Are You a Redneck?


Are You a Redneck?

Before moving to the southern part of the United States years ago, I don’t recall having heard the term, “redneck.”  While living here, the term is thrown around in different contexts, usually in a disparaging way.  In trying to determine the meaning of the term, we get the impression that people are saying that a red neck is one who is poor, uneducated, and socially inept.

I just looked up the term in the Encarta World English Dictionary and this is the definition offered: “An offensive term for a white farm worker in the southern United States, especially one regarded as uneducated or aggressively prejudiced.”  It continues: “An offensive term for [the subject] who is opposed to liberal social changes, especially [the subject] regarded as prejudiced.”  Apparently the term comes from “the sunburnt necks of those who work outdoors in sunny climates.”

As I pondered this relatively common term, I had to ask whether I am a “redneck” in the minds of some.  I’m not a farm worker and I’m not uneducated.  But I am white, though I love people of all colors and nationalities.  Some would consider me “aggressively prejudiced” since I oppose sin in all forms and liberals would consider this prejudiced.  And I definitely am “opposed to liberal social changes” for this would generally represent immoral, compromising, and sinful changes in society.  In this light, it might be that the apostles Paul and Peter would be considered rednecks!  Timothy, Titus, Barnabas, Mark, and Silas might be considered rednecks!  Could it be that some would call Jesus our Lord a redneck—since he would oppose liberal social changes and would be considered prejudiced in our liberal age!  He definitely was and is opposed to sin!

The Christian will avoid using terminology that unnecessarily wrongs or enflames another person.  He will carefully choose what words are best in each situation.  Personally, however, I refuse to use “gay” and prefer the use of “sodomite”—for this indeed is what is mean—one who practices the sin of Sodom.  We may as well be honest with people. 

But we do need to be wise when we are referring to others.  We want to avoid saying or doing anything that would alienate people who need the gospel and desperately need to be saved from sin.  As Paul puts it: “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:5-6).

If you are ever called a redneck, ask yourself why they may label you with this epithet.  If it fits—at least in some worthy way—just remind yourself that some may also call Paul, Peter, and Jesus Himself with the same term!

Richard Hollerman

Comments are closed.