I didn’t watch last night’s Republican debate. Did I miss anything?
Did Donald Trump insult anyone? Did the other candidates react with similar retorts? Were they still taking about the size of hands and what that possibly meant? Were there any personal attacks?
Actually I did see a CNN headline this morning that read “Republican Debate Turns Dirty.”
“Turns dirty”? Really, I thought it already was dirty. It reminds me of a comment by Cal Thomas the other day in one of his columns. He was going to write how the “Republican presidential campaign has become gutter politics.” Then he added that given recent statements in the past week that “the gutter would be a step up, because things have descended into the sewer.”
I don’t claim to be a political expert or historian, but those who say that there has never been anything like this campaign in modern times. I do seem to remember reading that Stephen Douglas made fun of Abraham Lincoln’s gangly frame as he mocked his looks. Of course, all Presidential races have had their share of cheap shots and unkind remarks However, this race must be setting a record of personal attacks. coarse language and insulting innuendoes.
We ask, “What’s the world coming to?” But a better question to ask is, “Who’s coming to the world?”
There is nothing you and I, as Christians, can do about the ugly discourse in politics or in the world around us. But we can do something about our lives. Our language. Our relationships with others.
Being crude, coarse and crass is not limited to the Republican Presidential debates. If often describes our culture today. Vulgarities are spewed forth in the sports, entertainment and business world. It is evidenced in the way young people talk to one another. The coarsening of our culture is often been the subject of concern by secular writers the past several years.
While it may be that society in general has degenerated to an acceptance of boorish behavior, foul language, and off-color insinuations, these carnal attitudes should not characterize Christians.
The Bible condemns “coarse jesting,” “foolish talk,” and “filthy language” which is deemed to “out-of-place,” and “improper for God’s holy people” (Eph 5:1-4). Interestingly, two verses down we are warned “let no one deceive you with empty words” But that’s a post for another time!
I can’t change the national discourse and the way politicans choose to react to one another and hurl ugly retorts. But I can choose to “be clothed with kindness” (Col. 3:12) in the way I speak to my wife, my children, my friends and my brethren.
I must give diligence not to be influenced by the vulgarity of the world, but to imbibe the fruit of the Holy Spirit by exhibiting kindness, along with love, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control in my life.
I have witnessed brethren who react with vitriolic language to another brother and violate the command to “be kind to one another”(Eph. 4:32). Our guiding value should be “brotherly kindness” (2 Pet. 1:7).
Husbands and wives need to show each other kindness, courtesy and respect. The “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13, says “Love has good manners.” Our children follow our lead. Their respect or lack of it will often be a reflection of the degree of our civility in the home.
The second great commandment teaches “love your neighbor.” The golden rule states that we need to treat others the way we want to be treated. Our social relationships need to be expressed with politeness.
In a climate today that is characterized by crudeness, punctuated with profanity, and demonstrated with an overall lack of civility, let’s be Christian. Be different. “Be not conformed to this world.” Be cultured. Kind. And civil.
I can’t change the political discourse. But I can change me. And be transformed by Christ. “Purer in heart, O God, help me to be.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman