Civility, Hypocrisy, Politicians, and Christians

00016925 Whatever happened to civility? Perhaps it's never been present in Washington, but it seems to me that for the last 6-8 years it's been virtually extinct.

Representative Joe Wilson's outburst, "You Lie!" during Obama's speech was ridiculous, rude, and he should be ashamed of himself. Despite his quick and (I believe) sincere apology, it will likely cost him his seat when the next election comes around. 

I applaud the president for handling the outburst in a civil way. He could have made things worse by responding in a "low road" fashion. At the same time, when a sitting President tells those in Congress opposed to his policies that they are "spreading lies" and threatens to "call them out," in full view of the nation and other members of Congress, he shouldn't get too offended if the favor is returned. It didn't have to go there. Some will say it did. But, it didn't. When it goes there, rest assured we are going nowhere.

Lack of kindness, respect and civility is, unfortunately, a bipartisan character flaw. Even as I felt shame and even anger at the Rep. Joe Wilson, I remembered this morning the booing of President George Bush I witnessed at the Obama inauguration and the booing of President Bush during the last 3 of his state of the Union speeches by members of Congress. He was called a war criminal, etc. by members of Congress. So, sadly, what happened last night is far from unique. It's more par for the course. That's sad. Really sad.

We Christians can learn something from Representative Joe Wilson and those who have gone before him on both sides of the aisle. We can learn how to discuss things in a more godly way. We can use the hypocrisy we see (I'll trash you = concerned, truthful citizen but don't trash me = lunatic, fringe, liar) to help us avoid the biblical disease Plank-eye. 

For instance, before we get outraged at how people speak of Christians, we can ask whether we speak respectfully of them. We should do a plank-eye test to see whether we have much right to speak. We can learn how ridiculous, disrespectful and flat-out mean we can appear sometimes to those who expect better from those claiming the name of Christ. We can take greater care to honor Jesus as we deal with difficult issues in the church and in the world. We can love our neighbor better. We can respect authority better.

I believe Christians have made great strides recently in these areas. However, righteous speech is something we need to always pay attention to, remembering these sobering words of Jesus:

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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