Friday, March 24, 2023

A Post to Christians About Gentleness and Respect

(Ancient war helmets, Detroit Institute of Art
Looks like someone took a spear in the forehead.)

Some Christians - maybe many - have this edge to them, a judgmental harshness, which is not from God. I see this happening everywhere, to include, sadly, in the Church. 

It speaks to me as well. Perhaps I am writing this for my own instruction? To remind myself of The Standard? If so, I can accept that. 

I agree with Dallas Willard, who once confessed that he had not loved others enough. Me either.

When you feel anger, be gentle and kind. That's the fruit the Holy Spirit produces. Harshness and unkindness is sin. In your anger, do not sin. 

Here's an example.

I embrace the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. Other revisionist definitions are, therefore, wrong. Some people feel anger towards me because of what I affirm. What shall I do? How shall I respond?

How I talk about what I affirm is important. In Romans 12 we are told to not conform our hearts to the pattern of our culture. God's kingdom, as Jesus repeatedly demonstrated, is not of this world.

One of this world's patterns has always been harshness and disrespect. Especially when it comes to disagreement. Much of this is seen on social media. It gets unloving and hate-filled. And anti-Christlike. Followers of Jesus who descend into the ugly side of social media are conforming to the world's modus operandi.

The Jesus way, on the other hand, includes beliefs and attitudes such as...

Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.

All the awesome spiritual gifts are nothing if you don't have love, as a heart attitude that leads to behavior.

Love is the greatest thing. Therefore, if you are on social media, be great.

Express your reasons for the hope you have, but always do it in gentleness and with respect.

Avoid the argumentative person. (Proverbs)

Speak the truth? Yes! But always in love!

If it has flesh and blood, it is not our real enemy. (Do not be sucked in by social media about this. On social media we see people fighting against people.)

When disagreeing, be patient with others, as you work to listen and understand them. (1 Cor. 13)

In disagreement, never dishonor others.  (1 Cor. 13)

Remove your anger buttons. (1 Cor. 13)

Grow up spiritually, and put the ways of children behind you. (1 Cor. 13:11)

When in conflict and disagreement, see HERE for how to be both truthful and loving. 

Remember that, contrary to much media, to disagree is not to hate.

If, when dialoguing and disagreeing, you fall into hatred, dishonor, and diminishment of the other, repent, and ask them for forgiveness.  

The superior conflict-discussing, understanding-and-forgiving environment is face-to-face. Phone conversation comes in second. Email and texting is a distant, inferior third. The worst way, the incendiary way, is on social media, for the world to see. True, that's more interesting and attention-getting. Which is part of our world's disease.

Read, again, 1 Corinthians 13. Apply.

(Maybe...   one more suggestion...  take some philosophy classes. In my experience these classes had much debate and disagreement, but done civilly. Because, in logic, ad hominem abusives are irrelevant to truth-seeking.

Rudeness adds NOTHING to an argument, except to further polarize.)