Hate Speech and Savagery
How are we to communicate with one another? Ironically, in an age where technology has connected people from all across the planet the practice of deep conversation seems to be more absent than ever. Cries of “hate speech” toward anyone who expresses disagreement have been levied to such an extent that the fear on the part of many toward expressing any kind of dissenting opinion has been amplified to an infinite degree. If a man is acting like a woman and you refuse to call him a “her” then you are labeled with being overly disagreeable and hating him. Perhaps someone has a different political persuasion than you do, so you begin to strike up what you think is a friendly conversation about the issues at stake. However, the conversation quickly turns on its head with the other person blowing up at you for your beliefs. Communication is indeed difficult even in a day when we are more connected than ever.
In an intriguing twist, we have the polar opposite extreme present in our age as well. Some individuals see this trend of political correctness and react against it. They rightly comprehend that this idea of “hate speech” is a modern invention that is nothing but a farce. The issue is that they react all the way to the other extreme of the spectrum. Savage tweets, ranting takes, and unruly conduct characterize these individuals. You see them in your X (Twitter) feeds and Facebook comment sections brutally taking everything you say out of context. Instead of listing the facts in a mature manner they merely retreat into the enclave of whatever they believe will make their “tribe” like their points. This savagery is a polarizing reaction to the idea of “hate speech” for the sake of merely being the direct opposite. Truth be told, neither is correct. Our calling is to rebuke each other when sin or error are present, but we are to exude gentleness coupled with humility as we do so. We are not disagreeing with someone for the sake of shallow social media likes, but for the purpose of seeking their eternal good in Christ!
Gentle Correction Toward Repentance and Truth
The Apostle Paul was a warrior for the truth of Christ. He fought the good fight and finished his race valiantly. There can be no doubt that he was not known for anything resembling the political correctness of our day. Writing to Timothy, his young son in the faith, he said:
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” -2 Timothy 2:24-26
This text of Scripture helps us to see God’s call on all of the issues regarding communication. We are to be kind, not quarrelsome. There is nothing weak about kindness, it is in fact a biblical character quality. Critical to remember is that kindness does not mean a lack of strength, no someone who is kind can “patently endure evil.” We are to strive for the ability to teach and we are not to react flippantly or descend down to the level of someone who is sarcastically trolling us. Not at all my friend, we are to strive to bring them up by the grace of Christ through the accurate teaching of His Word. Our goal is to pursue such character in our Lord that we are not pulled down by the attacks of our enemies but are able to endure well. Great strength is needed for this kind of persistence.
Paul calls Timothy to correct his opponents, but to do so gently. This text rebukes the political correctness crowd who would never say anything in direct opposition to someone who is in error. It pinpoints the reality that we must rebuke those in sin who are believing the lies of the world. The specific admonition is that we do this with gentleness. If we are entirely honest, most of the time when bravado is used instead of a gentle approach it is because the person giving the rebuke wants to be thought much of by the crowds. Understanding the intent of our correction towards others helps us to maintain gentleness. We are seeking their repentance whereby they would come into alignment with the truth bowing before Christ. Whether this is a believer who is in error or an unbeliever in need of salvation, we want to see them honoring the Lord by repenting and following Him faithfully. Our goal is not popularity, but Christ’s glory and magnification.
Biblical Speech in A World Gone Mad
Someone who adheres to biblical clarity in their speech will be an anomaly in our culture today. A father who does not respond with anger to a snarky word from his children but patiently corrects them is going to be a rare find. The wife who has the strength to be a gentle presence to her husband patiently correcting when needed instead of nagging him is a gift from the Lord (Proverbs 27:15-16). Certainly, there are times to be more confrontational in our rebukes such as Paul at times in Galatians, but even then he has a humility in the Lord as he boldly declared Christ.
May the Lord give us the courage to be bold and the humility to be gentle. Let our eyes be fixed on Him and the eternal state of the soul standing in front of us. We need men and women of great courage today for there is an absence of truth in our culture. Those same men and women need to have humility, gentleness, and kindness overflowing from their hearts. For it is vital that we not only speak the truth but live according to the truth at the same time. Friends, let us practice biblical characteristics for our speech even in a world filled with political correctness and savagery. May we be the voices found declaring the truth of our Lord to all those around us today!