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Monday, June 4, 2012

Ethics and the Language of Love


“How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire.”
~James 3:5b-6a (NRSV)
Vilification: “to make vicious and defamatory statements about.”
We have a lot to be thankful for, living in a Judeo-Christian society. The whole world, give or take some regions, is ruled by this Western philosophy for justice, righteousness, and equity. We take for granted the role of advocacy in society, but we are all benefactors of it. And we need such companionable constructs for living, given that, by our humanity, we are, by sinful default, vilifiers.
Take the issue of same-sex marriage. Each of us, if we are pressed, has a side on ethical issues like this. The default Christian view is anti-same-sex marriage, which I by my conscience support. But, having taken a side, my wariness must kick into gear regarding potential for vilification, if I aim to please God.
The Conversion Of Thought To Words And Actions
As thinking, feeling human beings—having been endowed with the ability for rationality and reason—we cannot help analyse the issues and determine our platform. There are but two sides. Few arguments offer more than a black or white position.
Having considered thoughtfully our position, we resolve our stance. That stance will take the shape of words and actions.
It is here, however, that the key juncture of grace must intercede.
Having taken a position, and, upon the approach of those opposite, we have the unguarded default of vilification. If we don’t watch our thoughts they will, at light-speed, convert to feelings and then become words and actions; spears in the hands of unhappy natives.
Imagine having been commanded by Jesus to love one another, and to treat each other as we would want to be treated, and forgetting, instead vilifying; failing to love and succeeding in the hurting.
Most especially, to an outside world, Christians are seen as separatist and possibly hateful regarding same-sex marriage issues and the like to begin with. It may not matter what we say, we may already be seen as vilifiers. But, despite these misconceptions, our goal should be to love and not vilify, by watching what we think, feel, say and do.
Small fires set ablaze entire forests.
***
We are but one undisciplined moment from vilification: to make vicious and defamatory statements. We need God because we need reminding that life is about love. No matter where the pendulum swings on ethical issues, like same-sex marriage, we should guard against vilifying those with opposing views. We should, instead, lace our language with love.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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