Kissing Cousins (1 Corinthians 8:12)

In this present age, political correctness has become society’s watchword. We are changing job titles and occupations to gender neutral terms. Postman has become postal worker. Public facilities have added gender neutral bathrooms. Although I find some of the changes paralyzing to a society, I believe there is merit in reviewing our language.


Recently, I decided to re-examine my own speech patterns with a desire to be more politically correct. One phrase that I repeatedly use is “kissing cousins.” I usually invoke the term to depict a similarity between different diseases. Researching several sources on the internet revealed a similar definition; it is used for a cousin that is considered close enough to be kissed in a greeting. Innocent enough, I thought. But I use this phrase when I am teaching my dermatology residents and when I broached the topic with them, several remarked that they did find the term offensive and politically incorrect for a wide ranging variety of reasons. Thus, I have worked to eliminate this phrase from my lexicon, opting for more neutral and less colorful terms.


In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul was wrestling with the contentious issue of eating food served to idols, These issues may seem foreign and not relevant for us today, but it was a very sensitive and divisive issue for the Corinthian church, perhaps an ancient example of political correctness. Paul advises the Corinthians to be sensitive to the varying levels of maturity of faith within the church body. Some believers understood there was nothing wrong to eat this food while others had their faith weakened and stumbled when they saw others doing this. Paul admonishes the church to look to Jesus Christ as the standard for correct behavior.


Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

1 Corinthians 8:12 (ESV)


As a Christian, I seek to be sensitive to the culture and customs of all I meet. Whether I dub this political correctness or something else, it is important to continually re-examine my speech and behavior and not take my actions for granted, assuming that my audience will always understand the message I am attempting to convey.


I pray that God’s Holy Spirit will continue to work through my conscience to allow me to be sensitive to everyone’s needs.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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