Going the Distance

In Paul’s letters, he encourages consideration from believers toward one another. He is not talking about opening doors for ladies. He’s allowing for the vulnerabilities found in communities and asking those who do not suffer the same issues to respect the struggle of others. He talks about food preferences; he asks folks to respect their brothers and sisters who take a more narrow view of godly eating and not make it hard for them to follow their rules. He makes a statement - hey, just because it is not a sin, does that make the action you are contemplating beneficial?


I think about these things when I overhear two women talk about “snowflakes” and “millennials” as fragile and too sensitive. Paul says, be considerate. That requires a certain sensitivity, or at least a little civility. Or even self-awareness. Everyone is sensitive about the things they are sensitive about. Sheesh.


We have learned over the years how shaming and judgmental words like “alcoholic” and “addict” can be for folks. In an effort to reduce stigma, the preferred terminology today is “Substance Use Disorder” (SUD). This is helpful because it is more accurate - it indicates that this malady is on a spectrum and provides a framework consistent with observations about the disease. Words matter.


That said, some of my friends in recovery have worked long and hard to come to acceptance about their disease. They cannot get on board with this new lingo. It is part of their acceptance to specifically name their disorder - “alcoholic”, “addict”, etc. Wherever you land in the discussion, it might be helpful to think of the issue like this: there may be adjectives that I can use to describe myself that are inappropriate or unadvisable for you to use to describe me. SUDers may find using more specific labels helpful; the rest of us show more respect when we get with the program and use less stigmatizing language.


And finally, be gentle. Be kind. Because when you sit at Starbucks and talk about snowflakes and millennials in a disparaging manner, it causes me to sin. I judge you. And this is a problem for me. So help me be a better person. Please stop calling all white men bad, millennials fragile, attractive women floozies, addicts losers, the homeless annoying, and all the other stereotypes we consciously and unconsciously use to justify our cruelty.