There’s a hilarious episode of The Office where an employee–ahem–uses the bathroom in Michael Scott’s office. While waiting for it to be cleaned, Michael looks over at Stanley (who is African American) and says: “I am a victim of a hate crime. Stanley knows what I’m talking about.” To which Stanley, rather annoyed, retorts: “That’s not what a hate crime is.” Michael, being the idiot he is, responds: “Well, I hated it, a lot, okay.”
Though this is a very funny scene, the point is quite obvious: just because people hate what they’re hearing doesn’t mean it is hate speech. Just because unbelievers hate what Christians believe doesn’t mean they are victims of hate speech. It simply means there’s disagreement.
What has happened to our society? Culture used to be much better at being able to have cordial disagreements–even over big topics such as religion and politics. The days of polite conversations over controversial issues is long gone. If there’s any sort of disagreement, for some reason it must mean there’s hatred from the other side. That simply is untrue.
Do we truly want to progress as a society? Then, first and foremost, we must be able to have tough conversations as fellow humans. People should be able to disagree over sensitive subjects without ripping each other to pieces. Must I give an example?
United States Senator Dianne Feinstein, in a nomination hearing awhile back for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, basically opened up an investigation into Barrett’s faith. After Barrett answered a question, Feinstein retorted: “The dogma lives loudly within you.” This insult has turned into a rally cry for believers, which I love. Yes, Sen. Feinstein, the dogma will live loudly within us!
However, herein lies the problem. The world pounces on Christians who hold orthodox beliefs. Truth be told, it’s easy to pick on Christians. We understand this. Nevertheless, followers of Christ should not get lambasted for their beliefs simply because they oppose culture’s ideas.
People, please understand: our disagreement with you–whatever it is–does not mean we hate you. It means we disagree with your worldview. Cordial disagreement has made America a wonderful place for free thinking. Now we live in a time when the simplest disagreement is deemed hate speech. It ain’t hate speech, we just don’t see eye to eye. And that’s okay.
With that said, allow me to go out on a limb and say this. Culture paints disagreement as hatred because it enjoys playing the victim. It’s a type of virtue signaling. So we need not think, as Christians, that society is going to miraculously stop behaving this way. It’s the new norm, of sorts.
What Christians must do is be faithful to the gospel despite the critics, opposition, and intolerance we receive. If the world continues to equate disagreement with hatred, let us love them all the more by continuing to share the gospel.