I get offended too. I find myself increasingly offended at things I see on television. (Or should I say I find myself offended my things I increasingly see on television?) I used to be able to avoid shows that insulted my Christian values by not watching certain shows or by changing channels. This is no longer possible, for now even commercials contain things I do not want to see.
Last night we were watching a classic television series, American Ninja Warrior, when a commercial came on that not so subtly promoted behavior that should not be promoted. I started to mentally huff and puff and to internally compose a ranting screed about the moral failings of society. I was about halfway through the piece when I realized I was an idiot.
Just a few weeks ago I wrote a piece about people being offended by the past and how that was foolish. One of the points of the piece was that people shouldn’t go looking for reasons to be offended, that people should let things go. And here I am, getting offended by something other people let go!
I can make the argument that I get offended by the right things and they get offended by the wrong things, but can’t they do the same? I can bolster my position by showing how the Bible supports my views, but since when do television executives follow the Bible?
This is not to say that I shouldn’t find certain things offensive, only that I need to develop a different response. Ranting and complaining or encouraging boycotts may make be feel good for a moment but they are not likely to change anything. There must be a better way.
There is a better way, and the way can be found in the Bible. In the book of Acts we see a story of the Apostle Paul being offended by the rampant idolatry he saw in the City of Athens. (side note- he could not have been surprised by this, it was not a secret that the Greeks worshiped many Gods!). The Greek text makes it clear that Paul was ticked off by what he saw, that he was incensed.
So what did Paul do?
He talked to people. He did not get on a soap box in the town square, he did not pen an angry letter to the folks back home in Jerusalem condemning the heathen. He went to where people gathered and he reasoned with them. He dialogued, he discussed, he explained. He did this in places where dialogue naturally occurred, in places where people gathered to talk.
We don’t do that anymore. We don’t talk to one another. We don’t explain ourselves, we don’t gently persuade or try to convince anyone. We instead attack, insult, berate and complain, and as a result we never change anyone’s mind.
I need to change my approach. If I am going to change the way people think I need to reason more, explain more, listen more, and complain less.
I can also turn off the TV.
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