The Bruce Jenner controversy and our inability to have productive dialogue.

I was hesitant to jump into the conversation about Bruce Jenner’s recent transformation because the controversy isn’t exactly lacking attention, and I’d honestly like to see us all move past it altogether. Therefore I’m not actually going to talk about Bruce Jenner’s recent transformation, since I really only brought him up to segue into a broader discussion about how people, and especially those who uphold traditional Christian principles, ought to communicate their positions.

First, and I thought this was obvious until I read some of the comments people were making, those who wish to promote traditional Christian principles ought to speak the truth in love, and remind our opponents that we do not disagree with them out of spite or detestation.

Then again, people might be lining up to sign up for what this guy is selling.

Vitriol has a way of shutting down a conversation, or even worse, replacing any possibility of productive dialogue with an exchange of diatribes. If you are one of the  (I hope) many Christians who strive to convey your positions in a respectful manner, I say keep up the good work. If your responses to your interlocutors are riddled with insults, condescending remarks, or other barriers to productive conversation, I encourage you to find more irenic methods of communicating your perspectives.

That said, false dichotomies are rampant in contemporary discourse, and no camp is immune. For instance, it is believed and promoted by many today that to love someone is to accept and love everything about them, and to reject certain aspects of an individual is to hate them. A prime example of this was the “No H8” campaign that arose in response to California’s Proposition 8. This campaign not only sought to redefine the legal definition of marriage to include those who wished to marry persons of the same sex, it painted opposition to this redefinition as a form of hate. This dichotomy, though, is obviously false. Take, for example, a mother who hates her son’s shrieking laugh. To hold that the mother, therefore, hates her son would mean that the son is defined primarily by a noise he makes. This is, of course, a ridiculous proposition, but so also is claiming that support for traditional marriage is synonymous with hating those who experience same-sex attraction.

In short (TL;DR version), in order to have productive conversations about controversial issues and get our points across, we should strive to make our cases respectfully, and avoid villainizing our opponents or distorting their positions. This is especially important for Christians who wish to promote traditional Christian morals that grow evermore unpopular, due in part, no doubt, to the uncharitable ways in which proponents of said morals express themselves.


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