Labels are the easy way out. They are more a matter of convenience and laziness than they are actual work at having a real and meaningful discussion. Labels shoot right over having to actually listen to someone and their unique perspective, assuming you already have them figured out. There is a certain arrogance when it comes to labels because it assumes that you are not to be labeled but it is perfectly fine to do it to anyone else you please. It is hard to label and not simultaneously be disrespectful on some level…as we demand to be understood in full but refuse to give that honor to the other.
Labels dehumanize, often very subtly. Once you put a label on someone, you can more easily dehumanize them. They aren’t a mother or a father or a child of God…they are a Legalist or a Progressive. They are a “proof texter” or someone who has “no respect for the authority of Scripture.”
If you really want to communicate with someone…to understand and be understood…it is important that we avoid approaches that don’t typically result in that actually happening.
Love and labels don’t play well together. It is hard to Love and Label at the same time because love recognizes the loveliness of the person-hood of the other person. Love has at its core a genuine desire for the well being of the other…labels do not. Labels are like a poor reflection in a mirror…once you put it between you and them you will never see them accurately again. Where there are Labels they will fail…but where there is Love there is more the possibility of knowing and being fully known. Progressive, Conservative, Legalist and all the rest will all fade away but Love will last forever for it is greater than all of these.
Last, there is a difference between describing an approach or an idea than describing a person. For example, there is such a thing as a progressive idea or legalistic approaches to the text, and all the rest. The healthier way to frame the discussion is to describe ideas with accurate terms rather than label a person as whatever is the most convenient label you can find to not have to listen to them any more.