From a Christian perspective, the need for civility and kindness is deeply rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the principles of love, compassion, and humility found in the Bible. Here are some key aspects of why civility and kindness are essential, along with practical steps to model civility even when disagreeing:

1. The Golden Rule: Jesus taught his followers to treat others as they would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12). This principle emphasizes empathy and understanding, urging us to consider how our words and actions might impact others.

2. Love your neighbor: The commandment to love one’s neighbor is a central tenet of the faith. (Mark 12:31). Demonstrating civility and kindness, even in disagreements, reflects this love and promotes unity within the community.

3. Reflecting God’s character: Christians believe that they are called to imitate the character of God, who is portrayed as loving, patient, and merciful in the Bible. Exhibiting civility and kindness aligns with this desire to reflect God’s nature.  There are times when one must stand for biblical principles. I am not advocating for ignoring or agreeing with every person or idea.  I am advocating against the senseless anger and vitriol displayed in our world.

4. Bearing witness: Christians are encouraged to be salt and light in the world, bearing witness to their faith through their actions (Matthew 5:13-16). Treating others with civility, even when differing, showcases a higher standard of conduct and can open doors for meaningful conversations about faith.

5. Overcoming evil with good: The Apostle Paul advised believers to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Responding to disagreements or hostility with kindness and civility can defuse tense situations and create an atmosphere of understanding.

Practical Steps to Model Civility:

  1. Active Listening: Take the time to listen and genuinely understand the other person’s perspective. This shows respect and can lead to a more constructive dialogue.
  2. Respectful Language: Use respectful and considerate language, even when expressing disagreements. Avoid derogatory terms or personal attacks.
  3. Focus on the Issue: Focus on the topic rather than attacking the individual. Disagreements can be healthy when they center on ideas rather than personal attacks.
  4. Find Common Ground: Seek common points of agreement and build upon them. This can help establish rapport and create a more conducive environment for discussion.
  5. Choose the Right Time and Place: Engage in discussions in appropriate settings and times, ensuring the conversation can unfold without unnecessary disruptions.
  6. Practice Humility: Recognize that your perspective might not be the only valid one. Humility allows for a more open and respectful exchange of ideas.
  7. Take Breaks: If a discussion becomes too heated, consider taking a break before resuming the conversation.
  8. Pray and Reflect: Before engaging in a potentially difficult conversation, pray for wisdom, understanding, and the ability to communicate effectively.
  9. Apologize and Forgive: If you realize you’ve been uncivil or unkind, be willing to apologize. Similarly, be quick to forgive others if they apologize to you.
  10. Lead by Example: Be a role model of civility and kindness in your interactions with others. Your actions can inspire others to follow suit.

Remember, the goal is not necessarily to avoid disagreements but rather to navigate them in a way that maintains respect and promotes understanding. This approach aligns with Christian values and contributes to a more harmonious and compassionate society.

I believe there are times when one must take a stand. At times this will cause people to disagree sharply.  I am not calling for unity of thought.  Today many Christians model anger, angst, and meanness more on display on T.V. and social media than behavior becoming people of faith.   We all fail at times, and our emotions get the better of us, I am not advocating for perfect behavior but a sensitive heart.


One Thought to “In defense of Civility and Kindness”

  1. Susanne Blake

    Great reminder when we have things to say make sure it is given in love. When having an uncomfortable discussion remain calm and state what you feel and make sure the other people know what you mean.
    Men and women say things they mean and sometimes say things they did not really mean. Yet anger or other emotions determine the way we say things. Sometimes words determine an argument or a better understanding. A reactionary person or a person who relays feelings brings awareness and understanding. We are from time to time Al of the above. Growing and extending grace is the best with everybody.

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