Political Correctness – Christian Philosophy Gone Mad?

2 Nov

I start this post by being very clear that this is an opinion, though I do believe it to be true, at least in part, if not entirely.

So what is my basis for this thought? Luke 6:31:
Do to others as you would have them do to you
And who could argue with this? Certainly not Christians, after all they are the words of Jesus. Certainly not Muslims, for they hold Jesus in high regard as well. And certainly not atheists, as they often seem to believe that this is the best way of holding Christians to account over their beliefs. The phrase “Call yourself a Christian?” is very often used in relation so people apparently treating others in a way that is deemed to be negative.

So why the problem with this? After all, it is perfectly reasonable. Isn’t it?

Well, on it’s own quite possibly. But the problem is that we are now seeing this idea being brought into law. Look at the idea of a “hate crime” and you see that it is both vague and open to a wide interpretation that is being taken in ways that are curbing freedom of speech and expression.
Just look at Nottingham as one example, where misogyny is considered to be a hate crime. And it goes to the point at which a wolf whistle is considered a criminal act!
Or how about Scotland, where the police are warning people to be careful what they say on social media as they might be prosecuted if people are offended. And whilst the article talks about things like revenge porn, which is rightly criminalised, the wider phrasing of “Those who use the internet to peddle hate or abuse” is far more vague and able to be taken to ridiculous levels if people want to do so. After all, I could say that I believe that Islam is a false religion and that Mohammad was a liar and a warlord and point to how this is because I am a Christian and therefore believe that he declared guidance from Allah purely to go and conquer Mecca and the surrounding area, as Jesus is the last word from God according to my beliefs. And that is me expressing my beliefs in an expository and explanatory manner, yet someone could see it, feel abused by it and declare that it is Islamophobic and hate speech. And all of a sudden freedom of speech and freedom of religion comes into conflict with this new law on hate speech and, at the moment, hate speech is trumping everything else. There is an example of this in Bristol and there are many other examples from recent years, where Christian street preachers have been arrested because someone has taken offence over what they have been saying. And this causes a huge problem for these conflicting laws over freedoms, as the Christian faith is one that calls it’s adherents to preach the Gospel to the whole world. And the biggest issue is highlighted by the final comment in the Bristol article on the BBC, where someone is quoted as saying “Religion should be confined to places of worship, not streets full of shoppers.” The Christian faith CANNOT be kept within 4 walls, and this is where the problem lies, as people seem to think that you can box up faiths in their buildings and keep the streets free of it. Yet it is not just atheists and secularists who are saying this, there are Christians who seem happy with this idea as well!

But I now want to return to where this started, Luke 6:31.
The use of this phrase appears so often in settings like this, but there are other verses which surround it that seem to be ignored. At the very least Luke 6:27-36 needs to be read to put it in context:
Love for enemies
‘But to you who are listening I say: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

And when we read it within the context it’s intended we can see that actually we are not supposed to say that others should only say things that don’t offend anyone, but that this instruction is aimed at us, that we should think about the things that we say, but not that we should then be enforcing it upon others. Indeed, far from saying that others, whether Christian or not, should follow this teaching we are called to turn the other cheek and love them.
And this is where I think that so many people in the western world could do with getting a grip and realising that if you want to live in a tolerant society then we should actually tolerate when people say things that we find offensive. When it turns into incitement to violence that fine, but so long at it is just people saying things that some might be offended by but are purely thoughts and opinions we need to accept that that is how we are called to treat others by Jesus. We don’t have to like the things that are said, but we are not called to silence them because we don’t them either.
And so, to refer back to my title question, yes I think it is Christian philosophy gone mad. Not because Christianity is wrong, but because the thought has been taken so far out of context that actually it misses the point and, in fact, by turning it into a law it goes against the point Jesus was making!

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