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Across the Pastor’s Desk: Decency starts within the home

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Jill Marin

Decency starts at home. As I write this, our attention is focused on the unrest in our nation and in our nation’s capital. However, my friends, we must be aware of the condition of our own community and ourselves. National unrest begins with people at home and in their own communities.

Are we seeking balance in our thinking, in our communications and in our lives? Are we searching for bias in our news sources and educational systems? Or, are we ingesting blindly from information of our own choosing, thus allowing ourselves to be drawn further and further to an extreme? Jesus Christ said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3.

Are we like dogs, baring our teeth and tearing each other limb from limb, whether it be in our own speech with each other, or in printed form or on social media? Even the most innocuous of social media posts can draw the vilest comments or even worse. And, let’s be clear. Destruction of property that is not our own is wrong. Destruction of reputations of others is also wrong, in any extreme. Unbridled disrespect seems to be the order of the day. Is this what we ordered as a community? Is this what you ordered?

As Paul wrote, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32.

Are we ensuring our leaders are safe, whether it be in their place of government or community business, behind the doors of a closed session or even in their own homes? It is time to cancel the “cancel culture.” We can become so focused on canceling everyone who’s opinion does not align to ours, that we find no value in another, and therefore, no common ground. There become fewer and fewer in our own boat, but we are assured our boat is the only one headed the right direction. “Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.” Proverbs 11:12. Canceling only leads to extremism.

It is vital to speak out about important things, and it is becoming harder and harder to find those of a balanced opinion who are willing to speak out. When we speak, we can choose to do so in a respectful and productive way. We can talk about the actions or inactions of others without assigning what we think is the motivation behind their behaviors. We can use appropriate channels, and not hide behind anonymity or within groups limited to our own beliefs. “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15.

As a community, let’s order decency. If we see another being treated disrespectfully, we can counter the disrespect or we can disengage. We can choose to not be drawn in and participate in it. If we are in charge of a publication, social media site, organization or our own household, we can ensure language and behaviors are respectful, and take actions if they are not. It is time to step up as a community of balanced individuals and let decency start at home.

Jill “PJ” Marin is a pastor at Grace Christian Church in Albert Lea.