically correct” or “not politically correct” it sounds. Planting ourselves firmly in the middle ground is how we erase division amongst our peers.
Let us pray to be the people in the middle that pull opposition together with decency and grace in speech, and not those shouting the loudest while walking backwards.
Find this and more of Reid’s work, here.