Our culture these days seems almost to be built on being offended. We are offended by anything and everything.
When I used the word "boy" in a brief comment to a black person (referrring to her young son), she took offense. When the movie, Tropic Thunder, had one actor describe another as a "retard", people took offense. When Martin Scorsese did The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988, Christians took offense. Publish comics about Mohammed, and Muslims take offense. This last year, with the presidential contests, it seemed as if one of the most popular tactics was taking offense. Do a story about Hillary Clinton's neckline or make a comment about "lipstick on a pig" or publish a magazine cover intended to satirize outlandish perceptions of Trump, and all sides took offense. If a store clerk says, "Merry Christmas", some take offense, but if a store tries to be all-inclusive with the word "holiday" instead of "Christmas", others take offense.
I have to wonder. Are we too quick to take offense? The phrase means, essentially, "to assume to be injured or affronted." But we all know that no one is actually being injured here. I mean, you don't "take offense" when someone punches you in the nose, for instance. That's an actual injury. No, when we speak of "taking offense", we are exclusively speaking of an emotional affront. It is an issue of pride, a feeling of being injured, an assumption of malice.
Look around for quotes on taking offense, and you find some interesting comments.
Abraham Lincoln said, "We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it."
From Rene Descartes we read, "Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it."
Napoleon was attributed with saying, "Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence."
One of the more interesting quotes, though, comes from the Bible. In among Paul's description of biblical love we read that love "is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered" (1 Corinthians 13:5).
All this to suggest that you and I, those of us who call ourselves Christians, might want to consider that we are commanded to love our neighbor, our fellow believers, even our enemies. Perhaps, if we mean to obey that command, we ought to make efforts to stop taking offense. I suspect that the offense we take is, most often, not actually intended. And when it is, shouldn't we be above that?
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