I'm Offended

This past week has been one big mouldy internet stew filled with careless words, over reactions, offence, and demanding of rights.

It's like watching civilization implode.

I have considered sharing my knee jerk reactions, irritation, thoughts, predictions, and disappointment over the Phil Robertson bruhaha but I think the interweb is filled up with a good variety of responses to that already.  I find it all rather fascinating actually...in a rubber necking an gnarly accident kind of way. In case you haven't had your fill.

Here's some wisdom and pointing out of irony by Albert Mohler .  There is a reminder not to arm ourselves for the wrong battle by Stephen Miller.   A reminder that grace can be strong, and that love can be tough by Jenilee Goodwin.  A post about why the suspension of Phil will backfire by Trevin Wax.  A diplomatic call for genuine diversity by Russell Moore.  An entertaining rant and prediction by Matt Walsh.   Some thoughts on intolerant tolerance by Joe Carter.   And a reminder to watch our words by Anne Voskamp.  An article about the genuine conflict being ignored.  And a faux interview that would actually include not painting groups of people in the worst possible light.

It's been an interesting little experiment as the rubber meets the road for issues of "Tolerance"...both from Christians who end up acting more like a pack of angry little elves than Jesus, and for uber "tolerant", highly evolved, progressives who love to harshly condemn viewpoints that don't fall in line with their own.

This odd, bizarre, moment of cultural upheaval is a lot of things but one thing it's not is surprising.  At all.

This has been brewing for years now, mostly under the radar, but now that it's taken down a pop culture icon the general public has taken notice of the hypocritical intolerance of modern "tolerance".

To quote a book I read recently "A call to Resurgence"

"Today there are not sins.  There is only one sin, and that is calling anything a sin. 

"A few things are perhaps most curious about the new tolerance.  One, it denies moral absolutes while holding to the moral absolute that there is no moral absolute.  ...  I hope you see that the statement itself saws off the very limb it's sitting on."

There are a lot of things to learn through this spectacle....which is usually my focus because I have a lot to learn.

One is to watch words and choose them wisely.  Be wise and discerning, because in our age of words travelling at the speed of light the consequences of carelessness can be monumental. Social media has an atomic bomb power to it, and inflammatory words can light a fuse we never intended to light.

 Be bold, be counter cultural, but be gracious. We will be judged by God, and our fellow man, for insensitive words and foolish talk.  That doesn't mean for a second that I don't think words can be distorted, twisted, or misused as ammunition for slander.   I know from personal experience that they can be.  People can make unfair assumptions, and interpret wrongly anything that is said, regardless of what's actually said.  At the end of the day, no matter how much care you use, some people are just not going to like what you say...because they don't like who you are, or who you follow.

Church, in this "post-Christian" culture we need to be extra kind, extra calm, extra gracious, and extra tactful when we give honest answers to questions regarding volcanic issues and when we engage in cultural discussion.  People are watching and listening.  Bait will be laid out, and traps will be set.  Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.   Notice I did not say be accommodating and tolerant of everything, but if the world is going to hate you don't let it be because you flap your gums and are rudely obnoxious. Not every bump in your path is a hill to die on.

 Truth is important (too many Christians are inclined to sacrifice it on the altar of social acceptance) but knowing when and how to speak truth is important.  I don't claim to have that one figure out yet, but I know that every truth doesn't need to be spoken all the time, just like every sin doesn't need to be called out all the time. Check your motives, assess the strength of your relationship, and monitor your heart. Be gracious.  Be led by love, not a desire to prove your right-ness or assert your own "rights" even in a culture swirling with absurdity.  Our freedom is not found in anything this world has to offer, and our "rights" were laid down with our old selves at the foot of the cross.

Another thing I've been pondering is the notion of offence.

Why do I think I have the right to be offended by something someone else says and then freak out based on that perceived slight?

I saw a meme the other day that said "Your rights end where my feelings begins".  It could be true to the extent that I should be willing to lay down my own rights for the good of someone else, but I don't think that's what it's saying.  I let that thought percolate a bit and came to the conclusion that this statement is utterly absurd but it pretty much sums up our culture. "I have the right to demand that my fleeting feelings are affirmed, validated and honoured and if at any point in time I don't feel those things someone will pay".  

