- "The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of justice. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide." [Psalm 37:30]
"Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let such as love your salvation say continually, 'The Lord be magnified!'" [Psalm 40:16]
"Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing." [I Peter 3:8,9]
There is a lot going on in our country today that causes conservatives like myself a lot of concern and earns a lot of our criticism. Not all conservatives in politics, economics, or even morals, are Christian. Not all Christians consider themselves conservatives. While I would like certain conservatives to listen to what I am saying, my reasoning is based on God's Word in Scripture and it is not going to carry the same weight with everyone.
Americans across the political spectrum from the far left to the far right exercise their freedom of speech on social media, in comment forums attached to news sites, and in videos. It is easy to feel camouflaged in the immensity and rapid flow of the Internet's tsunami of subjects and comments about them. It is easy to get in the habit of venting steam at the moment in the assumption that it will be ignored or swept along into oblivion - on Facebook, for example - by being too far buried in newer material to be worth retrieving by anyone. Sometimes this assumption is wrong. Stories pop up, now and again, about people being fired for making unwise comments on social media about their boss or a co-worker - while forgetting just who was on their "friends" list. One reason I don't belong to Twitter is that impulsive tweets have too often caused reputation and career damage. There are times that Twitter accounts have been lent to good causes such as the ACLJ's "Tweet for Youcef" campaign that helped free Pastor Youcef Nadarkani in Iran. I may consider joining it later.
A short time ago, a "friend" of a "friend" on Facebook said she would have shared a certain politically conservative post because she agreed with its basic intent, but refused to do so as a Christian because of certain language in it. If anyone else stood up for her in the barrage of responses that followed, I missed it. The gist of a good number of those responses was that her objection was childish, or puritanical, or an infringement on their right to use what language they please, even if they are Christians. That got me thinking and that is what led me to do some Scriptural research and write this post.
The Bible says a lot about what the godly Christian life should look like to those around us, including things said before Christ, by Christ, and after His time on earth. As I mentioned above, it is easy to think that what we say on the Internet, especially under a "username" pseudonym, will never come back to affect us. "But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." [Matthew 12:36-37]. Those were Jesus' words. Those of us who worship Him as omniscient, eternal Deity shouldn't begin to say He wasn't talking about the Internet because it didn't exist yet. If that's what we believe about him, we know He knew.
There are many positive things that the Bible says on the subject of how a godly person should speak or write. A few are:
Am I saying that being godly means never being critical of anything or anyone? Jesus certainly was critical at times. In Matthew 23, he said seven times, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" In Luke 13:32, after being told that Herod wanted to kill Him, Jesus called Herod a "fox.". In general, Jesus may have withheld his direct critical comments on the Pharisees, scribes, lawyers and Sadducees until the final part of his earthly ministry. Those that the Gospel writers recorded all occurred very close to the end. If this was because Jesus knew that once he began criticizing them they would fulfill prophecy and crucify him, he was obviously correct. Stephen made such sharp comments in his sermon to the Sanhedrin in the book of Acts, including, "Ye uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit" - that he earned the privilege of martyrdom by stoning. Paul criticized certain people by name in his epistles. John - renowned as the "apostle of love" - criticized Diotrephes, "who loves to have the pre-eminence," for putting people out of the church and refusing them hospitality because they hindered his agenda.
I have made my share of critical comments about President Obama and other liberals and what they are doing or failing to do. I am not backing away from my comments that he and others in his administration are making it more and more difficult to describe their words and actions without the word "chutzpah" applying. I have even been suggesting that we need adjectival and adverbial forms of the word. (I did not find any in the Merriam-Webster dictionary's website.) A good deal of what they do is chutzpanic or said chutzpanically.
President Obama has had no trouble "eating words" he said in his first term and his first Presidential campaign - and earlier - about certain things showing poor leadership which he has since done himself. It's almost getting tedious to see it happen. Sean Hannity's program on Fox News recently played multiple video clips of the President saying his programs would "not add one dime to the deficit." (Not one dime, true. Trillions of dimes.) If words were fattening, Taft would no longer be our heaviest President. However, sometimes we focus on President Obama too much. Other people have worked with him, or made their own independent mistakes, to put us in our present pickle. We should not forget them either.
What I believe Christians should be careful about is using coarse language, foul insults, etc., in social media or comments on news items, whether we're talking about public figures or just the person whose comment we're criticizing in the "Reply" box. It has to do with our testimony to the world around us that we take Jesus as our Lord and submit to His leadership and His guidance, both negative and positive, and behave as children of a King. Yes, we should stand up for the freedom given us in our Constitution. Yes, we should be critical of those "progressives" who believe the Constitution and the many Judeo-Christian values it embodies should pass into history simply because it is "old." However strongly we feel about these things, we should show all the more strongly how much obeying God's Word matters to us.
Frustration and anger and hostility on the part of conservatives in recent years, and especially recent months, are understandable. The Obama administration's response to the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, has been under investigation by Congress and enough senators have been vocal in their condemnation that I do not need to add much. Other actions such as the President's executive orders on gun control and his ill-conceived effort at recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, (which a court ruled unconstitutional, undoing large numbers of NLRB decisions), show a sad disregard for the Constitution.
Lies or half-truths or awkward "cover-ups" by those in high places may seem to go unpunished. Jesus spoke about that, too. "Therefore, whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be procaimed on the housetops!" [Luke 12:3]. There is a place and a time and a manner for us to stand up for the truth before what limited audience we may think we have. Let's always do so in such a way that those who hear or read what we say will, like the Pharisees and Sadducees after the Lord was crucified (and resurrected), "take note that these [people] had been with Jesus."
(See "About Me")