Monday, November 7, 2011

Taking Offense: The email read: "Please remove me from your distribution list immediately..."

offence US, offense [əˈfɛns]
give offence (to) to cause annoyance or displeasure (to)
take offence to feel injured, humiliated, or offended

The terse email appeared in my inbox. It read: "Please remove this email address from your distribution list immediately." That was it. I could have ignored it but it troubled me because it came from someone who knew me; someone that I had worked with for a couple of years. We had had many long discussions and often were in agreement on many issues. But this email--all it said was "Please remove this email address from your distribution list IMMEDIATELY (caps are mine). Why? Had I offended this friend. What had I written that demanded this response? And here's the sad thing....there is no discussion, no reason given why...just "remove me from your list."

I don't go around looking to offend people, but I know that on occasion I do. Maybe I've offended you as you've read one of my posts? You can only say so much in a post and it's so easy for someone to read something into what you are writing or to misinterpret your thoughts because you are limited to words on a screen. You can't see my face, or immediately ask, "Is this what you are saying? I don't get it? Why would you say that?" 

We live in a day when it seems that some are looking to be offended or take offense. I know of a company here in my town which only allows CNN on the big screen TV in the break room because some, including management, have taken offense to Fox News. How petty. They want to protect the eyes and ears of their employees by only allowing them to watch CNN. Well what if I am offended by CNN? I guess it doesn't matter. Or maybe I need to develop thicker skin so that I don't become so easily offended, even by CNN or Fox News.

I remember when serving as a Pastor, a couple would come up after a church and let me know that this was going to be their last Sunday at our church. Something I had said several weeks earlier had offended them and so they had decided to leave. Isn't that how we do it today? No discussion, no dialogue, no comments on the post, just pick up and leave or cut off the relationship or trash the friendship. End of story.

There are some who make it a full-time job of going through life looking to be offended. These folks are TOTAL-PC. If you are politically-incorrect, they will usually find that you are doing something to offend them--sometimes just knowing that you are a conservative is enough to offend them, or even worse, that you believe in Jesus. That's the real deal-breaker!

When we take offense, we are falling prey to "victimization." There is an entire cottage industry here in the U.S. of "victims" who are offended by racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, rich people, oil companies, black conservatives, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, etc. It's the new fascism and "taking offense" is intended to shut down discussion and force you to shut your mouth or face the consequences.  

I have a suggestion: As you and I go through this week, take note of whether-or-not you are easily offended. And how do you deal with the offender? Do you let them know about the offense or just decide to 'write them off." 

I believe that "taking offense" can be toxic in the workplace, home, among friends, and in churches. We need to cut each other some "slack" and at least let the offending party know what they've done and how we feel about it. Maybe they're totally clueless and had no idea that what they said or did was hurtful or offensive. 

Finally, if I have offended you, please forgive me. It is never my intent to offend anyone--If you don't agree with me on some post or something I've said or done, leave me a comment. Let's dialogue about it. Who knows, my next post could be written admitting that I was wrong and you graciously helped me to see the error of my way. I will be the first to admit that I see "through the glass dimly, and only know in part." 

Proverbs 17:9 (GW)
9 Whoever forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever keeps bringing up the issue separates the closest of friends. 

Matthew 11:5-6 (ESV)
5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.
6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Proverbs 18:17-19 (GW)
17 The first to state his case seems right {until} his neighbor comes to cross-examine him.
18 Flipping a coin ends quarrels and settles {issues} between powerful people.
19 An offended brother is more {resistant} than a strong city, and disputes are like the locked gate of a castle tower.

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