Politically Correct or Biblically Correct?
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
- Isaiah 40:8
There has been a lot of commentary and public debate recently over the issue of political correctness. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about it or has been affected by its growing influence in our society. In order to provide a Christian perspective concerning political correctness I would like to briefly review the background of this ideology, propose a believer's response to their ideas, and offer a biblical solution to the problems that they are trying (unsuccessfully, I believe) to resolve.
Political Correctness (PC) is an ideological movement that began in the early 90s on American college campuses. Its proposed goals are to expose and eliminate the intolerance, oppression, and sexism that exist in this country. The problem, however, is that in its effort to do away with these things, the PC movement has itself become the problem.
Jon Miltimore, senior editor for the online journal Intellectual Take-out, refers to an article about the rise of political correctness in America by Angelo Codevilla, a professor of International Studies at Boston University (Claremont Review of Books, Nov.16th, 2016). Dr. Codevilla wrote that the notion of political correctness came into use among communists in the 1930s as a semi-humorous reminder that the Communist party's interest was to be treated as a reality that ranked above reality itself. The inside joke among party members at that time went something like this:
Comrade, your statement is factually incorrect. However, it is politically correct.
This is where Codevilla believes the term "politically correct" originated. This little inside joke was a chilling reminder to Stalin's party members that to stray from the communist party line could mean death. Therefore, whether or not something was true mattered less than whether or not an idea advanced the Communist Party's ideology and agenda. In other words, unless it was politically correct (according to party doctrine) it was not correct or true. Never mind the truth or objective reality, reality and truth were what the party said that it was.
This term and approach to framing social issues and developing a political narrative have now been appropriated by leftists and progressives here in the United States in order to move their agenda forward. Political correctness is not a goal or an end result as many think. It is a means to an end, as well as a political strategy. The PC movement claims that their basic goal is to fix what they believe is a broken society here in the United Sates. Their thought is that if they can seize control of American society, they will be in a better position to repair what is broken.
The main faults of this nation, according to PC ideology, are the following: First racism, and particularly racism perpetrated mainly by white people; Secondly, sexism and sexism perpetrated mainly by men; Thirdly, oppression and oppression perpetrated mainly by America itself because its accomplishments, laws, and traditions are simply a history and product of racism, sexism, and the oppression of the poor and most recently added to that category, immigrants.
Of course, no one can deny that these problems do exist in this vast country of over 300 million people. But the PC movement believes that these are not simply problems that any society has but rather that racism, sexism, and oppression of the poor are the basis of American thinking and political policy. Their solution to these problems involve a complete change in the way that Americans think and relate to one another.
The PC strategy has three avenues that will lead them to their main objective which is political and ideological control of this nation. The three avenues to PC control:
1. Promote Universal Multiculturalism
PC thinkers believe that American history and culture is much too concentrated in European white history and literature. In PC thinking, re-education requires equal time for every culture represented in America today. This means that in the classroom, students should spend equal amounts of time and resources studying George Washington, a white male from European descendants as they study the poetry of Maya Angelou who is a black female and former poet laureate of the U.S. The ultimate aim of universal multiculturalism is to do away with the "melting pot" idea. This idea proposes that when you come to America you embrace the values of the USA set forth in the Constitution along with the particular traditions of this country. In other words, you are no longer a European or Asian but have now become an American.
In PC thinking each culture would promote and develop its own ideas and maintain its own history and traditions above those of their adopted country. America would then no longer be a melting pot but a "quilt of many colors". In a PC society you always have a hyphen when it comes to culture: African-American, Euro-American, Asian-American and Hispanic-American. In this way there would no longer be a uniquely American identity because America would simply become part of a larger global community. Actually, this is the political philosophy of Canada.
2. Reinvent Language and Law
The endgame here is to change the language and the laws in an effort to eliminate any form of racism, perceived sexism, or harassment. Some common examples:
- Freshmen are now called freshpersons.
- Ms. instead of Miss or Mrs.
- Eliminate references to God as Father in the Bible because this is considered sexist.
