I have a mouth on me. I grew up a nasty little kid who used his mouth to attain a little self respect. I became an expert at attacking my friends and enemies alike and learned to brush off the verbal abuse that I received in return. As a result of this special training in verbal jousting I am still very capable of making a sarcastic comment at just the wrong time.
I was attending one of the many dinners we had at Trinity Baptist in Scranton when the Lord Mayor walked in. My opinion of our Mayor was very low at that time. And I remarked to a friend, “vote for me” with the proper sarcastic vocal inflexions. I was over heard by several church members who reamed me out at a council meeting later in the month. They were very proud that the Mayor was shilling for votes at our church, and they were very upset that I dared to point out the obvious (as you can see I am quite unrepentant). I was severely chastised for the episode and I slunk out of that meeting like a scolded puppy. I have tried to learn my lesson and keep my mouth shut, but every once in a while, I let a nasty comment rip. I guess you can’t change a leopards spots.
You must be hiding under a rock if you don’t know that the Presidential campaign is in full swing and the discourse has turned ugly. On second thought, the discourse was ugly right from the start. From now until November we are looking at an ever increasing bombardment of political attack ads on the radio and television. If the past is any indication, no one will be spared. John McCain’s wife was accused of being addicted to prescription painkillers in the South Carolina primary twelve years ago. No attack will be considered too low. Four years ago the McCain campaign accused President Obama of being a “friend of terrorists”. I wasn’t the only one to think that someone would try and kill the big O after that accusation. And don’t think for one minute that any of this is new. President John Adams was called “His Rotundness” by a newspaper man paid by Thomas Jefferson. Prior to this, Jefferson and Adams were very close friends.
I know that the world of politics is ugly, but should it be this ugly? This is a question I can’t answer, but I can tell you what the Bible says about social discourse in general. And the Bible isn’t on the side of the politicians.
In the book of James, the tongue is compared to an out of control fire (3:6), an animal that cannot be tamed (3:7-8), and a double dealer that praises God and curses man at the same time (3:9-12). In the book of Proverbs it says that our words can “pierce like a sword” (12:18). It also says that words can have the power of life and death (18:21). This saying comes true in the story of Naboth’s Vineyard found in the 21st chapter of 1 Kings. King Ahab wants to buy the vineyard but Naboth says no. Queen Jezebel spreads a rumor that Naboth has cursed God, and he is stoned to death. This event becomes the last straw as their sinful reign comes to an end. Fly to Saudi Arabia and curse the Prophet Mohammad in a busy square and you will see that words really can have the power over life and death.
James says; “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (3:18). The Bible teaches us to be loving and supportive of the people around us. This should apply to everyone, even politicians. Unfortunately the winner take all reality of politics makes the participants desperate for success. And thus, they will say and in some cases do anything to win. But this reality does not spare them from following God’s Word. God calls all of us to be peacemakers and not fire starters. God calls us to do His work in the world, not be the servants of Queen Jezebel. God calls us to be peacemakers, while the political war rages.
Now, if I can only stop from calling people I don’t like Bozo’s. It is totally unfair to Bozo the Clown.