Kindness & Accountability
Kindness has been much in the news this past week. It centers around the fact that Ellen DeGeneres spent a recent Sunday afternoon with former President George W. Bush. Many on the progressive left slammed her for doing this and she responded with a defense of kindness, even toward those with whom she disagrees. She has been widely applauded for this defense.
My point here is not to rehash the case against George W. Bush but, rather to push back against the notion that opposing Bush (or anyone in public life) is in and of itself an unkind thing to do. Holding someone accountable for the things they have done or the things they have done that you oppose is not an inherently unkind act. It is clear that Ms. DeGeneres is strongly implying that this is the case.
Now, I am not suggesting that people can’t go too far in this. Many have done so. We as Christians are never called to violence and are in fact called to love everyone, even our enemies. Those who wish to commit some act of violence against the former President or dump a bucket of blood on him or spit in his face have lost perspective and a grip on simple basic human civility. In this Ellen DeGeneres is correct. Also seeking to “cancel” Ms. DeGeneres simply because she sat with George W. Bush also betrays a lack of perspective.
However, also without perspective is Ellen DeGeneres herself as she criticizes as illegitimate a perspective that opposes hers. It is, I think, a type of thinking, predominantly on the left, that says one shouldn’t speak up about what one believes. It’s “pushy” or “rude” to do so. It is why these types take offense at those who evangelize their faith or who try to convert others to their way of thinking. To take a step back, this viewpoint presumes that to attempt to persuade is some sort of an aggression. It is interesting that those in the “moderate” left are at odds with the harder edged progressive elements on this issue.
It is everybody’s right to convey their viewpoints and beliefs in any non-violent manner. We hope they do this civilly as we as followers of Jesus have been called to do but regardless it is their inherent human right to try and persuade others about their views. If you are not willing to share your beliefs with others, whatever they may be, because you are afraid to be seen as “unkind” or “rude”, then how strongly do you hold those beliefs in the first place. What good are we as Christians to God if we will not share the story of His son Jesus Christ? What good is a progressive to their believe system if they will not share it with the wider world? Proselytizing is not an act of unkindness. Period.
If you think that George W. Bush is guilty of war crimes, and for the record I do, then it seems that you are obligated to say so. Does this mean you cannot interact with him? No, if, from your perspective, he acknowledges what he has done and repents then God will forgive him, and we should as well. If he won’t do this, and to date he has not, then maybe you are better off not sharing nachos at a football game. If you think him a war criminal, it is not unkind to say so and to choose to not associate with such a person at a sporting event. It would, to those who hold this view, be unkind to the victims of said war criminal. If Ellen DeGeneres disagrees with the charges against George W. Bush or thinks then irrelevant to calling him a friend, then we can have that discussion with her about how we disagree…civilly, I hope. She herself has taken the same position regarding Donald Trump; whom she has said she would never allow on her show. This is her right for the above outlined reasons, but it does expose her to some hypocrisy.
In looking to Jesus as our lodestar, we are on solid ground here. Obviously, Jesus loves everyone, even His enemies. From the cross He forgave those who were killing Him. That does not mean that He ever failed to call a sin for what it was. Whether it was referring to some as a “brood of vipers” or an awful generation or even telling the woman at the well to go forth and sin no more, Jesus identifies sin as an affront to God. To those who are penitent, He freely gives forgiveness but to those who don’t he sternly warns of the consequences of their choice to separate from God. Jesus is willing to engage with anyone, yet it is always in the context of seeking to repair the relationship with the Father that He does so. Yes, He shares “nachos” with sinners, but always as a part of His attempt to unify them with the will of the Father. None of this is unkind. It is an integral part of Jesus’ ministry and should be an integral part of our faith walk as well. We should also be willing to listen when others who interact with us to get us to repent for our sins.
Let us reject the notion that proclaiming what we believe and calling out those whom we consider sinners and criminals is an unkind act. To suggest that it is inherently unkind is a rather transparent attempt to shut down debate about important matters, you know like whether or not a former president is guilty of crimes against humanity. Love everyone as a fellow child of God, yes even George W. Bush, Donald Trump and Barack Obama. However, never lose sight of who we are and whom we serve. Loudly spread the message of God’s merciful redemption through His son Jesus the Christ. Never, however, fail to speak up on behalf of those victims of the powers of this age, that you believe have been unjustly treated. To do so is to remain unconscionably silent in the face of evil and God never calls His people to silence…EVER.
Praise Be to God