Editorial: The price of silence

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Editorial: The price of silence

It was just one off-color joke, just one mean comment about the weird one in your society. It would have been too much trouble to say anything. And, after all, you didn’t participate in the conversation. You kept quiet and stayed out of it. Isn’t that enough?

It was just one sexist comment, just one short whistle at the girl heading into Gaston. It would have been too hard to keep that smirk off your face. And, after all, you weren’t the one who catcalled her. You just egged them on a little. Is that such a big deal?

It was just one angry shove, just one assertive shout to show who’s in charge. It wouldn’t have happened if your girlfriend had any common sense. And, after all, how were you supposed to know she’d hit the wall that hard. You just wanted her to quit nagging you. It’s her fault, right?

How far will your silence take you? Can you really stay around those kinds of behaviors without tolerating or even adopting them?

t’s part of our fallen nature to assume we can be around evil without being affected. In reality, peer pressure is a powerful force. It’s easier to follow the cultural current than to swim against it. Our flesh craves the path of least resistance.

God’s Word reminds us of this truth. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Ps. 1:1).

Interestingly, the chapter illustrates three levels of association with the wicked that have increasing levels of severity: walking, standing and sitting. Similarly, we often start off merely staying around those who engage in sin, then tolerating evil and eventually sinning ourselves. That’s why God calls us to separate ourselves from the wicked.

How do we do that? Simply, we need to love the truth more than we love our sin. The next verse contrasts those who associate themselves with the wicked with those who associate themselves with truth. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Ps. 1:2).

But God doesn’t just call us to stay away and be silent. He tells us to speak up for what’s right. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). 

As God’s children, we should condemn evil in the world. We need to call out those who disrespect the image of God in people through their actions, even when that behavior is socially acceptable. God’s people should be the ones standing for truth when no one else will and creating an environment where His love guides every decision.

It’s not merely enough not to be part of the problem; we have to be part of the solution. When we allow ourselves to be passive bystanders, we perpetuate evil.

Instead of turning a blind eye to wicked acts, we need to actively confront them. Instead of biting our tongues when those around us say vile words, we need to object to them. Instead of being afraid to criticize evil, we need to publicly proclaim what is good.