Some companies forbid employees from reading the Bible at work because this is considered religious harassment of those who do not believe. The most public and vocal causes embraced by this movement are the promotion of LGBTQ and abortion rights. These sub lobbies have gone from demanding the right to pursue their own sexual orientation or freedom to end a pregnancy, to demanding that the government enact laws that make it a crime to disagree with them or publicly reject their lifestyle or choices concerning abortion.
There are more examples of PC overreach than there is time or space to mention, but one other glaring PC attack involves the love of country that many Americans have. PC culture rejects the practice and display of patriotism. Suppressing patriotism is part of the strategy. A good example of this was seen at the University of Maryland where officials did not want students to fly the American flag during the Gulf War because PC advocates claimed that the flag was a symbol of American oppression. We see, therefore, that recent efforts to change laws and how we think or speak, as well as how we relate to each other as Americans are largely done through the influence of this movement that began in the 90s.
3. The Redistribution of Wealth
A basic concept of the PC movement is that America systematically oppresses its poor, and for this reason a redistribution of wealth is necessary. This is why PC terminology does not refer to low income people as "poor" since this is a degrading term. A person is said to be economically exploited or disadvantaged. Using these terms reinforces the exploitation theme that runs through much of their rhetoric. The PC's solution to poverty goes beyond the simple concept of the "haves" sharing with the "have-nots." They want government to guarantee that wealth is evenly distributed among everyone. The government accomplishes this by taxing the wealthy and the middle class to the point where the poor become the common denominator in the calculation of wealth distribution, thus achieving the downward mobility the PC movement desires in its effort to achieve economic justice.
The battleground for these ideas are the college campuses because this is where the future writers, business leaders, politicians, and social engineers will come from. In recent years we have seen that the influence of this movement has been felt not only on campuses but in larger society and government as well. Note the vigorous support of gay and abortion rights by the previous administration in this country. Mr. Obama, as President, fully embraced and promoted the ideals of the PC movement while in office.
With all of this happening around us, therefore, how do we as Christians deal with this newest social and political wave? Let me suggest two very practical and effective responses that Christians can offer to the people and the influence of political correctness in our generation.
Understand the Motivation Behind the Movement
This ideology and the changes that it is trying to accomplish in our society stems from the frustration that many people experience as they observe very real social problems that don't seem to be getting any better.
Let's be honest, discrimination does exist in this country where people are at times excluded from opportunity and respect based simply on their color, culture, or their physical and intellectual differences or limitations. We cannot say that this type of prejudice and its fruit of discrimination is absent in our society. In addition to this, the oppression of the weak by the strong also persists where the "haves" use their wealth only in the service of gaining more wealth without regard for others and their needs. Do these and other injustices exist in the USA? Absolutely! How could they not?
As a Christian, I believe that every person is guilty of sin to one degree or another (Romans 3:23). Therefore, to have 335 million sinners inhabit the same country, all vying for the resources of that nation in order to build and maintain their lives, will certainly create instances of one sinning against another through racism, violence, dishonesty, and other forms of evil. However, I do not believe nor does the history of this country show that the United States was founded with the purpose of perpetuating the sinful acts of racism and oppression. One simply has to read the Constitution to clarify his thinking on this matter.
This country was based on the idea that economic success should be had by all kinds of people, not just white males. That we should have political and religious freedom in this country. That the amount of foreign aid given in comparison to others is quite generous. The great and tragic proof of this nation's intentions can be seen by counting the number of American lives sacrificed, not only to defend this country but also given to defend other nations and their freedom as well. These things tell me that the United States was founded on the principle of liberty and justice for all people, not just white Anglo-Saxon males.
The ideals of the founding fathers may have not been reached, and the PC movement may be correct in pointing this out (and it is their right, guarded by our laws, to do so), but to say that the original goal was to produce the evils of racism and oppression is to be guilty of intolerance and hatred, the very thing that they condemn. In my opinion, the PC movement is an overreaction to real problems and in its overreaction it makes these problems worse.
Understand That the Answer to the Evils in Society is Biblical Correctness Not Political Correctness
In every generation there are well meaning people who try to find ways to solve society's problems. There are breakthroughs in science, social engineering and all manner of philosophical ideas that come and go, one generation after another. I believe that the Political Correctness movement is just one more of these that are going by.
