The Tyranny of Niceness

I am not a nice person. I have no wish to be a nice person. The next person who tells me that the world would be a better place if we were all just a little bit nicer to each other is liable to get a punch in the snoot.

If there is one engine which is relentlessly driving Western civilisation to destruction it is the monstrous tyranny of niceness.

There is a move by the ‘Index on Censorship’ which should be supported by all thinking people, especially thinking Christians, which leaves out progressives. The ‘Index’ has called for the removal of the word ‘insulting’ from the Public Order Act on the basis that the word’s inclusion in legislation has “a corrosive effect on free speech” in the UK.

At present Section 5 of the Public Order Act imposes criminal penalties for using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour causing harassment, alarm or distress.

This should be opposed vigorously and not just because it leaves Christians wide open to charges that we have ‘insulted’ any particular group who take umbrage when we don’t give wholehearted approval to their particular depravity. It should be opposed by all thinking people on the simple grounds that some people, movements and ideas need to be insulted.

If someone believes that Prince Phillip is in reality a giant lizard, as David Ickes does, he needs to be told he is away with the fairies. David may find that insulting, but it’s for his own good.

If someone thinks that wandering around Glastonbury festooned in amulets and occult symbols brings them closer to Gia they need to be told they are several sandwiches short of a picnic. This is not being nasty, it’s compassionate, it’s trying to help the deluded.

Being nice is not the same as being polite. We should be polite, there is a need to show respect and not to cause needless offence. That is not the same as being nice. Being nice is being fearful of causing any offence whatsoever. There are times when it is necessary to cause offence.

The niceness cult has practically finished off the church. Our progressive friends (see I can be polite) tell us we must show compassion and understanding, that we should always walk a mile in the other fellow’s shoes before we criticise him. Balderdash. The only possible reason to walk a mile in another person’s shoes is if the shoes are a comfortable fit; then you will be a mile away, have his shoes and he won’t be able to chase you because he is in his bare feet.

The church must recover from its fear of speaking clearly. Look at the Bible, if the early church had been ‘nice’ it would never have been other than the hippy branch of Judaism, confining itself to sitting in a circle singing Kumbaya and thinking good thoughts about the worshippers of Diana.

When Paul found Peter consorting with the Judiasers did he just say that they were taking differing paths to the same destination? No. He confronted Cephas to his face. Bible speak for a knock-down drag-em-out argument.

When Jesus confronted the Pharisees was He nice? Far from it. He called them “Whited sepulchres,” just about as insulting as you could get. This was Bible speak for Jesus saying “See you, you get right up God’s nose.” Not nice, but accurate.

Christians should not be afraid of speaking plainly. We will be censured for sure. So what? I will be told we should speak the truth in love. Most certainly. But is it loving to pretend that some behaviours are acceptable to God when He pronounces them sinful and deserving of punishment? Sugar coating such behaviour is surely a cruel and unloving deception.

I make no plea for Christians to go around deliberately insulting people. But I do ask that we regain the willingness to speak plainly, to call a spade a spade and a sin a sin.

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About Campbell

Now retired but once upon a time a parish minister in Glasgow, before that the South West and initially the Black Isle. Been a prison chaplain and lecturer. Still am constantly bemused by the weird world around me.
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5 Responses to The Tyranny of Niceness

  1. Pingback: The Tyranny of Niceness | eChurch Blog

  2. Roger Pearse says:

    Well said. We must speak the truth in love, but we must speak the truth.

  3. Tim says:

    The world would be a better place if we were all just a little bit nicer to each other.

    • Campbell says:

      “You taught me to be nice, so nice that now I am so full of niceness, I have no sense of right and wrong, no outrage, no passion.”
      Garrison Keillor

      Consider your snoot punched.

  4. Lazarus says:

    As you suggest, we’d do better to think about politeness (and civility) as the needful virtues rather than niceness.

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