Brothers and sisters, I am sure many of you have noticed that there is a significant group of people in the USA who have taken up a kind of mob mentality, who think that if you disagree with them on just about any issue you are either a bigot, a racist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, a white supremacist, a misogynist, or the like. Labeling people with these terms has become a common fear tactic as an answer to almost any argument. By charging your opponent with the ugliest, most dehumanizing slander ... by demonizing them and painting them in the most monstrous colors, the hope appears to be that you will realize you have committed the "unforgivable sin" and will drive you and the rest of society, through fear, in the political trajectory of the accusers.
Sadly, I will be the first to acknowledge, that hate, racism, xenophobia and the like are real problems in our world ... problems that we need to face up to as a society, but when terms like this are flung about so casually and used so habitually ...the banality, the predictability, and the all to common use these terms have robbed them of their force. It makes combating the real thing all that much harder. In addition those who use this labeling system for the smallest disagreement or infraction end up making themselves just as bad, because they are doing the very thing they accuse others of.
Brothers and sisters, I would discourage you from using these tactics when discussing issues with others. It is unbecoming, ungracious and is perhaps one of the greatest causes of the irreconcilable divisions that exist in our society today. Power is not that important that you have to sink to these kind of tactics. Obey the Lord and let the chips fall where they may.
If you choose to dive into the abyss of online discussion I would encourage you, as Christians, to read and apply the following 12 principles ... areas we all need to work on...
1) Do not respond hastily. Think and pray before you speak.2) Be brief: You want to be clear—and to articulate your point without being pompous. Be direct. Stay on topic. Don’t lose yourself, or your readers, in overly wordy sentences or paragraphs.3) Take the time to let people know you have understood their comments and concerns. Show respect to them by repeating their argument back in your own words and ask if you have understood them correctly.4) Respect the opinions of others. When you need to disagree, do so respectfully and acknowledge valid points in other's arguments. While others are entitled to hold any perspective on an issue, be sure to point out their own inconsistencies, but with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).5) Do not write anything that sounds angry or sarcastic. (James 1:19)6) Never speak as if you are glad at the misfortune of another. Show care, concern or empathy.7) When you reprove another, remember that you are not without sin, and are not beyond the capacity to sin. Always keep in mind that you are not saved because you are better or more deserving than others, but are saved by God's mercy alone. Any good character we may now have is only because of God's mercy. Don't forget that in your discussions.8) Do not use reproachful language against others: curses, reviling or argumentum ad hominem: attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.9) Do not relate news that you are unsure of the truth of. Do not forward stories that are conjecture and speculative or "news" before the actual facts have come out. This often means you should consider withholding comment for a day or two after "news" has appeared on social media.10) Avoid making orphaned assertions. i.e.... "Atheism is false." If you make these kind of assertions explain why you think it is so.11) Use proper grammar and writing style: Do so as if you were writing an important paper. Correct spelling, grammatical construction and sentence structure are expected elsewhere. Online discussions are no different. This is a principle I am still working on.12) Be patient with others. God works in his own time.