It’s a commercial. Extremism vs. Persuasion

I am always amazed at the bizarre nature of some Super Bowl commercials.  A strange baby/monkey/puppy creature topped my list.  It is hard to believe that a company chose to use that as their shining moment on primetime TV.  Hyundai’s “First Date” with Kevin Hart (I can see myself responding as Kevin Hart did) and Helen Mirren’s warning to not drink and drive were my favorites.

One commercial created some controversy.  Doritos aired a commercial showing a woman having an ultrasound while her husband ate chips.  As he moved the chip around, the baby responded to it.  It reached for it and even attempted to exit the womb when the Dorito was thrown across the room.  It was funny.  It was clever.  It was a commercial.  Yet, there has been outrage since its airing by pro-abortions groups.  They state the commercial “humanized” the fetus.  Apparently, they did not like such human features and movements by a baby while still in the womb.  Regardless of the fact that I think fetuses are human, I think their response is ridiculous.  I don’t believe that the parent company of Doritos was intending to make a political or moral statement.  They were looking to make a clever commercial that would promote their product.

The reaction has made me wonder when convictions become extremism.  I think this is an extreme reaction to a commercial.  On the other side, there are most likely Christians who are overreacting to some humanistic commercial.  Granted, I am a big proponent of convictions.  A person without firm beliefs is someone who waffles throughout life.  Furthermore, every person is entitled to a set of values from which to frame their life.  My worldview is built upon my Christian faith.  This foundation informs how I approach life.  I believe my convictions are true and right.  I stand on my values even if it means great sacrifice.  I have no difficulty sharing my beliefs with other people.  To be honest, they really wouldn’t be convictions if I am not willing to public advocate for them.

Extremism on the other hand takes it a step further.  It demands that another person believe like you do.  An extreme person gets irritated if you disagree with them.  In some cases, they look at you strangely believing you are an idiot for not agreeing with them.  Or, they become quite aggressive with you in the hope to force you to adopt their position.  In contrast, a person with convictions strives to persuade you.  They are very different things.  If I have strong convictions I should persuade but I have no right to demand.  Persuasion preserves humility that another person’s feelings and opinions matter; extremism dismisses another person’s feelings and opinions.  Persuasion views another person with human dignity; extremism views others as opponents.  Persuasion is open to dialogue; extremism seeks conquest.

When I look at the ministry of Christ, I see persuasion.  He offered eternal convictions but did not force them on another person.  This demeanor contrasts with the Pharisees who demanded allegiance to a specific set of beliefs and values.  Yes, in my opinion, the reaction to the commercial is an example of extremism.  Yet, I am reminded that there are times where my convictions, if not bathed in prayer and grace, can easily lead to extremism as well.

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