What is going on in our country? Our culture is coarsening before our eyes. Only the most cloistered can fail to notice the increasing incivility in the discourse in our country. A comedienne uses a fake severed head of the president as a prop. A presidential candidate refers to voters as a “basket of deplorables.” A senior government official tweets about going to Wal Mart and smelling the Trump voters. The White House Press Secretary is brutally mocked by the speaker at a Washington, DC, banquet sponsored by the White House Press Corps. The president frequently refers to certain press operations as “fake news” and calls his opponents “liars”. Rosie O’Donnell accuses the president of hiring thousands of people to attend his rallies, without offering any evidence. Rep. Maxine Waters calls for her followers to publicly confront and harass members of the Trump Administration.
Indeed, the Left seems to be listening to Rep. Waters by moving from speech to action. The Secretary of Homeland Security was confronted by a heckling mob while trying to eat dinner. Similarly, two conservative commentators were accosted by a tirade of profanity while trying to eat breakfast. In Berkeley, Antifa mobs have beaten Trump supporters and assaulted journalists. Campus groups routinely threaten speakers with whom they disagree and shout them down if they dare speak. An activist defaced Donald Trump’s star in Hollywood, and then was given celebrity treatment by the city council as the vandal brags about it.
Author Ben Shapiro says: “No civil society can humor such overtures to mob action and remain civil for long. The First Amendment protects Maxine Waters, of course, and it should. But Americans should be appalled by her words, rather than slightly titillated by them.” (Shapiro 2018) This incivility smothers free speech, as those with diverse views fear for their personal safety. This appears to be the goal of Antifa, and perhaps Rep. Waters as well. Certainly, the Left has a long history of intimidating its opponents with profane, hateful speech and even violence. From the Bolshevik Revolution, to Hitler’s Brown Shirts, to Pol Pot, the Left visits violence and hateful rhetoric on its enemies. While, we expect this from the Left, it is appalling to see our civic officials cowed and unable to speak out or to resist this growing threat to the republic. Perhaps even worse is to see journalists using their God-given freedom of the press to stoke the fires of incivility and to lift up those that foment violence. Remember what we have asserted in previous posts: Liberty and the republic are founded on the civil society. When it is gone, anarchy and then iron-fisted tyranny will follow.
These events should not surprise believers who hold to a Biblical worldview. Indeed, they should expect it. Paul writes to his protégé, Timothy: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) I am not going to assert that these are the “last days”, although we are certainly closer today than when Paul penned those words. We see most of these characteristics in the behavior of Leftist protestors, many politicians, and the press. Uninformed by scripture they have created their own moral code, a form of godliness, and have even given it a name: “woke”. Woke as used today carries with it the connotation of a form of sudden revelation. But beware, believer – it is not the voice of God.
How should we respond? I must admit it is tempting to respond in kind. When the Left hurls profanity at us, it is tempting to shout back. When they assault our people, we may be tempted to visit violence in return for violence. But Jesus calls us to a higher standard. Proverbs tells us “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) Escalation is not an effective way to resolve conflict. Jesus says “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:39) So clearly, we do not return violence for violence. Do we believe God is sovereign? Do we believe that He will one day judge all evil? Paul quotes Deuteronomy when he writes, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
So, if we don’t speak or act in kind, what do we do? We STAND. Stand confidently on the Word of God and on the U. S. Constitution and the Rule of Law. God has appointed government to restrain evil. When politicians and bureaucrats fail to do so, citizens should hold them accountable in court or at the ballot box. Citizens must insist that law enforcement act swiftly to restrain and to prosecute those that break the law. We can speak out, truthfully, respectfully, and with dignity. We must never let the Left intimidate us into silence. We are free to respond courageously with God’s Word. If we fail to stand and speak, we will lose our voice, and most likely, our liberty.
In our next post, we will continue our discussion of civic virtue. No doubt current events will give us much to write about!