Dave up in Lisburn is thinking about the artist’s responsibility to tell the truth and the potential for that to cause offence. Go check it out.
I imagine that if you did a deep survey of what people thought of Christians, offendable would be fairly high up the qualities attributed to those people who follow Jesus of Nazareth. He didn’t take offence when someone hung him on a cross but there is nothing wrong with me shouting at you if you park in my personal parking space.
It’s true that I have a personal parking space. See yesterday’s post and send me a cheque for my hypocrisy treatment spa.
Anyway, I often worry about offending people too. I joke that the process of ordination in the Presbyterian Church is a process of prolong emasculation as with each passing year I become more and more polite and more likely to moderate my speech. In my immature moments I think that this is a sign of me selling out to the man. It may just as easily be the process of growth where I realise that if no one asked for my opinion, it doesn’t matter how foul my mouth is, my words aren’t welcome.
After all, that is why one has a blog.
Anyway, I think it useful to consider Paul’s famous love chapter from 1 Corinthians 13 when it comes to the matter of offence. We discover there that love “does not take offence”. Acknowledging that 1 Corinthians 8 teaches us to be sensitive to the weaker brother and refrain from actions that may not be in any way wrong in themselves but are likely to send others astray, those of us who are God-botherers should be very bothered about not having thin skins. What Paul says there in that beautiful chapter usually only read at weddings is that the thin skinned find it hard to love.
So 1 Corinthians 13 reminds all of us, in our weaker brother mode, to be slow to let the self righteous delight of a good outrage take effect.
Christians shouldn’t speak in ways that are offensive to their listeners; acting roughly with our mouth is no less dickish than acting roughly in person. But speech is to be shaped by context. I do not preach to a youth group as I preach to a funeral. I do not speak at an Irish match in the way that I preach and so on and so forth. In listening, at all times, in all these places however, I am to be gracious and forgiving; to Dave’s potty mouth, Serrano’s Piss Christ, the Jerry Springer musical or my blogging inanities.
Your Correspondent, Honest men speak the truth even if it offends; a vain man in order that it may