Not a Bigot

There’s something about the word, bigot, that I don’t particularly care for. It’s an ugly word—a word filled with hate to describe those who hate. But it’s oxymoronic if you think about it.

Aren’t those who accuse others of bigotry, in fact, living examples of the definition?

Intolerance, even of the intolerant, is still intolerance, right?

Quite plainly, I’m not a bigot. But for some reason, it has become common-place for our culture to respond to any type of opposition with vile words, especially when referring to the conservative right. But truthfully, I think we’ve inadvertently brought it on ourselves.

I don’t claim to have answers to these deeply complex issues, but what I can provide is perspective. Hopefully, it will cause us to rethink the way we engage our fellow human beings who share a different opinion.

A Social Battlefield

Our grandfathers took cover in foxholes, but we fight our wars on a digital battlefield. We hide behind our screens, and throw grenades at our brothers and sisters—pious, self-righteous grenades aimed at defending God, as well as distasteful, mocking grenades aimed at destroying anyone with a different opinion.

Honestly, I think many of us have been fooled into thinking that this isn’t a war and maybe we’re naive to think that the words don’t have repercussions. But this new-age war is slowly eroding the foundation of unity that our country was founded upon.

While it’s certainly not wrong to speak our mind, (and this wonderful country affords us the freedom to do so) to give into the viciousness of argument is beyond human.

It might take considerable loss of life for us to slow down long enough to realize what is really happening, but restoration will begin when we are willing to move back into real relationships and quit hiding behind our screens.

Our Desire to Defend God

For the longest time, I thought that it was my duty to defend God. If He died for me and I wasn’t willing to stand up for Him in front of others, then my faith was worthless. And while Jesus did command his followers that if we denied Him, He would deny us, I feel like we’ve taken it a bit out of context.

In time, I’ve learned that my desire to defend God is actually wrapped up in my desire to be right. Instead of defending Him, I’m really trying to defend and justify myself. The difference is subtle, and unrecognizable to most, but that tricky space between defending God and defending ourselves has caused incalculable damage.

You see, those subtleties, the ones where the devil is viciously at work, are best understood in the intimacy of a relationship.

When my wife and I first had our identical twin sons, I would often confuse them. In time, I have come to know each son personally. Each subtle difference—his laugh, his tone, his eyes—has become more familiar as our relationship has grown.

I think it’s like that with God. The more time we spend with Him, the more we are able to understand the subtleties of His nature and how we’re actually living. We will only begin to grow when we’re willing to get really honest about that gap.

As Christians, our duty is less about defending God and more about letting Him reveal those subtleties and eradicate them altogether. When we become close with Him, we can’t help but become more like Him and then, our lives will be a living defense of His goodness.

But God

It’s often that the best intentions of the “religious” have carved the deepest wounds into those that they’re trying to influence. In turn, our culture discredits God altogether. And I honestly don’t blame them.

But instead of giving them justification for dodging God, why not live in such a way that makes Him irresistible. The more we’re willing to lay down our own self-absorption for His truth, the less we feel inclined to be offended, entitled, or hateful. And there’s true freedom in that. For us, and for those He’s called us to influence.

I’ll leave you with a simple, two-word phrase.

But God.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, made us alive…and seated us with him…so that He might show us the riches of His grace in kindness toward us.” —Ephesians 2:4-7

Christians may not always be rich in mercy, but God is.

If we want to cure bigotry, we must become a bigot toward our own selfish nature—intolerant of its efforts to draw us into an emotional battle we weren’t meant to fight. It isn’t us vs. them, it’s us vs. us. Until we become intolerant of our own sinful nature, we will never be truly free, and we’ll be rendered ineffective at becoming His expression in the world.

The truth is, we share the good news with others by becoming the good news in their lives.

And that has never been more needed than right now.

MH

 

Join Zondervan author Kevin Adams in his new book, Learning to Feel the Word—A Fresh Approach to Bible Study, part of the Blueprints For Life Series published by YouPrint.

To learn more about YouPrint and to get a copy of the book, visit www.youprint.life

 

, , ,

  • I find it interesting the deviation our culture takes from the origination of words. As a word geek, I find people literally misusing words. For instance, my son is notorious for this infraction (what near 8 year old isn’t?), and it unnerves me when he tries to sound intelligent beyond his years by using words he hears without ever understanding the meaning of them to begin with. (Looks like we need to work more on that vocab in school)

    Anyhow, in looking up the etymology of the word “bigot”, the modern cultural usage of it isn’t that far off from its origination, however, it’s being widely abused by the masses. The origin of “bigot” stems from the French (circa 1590’s) meaning, “sanctimonious person, religious hypocrite.” Upon looking up merely the dictionary definition of the word, it merely states, “a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions.” This is generalized, broad…vague, even…and therefore, has the capacity to be misused by the masses easily (due to all the grey).

