Stereotyping is Ruining Civil Discourse
I am white, male and evangelical. I could only choose one of those things for myself.
Every time I hear a statement about the white, male evangelical, I cringe. I just don’t fit that stereotype and it makes me uncomfortable that people may think that I do.
I’m not typical
For example, what does that demographic think about the environment? I embrace the reality and danger of climate change and think we need to act quickly.
What does that demographic think about immigration? I believe we should liberalize immigration and open wide the door to racial diversity.
What do they think about abortion?
Here’s what I think:
What does the white, male evangelical think about the LGBTQ community?
This is what I think:
I fear that when people find out that I am a white, male evangelical they will think they cannot talk to me about pressing social issues and receive a fair hearing.
We tend to think that everyone in a certain group will be exactly what we assume they will be. This hurts our chances to communicate. Even if most of the demographic thinks, speaks or acts in a certain way most of the time, they are still made up of individuals who can surprise our expectations.
What do we need to do?
Every day I pray that we will see an increase in civil discourse. In an age of partisan bickering, slander, anger and disinformation, we need to pause and step back for a minute. We must learn to think rationally instead of emotionally.
We need to learn again the art of listening — really listening. When we take the time to carefully and openly communicate, we may discover that we can find common ground and move ahead. We cannot minimize the importance of compromise when possible. When it is not possible, we must embrace the idea of civil disagreement.
I am a white, male evangelical. I fully support the theological position of the authority of the Bible, the deity of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in the world. I wholeheartedly believe that we ought to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus in our world, actively engage with our culture to live out the love of God and help all people find hope, joy, love and purpose for their lives.
I wonder if we can put aside our distrust, anger and fears long enough to realize that we live in a wonderful world filled with amazing and diverse people that can enrich our lives.
I certainly hope and pray that we can!
Jim Wolstenholm is the author of Foundation: The Basis for a Life of Spiritual Growth and a committed follower of Jesus who wants to help you follow Jesus and live the abundant life. You can connect with him on his blog, on Facebook and Twitter.