Tactics and Tools

Bigots Among Us?

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 02/28/2013

Bigot. It’s a nasty term. Usually, it’s reserved for the most intolerant individual. Usually, it refers to closed-minded and angry people. And usually, it’s applied to Christians who oppose same-sex marriage (SSM).

That’s right. If you’re a Christian and oppose SSM, then hundreds of news articles, thousands of blog posts, and millions of people think you’re a bigot. If your opposition to SSM is in any way connected with your faith, then your chances of being labeled with this term increase exponentially. Of course, you’re still homophobic, but now they think you’re also a bigot.

What is it with all the name-calling? Have people given up on offering a reasoned, well-thought argument against our position? In many instances, yes. That’s why they resort to name-calling. Plus, it’s quicker and more convenient.

Like them, I’m all about convenience. In fact, I have a quick and convenient suggestion for dealing with these verbal assaults. Next time you’re called a bigot (or any other name), just ask for a definition of the term (at Stand to Reason, we call this the Sticks-and-Stones Tactic). It’s just that easy.

Now, they’re not likely to offer the dictionary definition (a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her opinions), but they’ll think of something. What you’ll find is that asking for a definition can accomplish three things:

  1. It will give them pause the next time they think about calling you a name. If they have to define every “bad” word they call you (intolerant, narrow-minded, homophobic, judgmental, etc.), then they’re less likely to call you a name and more likely to explain their concern. That makes for a more productive conversation.
  2. It will make it more difficult for them to define you, a friendly person who is merely asking for a definition, in a horribly negative way. Instead, they’ll soften the definition and it won’t have the same negative rhetorical impact that the word had.
  3. Their definition will likely also apply to them. My guess is that they are also a “person who is obstinately devoted to their opinion” about marriage and you, the alleged “bigot.” If so, then point out how the definition applies to them. After all, both of you in the conversation have an opinion about SSM.

So, don’t be bullied by the term bigot. Instead, turn the conversation around and ask for a definition. It will make your conversation more productive and give you a better chance at making an impact for Christ.