As Christians, however, we understand that the way to deal with evil is to confront it with the truth of the scriptures and remain steadfast that this truth, whether it seems politically correct or not, remains the truth for each generation. Generational ideas and movements change, but the truth of God's word remains the same (hence the scripture quote that began this Mini Book).
The advocates of the PC movement are merely trying to establish their own standard in order to measure what is correct and right. The mistake with this is that they are trying to take the place of the Bible as the basic standard for what is right and for what is good (I Timothy 3:15).
He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.
- John 12:48
We use the passage above when encouraging people to respond to the gospel. However, in this passage Jesus is also saying that the word He has spoken, this is what judges not only the individual person, but also what is right, what is good, and what is proper.
In another familiar passage (II Timothy 3:16), Paul says that every Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching for reproof for correction and for training in righteousness. In this passage Paul is referring to the type of training that helps a person know and do what is right. A necessary training so that the man of God will be sufficiently equipped to do every good work required of him by God. When Paul says "equipped", he means that as Christians we will not need another philosophy to tell us and to explain to us what is right, what is good, what is proper, or what is moral. We have it already. The Bible says of itself that it is the standard given by God that will determine what and who is right, regardless of what mortal man says.
The PC movement is trying to change this. For example, political correctness says that to oppose homosexuality is a sign of sexism and intolerance. However, the Bible says, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind. It is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22). And then Paul says that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Who are we to believe, God or political correctness?
Another example of PC dogma says that a woman has authority over her own body and a right to decide if she wishes to terminate her pregnancy or not. Anyone who opposes this is a misogynist, sexist, or whatever ugly name you want to call that person. The Bible, however, says that all human life is sacred because it is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and thus requires us to respect all people regardless of their color or their sex (PC people would agree with us on this point), but it also requires us to respect all those who are human but have not yet been born as well.
In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit described John the Baptist, while he was still inside his mother's womb, with the term "Brephos" which is a Greek word meaning "babe" in (Luke 1:41-44). The interesting thing about the use of this word to describe John is that it is the exact Greek word that is used to describe Jesus after He had been born. Note that the same word used to describe John while he is still in his mother's womb is also used to describe Jesus after He has been born and come into this world (Luke 2:12). The conclusion here is that in God's eyes both are equally human whether still in the mother's womb or delivered into the world. This is not theology, it's grammar! The only difference between these two "babes" was their development and their environment.
The answer to racism, sexism, and discrimination, therefore, is not a new language or a new distribution of power. The answer to these evils is a new heart transformed by the Spirit of Christ. A heart that the Bible says is putting to death the deeds of the flesh like racism and greed and oppression and sexism. And putting these things to death by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13), not the power of a political movement. A heart that the Bible says is free from all bitterness and wrath, anger and slander along with all malice. A heart that is kind to others as well as tender and forgiving (Ephesians 4:31).
Was this the heart that was being demonstrated during the recent Presidential inauguration ceremony as the PC movement people were rioting in the streets and destroying property, smashing cars, beating people up, and cursing? Jesus says that what you say and do originates from the heart (Matthew 15:19). He also says that you can tell a tree by the fruit that it produces (Matthew 7:15-20). If the fruit of the tree (movement) is rioting, the discarding of the rule of law, and the oppression of those who disagree, is this a movement whose ideas should direct this nation?
Political correctness has produced a new language and a lot of debate that hasn't really solved the problems that it identifies. Biblical correctness, on the other hand, produces a new heart which bears the fruit of true personal change. Love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and faithfulness and self-control are the things that ultimately work to change society for the better.
Thirty years ago the movement that I might have written about was the New Age movement. Remember them? My point concerning this movement would have been: stick with the New Testament because the New Age movement will ultimately be old news and fade away. Today the buzzword is "Politically Correct" and the message I now proclaim is stick to what is biblically correct because, with time, political correctness will show its errors and it too will fade into the closet of social issues and fads.
Do you see a trend here? Ideas come and they go. Fads, they appear and they disappear. Movements, they rise and they fall. However, "...the word of the Lord is forever. And happy are those who are faithful to it generation after generation." (Isaiah 40:8).
