Does the Bible say anything about political correctness?We hear the term "politically correct" used a lot in this day and age. It's become a sort of cultural buzzword that essentially means phrasing things in such a way as to not offend. Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines "politically correct" as: "conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated." The goal of political correctness is to never offend any individual or group with the language we choose to use.
Is political correctness something Christians should be concerned with? Is it even possible for Christians to be politically correct? Not always. There are a couple sides to this.
First, we should not willfully attempt to hurt someone with our language. We should aim not to be unnecessarily offensive. As Christians, filled with the fruit of the Spirit, our aim should be to communicate from a posture of grace (Proverbs 16:24; Galatians 5:22–23; Colossians 4:6). Ephesians 4:29 says: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Like David, we can ask God to help us to guard our words (Psalm 141:3; see also Colossians 3:8). Proverbs 22:11 shows the value in having gracious speech: "He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend."
However, the other side of this issue has to acknowledge that the gospel is inherently offensive in nature. It started with Jesus telling the Jews that they could not be justified by their good works in following the Law; instead, their justification could only come by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (John 6:28–29, 15:5; Romans 3:20). Jesus came and upset the very process by which the Jews believed they could be saved. The gospel declares that no human being is able to approach God on his or her own; we are each reliant on His grace. The gospel also calls all of us to die to ourselves for the sake of living in Christ (Luke 9:23; Galatians 2:20; 5:24). This means we live according to God's standards as outlined in the Bible and contrary to the standards of the world that surrounds us. These truths of the gospel can be quite offensive to our human natures, and they are far from politically correct.
Jesus certainly wasn't being politically correct when He overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple. "He said to them, 'It is written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer," but you make it a den of robbers'" (Matthew 21:13). Jesus' stand for truth and righteousness had to come before His concern about offending someone. We are bound to be persecuted and hated by others when we take a stand for Christ (Matthew 5:10–16; 10:22; 2 Timothy 3:12). We cannot always be both at peace with God and at peace with the world and those around us.
The promise of being hated by the world is not an excuse for us to say or do whatever we want. It is a charge to advance the kingdom of God and a warning that things will not always be easy when you follow Christ. Romans 12:18 counsels, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." We do not seek to offend and should strive to live peaceably in our actions. Yet we also strive to share the amazing truth of the gospel. If anything is offensive about us, it should be the message of the gospel and not the manner in which we deliver it. Our utmost concern is not political correctness, but the eternal salvation of those with whom we come into contact. We are citizens of heaven but ambassadors of Christ in this world, so we seek to please Him by sharing His truth and also honoring those with whom we come into contact (Philippians 3:20; 2 Corinthians 5:16–21). First Peter 3:15 demonstrates this balance: "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect."
Standing for Christ and the truth of His Word is countercultural and is bound to offend others. We simply will not be politically correct. But truth and grace must go hand in hand. As the apostle James says, let us seek to live in this way: "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:19–21). As we receive the instruction of the Bible into our own lives, we will be empowered to live according to God's Word while, at the same time, showing the grace of God to all we come into contact with.
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