This is probably only my second soapbox right?
On doing offense well. There are many offensive things in society. How do we as Christians deal with offense? How do we bring offense? It has been a trend for us that we love to picket and protest things. In fact, Christians used to have the corner on this. We would protest this movie, or that corporation, or that billboard, and largely society rolled their eyes and we moved on. That tended to be the end of it. What we have never had behind our offense and protest was the readily available mass mob waiting with pitchfork in hand.
With the walls of Christian America crumbling, a new order is rising. A new order that wants complete freedom to do as it pleases, however and whenever it pleases and so help me God if you speak against it. Difference is they aren’t looking for help from God. No, God is not at all being looked to in the slightest. The behavior is “I want to do what I want and you better agree!” If not, then with the power of internet and especially social media we can now get our offense in the queue for the echo chamber of Facebook and really do some social damage. We can rally others to destroy lives under the guise of who threw the first stone, all to establish our acceptance and fairness policy. Love is so easy to do when lots of angry people agree with you.
Personal offense is becoming the socially acceptable way to harbor bitterness. We know – or should know – that bitterness only truly hurts oneself. But as we are in America, the pioneers of industry, we have fashioned personal offense into a weapon. It turns out the best offense is offense. Why? Because it looks like defense. If I can say you hurt me and bring the mob of society down on you for it, then my offense wins, all I need to say in my defense is that I was offended.
What this really is is a way to force your opinions on others without all those silly politics and census and discussion and, you know, voting. People will rally under the banner of someone’s offense because everyone should be treated fairly. Why? Because everyone else has been treated unfairly at some point. We can all agree to a degree.
But this has an obvious plot-hole. If offense is subjective and mob-rule is overly effective, how do we avoid destroying each others lives?
I saw the this problem taking root with frivolous lawsuits in the 90’s. A society should have enough wisdom and maturity to simply throw out a case when someone attempts to sue a company for literally millions because they got a boo-boo. But this kind of behavior was not only encouraged but coddled. If I can now equally get vengeance on someone without all those lawyers and bills, then all the better. It is cheaper and more effective. Ah but is this why the law is getting involved now, to make a profit again on our misery? Maybe, but when the government moves into our opinions as well, everybody loses.
This is precisely why we have laws of criminality. We do not want the government getting involved every time somebody sneezes. We are supposed to have limits to needing the government to step in, because people are going to disagree and anger one another. We have laws that say when something is too far. We need to grow up and realize we will not like a lot of things in life, so we must give way for others to have similar feelings. We don’t get to dictate others behavior until they cross over into the realm of criminal. This is the only way for a free society to function. A free society requires a bit of responsibility. Unfortunately we are seeing that a lot of us cannot handle it. Freedom is not free after all, it requires mature adults.
If we run to the teacher every time we feel bad and teach our youth to do this as a rule, then our society is only as strong as the biggest whiner.
I was not intending this to be a soap box but sometimes things need to be cleaned in order to maintained. If we are not careful we will consume our very freedom down to the point of total neutrality. Don’t do this, don’t do that, all to avoid stepping on someone’s toes. Then we will have a secular ideology with a bunch of overbearing rules that, ironically enough, used to be the kind of thing that scared people away from religion.
We will have a new Pope dictating our behavior but it will be Big Brother. All because someone put us off. Your freedom will be curbed and your behavior monitored because we gave in to a wounded bitter heart. Bitterness wants revenge and vengeance is best kept hidden behind the mask of a victim, at least that is how it works today.
I know that vengeance and bitterness is, in a sense empowering, but hear this, if you give certain words and certain actions the power over you, which is what you are doing, to offend you then you agree to be a perpetual victim to the whims of society. If you do this long enough your offense becomes bitterness and your victim-hood becomes bullying as vengeance for your own feelings. So you either are playing the victim or playing an agenda.
Do not give people the keys to your emotions and the controls to your heart! If you have an agenda then you need to repent.
I am not saying do not take a stand for something. There are causes to take up for sure. But causes have to be about creating a better world for other people. If it is fueled by your own sense of offense then your subjectivity will result in others’ captivity. This is why love suffers long, and is kind. Love does not envy nor does it boast. Love is not easily offended or rude. Love does not insist on its own way, nor is it resentful and it does not keep a record of offense. This is why love gives the benefit of the doubt: it is called grace. Because it believes all things, it hope all things, it endures all things, and this is how it never fails. This is why love cannot rejoice in iniquity but it must rejoices in the truth, or else it falls victim to baseless circular sentimentality.
Love does not require that everyone be forced to get along. That is not love, but peace by coercion at the cost of opinion. We have a maturity problem that even the Apostle Paul saw. He said when he was a child he spoke like a child, he even reasoned as a child, but when he became a man he put off childish things. He is talking entirely about the way to love people here.
So are you really interested in loving people? Then please put down your sign and hug someone. Someone else needs the attention.