I "feel" like I've fallen out of love so I can bail on a marriage.
I "feel" like my sensitive little feelings are hurt, so I can slander you.
I "feel" that you are inconvenient to me, or are a threat to my lifestyle, so I can kill you.
I "feel" irritated, so I will disregard everything you have to say.

Do you see the problem with putting subjective, self coddling, feelings over the rights of someone else? It's crazy narcissistic hypersensitivity.

This is epidemic in our culture and society.  Like, insanely ridiculous.  I strain my memory to try to figure out when all of this started happening.  Was it always so, or has the internet and the ability to say anything, any time, to everyone, made us all nut balls?

Why would I think I have the right to be offended by something someone I don't know, have no relationship with, and who wasn't talking to me anyway, says?  

It's one thing to read articles, and tweets from various view points to try to better understand how to engage culture, to understand society's deeper questions and motives, and to attempt to figure out where completely different perspectives and world views are coming from but it's another thing to go out of our way to be offended by stupid things other people say.
I can disagree, and even express my profound disagreement if I wish to, but seriously folks.  We've got insane thinking it's our duty.

Why on earth does one tweet, tweeted by a nobody nowhere near to you cause you one moments outrage, or offence?  Why on earth would it be worth the effort it takes to be offended?  I was scrolling through the "#hasjustinelandedyet" craziness and while her tweets were ridiculously ignorant and foolish, I can't for the life of me figure out why so many people took the time to care what she thinks or says. Passionately, vehemently care.  Referring back to my previous point, careless hurtful words have consequences and she paid with her job and reputation. That's bound to happen, but we live in an odd world when careless, insensitive words can go viral and bring down a trial by social media lynch mob.

 The thing is, usually words hurt and sting because they come from someone we know, and maybe even care about.  Someone who is close to us has the power to hurt us with their words because it feels like a betrayal.  A perfect stranger ranting obscenities into the internet air should really have no affect on us whatsoever.  I really just don't get it.  We are not obligated to respond (although I admit the pull to do so is strong)

Here's an incredibly novel idea.  If you don't like what someone is saying, or writing, there is usually a small "x" in the top corner of your computer screen.  There is also the option of turning the magic box off altogether and finding something else to do.  Problem solved.  No further action required.

You cannot (and probably should not) control what other people think and say.

My friends, what you can control is your reaction and response to it.

Sometimes controversy sparks some very needed and constructive conversations.  By all means, engage, our world needs people who are checked in...but do it thoughtfully, respectfully, cautiously.  Shoot from the hip reactions are typically never the best ones, and for crying out loud LAY OFF THE ALL CAPS.  (It makes you look like a crazy person before anyone even reads what you have to say).  Thankyou, and you're welcome.

Another crazy idea is, if you don't want to know what someone thinks regarding an issue, don't ask them. Crises averted.  If you ask someone their honest opinion, and they give you an answer you don't like, you have no justification for rage.

If you love to go looking for things to be offended about, you have issues that would be better served through therapy than Twitter or Facebook.

Reality is that there are no shortage of ignorant people saying ignorant things (I know that I am sometimes one of them, as my foot makes it's way to my mouth on occasion)  and sometimes the best thing to do is just bear it, or keep scrolling, because it just doesn't matter all that much.

 If I called my lawyer, demanded someone's head on a platter, insisted on an apology, or wrote a scathing letter to everyone who refused to validate my feelings, or said a insensitive or rude remark regarding disabilities, adoption, race, my faith and values etc. I'd have little time and emotional energy for anything else.

Sometimes people say things using the wrong words because it's never occurred to them to say it any differently.  Sometimes it's because they are from a different generation, different culture, and different era...and weren't given the hand book necessary to engage in PC conversation.  Occasionally it's appropriate to gently guide someone to a more respectful, sensitive way of saying something but most of the time I look for the heart behind their words rather than getting hung up on actual words used. Often the meaning and heart behind the less than ideal choice of words is caring, and kind.  If the heart behind the words is cruel and hostile, it's still not generally worth my time to respond or care.

We need to be slow to judge motive and intentions, and quick to show a generous grace and forgive.

I'll leave you with a couple wise thoughts to ponder.  I must admit I've learned many  all these lessons the hard way (and probably will again...daily)

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" Proverbs 15:1

"when words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."  Proverbs 10:19

"A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offence.  Proverbs 19:11

Soli Deo Gloria,

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