Speaking of hateful things, Donald Trump has declared war, among other things, on being “politically correct”. He delights and revels in saying “politically incorrect” things about people. However, he seems to have a different definition from me on what political correctness means. His definition seems to me to involve a stream-of-consciousness erupting from the heart with no input from the brain, free from the concerns of truth, reason, or respect. But maybe my definition of the term has been wrong all this time. I decided to ask some friends and family what their definition of “politically correct” is. The people I asked represent three races and generations as well as both political sides.
The vast majority of people defined PC as suppressing the truth to avoid offense, though they assigned different motivations, either fear or to ingratiate one’s self to a particular group. One person defined it as “going with the flow” and two people defined it as “proper courtesy”. I asked them to give me an example of being politically incorrect. Some mentioned certain politicians' hesitancy to call out Islamic terrorism, others highlighted the problem of calling out sin in the LGBT community, another mentioned compliments that included the phrase “…for your race” and another said making unwanted comments about someone’s personal appearance that is characteristic of their race. One person said “anything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.”
The last question I asked people is what they thought the difference between being PC and being kind. Those who gave it a “truth vs. offense” definition mainly said that PC was an external force, while kindness and respect is from the heart. Two people said that there was no difference because courtesy is an expression of kindness.
I have been in the “truth vs. offense” group, who believe in “speaking the truth in love.” Lately, I have been having some niggling , okay, not so niggling, doubts about this position, however. Donald Trump seems to lack an understanding of the real definition of "politically correct", both in definition of the term and as an example of appropriate conduct. I hope that is obvious. But could God also equate PC with “proper courtesy?” Here are a couple thoughts that have gone through my mind:
· God is the only source of truth. Therefore, my understanding of the truth is incomplete. Rich Mullins said it best when he said, “The Bible is proof that God is right and the rest of us are just guessing.” Furthermore, my understanding of certain Bible passages have changed over time and there are still parts that I don’t understand. So maybe I should let God be the One speaking authoritatively into other people’s lives and humbly offer my thoughts as something to consider and take to God.
· God keeps bringing me back to my primary and secondary job descriptions as a human being: love Him completely and love others completely with His Love.*
· Jesus tells us to love our enemies and bless them, not try and convince them of the truth. In fact, in Matthew 5:41, Jesus tells us to go the second mile with someone who has forced you to carry their load.*
· I also went to Ephesians 4:1-16, the source of Christian’s desire to ”speak the truth in love”. The section discusses Christian fellowship—i.e., how Christians should interact. So my thought is when we apply that verse to people who aren’t professing Christians, we are misapplying the verse. Furthermore, the passage starts out encouraging Christians to act in humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with each other in love. It ends in verse sixteen with the encouragement of “building each other up in love.” The emphasis seems to be on “building up” and LOVE, with truth being mentioned once in the first sixteen verses.*
* I would be interested in feedback from people who study the Bible to point out any errors in interpretation to me.
The direction this is leading me is the same direction that my investigation into tolerance has led me. Both being politically correct and tolerant are outside influences that never break into heart areas to produce real change. What they create is a veneer of seemingly right behavior over a potentially rotten core, creating hypocrisy. So Donald Trump is right in denouncing it but wrong in thinking that rejecting it means abandoning love, kindness, reason, self-control and humility in how we speak to and about other people. I reject both those who would seek to enforce PC conduct and Donald Trump's lack of kindness and humility. Instead, I look to God to help me be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry” (James 1:19) and to remember that "Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Romans 13:10)