Thursday, August 25, 2011

Candidly Speaking.....

Sometime in 14th-century England, a red-blooded Anglo Saxon must have been drinking beer at a pub, when he spotted a noble dabbing his nose with a handkerchief (recently invented by King Richard II) and made a loud comment something like,

“Aye, whatcha doin’ there? Snottin’ up your mum’ French lace braccae?” (Medieval term for knickers.) 

To which, the lord strode over to the bloke and “offended” him across the jaw with his fashionable long, leather riding glove.

Hence, we have the word “offend” in our language.

Through the centuries, it has nuanced into meaning striking someone with words rather than fists or gloves; usually, feeling insulted over something said rather than done. And in the 21st century, we have become so civilized that offending tops the list of our society’s greatest sins. Now, we have crossed beyond churlish “your mama” insults to fashionable pop-offenses. 

Even calm, rational statements of truth, reality and even simple facts can be considered bigoted or disrespectful. Woe to those who cause the offense in a world of squeamish, hyperventilating communication prudes. For the frail-eared are always perceived as heroic for surviving the trauma of being offended, no matter how innocuous or true the statement said.

In fact, lying is a virtue when used to shield someone’s delicate feelings from being offended. After all, reality may potentially injure a person’s psyche--regardless of the benevolent, kind-hearted motivation inspiring the declaration of facts. Our villains and fiends are those who verbally challenge the lies that make us all feel comfortable and nice. The anti-offense thugs eagerly police and expose all politically-incorrect wording so as to rid the world of public-nuisance number one: truth.

Most educated people scrupulously sculpt their verbiage as not to make anyone around them feel uncomfortable. (Really, so that someone being judgmental about them won’t accuse them of being judgmental!) They see lynch mob forms if someone dares publicly suggest that parents need to discipline their children. They cower when feminists call for castration of a man who takes the authoritarian role in the family. Politicians know that one ill-placed word and media headsmen will guillotine their careers and thrust their decapitated m├ętier at a cheering worldwide audience.

Crying out that we are offended has become the greatest power tool in building a prison for our enemy’s free speech. The world’s mouth is gagged by the self-righteous intimidation tactics of bullies who feign “offense” at anything they want silenced.
Bowing to the god of Pleasing Words
Western civilization prostrates itself to, protects and defends emotions as if they are gods. Our divine right not to be affronted by another’s words has become so powerful that we no longer care if something is true, as long as it is said as not to upset us. I witness nice people transfigure into dragons when anyone dare to violate their tranquility with unpleasant truths.
I have come to believe, “viva la offense!” So, I will be offensive. Gentle ladies prepare your smelling salts. Manipulators of the power it wields, put on your prefabricated indignant expressions....

Demanding that we not be offended, in most cases, is nothing more than a petty, childish, intimidating passive-aggressive trick. Be an adult and deal with it. It is only an emotion! Don’t place yourself in a victimhood position over what comes out of other’s mouths. It’s really as simple as the old “sticks and stones” truism. 
Might I go even farther and suggest that being offended can be spiritually cathartic. It is good when we feel offended and it should be done frequently. (And I am not referring to people being mean-spirited and nasty. There is a difference between truthful words that offend and deliberate spitefulness. I am writing about people being offended by truth.)
Positive Offense
First let’s examine the positive feelings caused by something offensive--our reaction towards injustice, abuse or lies. When we are confronted by sin, we need to feel offended. It is a God-given principled reaction. It brings to a boil our discomfort or horror at behaviors repugnant to the Savior and harmful to society. It is a hellish notion when our culture tells us sin doesn’t matter. Evil should offend Christians. Be offended and use that to propel you to become holier and help the world around you to be more righteous.

We just have to be certain that our offense is not tainted with pride. Make certain we are offended for God and not for ourselves. If the power of “offense” is used, it should not be used selfishly but in honor of God. Test your feelings by love. If love for God and others causes the offense, your feelings are correct. If you are upset by someone challenging your beliefs, your intelligence, your emotional stability, anything personal, drop to your knees for God’s grace to overcome pride. Only a fervent humility and passion for Christ can overcome the darkness of injustice, abuse and lies. Let your spirit be hot with holy anger, but sin not in pride, so that your feelings of offense will be used to God’s glory and His Kingdom of Heaven.
Negative Offense
Western Christendom has consecrated the freedom from feeling moral discomfort, so we can shriek when our egotistical, self-absorbed rights are slighted or questioned... oh, the indignity of it all. I want their words to stop because they hurt. So we join a church of passive, nice people who teach only nice, pillowy things--so no one knows how to accept criticism.
When a Christian is confronted by a brother for living with someone before marriage or wearing immodest clothing or teaching an unbiblical doctrine, often the Christian becomes defensive. When we feel insulted or embarrassed, pride emerges from the abyss of our souls, much like Tolkien’s ferocious orc warriors birthed in Middle-earth. We should thank God when this happens so we can clean out our hearts.

Christians who are offended by truth have a critical problem. If Christians feel insulted when challenged by glaring inconsistencies in their walk with Christ, those internal feelings of defiance and unwillingness to submit to God’s truth should send up a red flag to their conscience. This points to a character defect in need of healing. These prideful or rebellious emotions are a type of moral line drawn in the sand for us and demand a reaction. This can work greatly to one’s benefit.

That spirit brings to the surface subconscious pride or rebellion crying out in need of repentance, confession and reconciliation with God. In the end, when we enthrone and pamper disobedient and narcissistic emotions, we are derailing our own sanctification.

We are called to perfect holiness. Let us employ the use of “offense” to bring each other to the Cross that we may be changed into His likeness.