Labels

Posted on January 26, 2015  in  [ Theology & Ministry ]

Our culture demands that we abandon “labels.” After all, it is commonly accepted that it is bad, if not evil, to label someone. Therefore, if you use labels you must be evil and full of hate. While that may sound good to many people, it does not bear up under examination. Every word in the English language, in fact in any language, is a label. It is a label whether the word is for an action, person, thing or idea. We cannot communicate without language and we cannot communicate without words to identify what is being discussed. Man is a label. Woman is a label. Tired is a label. Poor is a label. Even evil is a label. Any word that we use is a label used to identify a person, place, thing or idea.

However, if you are talking about derogatory labels then I agree. But then the question arises, derogatory according whose standards? One person may view being called a Christian as a derogatory label, while many view it as a badge of honor. When you start limiting the use of “labels” you are in fact trying to limit the use of language and free speech. Please be aware that I am not advocating the use of racial slurs or intentional insults, but I am advocating the use of common sense. It is impossible to discuss ANY idea without the use of the “labels” that we call language.

Christian, Muslim, Hindu and New Age are merely labels that we use to help us identify the religious beliefs of a person or group. Conservative and liberal are also terms that we use to help in clarifying the political beliefs of individuals or groups. While these terms are not evil in nature, they can be used in a way that is intended to be insulting, which in turn makes its usage evil. It is not the label that is bad, but the way in which it is used.

The Golden Rule is an excellent guide for us in how to use labels. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 ESV). Please think things through before you jump on the politically-correct cultural bandwagon. Allow the Bible to guide you in what is right and wrong rather than cultural norms. Be one of the five percent who choose to think for themselves.

Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.
― Thomas A. Edison

Joe Stanley, M.Div.

Faculty, College of Theology

Joe Stanley is a proud Texan from San Antonio. He has 25 years of experience in small church pastoral ministry. He has a degree in Christian Education, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, a Master of Divinity and is currently working on his Doctor of Ministry. He and his wife Glenda have 2 children and 1 grandchild.

Learn more about Joe Stanley, M.Div.

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