Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Blunt Speaking or Verbal Abuse?

Tucked away in all the little laws about justice is the following: “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people” [Exodus 22:28]. Those little laws in Hebrew are called “mishpatim,” translated sometimes as “justice,” and sometimes as “judgement.” 

C. S. Lewis said “Justice is the old name for ‘fairness’; it includes honesty, give and take, truthfulness, keeping promises and all that side of life.” Justice is the very nature of God’s rule among men, and if we are to belong to God we will embrace justice, not in words only, but also in deeds.

Jesus, and all the prophets, are given to blunt speaking; but there is a difference between godly blunt speaking and verbal abuse that Christians and thoughtful people should not cross. St. Peter tells us that we should “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” [1 Peter 2:17].

Blunt speaking protects justice, while verbally abusing a ruler leads to a breakdown in justice. Let me be blunt, calling a ruler a liar, or a hypocrite, is blunt speaking, but calling the same ruler a filthy swine is verbal abuse.