Life and Human Dignity

The Point: It’s Toxic


John Stonestreet

And the winner is . . .

Oxford Dictionaries has announced its “Word of the Year” for 2018: “toxic.”

In announcing the selection, Oxford Dictionaries reminded us that “toxic” literally means “poisonous,” and thus it’s noteworthy that this year more than ever, people have been using the word ‘toxic’ to describe workplaces, schools, cultures, and relationships.

Oxford’s rightly concerned that the use of “toxic” is often a bit hyperbolic. But the fact remains that much of contemporary life, especially our public discourse, is, if not literally poisonous, then spiritually, culturally, and emotionally poisonous.

It’s now commonplace to speak of the U.S. as “divided” and “polarized.” But that’s an understatement. As Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute has written, people aren’t just angry with each other—they hold each other in contempt.

So what’s the Christian response to cultural toxicity? Put on the armor of God. Walk into the middle of it, and show our neighbors that it’s possible to debate and to disagree without holding each other in contempt.

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