Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Labels and Stereotypes .......... Parables 454

January 3, 1995

Most of the current how-to books for writers feature at least one chapter on sexist language, political correctness and stereo-typing. Writers submitting anything to newspaper, television, books and magazine editors must not violate certain criteria. If they avoid using certain terms, they will also avoid receiving rejection slips, at least in certain markets.

Everyone is familiar with written taboos like “mankind” or “chairman” but even visual images are affected by the new standards for political correctness. Editors want women as well as men operating machines on construction sites and men using home products as often as women in television commercials. Women should not be wearing aprons and black people should not be in servile roles.

This so-called correct language applies to almost all groups, except Christians. For some reason, it is okay to give unkind labels to Christians and stereotype them.

Actually, we even do this to ourselves, although not usually to be mean. In fun, we mimic the preachers who pound their pulpits with hellfire and brimstone. Today’s preachers who give that message have learned to do it with greater sensitivity. We also have labels for those who say they are Christians yet live like God does not exist. We call them hypocrites just like anyone else would.

Christians usually receive a different kind of mockery from language and stereotyping. We are often portrayed as if ALL are hypocrites and ALL are out-of-touch idiots. Seldom do we see movie or television stars portraying genuine believers, those who take their faith and relationship with Christ seriously.

Perhaps genuine Christians are so hard to find that story writers do not know what one looks like. Perhaps hypocrites are more prolific. Perhaps writers have had so many negative experiences they simply turn their backs on anything they know as positive about Christians.

Whatever motives each writer, genuine Christians do exist. Some are well-known, such as Charles Swindoll, Billy Graham, or Christy (her life story is the television series with the same name). Others are less known but just as honorable and marked by integrity.

Why then do television and motion pictures neglect to feature people like them in their plots? Why do they depict believers as either fools, fakes or false teachers? If that were done with groups such as homosexuals or black people, those groups would cry out and demand their rights. Laws would (and have been) passed making it illegal to say or print anything negative about them in public.

Oddly enough, Christians seldom cry out. While some do demand equal rights and some loudly complain, the Bible wants us to model our lives after Christ. 1 Peter 2:23 says, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

A few verses earlier it says, “It is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

Jesus Christ offends everyone who is unwilling to receive Him and the godly lifestyle He lived and offers. Rather than just ignoring it, some will ridicule those who preach, teach and live it. Some will openly persecute them.

Oddly enough, many Christians don’t complain about unfair treatment. The Bible says if we live like Christ, we will suffer persecution. How can we retaliate or even complain if people do not like us because we resemble Him?

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