I often see social media posts criticizing the “supposed” Christian who dares to step outside of the politically-correct box. Short of criticisms are the subtle comments that everyone should just “play nice”. How dare a self proclaimed Christian criticize Obama, Bruce Jenner, or Islam. Aren’t they supposed to be all about love and kindness? I for one will take that dare.
Let’s face it, discussing important issues will naturally stir up passions that are likely to offend. Fervent discussions are usually not founded on topics in which the parties are in continual agreement. Those would be referred to as chats or small talk. Simply sharing common knowledge and benign facts, will neither stir up passion or challenge world views. If we want to learn through the art of conversation, we must accept that sooner or later we will be offended.
Rather than striving to avoid differing viewpoints that may be construed as offensive or politically incorrect, perhaps we should focus on our reactions instead of just the subject. We cannot control the ball that comes across the net, but we can choose how to return it. Forget about whether or not it is actually offensive or the degree of the offense. React to the perceived offense in a way that enhances further discussion that is fruitful for both parties, or at the very least – yourself.
Can a Christian be both offensive and loving? It seems that our primary role model for Christianity, Jesus Himself, was often perceived as offensive. If Jesus was not offensive, the masses would not have yelled “Crucify Him!” “His blood is on us and our children.” Matthew 27:23,25. Yes, Jesus, in proclaiming to be God, was offensive to many people, and they went so far as to kill Him for it. Yet most would agree, as history revealed, that He was also very kind and loving.
Besides proclaiming to be God, He challenged many worldviews: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. He called out hypocrites: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!…” Matthew 23:15. The Bible (which proclaims itself to be offensive in Corinthians 1:18) compares our works to filthy rags in Isaiah 64:6 “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags…”
While many people, such as the Pharisees, chose to exploit their offended feelings to fuel a crucifixion, many others chose to dig deeper. Those people heard a story of love, forgiveness, and hope through the offensive language of Jesus. Instead of ending the conversation with yells of “Crucify Him!” they chose to examine the message. Perhaps they had been wrong and this new politically incorrect messenger was right.
Their leader, Jesus, was a polarizing person. So much so, He was hung on a cross and killed. How dare Him say that He could forgive sins, which only God could do. How dare Him treat women equal to men! How dare Him say that it is hard for a rich person to enter heaven or that the meek shall inherit the earth. How dare Him say that the Temple would be destroyed only to be raised three days later.
Thank God Jesus was politically incorrect, because as it turned out, everything He did and said was ultimately to mankind’s benefit. Not only did he teach how to love, respect, and treat one another, but he even gave His own life so that when we failed to live up to all of His teachings, we could still have salvation.
The world has always gravitated towards what is popular and feels good. But Proverbs 16:25 states: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” I think it’s imperative that we listen to all sides, whether or not it is offensive. We listen, evaluate, and learn.
Obviously, especially as a Christian, we want to act and react with gentleness and kindness when speaking truth that may be offensive. But we should never stop speaking the truth or going against the politically correct attitude of the day, because as the Bible says in Romans 10:17: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Even when that message is offensive and politically incorrect, it needs to be shared, it needs to be heard.