Thursday, February 02, 2006

Question of Respecting Authority

There was some interesting discussion around the last question I asked (followed up here, here and here.) Let's see where this one takes us.

Recently, I asked a couple of bloggers I respect very much about how they balance their scriptural mandate to respect and submit to authority with their political views, which aren't favorable to our current President. Years back I asked the same question of some friends who didn't view President Clinton as all dat plus the proverbial bag o'chips.

There are many politicians who personally either grate one me, or offer up ideas I don't care for. Some politicians are brilliant, others are...not so much. We all have favorites and preferences, but regardless I think we are to dignify at least the office with our respect. Insulting politicians with whom we disagree is incredibly tempting and easy. I can think of few things as satisfying, politically, than making someone out to be stupid, incompetent or corrupt. For one thing, it makes us feel better, and for another it allows us to avoid honest debate via the method of "I don't have to dignify the facts offered up by that idiot with an actual argument."*

But were do we draw the line? Jesus called people fools, so I'm not convinced that an accurate statement of someone's wisdom (or lack thereof) is verboten. On the other hand, how are we showing love and compassion by engaging in name calling?

And how do we show respect for an office when the officeholder, in our opinion, is a fool?

I'd like your $.02 worth. And thanks in advance!

*In my own life, I found this a struggle during the last presidential race when I would all but ignore Howard Dean instead of taking his ideas seriously enough to critique them. Instead it was easier to critique him. And now he's the DNC chair. Likewise, many mock our president, and meanwhile he's enacting his agenda because opponents are spending time mocking him instead of coming up with alternative, substantive ideas.

God bless!


Chris said...

I believe submitting to authority means that we have to admit there are societal heirarchies, laws, etc. that we must abide by. I do not think it means that we have to follow every idiot politician down the rat hole.

One thing I think is most healthy for leadership to have is honest criticism. Without it, the leader cannot make effective decisons. Being surrounded by "yes men" (and women) just creates a false sense of riteousness. I used to manage a team of engineeers, and I knew that the only way to make things work was to let them know that (1) I am their enabler, not their mandater, and (2) they are free to be honest without fear of retribution. Apparently, this was a fairly radical management style, but I had the most fiercely loyal team in the company.

Good post.. sorry to ramble on so.

R. Stewart said...

Does honest criticism equate to respectful criticism? I don't think so, since you can be disrespectful and honest at the same time. I would not suggest at all we need to withhold appropriate criticism. I'm more worried about tone. Is name calling and disrespect a good way to show we are followers of Christ? I'm not sure this is a good way to differentiate ourselves from the world. Our speech and writing should be respectful, conforming more to Christ than the world. I guess that's the point I was trying to get to. Honest criticism is something with which I don't have a problem.