Civil Discourse on Life Support?
Uncivil discourse is once again in the headlines, if indeed it ever left it, especially when the attention-drawing offending words came from a famous conservative pundit. Is this not always the case, the conservative draws the ire of the media while previous far more vile remarks do not even raise a ripple of concern? It matters not if they are directed at women or other races; it is acceptable depending on the woman’s or person’s ideology; nor is it offensive if their children become targets of evil remarks as well. But there is in this lesson of double standards a lesson for all us all; a biblical truth worth the remembrance and obedience of those who love God.
There was a vast difference between the vile words of the late night hosts, Letterman and Maher, and the ill-chosen slurs of Rush Limbaugh. The words of the former were simply demeaning and vile devoid of any truth whatsoever, an ill-chosen appeal to the humor of their suspect audiences. There was not any humor in them, except for those who love evil. The words of the latter had some modicum of truth, but nevertheless were unnecessary to establish the point, and were unacceptable in civil or Christian discourse. They did far more harm than more articulately pointing to the truth of Ms. Fluke’s endeavor.
I know many will point to the words of righteous anger by Jesus in the New Testament toward people flaunting their sinful behavior to defend their own pejoratives in this day and age toward godless neighbors. Jesus used words like “liars, thieves and robbers, and white-washed sepulchers with explanation of their meaning, which none but the figuratively deaf and blind could miss. Limbaugh could have gotten his message across far more insightfully without the curses or pejoratives in questioning the behavior of Fluke’s demand of free contraceptives at taxpayer expense and at a Catholic University she chose, when they are already free in practically every county in the nation, or readily available for a pittance; when in most cases, minus medical reasons or for married couples, they are to be used for promiscuity and in some cases even to destroy a conceived baby. What Limbaugh’s choice of words did was create in the eyes of pseudo-offended critics whose own vocabulary is regularly sprinkled with such verbiage, a moral equivalency to the slurs, cursing, and vile words of those who do admire evil.
The Christian who accepts God’s Word as authoritative in their life understands their tongues and lips are not their own. They have a Master, and they are not Him. Romans 12 like Psalm 12 tell us we are not to return evil for evil. We are not to create even an appearance of moral equivalency between our behavior and the evil doer. We must choose our words judiciously and righteously; and though in the end they may not please unbelieving ears and minds, they have a far better chance of communicating truth than curses, slurs, or pejoratives. Consider the words the Holy Spirit would use, the words Jesus would use, in conveying your message. “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.
Passion is part of the image of God indwelling who we are; but so is self-control. The tongue is a match in a dry forest, or next to a puddle of gasoline. James says, “The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. Do not lower yourself to the level of the fallen world. Make a determined, self-controlled effort to bring righteousness into public discourse and choose your words as though Jesus were standing next to you wherever and in whatever company you find yourself. Oh, He is always with you, isn’t He? As a Chaplain in the Army I often heard the words, “Excuse my French, Chaplain. Their curses, slurs, and pejoratives didn’t even have a French accent.
May your presence in any situation change the discourse, because your company knows and is rightly rebuked by the character of your own tongue.
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