Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The Offense Card
It's tough to discuss these days. I'm not sure there's any iron left to sharpen. We should call it rubber sharpening rubber or plastic or maybe styrofoam. A tip: Always come with a large supply of kleenex. Here's how it works. You make a good point theologically, academically, politically, historically, whatever. You wait for the answer, and the answer is: I was offended by how you said it. Other supporters chime in and you become the chum for the feeding frenzy. "Yeah, that's offensive." "You act like you're the only right one in the whole world." "That really was insensitive." "How can I trust what you say when you say it that way, with that tone?" Where does the discussion go from there? One has choices. 1) Just quit. It's not worth it. It's akin to answering the time-honored: "When are you going to stop beating your wife?" 2) Ignore the whining and keep fighting. One might be marginalized as the local ayatollah or David Koresh. 3) Make a point of defense on the style, and then get back to the debate. Problem here is that when one defends, he is said to be getting "defensive," which actually means that he is feeling guilty about the truth of his offensiveness.
This whole technique has been perfected by special interest groups. Ambulence chasing lawyers have made a living on it. Everyone from homosexuals to strict Islamics to racial groups have fleeced corporations and political parties by pulling the offense card. Some have made a career out of it, taking offense to an art form. This practice was taken to its extreme in the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings by his accuser, Anita Hill. Are they midgets or little people? I better make sure, because someone's going to get offended. Are they black or African American? Are they Latin, Hispanic, or Mexican? I wouldn't want to offend a bank robber by "profiling" his ethnic features. Offensive speech trumps stealing. Now we have the same thing among professing believers.
What do you do when someone pulls the offense card? It's been done before. People were offended with Paul and he said something to the effect that his conscience was clear and kept going. This is why in spiritual warfare, you've got to have on the "breastplate of righteousness." You will get attacked emotionally, someone picking on you personally, in this case that you are abrasive in your tone or technique. If you're convinced by the Spirit that you've not violated any boundaries, you can keep going. The breastplate protected the heart, the place of emotions. Practical righteousness protects from personal attack. You can know if you've been doing right, and the Holy Spirit will bear witness to that. People will try to get you to quit pulling out the sword by pulling out the offense card, attacking you emotionally. This is what Sanballat and Tobiah did with Nehemiah---went after him personally to get him to quit. Don't let it work. Keep on the breastplate and keep using the sword. You'll find that the "girly men" really aren't as sensitive as they seem.