Trash Talk and the Gospel
So Plaxico Burress and Tom Brady are doing a little jawing. What would Super Bowl week be without some trash talk? And those of us who have a horse in this race (if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor), say “bring it on.” By the way, it didn’t take long to discover that there are some LPC folks who most definitely have a horse in this race. Super Bowl trash talk? I kind of like it. All part of the fun.
Then there’s Mitt and John, Hillary and Barak. They say they’re just clarifying the record, helping us understand the issues. We know better. It’s campaign trash talk and it is, and always has been, part of American political life. Abraham Lincoln’s opponents often caricatured him as an ape, and in its reporting of his address at Gettysburg, The Chicago Times editorialized that “the cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, and dishwatery utterances of the president.” Trash talk.
Again, those with a horse in the race, or an elephant, as the case may be, sometimes delight in the sparring and are disappointed when the contestants are just too nice to each other. Political trash talk? Like it or not, it’s here to stay.
How about trash talk in the church? Nothing wrong with some Super Bowl jawing. And, yes, let’s talk politics – if Jesus is Lord of all, he’s lord of the political process and Christians need to be informed and involved, even if the conversation gets a bit heated. But there’s a difference between good-natured sparring and wrestling with tough issues and trash talk. In fact, trash talk in the church is forbidden. Paul tells the Ephesians, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) The word translated as “unwholesome” literally means decaying or rotten and was used to describe decaying fish or fruit no longer fit to eat, the stuff you throw into the trash.
Trash talk and the Gospel just don’t mix. Among those who know the Good News the standards are edifying and beneficial.
I still haven’t decided who I’m rooting for on Sunday (feel free to lobby), and I have until November 4 to determine who I’ll vote for (we’ll need to talk together). In the meantime, no trash talk among the saints.