The Case for Civility

Today I have an essay at The Gospel Coalition, laying out why I believe civility is essential to meaningful community.

Here’s an excerpt:

While my father was pastoring his second church, he experienced a slow but profound transformation in his personal philosophy of ministry. This transformation made him attempt to lead the church in particular areas of change and growth. Some of these changes were welcomed, but many were resisted. These were hard seasons for Dad. There were times when I felt he was lying down, not insisting on what he knew was right and biblical, and allowing certain people too much freedom to criticize and oppose him.

My dad understood something that I didn’t: the thicker and deeper the community, the more important and more difficult meaningful change becomes. The dominant spirit of much public activism is like me, at 17 years old, wondering why my dad didn’t just name and shame those in the church who were consistently standing in the way of what I thought was obviously correct. Human nature in its immaturity assumes that all good change must happen quickly, and that those who stand in its way can be bulldozed for the sake of the cause. What such revolutionaries desire is a more perfect reality; what they get in destroying norms of civil discourse—such as listening, making good-faith arguments, and finding wisdom in others—is a broken, dysfunctional public square.

I hope you’ll read the whole thing.