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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thou shall not offend

Warning: You are about to get sucked into the swirling, whirling vortex that is my thought process.

Yesterday I got a bee in my bonnet about breastfeeding and circumcision.  I've had a few friends and acquaintances tell me they're sick of hearing from the extremists.  Some also say I should be careful what I post because I could turn people off of the very things I'm promoting.  I started to think that maybe I should just post occasionally and try not to say anything to anyone personally.  Well, I decided that the welfare of the children is more important.  The more I learn, the more I am horrified by circumcision and the more important it becomes to make breastfeeding the norm in our society.  I know that there will be people who don't agree with me, and that's fine.  If I reach one person, I've done a good job.  Still, I don't want to offend my friends and loved ones, right?

Wait.

That sounds very familiar.  That's what so many Christians say, right?  Yet God commands us to spread the good news to everyone.

So what do we do?  We don't want to sound self-righteous, but we want to educate.  Some say we should wait until someone asks us for information.  What if they don't have enough information to know they need more?  What if they've only been introduced to our information by people who don't have correct information or who were rude, arrogant or otherwise a negative representation of that information?  Shouldn't we try to lovingly educate everyone then?

I will admit that while this back-and-forth, devil's-advocate analysis went on in my head, I started to feel quite spunky and determined.  I WOULD tell people that circumcision is dangerous and unnecessary, and I WOULD do everything I could to make breastfeeding the norm in our society.  (The Gospel angle came later.)  Really, I DON'T CARE if you're offended!  I put a lot of thought into my posts and the articles I share, and my intention is never to offend. If you are offended, take a step back and think about why.  Maybe the same information was presented to you by someone who did mean to offend or be rude. I'm not that person. Maybe you don't feel the same way, and I'm inadvertently making you feel guilty. Maybe your guilt is telling you that I might be right. Hmmm... My instincts have told me I'm wrong many times. I'm learning to listen them...which brings me back to my original statement about carefully planning my posts...

My original statement of "I don't care" doesn't sit well with me, though.  It didn't before I originally made it, and it's only getting worse.  I think it's not a very Christian thing to say.  There has to be a better way.  Pardon me while I ramble for a bit.  What I mean is I am not trying to offend, and if you are offended, it's your problem.  But then I think that I had a hand in it, and then I wonder where the line is.  There are people who will always feel offended no matter what I say or do.  How much effort equals my best effort?  Could I overcorrect and come across with some other negative attitude besides self-righteousness or arrogance?

So far I've had nothing but positive replies to my statement.  Still, I feel guilty for the harshness of it.  A friend quoted a scripture that I'd never understood prior to my discussion with her: "...and blessed is the one who is not offended by me" (Luke 7:23).  Reading Luke 7:20-23, I received no more clarification.  The meaning of this passage has eluded me for years.  I even tried to find studies of it online.  All I found was more reference to stumbling, what causes it, and who's susceptible to it.  My friend offered this explanation: "I think it's more of our attitude... if our hearts are right w/ HIS, and we are willing to look at HIS truth instead of always pointing the finger or making excuses, then we will not be easily offended and run away from the truth."  Ah.  That makes since.  Stay focused on Jesus and you won't stumble.  I read a study on the passage that pointed us to Galatians 6:1: "Brothers,if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted."  That seems to refer to the other extreme of focusing so hard on what is right that we lose sight of WHO is right and stumble. It really is a fine line, eh?

I'm still not sure if I took the right step saying what I said, but now I know why I'm unsure.  I didn't consult with God before speaking (or typing, as the case was).  My dear friend was sent by God to remind me that He will guide my right actions, and only He.  I need to focus on Him so that I don't stumble off the path.  With Him, I can be sure that any offense is an unavoidable consequence of His order of things and not the result of a bad choice on my part.  Hopefully, those who care about me will know I say the things I say with love, an event more likely if I let Love guide me.

So... Feel free to engage in friendly debate.  I might learn something!  Don't accuse me of emotion-based, fact-insufficient rhetoric, though.  If I'm wrong, I'll admit it.  I'm happy to learn more and refine my arguments.  ;o)

6 comments:

  1. We're a no-circ, breastfeeding family. And all I have to say is: people are crazy. Me included. Not just "a little off" but full-blown, batsh*t crazy. That's pretty much the only explanation I have for the motivation to cut off the healthy body parts of an infant so that aforementioned infant can "look just like daddy" or any of the millions of other things that we all do that make no sense and generally screw things up.

    There really isn't any reasoning with crazy. Crazy is crazy. So, you can pretty much say whatever you like, but Teh Crazy will always be just that.

    Of course, one day anti-circ and breastfeeding will become the norm which will usher in a whole new version of Teh Crazy. We'll call it Teh Crazy 2.0.

    I think my oldest summed it up when he asked, "Mom, why does history sound like a Terry Pratchett book?"

    (Highly recommend Discworld, by the way. It may be a fantasy world, but the author nailed human nature. Absolutely got it to a T, I think.)

    Oh, and good luck. :)

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  2. From C: I have a blog, too. I'm taking it more seriously, doing it more regularly. As a result, people are starting to read it and interact. This amuses me greatly.

    Life is offensive. I tend to lose count when trying to figure out who I've offended... or have been offended by in a week's time. Numbers that large are hard to wrap your brain around.

    I suppose that's why the invented scientific notation. ;)

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  3. The issue is when someone outright tells me I'm abusing my kid because we circ'd him (my BF's choice, I don't feel I should have a say in the matter because I have nothing to circ!) or that I put poison in my child because I gave him formula. HELLO!! The whole point of parenting is to support each other, and to give advice, and to realize when your opinions don't necessarily mesh that it's time to move on to a new topic. I think it's great that you post articles for or against controversial parenting topics, and I recognize that I don't have to agree with the material. What gets me is when someone outright tells me that I'm wrong without stopping to consider my situation or the reasons why we chose to do one thing or another. Honestly, you're fine. Like the PP said, life is offensive; we just have to pick and chose our battles and decide what to take to heart and what to consider and what to ignore.

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  4. Beaturifully written. Can I share this? You wrote it so well.

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  5. Christina, please feel free to share.

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  6. Liz, that's exactly why I ask people to think about WHY they're offended. I know there are some activists who are just mean and judgmental. I aim simply to educate. Sure, I get aggressive when it's my kids in question, (Hello, Mama Bear!) but I certainly do no seek to make others feel bad. If I did, boy you'd know it! I'd have very few friends, too. ;o)

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