It is no secret that we live in an age of political correctness. Yet paradoxically, the more politically correct our culture becomes the more approval seeking occurs and the more we as a culture, project an incongruence in our daily lives as well as live under the tyranny of legalism.
Initially I think, the application of political correctness is an attempt to develop a collective identity in order to guide society in a way that corrects bad or unethical behavior. This I believe is ultimately for the purpose of creating a unified society. One might be reminded of Victorian culture in England during the 18th century or of New England during the time of the Puritans. Today ironically, we have a new Victorianism a new Puritanism, we have a "Secular Victorian" or "Secular Puritan" viewpoint attempting to inform our culture to accept a certain set of values organized around secular ideals.
Suffice it to say, one’s view of life whether functional or dysfunctional is informed by and becomes intertwined with the interactive process that political correctness creates. If this is true then one’s identity may also be impacted, since identity development is a fluid process also tied to the social construct that guides the interactional process helping to determine our reflected sense of ourselves. This development primarily occurs through the exposure to standards imposed by the collective mindset of the pc culture. When the collective mindset is large enough, the interaction process, will eventually influence and guide not only a person’s approach to life but will also influence and guide one’s understanding of one’s self in a way that reflects the cultures politically correct values. Even though we experience the world through the prism of mind and body and an internal subjective consciousness we call the self, we nevertheless find meaning and purpose, the way we define ourselves, through the collective interaction that occurs as we reveal ourselves to others.
As a result of these observations I find myself, examining again how deeply the Gospel has impacted my identity and how I view, how life should be lived. I also reflect on how deeply separated I am from the current expression of culture that is developing around me even as I speak. Especially in the light of my awareness that I live utterly, totally, unreservedly by God's grace and that I am completely under the authority of Jesus. I ask myself, what blocks me from living out of the depth of this wonderful freedom?
As a Christian three questions stir inside as I think about this topic:
Since my view of cultural development and identity is intricately bound to my relationship with Jesus, am I able to freely interact congruently with those around me who determine my relative worth upon the prevailing secular values that guide the current collective mindset?
Am I able to walk through the rejection that will inevitably occur as I engage a culture that in many places embraces a viewpoint that is radically different from mine?
If I don’t fully embrace my position in Christ and the influence that brings as well as fully embrace my authenticity with my culture what will happen to me in my relationship to God and the experience of my freedom in Christ?
Paul in Galatians 1:6 I believe identifies this very struggle and points out what happens when one does not live authentically as a Christian under any cultural expression:
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel" (Galatians 1:6 ESV)
Paul also seems to connect this problem of loosing our "grace" perspective when he asks the rhetorical question highlighting our need to seek and find approval from other people.
"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant (slave) of Christ." (Galatians 1:10 ESV)
This problem, the problem of approval seeking, seems to be the primary struggle which the Galatians were experiencing in their fall from viewing life from a grace perspective. They were not experiencing persecution, they were not experiencing trials and tribulation. They were not experiencing the numbing that can come from experiencing the blessing of abundance. They were according to the context of the letter experiencing the feeling of rejection from those who claimed to have inside knowledge about the proper or “politically correct” way someone should live.
The point of this discussion hopefully is not to explore and discriminate between a good or bad set of guidelines a particular culture might create and embrace. To do so would miss Paul's message entirely. It would only serve to confuse the listener and send him on an endless, burdensome and effortless journey.
Rather this discussion is to highlight that the point of departure for every individual but especially for those who claim to be living a life out of the cornucopia of grace, that life is not to be lived out of self imposed set of rules set arbitrary by some cultural movement. All that does is lead one into incongruent interaction where ones freedom is replaced with approval seeking, glory hunting and a burdensome legalism.
Therefore any kind of political correctness, while may have some limited value, is ultimately a dangerous path to follow and leads us away from grace and from a life lived out of the freedom we have received as a result of His life and work.