One last point I want to make is how political correctness is affecting religion. It is now politically incorrect to claim that someone may be lost because of sin. This is because from the PC perspective there is no sin just the results of racism, sexism, and oppression. It is also politically incorrect to suggest that one may be lost or mistaken in their religion because along with universal multiculturalism there comes the idea of universal salvation. In other words, according to the PC movement every religion is OK and every religion accomplishes man's salvation. Suffice to say that if all religions are of equal value then none of them are worth anything, since they teach contradictory things about God and salvation.
If you say that there is only one God and one salvation, however, you are branded as religiously intolerant and legalistic. But again, the Bible says, "and there is no salvation and no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Sadly enough, Apostles and disciples who preached this in the first century were also politically incorrect and were killed for their effort!
Being biblically correct produces new hearts and new attitudes for those who believe. But for those who do not believe, biblical correctness is as Paul says, "the aroma of death for those who reject it" (II Corinthians 2:15). Christians who preach the gospel of Christ as the only way of salvation have always been politically incorrect and will always be so. Therefore, don't be surprised when facing opposition and do not back down because of it!
God searches the earth for those who hunger and thirst to be right with Him. And to these He promises satisfaction. Never mind political correctness, it will not make you right with God and its success to make you right with yourself, your neighbor, or your society is doubtful at best.
John Miltimore also writes:
The method for the communists and progressives differ but the goal is one and the same: achieve cultural hegemony. Progressives have learned that achieving hegemony by criminal punishment such as prison and torture and the gulags is difficult and expensive. Intellectuals are seeking to remake America (born tainted by Western civilization or the original sins of racism, sexism, greed, genocides), and along with Progressives have found a much better way to take care of these people. Political correctness, perpetuated by a small class of people ensconced at universities, bureaucracies and major media, is the ideal tool for achieving cultural domination. It is forceful seduction. It achieves tacit collaboration by millions who simply bite their lip.
"Biting their lip" means that most people say nothing out of the fear of being accused of racism or sexism. For example, how many people who were sympathetic to Mr. Trump and his campaign during the recent election did not put a sign in their front lawn because they were afraid of getting blowback from their neighbors? This is how political correctness works and what Miltimore is describing here. Tacit collaboration by millions of people who simply bite their lip and say nothing even if they strongly believe that what is being said is wrong.
As a political philosophy, political correctness might seem lifeless and aimless, but Codevilla noted the goal of Lenin and Stalin was not a state built on Marxist principles; it was always Party control. The two philosophies are similarly empty.
Like its European kin, all that American progressivism offers is obedience to the ruling class, enforced by political correctness….Nor is there any endpoint to what is politically correct, any more than there ever was to Communism. Here and now, as everywhere and always, it comes down to glorifying the party and humbling the rest. The social justice people are always on the side of compassion and victims' rights. So objecting to anything that they do makes you instantly a perpetrator. There's no place that you can stand without being vilified. And that's why it continues to creep forward.
And, I repeat, this is why it continues to creep forward, because too many people just bite their lip.
Who knows? PC ideology may ruin this country after all. I don't know. Obviously, I cannot predict what the future will be politically. I certainly hope not but I can guarantee, however, that it cannot and will not destroy or control the church. What does Jesus say?
I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
- Matthew 16:18
Just take out the "gates of Hades" part of this quote and fill it in with whatever attack or movement you wish depending on the century you are living in. Nazism will not destroy it and Communism will not destroy it. Materialism will not destroy it. Political correctness will not destroy it either. If the devil and hell cannot destroy the church we can feel confident that this latest in a long line of failed movements will not be able to as well. Our task in this loud and noisy social time is as Paul says, "to be on the alert and stand firm in the faith, act like men and be strong" (I Corinthians 16:13-15). He also says that whatever we do as Christians should be done in love. This is what has the power to really change things for the better.
In every generation there is going to be someone or something that wants to shut us up or shut us down because we are Christians. If, however, we stand up and are strong in the faith and courageous in love, we will be biblically correct, and this type of correctness will be pleasing to God no matter what society says or tries to accuse us of.