This past week a flurry of tweets surrounding Christians’ freedom of expression disturbed me. The debate itself has been around for the past 10-20 years or so, but never as viciously displayed as what I witnessed Friday.
Some would argue that a Christian’s choice of language is personal and no one has the “right” to “judge” them. News flash: The world will judge you even when Christians don’t. They expect Christians to be and act differently from them. Perhaps the real problem lies with our understanding of “judging” and “accountability.”
Judging is weighing someone’s actions and finding them guilty without hope of reconciliation. Guilty and punished. Accountability is showing someone the standard and how to get there. Missing the mark and correction. While Christians are warned against judging, we are commanded to reprove (hold fellow Christians accountable). The standards have already been set–we don’t get the luxury of changing them or picking and choosing which we want to follow.
But what concerns me more is the blatant lynch mob mentality that browbeats someone, who has dared to remind someone else of the standard, into submission and apology. It’s as if the more vicious we are in our response, the more we can justify a particular action by “majority rule.” In my experience, those who are the loudest and who resort to name-calling are the ones most likely to be on shaky ground. When one is standing on the rock, one can pay no attention to the tempestuous winds of words or the crushing waves of vitriol.
Meekness is not weakness, but strength under control. Christians are not doormats, except when their salt “loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” It’s time we stood our ground against compromise and the watering down of our faith by fellow Christians.
As for the “language” issue: Here’s what the Bible actually says about it:
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
In addition, Proverbs is filled with specific rules for what kind of things ought to come out of our mouths, if we desire to be wise.
Christian apologetics means explaining what we believe and why. It never means backing down and saying sorry because you don’t happen to agree with the standards.