Bite Your Tongue and Pass the Chick-Fil-A

Poor Dan Cathy. It doesn’t appear that he has learned from his last go-round with the public last year. Once again he opened his mouth regarding the issue of gay marriage. In fewer than 140 characters he tweeted his disappointment with the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding DOMA.

I’m not exactly sure why this is news. It’s not like the world is surprised to know his position on how to define family. He was pretty clear last year that he believed in a biblical model of marriage. But it seems that some are quite put out that he would voice disappointment (and thus his opposition) with the Supreme Court overturning DOMA.

People are calling him names; accusing him of hate and bigotry. This bothers me on two levels:

~ First, the laws that provide pro-gay activists the right to express their opinions are the same laws that provide a voice to those who favor a biblical definition of marriage. I find it frustrating that some people demand the right to be heard but then try to silence any who oppose them. Free speech ought to be just that. It doesn’t matter what your personal belief is, when we start restricting people from expressing their opinions then we have lost one of our nation’s highest ideals. So it doesn’t matter if your are for or against marriage equality, Protestant, Catholic, Wiccan, or Atheist, you should be able to voice your opinion. Our country seems to be moving in a direction that the Christian voice is being shushed any time it speaks out regarding ethics or morality.

~ Second, giving one’s opponents derogatory labels is a cheap way of silencing opposition. It is not hateful or bigoted to express disagreement. It is a religious perspective. If Dan Cathy had kept his values to himself and never treated homosexuals in a poor manner then no one would have known his perspective. He would not have been labeled as hater or bigot. Simply because he expressed his opinion does not make him a bigot. He has not altered hiring practices or service standards at any of his restaurants. We should be able to disagree with each other civilly without resorting to name-calling. In the end, it is Cathy’s detractors who have become hateful and rude towards him and his expressed opinion.

Should Cathy have said what he did? That’s a different kind of question. I don’t think he was wrong to express his opinion. I don’t even think he opinions were wrong – I happen to agree that the biblical perspective of marriage is God’s ideal for healthy families and societies. But I don’t know if Cathy should have expressed his view publically. Perhaps he was caught up in the frenzy like so many others and tweeted before really reflecting on it.

C’mon, who hasn’t said something you wish you could retract later on?

The Bible tells us to be careful with our tongues. Just as a small rudder can steer a large ship, the small tongue can do a lot of damage. We often will speak without thinking about what we’re saying or who will be affected by our words. Dan Cathy is learning the hard way that words have consequences (even though I agree with the content of his words).

So learn a lesson from Dan Cathy. Even though we might not have the national platform he does – although I wouldn’t mind having 40,000+ followers on Twitter 😉 – our words have weight and impact. So watch what you say and how you say it. Consider not just your words but how your words will come across to others. Controlling your mouth will save you from hurting others or causing yourself grief.

Discretion. Look it up. I bet Dan Cathy had…

Self-Restraint and Social Media: Can You Shut Up?

Image courtesy of photoraidz / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of photoraidz / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Not every thought that pops into your head ought to come out of your mouth. I wish that statement was part of a social media class that people were required to take before being given a Twitter account, Facebook page, or any other medium available these days. It’s called discretion. Need to look it up? Discretion is the ability to be discreet or circumspect; the ability to decide responsibly. Doesn’t really sound like the internet, does it?

Social Media – giving every idiot a voice to his opinion since 2003. And they have LOUD voices. Almost everywhere you turn you run into people who say stupid things. They say hurtful things. They say hateful things. And because they have a computer or a phone they have a platform from which to launch their idiocy.

The Bible talks about the power of the tongue, about the damage we can inflict with mere words:

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:3-10)

My mouth – not the biggest part of my body but still capable of so much damage. And from behind the safety of a computer monitor or smart phone we feel free to lash out at others. We feel free to disrespect, to slander, to be rude, to intentionally hurt, and to revel in our immorality.

So before you post stop and think.

–          Does this really need to be shared? ‘Cause it might not need to be shared. Just because you had a funny thought doesn’t mean it is appropriate for the world. Keep it to yourself.

–          Is the world made better because of sharing this? If you’re adding to the noise with verbal junk (hate, hurt, immorality…you know – idiocy) it’s not making things better. Keep it to yourself.

–          Is my intention to build others up or brighten someone’s day? I’ve seen too many people post with the intention of making others feel bad. Really?!? Do you have such a desperate need to feel good about yourself that you need to post things that make others feel worse? If you’re not building others up you’ve got no place posting. Keep it to yourself.

–          Is God honored in sharing this? I understand that you might not share my spiritual perspective. But this is my blog – which means my perspective wins here. What we say and do can reflect well or can reflect poorly on God. As a person of faith, do my words reflect well on my God? Is he honored in what I post? I admit that some posts are faith-neutral. I don’t think God receives much attention in my post about how much I love rhubarb pie and icecream. Still, you know what I mean. If your thoughts don’t honor God – Keep it to yourself.

I desire for people to rise above their basest nature and act with wisdom, decency, and discretion. I know that people will continue to spew their idiocy. It’s the nature of humanity to do so. But still…I hope…

Like James says: These things ought not to be so.