Wednesday, November 30, 2011

offensive

what do you find offensive?

i am learning that people take offense at many different things. i don't get offended by hardly anything. if i can think of a plausible reason why someone is doing something, and i don't think that they are trying to offend me, i don't get offended. i can still be unhappy or something, but offense is different.

i suppose that offenses are as diverse as people are.

to some, burning the flag is a demonstration of freedom of speech. to others it is highly offensive.
to some, pornography is a form of entertainment. to others it is highly offensive.
to some, foul language is not foul, but the norm. to others it is highly offensive.
to some, violence is enjoyable, even 'awesome.' to others it is highly offensive.

it is easy to judge others when they do something or enjoy something that we find offensive. and in our opinion, they deserve that judgment. but do we (and should we) consider the motivations behind a person's actions?

i am a sensitive person. in some ways. like everyone else, i have my own set of things that do not bother me and things that offend me. i remember talking one day to a couple of sergeants in the army. as they talked, they incorporated several colorful words into their discussion. this made me a little uncomfortable, and they noticed. one of the sergeants said, 'moore, do you not like it when we cuss?' i told them that i didn't prefer it. one of them apologized immediately. the other said, 'why does it bother you? i understand how it can bother you if i'm yelling at you and cussing, but i was just talking to my friend here.' it was an interesting experience. i think they both did well. the first, with no desire to offend, promptly apologized for doing something i didn't like. the second was less understanding, but he also recognized that there were circumstances whereby his language could be offensive. he was also willing to ask me for clarification to see why it bothered me.

in a similar circumstance while at basic training, the whole company was standing in a formation as a sergeant briefed us with our nightly briefing. at one point he said, 'you are all men, so i want to talk to you like men. is there anyone here that is upset with my language?' i raised my hand, and several soldiers in my platoon called out, 'moore doesn't like it.' they knew me well. the sergeant was surprised. he hadn't expected any response. he asked me if i was religious, and i told him i was. he asked me whether Jesus would be offended with his language, and told me that from his understanding of the Bible, Jesus was always with sinners and with rough crowds. he asked if i thought i was any better than Jesus. interesting question... i don't see how that applied, since i was always with sinners and rough crowds. i told him that Jesus was with those people but he didn't condone their behavior. he was always encouraging people to be better. he asked me why i was offended by language, and i explained to him (in front of the entire formation) that i tried to keep myself a clean vessel where the Holy Spirit could reside. language is just one of many things that can offend the Spirit, and i wanted to keep myself as close to God as I could. he was baffled, but he had run out of arguments, and proceeded with the briefing.

being in the Army has taught me a lot about myself. in basic training i didn't want to be a prude, always being haughty and judgmental. but i also didn't want to participate in the same kind of conversation and behavior as the typical army guy. i wanted to be separate and apart from those things, being in the world but not of the world. i found that exposure to the evil in the world softened me to the Spirit. rather than becoming more hardened and accustomed to crudeness and vulgarity, i came to see these things as a way that i could be different. i have resolved not to use such language, not because it is the worst thing in the world, but because doing so keeps me strong and close to God. it is another way i set myself apart from the world. as Christians we are to be a "chosen generation, . . a peculiar people."

i think that it is important to consider the feelings of others in our everyday interactions. things that are no big deal to us may offend others. things that offend us may be very unimportant to others. the key is to respect others. as you do, others will want to respect you.

5 comments:

  1. Way to go, J--standing up for what you believe in front of a group of your peers! That's one reason I love you and admire you so much :)

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  2. This is a really good post.

    I think there's a difference between finding a behavior offensive and being offended. Kind of along the lines of "love the sinner, hate the sin," you can not like someone's offensive behavior and still not be resentful, withdrawn, or judgmental. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  3. This is excellent. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. I noticed nobody answered your question, so I will: your lack of capitalization.

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