Civility is dead, many say, as each side points fingers at the other as to who is responsible. Words that condemn the incivility are often uncharitable themselves. No real solutions are put forward how it might be returned because the underlying reasons are ignored. Some push back with the argument that “civility” was a social nicety lie and the truth of American (even human) feelings are expressing themselves. One side says civility is for losers and the other for the privileged. The Gospel comes strongly on the side of civility, but at a cost and with a few exceptions.
The life of Jesus Christ was a series of giving the enemy the benefit of the doubt. His death might have been brutal and inhuman as was often the case anciently, but his response to it all is reported to have been mild. There was one instance when he called the Jewish ruler a name and only a few non-defensive statements to the rest of his accusers and judges. On the other hand, he did not completely ignore his antagonists. Sometimes he questioned the premise of the arguments with his own inquires. At other times he quoted and interpreted Scriptures that seemed to be more authoritative than the original quotes of those against him. His teachings, as he warned, had the seeds of social and family division as he sought to uproot the current social order. Of course, he refused to do this by fomenting rebellion and incivility; declaring them both antithetical to his purposes. And yet, offhandedly, he hinted that the traveling elders would need to defend themselves on the road against robbers. He was a man of peace who had a few complications often ignored because of the whole of his message.
Years later the followers of Jesus Christ often didn’t fare any better. They didn’t rise up with an army or rebel against local authority, but they were treated as criminals at times. Not one of his Apostles, if the recorded history is correct, survived to die of natural or accidental causes. A whole generation, again if the history is to be believed as more than overblown propaganda, became known as martyrs. None are recorded to have fought back against their deaths at the hand of the government or hateful people. Obviously it wasn’t a full religious extermination or no one of such a small group would have survived. Christianity, no matter what condition it is today, would have died with the other now extinct religions. If they had fought back maybe things could have been worse. Continue reading