Civil Discourse? Or Civil War?

On Wednesday, I wrote about the increasingly ferocious rhetoric that characterizes much of our political discourse today. I couldn’t help but pose these troubling questions:

What kind of rhetoric (and the response it provokes) leads people from polite disagreement to empassioned persecution of those with whom we disagree? How does it start? Where does it end?

These questions are troubling because they don’t wonder about a future time in a distant place. Empassioned persecution is already here. Today. In this Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Would you ever have imagined that a White House staff member would be asked to leave a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia just because she works for the President of the United States?

Sarah Huckabee Sanders left without making a scene, later concluding this request said more about the business owner than about her. Interesting to note: The restaurant owner has since resigned from her role as director of a local business group whose purpose is to improve the city’s downtown.

Perhaps many people disagreed that the act of ejecting Sarah represented an improvement? Yet others are actually justifying the restaurant owner’s actions. Perhaps even actions of others that might be far worse?

“Many view Trump as a true threat to America. So it should come as no surprise that some would also look to hold members of Team Trump responsible as well. After all, Trump administration officials who defend Trump’s bigoted policies, his demonization of minority groups and his lies, are complicit. They freely choose to do the work for him and they shouldn’t be shocked if some — not all – Trump opponents lash out at them.”

What kind of “lashing out” is acceptable? Even desirable? How far is too far? What is the likelihood that verbal attacks will escalate into physical ones? Where is the room for thoughtful discourse and vigorous (but still civil) disagreement?

And what opportunities do Christians have to bring Kingdom POWER to bear in the midst of the clamor?

Jim Denison, PhD, publishes a daily article evaluating today’s news from a Christian perspective. I love the exhortation he writes in his June 26, 2018 post, calling for compassionate courage on the part of God’s people.

First, refuse to let popular opinion and vehement rhetoric lure you from biblical truth. No matter how loudly someone claims that wrong is right, wrong is still wrong. …

Second, pray for the courage to speak the truth. It has always been hard to follow Jesus in this broken world. Consider the price His first followers paid for their faithfulness. Think of millions of Christians being persecuted around the world right now.

George Orwell was right: ‘The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.’ But the more it needs such truth in love.

Is that why Jesus said, “LOVE your enemies and PRAY for those who persecute you…”  (Matthew 5:44)  ???

What say you?

Please post your comments below.

Diana Furr, a.k.a. Abba’s Girl

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