Recently, two people who are very dear to me were treated quite poorly by others who had divergent opinions on a topic or issue. In both cases, the attackers were aggressive, dismissive, and, in one instance, sank to brutal name-calling. I think you would be surprised if I told you the backgrounds of these deliverers of ad hominem assaults.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, ad hominem is an adjective or adverb explaining something directed against a person’s character rather than their argument.https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/ad-hominem
Several years ago, I was sitting in a meeting with a group of amazingly diverse people, including other pastors. During a discussion about what comprises a diverse group, I mentioned that I served on the edge of Appalachia, which had incredible economic diversity but was sparse regarding diversity in race or creed. A colleague spoke next, and he stated that he couldn’t disagree more with his “skinhead” colleague (referring to me) and that I wasn’t looking hard enough. Many in the room gasped or squirmed. I called him out for the ad hominem remark and his ignorance as he lived almost two hours north of where I served and knew not of what I spoke. He never apologized because he claimed he was referring to my bald head. No, he was not referring to my choice of hairstyle, although that would have been inappropriate too. This pastor knew damn well what he was saying.
Note: 42 has created a few perfect heads, and the rest he put hair on!
Folks, when are we going to learn that if we are to live out diversity as we say we wish to, then all people should have a seat at the table, not just those who think like us, believe like us, or fit “our truth.” To achieve authentic diversity, we must practice inclusion and belonging, despite having divergent backgrounds. Inclusion means the recognition of the voices and belonging that those voices are allowed to be heard, not canceled. Once again, it is okay to disagree but never okay to be disagreeable!
I loathe labeling, categorization, or guilt by contrived association. Just because there were NAZIs or Klansmen who hijacked Christianity for their brand of hate doesn’t make all Christians NAZIs or Klansmen. And yet, I have seen this used more times than I care to recall. So for the record, hear this from a follicly challenged free-thinker:
- I am not an Evangelical, Progressive, Liberal, Fundamentalist, Charismatic, Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox.
- I am not a heretic, sellout, bigot, homophobe, bleeding heart, traditionalist, or (you fill in the blank here).
- I am not a Republican, Democrat, Progressive, Libertarian, Communist, Socialist, Nazi, Fascist, Anarchist, Antifa, or Skinhead.
- I am and always will be, first and foremost, a humble believer and follower of the Triune God of Grace, teaching others to love God with every fiber of their being and expecting them to love others as much as they love themselves.
- I am independently free from party affiliation, and this does not make me wishy-washy because I am anything but! And the way I vote is none of your business. Although I am beginning to think a write-in ballot for Godzilla is sounding better and better!
Finally, I do not believe today’s bLOG to be ad hominem. If you do, know this: “You are my neighbor, are entitled to your opinion, and I love you!”
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:19-20