“The term political correctness is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society…avoiding language or behaviour that can be seen as excluding, marginalizing, or insulting groups of people considered disadvantaged or discriminated against…” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness
In an article entitled “Examples of Political correctness gone mad” on www.hitc.com, there are some ‘interesting’ but rather extreme examples, including:
“A UK council has banned the term ‘brainstorming’ – and replaced it with ‘thought showers’, as local lawmakers thought the term may offend epileptics.”
“A UK recruiter was stunned when her job advert for ‘reliable’ and ‘hard-working’ applicants was rejected by the job centre as it could be offensive to unreliable and lazy people.”
What a linguistic minefield! I have no problem seeking to “avoid offence” or not “excluding, marginalizing or insulting”, but we do appear we have gone overboard with it all in our day. No wonder the Bible is under attack by so many politically correct “modern thinkers” in our day. And possibly none more than the so called Imprecatory Psalms such as Psalm 35.
And, being influenced by this “political correctness’ all around us, one can understand some of the reactions when people open this psalm and read such things as:
8 may ruin overtake them by surprise—
may the net they hid entangle them,
may they fall into the pit, to their ruin…
26 May all who gloat over my distress
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who exalt themselves over me
be clothed with shame and disgrace.
In my study of this psalm I have found Michael Wilcock’s commentary (The Message of the Psalms) very helpful and will refer to his book often. He has a section concerning Psalm 35 called, “The bigger problem”, where he says, “the reaction of many people to words like may ruin overtake them (35:8) is not only distaste, but some such remarks as ‘typically Old Testament”. He adds, “The cursings are thought to be of a piece with the rest of that ‘primitive book’, a portrayal of the bad old days of Jewish religion before sweetness and light came in with Christianity and the New Testament.”
Obviously, he disagrees with this and reminds readers that although it is true that the OT (not only the Psalms) does contain “cursings” (e.g. Deut. 27-28, Isaiah 13, Jeremiah 18-19, etc.), “the Old Testament also contains stern warnings against vindictiveness and gloating and teaches a very ‘New Testament’ ethic of love even for enemies (e.g. Prov.24:17-18; 25:21-22).” But then Wilcock suggests, “to the surprise of the uninformed”, that “It is surely with a conscious echo of the cursings of Deuteronomy that Jesus sets ‘woes’ alongside his blessings of Luke 6:24-26, and Paul’s anathemas simply follow his Master’s lead (e.g. 1 Cor. 16:22; Gal. 1:8).”
Now, I realize that this may raise more questions than answers for you? Which is alright. (Jesus seems to have done this all the time!) But just “stay with me”, as one preacher friend of mine often says after he says something ‘challenging’. In fact, Wilcock also asks a number of questions, and over the next posts we will look at these. Let me finish here with his words following the above statement:
“In other words, the real problem is how the Old and New Testaments alike can approve both charity and ill will towards one’s enemies.” He then suggests that, “the question is not, Wouldn’t the Psalms make better sense if we left out all this cursing? But, What sense do they make if we keep them in?” (#5) To try and answer this, he asks yet another question, which we will look at in the next post.
Just maybe, we may need to do some “brainstorming” concerning all this. Or should I say “thought showers”?
Father, we confess our lack of real understanding of some of the truths in the Bible, and so, like the psalmist we ask that you would ‘Open our eyes to see the miracle-wonders hidden in your word.’ (Psalm 119:18 TPT). Amen