    The origin of the word has roots in the religious realm, and when people begin to throw it around with the cultural slant it carries with it today (in its ambiguity), generalization begins to happen – and this is where the downfall (re: slippery-slope) comes into play. A majority of a certain demographic seek to make sense of things they cannot accept by generalizing…oh, but the danger in this! The very danger they are seeking to “avoid.” It’s where what is intended to address the people who condone something a certain majority does not, becomes now the overarching definition for a whole group of people (enter in racism, religious discrimination, sexism, etc). It makes is easier [for those who staunchly disagree with a certain tenet] to come to terms with it in their minds, rather than look at things realistically – and address them properly (which takes effort, consciousness and examination – something most of humanity is not adept to do in our culture today).

    So, as I explain more than likely what you already understand and believe – because we are both on the same level here with this post (bravo, by the way! *applause with standing ovation*) – it’s in effort to process things a bit more myself, and have to this discussion. I am coming to a point that it’s not so much knowledge or education that gets us far in life – as we were so profoundly taught growing up by our culture – but instead, how we use what knowledge we have when it comes to dialogue with other people. Conversation is desperately needed, yet narcissism flagrantly woven within the tapestry of humanity within our American culture is rearing its ugly head – but no one wants to recognize and talk about the pink elephant in the room. No one wants to discuss it because it would mean the opposition therefore needs to take evaluation of their own opinions and beliefs (as much as the other side does). As you pointed out, a good majority all seek to be right above being merely human (which means having flaws and weaknesses that are brought to the table of relationships with our fellow human beings – man and woman alike…and I mean, *man* and *woman* alike. Not the definition that’s seeking to be remade here to have *all humans* acclimate to emotional standards of a select demographic that are not hardwired into anyone’s spiritual DNA – no matter how anyone seeks to spin it otherwise).

    Thank you for being so respectful, yet true to your standards (which align deeply with God’s, it’s evident), to bring this topic to the table for discussion. I hope and pray it evolves into a good, solid, healthy one for both sides of the situation here.

    • You had me up until you say God has made a “select demographic” which are words typically used used to describe people different than ourselves….and oftentimes those who are of the minority among the population. That’s the point where (correct me if I’m wrong) you profess that God didn’t intend on people being “remade.” I would be very careful thinking that way. As Matt said, we do not need to defend God. And I’d like to add, “or profess our knowledge of what He wants or doesn’t want in someone else’s life.” The fact that a “select demographic” identifies themselves with a gender which does not correlate to their genitals is of no importance here. That is between them and God. I’ve been taught to believe we should keep our eyes off each other and focus on Him. For all we know this may be a test of your/our faith in Him. In my opinion, ALL humans, regardless of our differences (gender, age, sexuality, color, faith, age, religion, and yes, gender identity, etc) are children of God. And ALL are afforded equal rights under the constitution. With our faith and our politics, we should love one another as we love ourselves. For me, that means our differences should not just be tolerated, but respected, loved, and even celebrated….ESPECIALLY true for those of us who associate ourselves with a religious faith of any kind. I don’t worry about being referred to as a bigot because of this.

      • TC: You had me up until you say God has made a ‘select demographic’ which are words typically used used to describe people different than ourselves….and oftentimes refers to those in a minority among the population.

        >> And that is what I am not seeking: to “have you” anywhere. I seek not to “get” anyone anywhere. I am seeking respectful correspondence. If I were seeking to “get” anyone, that means I am defensive and seeking to have you come over to “my side.” I am not seeking that. I am seeking dialogue that respectfully points out any agreements and/or differences so as to have not all of us (including myself) come into a connection (which is part of the foundation of relationship – something I firmly believe is being lost in our culture today).

        And when I say, “select demographic”, I am stating this to point out that the demographic has already been selected by the demographic itself. There wouldn’t be a demographic here unless a select group of people chose to not push their own agenda.

        TC: That’s the point where (correct me if I’m wrong) you profess that God didn’t intend on people being “remade.” I would be very careful thinking that way.”

        >> Where does it say God doesn’t intend to “remake” us? Romans 12:2 states, quite specifically, “Be *transformed* by the renewal of your mind.” The mere words alone don’t mean much, but the context, historical arena, the person speaking these words, the audience being addressed, the reason why it’s being said all point to this one reality and truth: Paul was reminding Christian’s (believers in, and followers of Jesus Christ) to allow God’s ways to *transform* our lives. This is a renewal…a born-again…a transformation. This means our thoughts [particular of and about God] literally form our lives. If humanity doesn’t choose this way of thought, according to scripture, we choose humanity over God. This is idolatry. Plain and simple.

        TC: As Matt said, we do not need to defend God.

        >> Not looking to defend God here. This has nothing to do with “defending” God, but rather I am seeking to clarify the ambiguity many have concerning His word (which reveals His thoughts and ways).

        TC: And I’d like to add, “or profess our knowledge of what He wants or doesn’t want in someone else’s life.” The fact that a “select demographic” identifies themselves with a gender which does not correlate to their born genitals is of no importance here.

