This Social Minefield

Most moderns recoil from anything which resembles conviction.

by Derrel Emmerson

1 Peter 3:13-15
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
Most of us know what it is like to express our opinion and get into trouble with others. Most moderns recoil from anything which resembles conviction. They seem to be intimidated by it.

There was a day when people could debate. Now when logic fails, insecurity sets in and people usually end the discussion by sullen silence, rejection, sarcasm, accusation or personalization. It will take a Godly wisdom to walk through this social minefield. However, it is important that we not acquiesce.

In the long run life is all about learning. In civil discussions everyone learns and we cannot afford to dull our hope because someone else has a problem. Here is what Richard Mouw shares on the subject:

“At a recent gathering of seminary professors, one teacher reported that at his school the most damaging charge one student can lodge against another is that the person is being ‘judgmental.’ He found this pattern very upsetting. “You can’t get a good argument going in class anymore,” he said. ‘As soon as somebody takes a stand on any important issue, someone else says that the person is being judgmental. And that’s it. End of discussion. Everyone is intimidated!’ Many of the other professors nodded knowingly. There seemed to be a consensus that the fear of being judgmental has taken on epidemic proportions. Is the call for civility just another way of spreading this epidemic? If so, then I’m against civility. But I really don’t think that this is what being civil is all about. Christian civility does not commit us to a relativistic perspective. Being civil doesn’t mean that we cannot criticize what goes on around us. Civility doesn’t require us to approve of what other people believe and do. It is one thing to insist that other people have the right to express their basic convictions; it is another thing to say that they are right in doing so. Civility requires us to live by the first of these principles. But it does not commit us to the second formula. To say that all beliefs and values deserve to be treated as if they were on a par is to endorse relativism — a perspective that is incompatible with Christian faith and practice. Christian civility does not mean refusing to make judgments about what is good and true. For one thing, it really isn’t possible to be completely nonjudgmental. Even telling someone else that she is being judgmental is a rather judgmental thing to do! “ Uncommon Decency, Richard J. Mouw.

The word to believers is the same: Do good; Be willing to suffer for what is right; Do not fear what others will do; Revere Christ as Lord; Always be prepared to give the reason for your conviction to those who ask and let your words be true.

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