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Posts Tagged ‘bigotry’

The word bigot is a terrible word.  For me, it is in the same category as maggot, or phlegm, or vomit!  Those may be a little more sensory than you are comfortable with, but what about the racist N… word or the F… word for homosexuals?  Some words evoke so much emotion that to use them carelessly can damage others and to use them intentionally can be immoral, sometimes illegal.

A common dictionary defines bigot as a person who is “obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one who exhibits intolerance or animosity toward members of a group.”  The etymology is a little shadowy, but some suggest the root of the word may have been “by God,” or the mocking of that phrase by those who resented others using it.  In any case, the word has been around since the 12th century—and people who acted with intolerance or animosity toward others even longer!

Are Christians who oppose same-sex marriage guilty of bigotry?  Piers Morgan, who certainly can be seen as representative of a certain mindset in the American population, suggested the Rick Santorum, a practicing Catholic, was a bigot because he held to the teachings of his church that homosexuality is a sin.  Santorum made very clear that he did not feel it was government’s place to regulate morality for all citizens, but that did not keep Morgan from using the B..word!

I wonder if we could agree that it is not bigoted to just hold opinions?  I wonder if we could agree that within our working definition of bigotry that it is the words intolerance and animosity that give the odious smell to the word?

Was Jesus a bigot for saying that a man who lusts after a woman has committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28)? In the same lesson, he says it is wrong to commit murder or to be angry and hate another person. Is that intolerant? (Matthew 5:21-22).

Was Jesus a bigot for saying that adultery is a sin? Or that divorce for frivolous reasons is not God’s Will? Or that not only breaking an oath, but anything other than a truthful Yes or No is not godly?

Was He intolerant because he said not every teacher is a good teacher, that some are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15)? Or that those who simply call out to God without the prerequisite obedience will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21).  Shouldn’t everyone get a trophy?

Was St. Paul intolerant and bigoted when he says that it was immoral and wrong for a man to sleep with his father’s wife (1 Corinthians 5:1-2)?

If today a minority group banded together to insist that all loving sexual activity between consenting adults was moral and should be allowed by law throughout the nation, including—as the opponents would certainly point out—prostitution, incest, sibling marriage, cousins marriage, and polygamous marriages, would we relegate St. Paul  to bigotry.

And if I haven’t yet touched anything that you hold a strong opinion on in any of the above paragraphs, anything that crosses your moral line and where someone else might be more liberal than you, how would you feel about wearing the bigot label?

Having said all of the above, I do believe there are bigots among us—on all sides. I’m appalled by bigotry among Christians like the Westboro Baptists who appear to me to cross over unequivocally into bitter intolerance and animosity.

I was reading a great story yesterday about a 9-year-old boy in Topeka, KS who with his mother happened to come upon a Westboro Baptist group picketing with hateful signs. He looked up at one picket sign that said, “God hates F….s”  According to his mother, he immediately ran back to the car and made his own crude, but profoundly true response to the sign.  His sign said, “God hates No One!”

God hates sin, but Paul says—yes, the same one who opposed incest:  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-9)

Christians cannot but hate sin as God does, but we must be just as loving of sinners, and we must demonstrate our love by letting mercy triumph over judgment! (James 2:13)

 

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