Political Correctness: Correct or Incorrect?
“Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’” -Matthew 2:13
“Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’” -John 8:10-11
The other day while driving in a rural part of my state I pulled behind a pickup truck with a bumper sticker that read, “I would rather be right than politically correct.” Next to it was another bumper sticker for the driver’s Church. In recent months, the political discourse of America has become inflamed with talk of political correctness with some particularly vocal politicians maligning it. Many Christians, such as the truck driver previously mentioned, have wholeheartedly endorsed this opinion. They see the Christian message as a gospel of “brutal honesty” which cannot bear superficial pluralistic considerations. I find, however, that many so called “brutally honest” people are much more concerned with the self-satisfying brutality inflicted by their words than any honesty they deliver.
In the Gospel of Mathew, when Herod discovers that another ruler has been born in his kingdom, he orders a mass execution. This narrative demonstrates the type of political incorrectness that Christ represents. Jesus’ very existence is politically incorrect because it draws people’s allegiance away from the transient kingdoms of the world. Jesus’ political incorrectness is not empty angry words, rather it is the presentation of a life-giving alternative to the way that the world is currently run. This alternative way of life is made all the more clear in Jesus’ teaching and action. In John 8, when Jesus saves a woman from being stoned for audultery, Jesus commits a HUGELY politically incorrect act by humanizing someone who those controlling the popular moral discourse had deemed sub-human. By including those whom society had excluded, Jesus transgressed the social status quo in the name of birthing new life in the midst of the world.
I do not think that Christians should fear going against social norms, but I also do not think that we should be politically incorrect just for the juvenile thrill of being “right.” Rather, Christians should serve this life-giving mission: the mission of Christ through the power of the Spirit. In the process of this life-giving mission, we must be always aware of those who are currently being deprived of life and seek to bring healing to them. By being an advocate for the invisible we will be brought into conflict with the popular discourse and thus be labeled politically incorrect. The reality of new life is a great threat to a world ruled by death.
Challenge: How can we think creatively about giving life to people in our cultural context? How might this bring us into conflict with what is popular or “normal?”