We’re drowning in rancor in the country these days. It’s not that we can’t agree; it’s that we disagree so disagreeably. Social media is still a pretty new phenomenon. That could be part of the problem. It used to be that only the paid pundits went at it in public. They were the only ones who had pulpits to pound. Everybody has a pulpit now. It’s called the Internet. We might not have anything honest or logical, let alone moral or biblical, to say, but we’ve got a place to say it, and by God we’re going to say it any old way we want to! Never mind intelligent argumentation, civility, or the Spirit of Christ.
READ: Critical Thinking for Christians
That said, the massive elephant in the room is that our Communicator in Chief, barring the rare moments he stays on the speechwriter’s script, has set the bar of public discourse so low that we couldn’t find it with sonar. As soon as the campaign began the gloves came off and on went the barbed brass knuckles. Some people call it courage, an elimination of political correctness. I call it rude, adolescent, and a lack of common decency. Seems to me that lots of folks, most regrettably many supposed Christian folks, were just waiting for someone to unmuzzle their own trash-talking mouths.
The incivility of our public dialog notwithstanding, what concerns me most is the lazy thinking that underlies it. And before you get your hackles up, I refer to what exists on both sides of the political isle. Though we Christians are not the only lazy thinkers in the world, since my audience is primarily comprised of religious folk, in this series of posts I’m calling us out for our particular proclivity for it.
One evidence of poor thinking is a habit of rushing to judgment. With such an ocean of information at our fingertips these days it’s no wonder that we’re not patient enough to wade all the way through someone’s argument before rushing to rebuttal.
I get that we just don’t have enough time to read and formulate an opinion on everything we’d like to. In the interest of being good stewards of our time we have to scan an article, a book, or a news feed to see if it captures enough of our interest to invest the time necessary to develop an informed opinion about it. But when we come to the conclusion that we can’t give it the thought necessary, we have to be honest about it and not prematurely dismiss the author or speaker. Without enough information to warrant such a judgment it’s unwise for us to argue a point.
When we rush to judgment, those judgments are based on intuition, emotion, and gut feelings and not necessarily on logic or on Scripture.
I suggest that if you don’t have enough time to hear someone out so that you can formulate a relatively informed argument, then the best thing to do is to reserve judgment. It’s ok to say, “I don’t have an opinion on that. I’d have to think about it before weighing in on it.”
- Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them. Proverbs 29:20
- To answer before listening—that is folly and shame. Proverbs 18:13
Evidently God doesn’t require us to agree with each other on every point, but we have to at least give each other an adequate hearing.
Next time we’ll look at how lazy thinkers love to label other people…
One area in which I think we could use some better thinking is in how we show and share God’s good news with people. That’s one reason I wrote Reaching Rahab: Joining God In His Quest For Friends. Check it out!