Dear children, keep yourselves from idols~ 1stJohn 5:21 NIV
“Being nice” is an idol our culture worships with wild abandon.
Before you tag out to write me a long comment detailing the countless ways people have become rude, vulgar and belligerent, please read on.
I am not crazy.
It is true that there are many people in our culture who become aggressively rude, foulmouthed and abusive at the tiniest provocation. However, if you look carefully at the target of their aggression you will see their hostility is nearly always directed at people who they categorize as hateful, rude or disrespectful: anyone deemed not nice.
It is never acceptable to be “not nice” to anyone anymore. Unless, of course the person in question has been determined to be “not nice”. Once the judgment of “not nice” has been established, literally anything goes. It is then acceptable to unleash untold hell on anyone judged to be “not nice”.
Many Christian leaders blame conservative Christian’s lack of niceness rather than the churches lack of holiness or the average Christian’s reluctance to share the gospel for the decline of Christianity in America. It does not matter whether or not what a conservative is saying is demonstrably true. If it’s not “nice” it’s not okay to say.
Despite laws safeguarding free speech there is an influential and powerful movement determined to shut down any and all speech thought to be “not nice”. Racist, sexist and homophobic speech has been deemed the least “nice” speech because that sort of speech is categorically awful. Clever individuals have recognized that the most efficient way to silence speech they don’t like and to be given the go ahead to be “not nice” to the person speaking is to call out their speech as something racist, sexist and/or homophobic (whether it is or not). Universities routinely suppress the speech of students who hold views considered “not nice”. These same schools regularly disinvite speakers students feel are “not nice”. Professors have actually been fired from jobs for openly sharing views decreed “not nice”.
Many cities, especially those on the coasts have prohibited the use of gender specific pronouns in their city codes because it is “not nice” to call someone a pronoun they don’t “identify” with. The powers that be have determined it is categorically “not nice” to offend a trans person or a woman or anyone who might possibly be offended so now a manhole cover will be called a “maintenance hole” and manpower will be termed “human effort” and brothers and sisters will now be called “siblings”.
The entire west coast is being overrun over by homeless people. Sections of entire cities are no longer fit to live in. Nothing is being done to correct this problem or help the homeless because it has been determined by leadership in those cities that it is “not nice” to make judgments about the lifestyle choices of others. Medical professionals will admit in their more vulnerable moments they are reluctant to tell patients they are overweight or that their lifestyle choices are going to kill them because they do not want to be perceived as “not nice” or “judgmental”.
The idol of nice has slipped into the church as well and it’s hurting the whole culture. For years now, churches, even evangelical churches have systematically softened language around sin. Many churches have stopped addressing topics—no matter how biblical those topics might be— because someone— somewhere might possibly feel those topics are “not nice”. The teachings of Calvinism have made serious inroads in recent years, even in denominations that are not traditionally Calvinistic. I suspect one of the reasons Calvinism has become popular is because Calvinism teaches Christians they never have evangelize unbelievers. Calvinists believe it is the sole responsibility of the Holy Spirit to reach unbelievers and He does not want or need our help. If these strategies were effective I would support them, but they are not. Church attendance has plummeted and authentic conversions have become quite rare. The vast majority of church growth in recent decades has been what experts call “transfer growth” or Christians simply transferring from one church or denomination to another church or denomination. We are seeing these developments partly because the church has chosen to worship at the altar of the idol of “nice”.
Idols must be dealt with decisively and this one is no different (1st John 5:21). it is imperative Christians lead the way and tell people the truth about life, death and eternity. Christians should never be mean, no one has ever been won to team Jesus through cruelty or aggression (Ephesians 4:32) That said, we must balance “niceness” with truthfulness in a culture that is literally dying before our very eyes (Ephesians 4:15, Ephesians 4:25). It is the ultimate in fiddling while Rome burns to worry more about being labeled “not nice” than to worry about the souls of people or the future of our civilization.
One thought on “Our Cultures Favorite Idol- The Idol of Nice”
Agreed! Thanks for sharing this insight, Lisa!