words can be weapons

Our words can be weapons. We can use them to demean and diminish people. We have no need to wield a knife or point a gun in order to demolish people. Words will do just as well.

In today’s climate, what passes for ‘debate’ about important issues is too often more a case of abuse being hurled at opponents. Or simplistic and hurtful attempts to pin labels on those with whom we disagree. It all makes application of this text impossible. In context, Paul is urging God’s people to accept one another, differences and all. Living in peace does not involve denial of differences or sweeping disagreements under the carpet.

But nor can it involve cheap name-calling which is a substitute for sensitivity and understanding. Those on the ‘right’ accuse those on the ‘left’ of being unbiblical or even heretical. Those on the ‘left’ accuse those on the ‘right’ of being bigoted or fundamentalists. It seems it is hard to question a long-held belief because we can be accused of lacking conviction. And it is correspondingly hard to hold to a long-held belief because there will be accusations of bigotry and closed-mindedness.

There is no easy answer. But Christians would do well not to mimic the way the world engages in debate. Offer a different model. See people as those loved by God not as adversaries or as mere categories. After all, pigeon holes are for the birds!

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