Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Lost: Convicted Civility

Dr. Richard Mouw gave me a phrase that defines Christian conduct in this wildly pluralistic society: convicted civility. It means I am clear and forthright about my convictions but always civil and respectful for those who disagree with me, and especially toward my loyal opposition.
What do our children learn when they see us disrespect others? I mean there are a lot of people I seriously disagree with over a number of issues; some of them salvific. But if I behave rudely, use sarcastic language about them, snort and sneer when their name is mentioned, what lesson am I teaching the watching eyes around me.
Yeah, this is first about the nasty reactions to President Obama's speech to school children. What? I read the text and there is nothing to protest other than it came from his mouth and they disagree with him. But the same is true about former Vice President Cheney and President Bush. I've made it a point to listen to all our elected presidents' speeches over the years, whether I voted for them or not. Often I have to listen alone because to listen with a partisan crowd is to join the jeering/cheering.
This behavior belies a bigger problem of general courtesy and respect in multiple levels: students to teachers, drivers to police, passengers to airline staff, shoppers to salespersons, ...get it? When I allow myself to behave disrespectfully in one area, another will soon open up.
We are not caving in by behaving respectfully. Rather, we are gaining the ear of our opponent, for whom Christ died as well.


At 9:13 PM , Blogger Kalon L said...

andI so agree with your perspective here Don. We are so ready to demonize those with whom we disagree, and there just seems to be no sense in which we are exploring futures together. Did Jesus ever refuse to listen to anyone with empathy, even those who he needed to correct?


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