Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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You Offend Me!

ImageI can’t count the number of times I have come across someone who freely used profanity in my presence, only to apologize upon learning that I am a preacher. While the apology is appreciated, it is also somewhat curious. First, why make an exception for a preacher? Is the denominational clergy/laity distinction really so strong in our society today that people feel a different set of rules apply when in the presence of a preacher? No such distinction exists in scripture, and it is interesting that it affects even the most profane of individuals in our culture. Second, as the offender obviously realizes that such language is inappropriate, why is he so quick to use profanity even around people he does not know? Does he think it acceptable to offend people, as long as they are not clergy? When did it become O.K. to act so offensively in public?

About 30 years ago I worked a summer for an oil production company as an engineer trainee. At the end of the summer, after having been given a performance review, the company representative asked whether I had any complaints or suggestions regarding company policy or the training program. My one complaint, I said, was the prevalence of pornography in the trucks and locker room. The man looked at me strangely, disregarded my personal offense, and basically said, “Boys will be boys.” I imagine that if a female trainee had objected the complaint would have been taken seriously. Even then, sexual harassment was cause for action. But mere offense was insufficient to elicit serious reassessment.

In recent years such publicly offensive behavior has become so prevalent that it is now unacceptable to object to such outrages. A woman who dresses like a prostitute would be extremely offended by any criticism raised by others. She has the right to dress (or undress) in any way she wants, and if someone else doesn’t like it, they are free to look the other way. Further, though she welcomes the attention of men she finds attractive; other boys, construction workers and older men must keep their eyes off and comments to themselves.

Comments laced with profanity, (“mild” and otherwise), are common on Facebook and in the comments sections of internet blogs and other sites. Not only are they prevalent, they are expected and often considered hilarious. Those with the temerity to ask people to “keep it clean” are invited (often using the same obscenities) to leave the discussion if they don’t like what they are reading.

Perhaps the most depressing aspect of all this is the involvement of the fairer sex. Profanity and sex gossip is the norm, especially among the young, and seldom does a girl concern herself with being a “lady”, with all the delicacy and primness such a designation formerly entailed.

As I grow older, (and more curmudgeonly), I am becoming less willing to let such offenses pass. I wonder why others are allowed such boldness in their impolite behavior, and it is expected of me to suffer silently. Alas, other than the lodging of protests, little can be done about such worldliness. However, Christians should act differently. Common traits of generations past such as respect, deference for the elderly, circumspect language, modest dress, kindness, and a concern about what others may think, all have a Biblical basis.

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me’” (Romans 15:1-3).

If you offend me with boorish behavior, you may think, “Too bad for you!” But, in reality, you hurt yourself. You show yourself to be an obnoxious jerk, and appeal only to others who likewise suffer a retarded sense of propriety. And, you displease the Almighty God of heaven, who requires you to “be kind to one another” (cf. Ephesians 4:32).