The thing that stands out the most from this ad to me is how he refers to gay people. He doesn't say "gay people" or "gay and lesbian men and women". He just says, "gays". That just rubs me the wrong way. I may be wrong, but it just feels derogatory. Does it feel that way to you? The difference between "gays" and "gay and lesbian men and women" feels almost as bad as saying "blacks" instead of "African Americans". Combine that with the way he hesitates just before he says the word and it just comes off in a very demeaning manner.
Again, I could be wrong. Right now, I'm not even talking about his views. He has a right to his views on gay marriage and the "don't ask, don't tell" military policies. However, what this clip reminds me of is that often how you express your view is extremely important. Even your choice of words can cause things you say to be rejected.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. -- Ephesians 4:14-15
Paul reminds the Ephesians that its not only important for them to speak the truth and say what is right. He tells them that they must make sure that when they speak the truth, they speak it with love. What's the context? In verse 14, Paul is referring to false teachings, worldviews, and beliefs. Are Christians allowed to disagree with others on moral issues, worldviews, ideas, and more? Yes. But when we speak the truth of the Bible, we must make sure we do it in a way that is loving.
Imagine you're cousin or sister is going out every night and doing hard drugs and you know its only a matter of time before she gets into serious trouble or worse. The truth is that she needs to change. The truth is she is addicted. The truth is her life is headed nowhere fast. You can yell at her as she is leaving the house and say, "You're life is such a waste. You keep this up and you're gonna end up dead. You need to change, you addict!" Or you can sit down with her over some coffee and say, "I really love you and I care about you a lot. I'm worried about you. I know you can do great things with your life but these drugs are in the way. They're not taking you where you really want to go. Would you please get help and change? Anything I can do, I will. I'm here for you."
Now, I'm not saying that one golden speech will always change things. But do you see the difference? You can tell someone the truth with discouraging and hateful words or you can do it with loving and winsome words. How you say things really does make a difference. If you say true things with poorly chosen words, people may not care about the content of your message because the way you delivered it is so offensive. I think Rick Perry could have worded his campaign ad in a much better way and still not compromised what he was trying to say. And in watching that, it makes me wonder how often I should think more before I speak in order to make sure my words are being chosen with love and care.
Whether you are telling your son to stop playing so many video games, talking to a gay friend about what the Bible says about homosexuality, or just giving a friend some advice, how you say it is crucial. Make sure that you think about your words in order to say things in the most loving, gracious, and compassionate way possible. This is especially important when we share the gospel. While talking about sin and its penalty is important to the gospel message, remember that the focus of the gospel is on the overwhelming love of God to send His own Son to the cross in order to adopt us as His children and save us from ourselves. Let love guide the words you choose when you speak the truth. Don't be afraid to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you if you need to tell someone the truth but aren't sure how to say it.
- When in a debate or disagreement, am I respectful or rude and harsh? Is this different if the debate is about basketball, work, religion, morals, etc?
- When was a time I had to say something difficult but true to someone and I really chose the right words? What was going through my mind? How did I choose those words? How did it turn out?
- When was a time I had to say something difficult but true to someone and I chose my words poorly or had a bad attitude? What was going through my mind? How did I choose those words? How did it turn out?
- The next time I'm in a controversial or difficult conversation, what can I do to remind myself to speak with love?