Posts Tagged ‘Liberals’

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

Homosexuality & Hypocrisy Pt 3: Hypocrisy, Stereotyping, and the Gospel

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Pt 1:  Slogans & the Gospel

Pt 2: The Gospel in Romans

Paul said in Romans 2, “you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.“  He’s talking about hypocrisy–doing what you criticize in other people.

Recently I’ve become increasingly aware of how often and how easily we fall into that.  With the best of intentions, we can wind up being hypocritical in practically everything.  It just slips in under our radar.

Examples

1.) Charity Police

In a post from October, I said:

If you read many blogs on the internet, you will find people who speak very uncharitably–they’re constantly unnecessarily harsh in tone and unreasonable in how they interpret others.  You will also find people who are obsessed with accusing others of being uncharitable.  You can call them charity police.  And those guys can be some of the least charitable people around–accusing others of uncharity at the drop of a hat or the slightest hint of language that isn’t excessively polite.  Majorly unreasonable & oversensitive.

We should be gracious with each other in addressing their mistakes–including mistakes of style.  And we shouldn’t be too quick to assume the worst.

Charity police can be the least charitable people on the internet.

2.) Liberals & stereotyping.

(Note: Everyone does this kind of thing, but there’s an extra element of hypocrisy when self-professed liberal people do it.)

As a general simplification:  The Liberal Ideal includes being open-minded & tolerant.

So it’s particularly unfortunate when a self-described liberal broadbrushes conservatives–as narrow-minded, as selfish, as hateful, or as smug, Pharisaical, self-righteous  judgmental jerks.  When a liberal thinks in stereotypes, seeing us through the filter of their preconceived ideas about us–without engaging & exploring & knowing us.

It’s frustrating being pigeonholed by someone who tells you how open-minded they are.

(I think the Prop 8 Musical is a good example of this.  More about that in…Uh, I think it’ll be Pt 5.  And I think my next entry will discuss what our response should be to this kind of stereotyping.)

Underlying Problems & Solutions

In a general sense, this happens because we’re messed-up, sinful people.  Even in our attempts to be good or identify good, we get twisted around.  And the solution will involve prayer, and humility, and being graceful toward each other when we screw up like this.  But I want to try to be a little more specific.

Problem #1: A comfortable lack of introspection

We start to rest on our laurels.  To be comfortable.  We form an image of ourselves, and live in the image, unaware of whether we’re living up to it.  We stop examining ourselves for consistency.  We begin to live without integrity.

If you haven’t yet, listen to the mp3 of Carson talking about integrity–our struggle when we see that who we are on in the inside isn’t the same as who we try to be on the outside.  Here’s the mp3.  Go to 1:05:20, and listen for about 4.5 minutes.

So, accept that you’re going to be a hypocrite sometimes.  Commit to finding out where it’s happening.  Commit to the struggle.  Keep examining yourself against the principles you claim to follow.  Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, and commit to the humility of Christ.

Problem #2:  Keeping score vs. the Gospel

The more we compete & try to keep score—winning arguments, or proving our worth—the more likely we are to form lying images in our minds.  The more we think that our salvation depends on keeping the rules & being “good people”, the more likely we are to cling to a positive image of ourselves.  And the less likely we are to probe our own life & heart, to find the inconsistencies.

If we live in a place of freedom—knowing that our hope is based on what Christ did—then it becomes easier to admit the problems, to look for more failures, and ask for grace from God to help us change.

And our lives proceed from our hearts.  So when we pray for change, we have to pray for a change of heart.  It means looking more to the life of Jesus, and falling in love with what we see.  The change grows from the longing that God gives us to see his goodness, and taste it in our own lives.  The change grows from the belief that it will be worth it to change, even when it’s hard & involves sacrifice.  “He who loses his life for my sake will find it.”

And the change will come from God’s strength & goodness, not ours.  “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13)  I started this series from Romans 1-2; when we get to Romans 7, we find Paul talking about this kind of struggle with inconsistency.  And in Romans 8, we find the words of blessed assurance that if we are in Christ, we will be made more like him–that he will be the firstborn of many brothers.  He searches our hearts, and knows what is there, which should be scary–but he is bending all of history, everything in our lives, to change us.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”  (Rom. 8:26-30)

————-
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