Staff Editorial: We are responsible for more than political correctness

The Chimes staff discusses the consequences of words in light of the teachings of Jesus.


Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES

Chimes Staff, Writer


Melanie Kim/THE CHIMES


How many times in the past week did you hear the term “retarded” used as a negative modifier in an offhanded remark? Chances are, even at Biola, more than once. It seems today people verbally throw around labels referring to one’s handicap, sexual orientation or race — perhaps not even to be intentionally offensive — in a casual manner. As a result, we degrade not only the person to whom we are speaking, but the term itself, and by extension, those from whom the term originated.

As humans we should not avoid stooping to jokingly slinging these terms simply because they are politically incorrect. Rather, as Christians our call to love our neighbor is a command far more weighty.

Sticks, stones and the effect of words

Words leave a lasting impression. Any proverb we have heard about sticks, stones and the emptiness of words is a lie. In fact, the things we say can grab hold of our hearts and torture us for years.

Now imagine degrading talk about sexual orientation, handicaps or racial slurs and the terrible effect they have had on our society for centuries. Each word carries connotations that dig at the very being of a fellow human. They may even cause them to feel dehumanized, not matter how passe or empty the words seem in their regular use in our vocabularies.

Jesus’ calculated words

There was no place for dehumanizing words in Jesus’ vocabulary. He never identified or defined the leper by their disease. He never discounted the woman caught in adultery as a whore. He recognized these people were more than their illness or their promiscuity.

Moreover, he presented himself as the remedy and the answer to the very plagues by which society defined them. As followers of Jesus, we are held accountable to more than political correctness. We are accountable to the example and commands of Jesus himself.

Move beyond political correctness

Much of the time we associate watching our words with being politically correct, toeing the line to make sure we don't offend anyone. But when we step over that line, even under the flimsy protection of "just kidding", we're labeling others in a different category from our perceived standard — based on ourselves. Basically, we're taking a dig at their humanity.

Step away from the idea of political correctness for a moment and actually look at the people around you as people. We're all human and we all bleed red, but when we label others with degrading slurs we're essentially decreasing the value of their humanity.

As Christians we are called to represent Christ to the world. We are responsible for considering the consequences of our words. We are obliged to act as Christ would act by valuing, rather than devaluing people. Ultimately, it’s about more than political correctness. It’s about a responsibility to uphold the worth of other humans. 

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