The danger of ‘offending people’

I’ve been thinking a bit about what it means to ‘offend’ someone, particularly if that someone is a friend of yours whose beliefs you happen to strongly disagree with. I am not one to shy away from a heated argument (har har, understatement) on an issue that I care passionately about. But I do sometimes have this nagging worry that my anger will frighten off people that I consider to be good friends, and good people, who happen to have some unfortunate beliefs.

But the more I think about it, the more I believe this needs to be put in perspective.

The Bible says that unbelievers will burn in Hell for eternity.

… Wait, rewind, what?

Burn.

In HELL.

For ETERNITY.

Suddenly, calling someone a poopyhead doesn’t seem like such an offensive crime. I have friends who worship a God who would condemn me to ever-lasting suffering. Not just believe in Him, but worship him as some kind of superior moral being.

(Of course, most of my friends are the ‘cut and paste the good bits and leave out the vast majority of the rest’ sort of Christians, which makes them much nicer people but perhaps less theologically cohesive. I do still hold them responsible for the contents of the Holy Book that they choose to follow, though.)

While my friends hold those beliefs, I’m sorry, but I’m just going to stop fucking worrying about ‘offending’ them. If people don’t think the very idea of hell is the most offensive thing possible, then surely nothing that I can say will bother them, anyway.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Nick
    May 11, 2013 @ 17:07:50

    Could not agree more (there, I said it, Guess there’s a first time for everything…)

    And can I please ask comments not to include debate about the ‘burning in hell’ bit. Whatever the specific details of your belief (and there are those that don’t even believe in hell…), what it comes down to is the bible says those that believe in Jesus, accept his sacrifice on the cross and the forgiveness it represents will be reborn into everlasting life with God.
    If you don’t, you will not.

    This is NOT a belief system I choose to accept.

    Sure my various efforts to try and dismiss the bible by attacking it’s authenticity have come to naught. At the end of the day I’ve got to agree Jesus existed. As far as authenticity of historical texts go there is nothing that comes close to mind boggling number of copies and translations that I believe demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that what we have today is as close as we can get to what was written 2000 odd years ago. (There is no other historical text that comes close to the level of evidence for the texts that compile the new testament).

    So I believe Jesus existed, I believe he must have said much of what people attribute to him to having said. What’s more, those same people attribute miracles to him that I have no explanation for beyond the simple (and unsatisfactory) explanation that people can be made to believe (almost) anything.
    But based on my personal decision I choose to believe that God does not exist because in my mind, despite all evidence to the contrary (the Bible, the testament of friends, the testament of countless millions throughout history), the alternative is worse.

    There are many reasons why you might consider this to be ‘sticking my head in the sand’, ignoring the best available evidence based on my personal feelings. If God and heaven exist as proclaimed by Jesus then they exist regardless of my feelings on the matter.

    Christians (and other religions) spread the good news of Jesus to the world and rejoice in the grace of God. For who are we to deserve it? ‘But for the Grace of God go I’ to the eternal darkness without love, without life, without hope. Therefore praise be to God for offering eternal life to such undeserving sinners. But those who do not accept this gift will not receive it.

    So I choose not to believe it. If damnation awaits, so be it.

    (has a premonition of an ‘I instantly regret me decision’ moment as I am cast into the pits of hell after death)

    Nick

    Reply

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