        >> Nay I say here. It is of significant importance due to God’s initial design of human-kind. He made *one man* and *one woman.* He didn’t create humanity to be androgynous, or to connect with the same sex.

        TC: Neither is their spiritual or physical DNA. That is between them and God.

        >> And this is where you miss 1) what God says about humanity and judgement and 2) what Matt points out right here in his article.

        1. Yes, scripture states, that we out not to judge lest we be judged( Matthew 7:1), however if all one does is stop there – the whole point God is seeking to make through this one verse alone is severely missed when not read in totality with everything before and after this *one* verse. God is seeking to help define the lines between what judgement is His and His alone, and what judgement we are to use. Here is a great write up in this delineation: https://answersingenesis.org/bible-questions/does-the-bible-tell-christians-to-judge-not/ Many times over, God calls us to constantly test and examine our ways (Lamentations 3:40) – and even know others by their fruits (Matthew 7:16) – all of which lead for humanity to judge, but not be the ultimate judge of their souls. This is between humanity and God, but what is humanity’s responsibility in judgement is to careful discern what honors and glorifies Him, and what doesn’t (discerning fruits).
        2. “So many people don’t want to bring God into the conversation. Instead, maybe we should be open to the fact that we don’t have the capacity to avoid Him.” As Matt points out here, God needs to be brought back into the conversation here, instead of avoided. To say, “this is between others and God” eliminates God out of human interaction. He didn’t bring Jesus to us in order to “x” God out of the equation, but instead to bring Him evermore into human lives (and relationships) because He is the equation. He is the standard. He is the way.

        TC: I’ve been taught to believe we should keep our eyes off each other and focus on Him.

        >> Yes, we ought to focus on Him – but it doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to each other. For it is through humanity He will be revealed, or ignored (denied).

        TC: For all we know this may be a test of your/our faith in Him. In my opinion, ALL humans, regardless of our differences (gender, age, sexuality, color, faith, age, religion, and yes, gender identity, etc) are children of God.

        >> And this is the watering down of God in our culture today. It sounds romantic that all humans are “children of God” by default. But deeper evaluation of scripture reveals there is a vast chasm between being a *creation of God* and a *child of God.* By default, we are all *creations of God.* But what separates *creations of God* from *children of God* is Jesus Christ (and those who fully accept Him as He is – the God-man, fully human and God at the same time; and trust fully in God’s ways and obey Him).

        TC: For me personally, that means our differences should not just be tolerated, but respected, loved, and even celebrated….ESPECIALLY true for those of us who associate ourselves with a religious faith of any kind.

        >> Let’s look at the word, “tolerate.” This isn’t the same word as permissible. To relate means to be “free from bigotry or severity in judging others.” Again, we as humans *are* to judge – their fruits (the evidence of God in their lives), but not judge another’s soul. So when you say what you do above, it sounds more like what you may be trying to say is all humanity needs to have a permissible demeanor. Yet, God is very clear as to how we as humans are to operate: “‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything is helpful. ‘Everything is permissible,’ but not everything builds up.” 1 Cor 10:13 This means while everything in this world is “allowed” because it’s in this world, humans need to be able to judge (discern) between what is helpful and building up of God (not ourselves or anyone person in humanity). Therefore, love (as a Christian)bus shown by speaking the truth (God’s truth) in love (Ephesians 4:15). This respects other human beings as well, because truth (God’s) is being spoken, and sharing it is loving because it celebrates His life in relation to humanity.

        TC: And as Matt’s post relates to politics and religion, thankfully, ALL of us, are afforded equal rights under the US Constitution. With our faith and our politics, we are better off loving each other as we love ourselves and striving to make it about “us” and not us vs them…ever.

        >> Never suggested otherwise. However, this is about God and how He fashioned His *children* to operate. He already knows how His creation will operate (on loving ourselves, and make it about ourselves – instead of letting it simply be all about Jesus). And [personally] as His child, I will operate in the way He has called all Christian’s to: to go out and share The Gospel.

        The Good News is that Jesus is Lord, and diminish humanity as He is increased. All I have been having discussion about concerning this very heated topic recently has been focused on presenting what is revealed in scripture. It’s not a defense of God here – nor even myself – but it is a presentation of showing the permissiveness humanity deeply desires to have (using the law of our land to back it all up) versus what God clearly points out isn’t helpful or building up for Him. The mission of the believer is to boldly declare Jesus is Lord, which will rub up on human creation – leading to where all humanity has been since the fall (including where our culture is today).

  • A great way to handle a sensitive topic Matt. Many throw around terms and hate speech under the guise of anonymity on the web. Words and actionsee hurt no matter what form. We live in such volatile times that we must be sure footed where we stand and able to defend accordingly. Great scripture to put it all into perspective, His mercy always supercedes any that we may hope to possess.