Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17)
That’s a simple, straightforward verse, is it not!
It is really easy to read.
It is not really easy to follow.
Our society has become progressively less civil to one another. Does anyone disagree with that statement? If so, explain your reasoning.
Like so many things, Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said, “Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.”
Well, maybe Jesus said it better then Mr. Franklin. Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).
Since the 2016 elections, it seems we have lost all civility with one another, especially with people with which we disagree.
All of this incivility came to a head (bad choice of words) when comedian Kathy Griffin held a bloody head of President Trump. Most people, including conservatives and liberals, believed she went to far. Ms. Griffin has paid a hefty price for her error in judgment. (In the picture below, I have chosen to blot out the image of President Trump.)
It should be pointed out, however, that Kathy Griffin is not the first person to “kill” a president.
During the last episode of the first season of HBO’s hit series, Game of Thrones, the severed head of President George W. Bush was on a spike in a row of heads of people executed by King Joffrey. The creators of Game of Thrones were forced to apologized and the scene was edited for future viewings. (I chose not to blot out President Bush’s head because it is a profile and not a complete image.)
Then, in 2014, the producers of the hit miniseries, The Bible, depicted a character of Satan that looked a lot like President Obama. (See Picture below.) Likewise, they were forced to remove that scene from the final version. (And the producers of that miniseries claimed to be evangelicals! I believed the entire miniseries should have been pulled because of this.)
Below (and to the right) is a cartoon from 1840, depicting President Van Buren as a kangaroo. I have no idea the point being made in the cartoon, but I assume, in that day, it was controversial.
We have always had a love / hate relationship with our politicians. But, since President Clinton was in office, three things have occurred to me:
- In each election cycle since President Clinton, incivility has gotten worse. I didn’t think any president could be treated worse than President Clinton, but then President Bush came along and he was treated worse then President Clinton. I thought after President Obama was elected things would get better. But nope! President Obama was treated worse then President Bush. Now we have President Trump. I hate to admit it, but he is being treated even worse. This brings me to my second observation.
- Our incivility toward our leaders has bled over into how we treat each other. The hatred, and the hostility, and the down-right meanness I have witnessed, is unbelievable to me. We no longer know how to debate honorably and agree to disagree. We are now, officially, an angry people. (Maybe not you personally, but our society as a whole has become angry.) This brings up a third thing I have observed, and this is the most troubling to me.
- Those who claim to follow Jesus, have been some of the most uncivil people I know. (Again, not you personally, but as a whole.) As Christians, we should know better. We should be known for our love and compassion, not our hateful, judgmental attitudes. We can do better than that. We must do better than that!
Now, more than ever, we, followers of Jesus Christ, need to lead by example and “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17).