Posts Tagged ‘Conservatives’

Homosexuality & Hypocrisy Pt 4: Dealing with Stereotypes

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

In the previous entry from this series, I mentioned stereotypes—in this case, how conservatives are stereotyped as narrow-minded, as selfish, as hateful, or as smug, Pharisaical, self-righteous  judgmental jerks.  So… What do we do with that?  How should we respond? (Edit: I’ll say up front that sometimes the stereotypes are true. And I should add that this would apply to dealing with any kind of stereotype–including conservative stereotypes about liberals.)

I have a few thoughts—an overarching perspective, and then a list of miscellaneous points.

It’s going to involve a combination of words & actions.  Words to point out the stereotyping, words to communicate what we mean & believe, and actions in keeping with what we say.  I’m not precisely sure what the balance should be between them, but I suspect it should and lean toward latter two.   (“They’re stereotyping us” isn’t an inherently interesting or helpful subject.  Talking about Christ, the Gospel, and the Scriptures is—along with acting like Christ.)

And the best way to defend ourselves is not to have to.  For our message and our lives to be so clear and so well-known, that we never have to try to defend ourselves.  For people to be so familiar with us that they know who we are.  For us to be so pervasively, consistently Christ-like, clearly communicating the Gospel, that we cannot be unjustly stereotyped.

And of course, that assumes that the stereotypes are unjust.  Which isn’t always the case!  (We all live out stereotypes, sometimes.)

Thoughts to ponder:

  1. How often is there truth in the stereotypes?  How often are there real negative experiences behind people’s bad perceptions of Christianity and/or conservatives?  How compelling will such people find it when we simply insist that we’re not really like that?  (Counter-thought: How often are people oversensitive about their past experience? How often do they use it as an excuse to broadbrush?)
  2. Talking about the stereotypes is limited in its usefulness.  “They’re stereotyping us” is helpful if done right, but we have to be careful that it doesn’t become complaining or whining.  After all…if the stereotypes are true, we’ll spend a lot more time & energy decrying “them dang lib’rals & the lib’ral media” than we’ll spend talking about Christ and bearing fruit in service & love.
  3. It will be hypocritical for us to complain about the stereotypes, if we don’t do a good job of cleaning house, seeking to be above reproach.  I don’t know if actions speak louder than words, but they’re sure important for backing them up.  (Along those lines, see the previous entry on service.)
  4. We need to be clear that we truly see ourselves as fellow sinners in need of a savior. We need to be clear that the Gospel is not, “Become a church-goer—be better, like us.” That the Gospel is what Christ did for us—the gift of redemption, received by simple, humble, repentant, God-seeking faith.
  5. We need to act like we speak. To be humble & loving.  To soak in the spirit of Phil. 2:1-18.  That means heart transformation–we need to pray for God to change our hearts to be more like Christ.  So that we will do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly.
  6. We all need to watch our own tendencies to stereotype & categorize.

Update: I added a “Part 4.5” to my series, with a couple more thoughts on dealing with stereotypes.

Update: Here’s the entire series:

Homosexuality & Hypocrisy Pt 1: Slogans & the Gospel
Homosexuality & Hypocrisy Pt 2: The Gospel in Romans
Homosexuality & Hypocrisy Pt 3: Hypocrisy, Stereotyping, and the Gospel
Homosexuality & Hypocrisy Pt 4: Dealing with Stereotypes
Homosexuality & Hypocrisy Pt 4.5: P.S. On Dealing with Stereotypes