Are You Offended?
- Monday, April 06, 2009
We have turned being offended into a national pastime.
We are offended by slights in traffic and pushy people in the checkout line. We are offended when someone is overly kind (condescending) or a touch cold (arrogant).
A woman can be offended when a man comments on her physical appearance and she can be offended when a man does not. (Keep trying, fellas.)
We are offended when people make snap judgments and offended when they can’t make up their minds fast enough.
Special interest groups are offended when others take note of the features that set them apart, the same way they are offended when others overlook the features that set them apart.
So many offenses, so little time.
Watchdog groups monitor public figures and scratch hatch marks onto tally sheets every time they perceive an offense. And then there are the watchdog groups watching the watchdog groups.
Taking offense has become a means of strutting, intimidating and seizing control of the microphone.
Being offended with the right attorney by your side can be lucrative.
The supreme offense is before us right now – Holy Week -- the days when Christians commemorate the Last Supper, the betrayal of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection.
The cross is genuinely offensive. It offended 2,000 years ago the same way it offends today. It is so offensive, that we soft sell it or turn away altogether.
A number of Easter cards under the religious heading this year feature verses that say, “Wishing you the birth of Spring and all good things.”
Jesus Christ was betrayed, denied and crucified, the most defining moment in the history of the church and a pivotal benchmark in the history of time, and a card company translates it into a chick, a rabbit and three pastel eggs with a glitter overlay for only $2.99.
If I was the type to take offense, I would.
USA Today recently ran a cover piece about the decline of faith in the United States. The reporter quoted an Episcopalian theologian in South Carolina who recalled a couple coming into his office with a yellow pad of their teenage son's questions. One of them was: “What is that guy doing hanging up there on the plus sign?”
If ignorance was grounds for offense -- oh well.
Christ’s death on the cross was God telling the human race that we are totally and completely incapable of cleaning up our own mess – so He had someone else do it for us.
We are offended by the cross because it shouts that every human being is guilty (an offensive concept). The cross says our sins (an offensive word) are repugnant to a holy God -- from the lying and cheating to the pyramid schemes, the waste and lust for more. From the whispers of gossip to the betrayal of vows, the everyday unkindness and small cruelties, God finds it all reprehensible.
Imagine that, God offended by us.
In a most offensive means of executing justice, God preordained that an innocent man would be the atonement for the offenses of the guilty.
The cross casts a long shadow of offense. Be offended.
Then go one step further and be forgiven.
Published April 7, 2009.
Lori Borgman writes a weekly column, distributed by McClatchy-Tribune News Service, covering family life issues, values and contemporary culture with insight and a touch of humor. She is also the author of four books and a frequent speaker.
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