Belittling the Views of Others Is Unchristian

Gentleness and thoughtfulness are Christian virtues, and it troubles me that they seem to have hit the meat-grinder of partisan politics. Of course an emphasis on politeness can be taken too far so that disagreement is silenced altogether, but to go to the opposite end and make a virtue of being brash and abrasive is not the solution. I am afraid we have tossed the vice of censorship into the same basket as the virtue of temperate speech and derisively called it all “political correctness.” Certainly it is wrong to present a false facade to win approval or try to silence opposing views (one definition of PC). On the other hand, having an honest view that agrees with a socially acceptable position is no more “PC” than calling for respect in sharing disagreements. To denigrate either of these interactions (honesty and respectfulness) as “PC” is detrimental to us all, I believe.

In other words, an emphasis on being thoughtful and gracious in our words is a Christian virtue not a vice unless we use it as a device to silence disagreement or to be a poseur. To denigrate others for being more welcoming or inclusive, for being more careful of the feelings, experiences, and viewpoints of others as “PC,” and so suggesting that they are somehow weak or morally lax or blind is a very unfortunate direction to take and can easily turn into a justification for harsh words and arrogant (if not mean-spirited) viewpoints. Since the term “Political Correctness” has taken on such conflicting meanings, perhaps we would do best to retire it from use and choose words that are more precise and honestly engage with issues.


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