Friday, November 16, 2012

You hypocrite!

I wonder if this is just going to devolve into a rant...

I just saw another Facebook post from a family member that was in less than good taste.  I have been bugged by this for some time and wonder how I should approach the topic.

On the outset, some of you may wonder... Facebook?!  I thought you quit Facebook?  I did - and then I relented.  Some time ago, in April of 2010, my brother Scott passed away, and no one knew his passwords, so his page on FB became sort of a memorial page, where family & friends periodically post memories, and I was not sure I wanted to lose access to that.  Although the loss of PerSEC (Personal Security, Thanks to RB for that terminology) Facebook still fulfills a role in relationships, so... I relented.

Back to the subject at hand.  I have found myself more than a few times offended by the language used in posts on Facebook.  I've struggled with myself on the issue, saying to myself - why be offended?  Why am I offended?  It's not as though the posts were directed at me.  Yet offended I am.  This led me to ask myself what kind of language offends more and why.  Thus I discovered there are 3 kinds of offensive language, Profanity, Obscenity, and Vulgarity.  Aren't these terms just used interchangeably you ask... By some,  perhaps.  But by dictionary definition they are 3 different kinds.  And my very different reactions to the 3 types are indicative to these definitions.

• Profanity - For me, this is the most offensive of the 3.  by definition this would be words that offend the religious sensibilities of people.  For me as a Christian the use of God's holy name as a curse word leaps out to the front.  Utterly offensive..  But even the more benign use of God's name such as Oh my ___ or the abbreviation OMG.  And Profanity is not limited to offending one religeous group over another.  Muslims can claim profanity against one who uses the name of Allah without due reverence.  (I am not an apologist for Islam, just demonstrating the uses of Profanity.)
•   Obscenity - This would be that which offends the sensibilities of the average person due to the reference to sexual conduct or other bodily acts which usually are kept private.
•   Vulgarity - One might arguably be considered the same or nearly the same as Obscenity.  It would be words that are coarser than is necessary, and from which one usually may substitute a gentler word to get the point across.

OK - Now that the definitions are out of the way, let’s get to the main issue - the lowering of our standards.  It is not as though these words are just now being coined.  Instead the generations of the past had more shame to use them publically.  People today are just not ashamed of anything.  It's as though they feel like it's better to be ugly but true instead of pretty but a lie.  Let me say it another way... No one likes a hypocrite.  At least not in the sense of its hiding what we really are.  But the problem is that people somehow think that they're being genuine, being real, or true to self and actually not artificial.  They think, comparing themselves with one another, I'm better than they are, and I'm also not a hypocrite... but in saying that very thing, they prove that THEY ARE the hypocrite they claim themselves not to be!

One of the buzz words of the day is to be authentic.  People want others to feel they are the real deal.  But who among us hides nothing?  Isn't it the case that we all have skeletons in our closet?  (I have spoken to those who claim no skeletons... but I would say that even if this were true in their case, then their authenticity is in danger of losing its attractiveness due to their pride)  There ARE some things that should stay in the closet.  That's what closets are for!  Some things ought never to be spoken of.  Of course saying this will get me in trouble with all sorts of psychologist types, but it's the truth.  The reality is that we are really so much worse than we care to admit and we DO hide things, if not from others, from ourselves.  And while it IS the case that we ought to deal with these hidden matters, it is usually best to deal with them in the council of the LORD, and not publically. 

So what about my offense... Should I be offended?  Can't I just look the other way?  Shouldn't I just chalk it up to immaturity and get over it?  Why is anyone offended in the first place?  Isn't it that to be offended means I have to examine a matter (in this case, language) and find it is lacking in standard.  And that means, of course, that I will judge the words, spoken, written or posted of someone else.  And that goes against everything in our culture.  I do not have the right to judge anything?  Who am I to judge?  BUT PEOPLE - WE DO IT ALL THE TIME!  Who among us doesn't examine the vegetables carefully to get one that isn't overripe or already going bad?  And what is wrong with discrimination between this or that food?  Nothing you say.  Then why is it wrong for someone to judge another’s' actions? 

When we judge the actions of another person, since we are people, we cannot do so, for to do so is to force your values upon a person.  The whole matter became polemic when the term "discrimination" was applied to race wrongly.  Racial discrimination can be wrong.  Make no doubt about it.  But it isn't always wrong.  Let's consider the oft put forward phrase, "racial profiling".  As typically applied, it refers to the police action of checking, verifying, examining a person, strictly because of his race.  Now - in many cases this is patently wrong, because the race of the offender is not known, and due to the hateful actions of a particular policeman toward a group of people.  I remember a fellow alumnus (David Anderson) of MBI relating how he was pulled over 3 times in 15 minutes in Elgin, Illinois by 3 different policemen, because he was black, and was driving an older, somewhat rusty car.  No crime was committed in the area and the police had NO REASON to be stopping him.  However, if it be shown that the there was a crime in a given area, for which the race of the perp was known, they should discriminate among possible suspects.  Why should they stop granny when it was a 21 year old they should be looking for? (Here the TSA wins ribbons!) 

Folks - We should be offended when offense occurs.  It's OK!  And we should hold a standard up.  We need to tell people privately, but gently when we are offended. Not to say that we are better and pump ourselves up, but because God created us good.  Yes - we have fallen.  Yes we are a wicked lot - every one of us.  But we play into the adversary's hands when we live such vulgar lives.  Let's strive to live above ourselves - for the sake of Christ.  And perhaps our children will not get the message of hypocrisy that we send out, when we pretend we are wholly authentic.  This means we might have to say we are sorry once in a while, and admit ourselves to be wrong.  But that is so much better than the pride of pretending we are something we are not.  Humility ought to be our coat.

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