I recently cut the following paragraph out of a sermon. The sermon was on Galatians 2:1-10. The thesis statement of the sermon was, “We are defined more as Christians by the free choices we make than by the set rules we follow.” Looking at the text, I came to believe that I needed to emphasize choices concerning the poor Galatians 2:10. So, while the paragraph expressed the concept it wasn’t terribly germane to the biblical text. But, I’m fond enough of the paragraph to include it here.
Several years ago, people debated political correctness. Do you remember that? People wanted us to learn new terminology–less abrasive, less historically tainted and derogatory terminology. On the one side of the debate stood those who said, certain terms and images that we have used to describe certain groups are offensive. We ought to change those terms to be less offensive. On the other side of the debate stood those who insisted that we could not make rules and certainly could not make laws governing a person’s speech. I seemed to hear more from the opponents of political correctness than I did from the proponents of political correctness. There were spoofs like Political Correct Bedtime Stories that retold familiar fairy tales using exaggerated politically correct monikers. I’ll admit that for practical purposes I agree with the second group. We cannot legislate what people say or how they say it. But I always had a problem with the tone that this group took. Their tone implied that it shouldn’t matter. They said, in effect, we ought to call another group whatever we feel like calling them because we are free to do so. My opinion is that because we are free, we ought to use our freedom in the most constructive manner possible. Because we are free, our speech does not reflect the rules we follow but the values we hold. If you believe that people are irrelevant, if you believe that their backgrounds and histories do not matter, if you believe that people’s lifestyles, ethnicity or gender disqualifies them from respect, then by all means please continue use bigoted, racist and sexist language because the rest of us would like to know where you’re coming from. If, on the other hand, you truly value the basic dignity of each human person, you might want to consider the way your language reflects that value.