In a culture that claims to celebrate and encourages tolerance, society is becoming increasingly intolerant and offended.
What is the Christian response?
When An Image of A Man Holding A Book Is Offensive
Have you heard the one about the picture of a preacher holding a Bible? It was banned.
I know it sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it actually happened.
A few months ago an image of Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship holding a Bible was removed from 2 locations in Southern California because the image received complaints and even a threat of some sort (although the exact nature of the threat is not known).
The image did not include the symbol of the cross. It did not say the words “Holy Bible”. It did not say “God” or “Jesus”. For all anybody knows it could have been a picture of a dictionary.
The signs didn’t even have the word “Christian” on them.
But someone (or someones) was apparently offended. Offended enough to make a threat.
According to CBN News:
after claiming the religious imagery on the ads provoked multiple complaints, including a “serious threat,” the Irvine Company mandated the billboards be modified. Harvest complied with the request and resubmitted new ad artwork without the image of the Bible. Ultimately, however, the changes were not enough to resolve the situation as the Irvine Company decided to completely remove all the advertisements and billboards for the crusade.A Sign of the Times? Pastor Greg Laurie Forced to Remove Billboards Featuring the Bible, cbnnews.com, August 6, 2018
Just to clarify the events, as they happened:
- Harvest Christian Fellowship hosts a large-scale evangelistic Christian event every year. It’s held at Angel stadium, is free to the public and anyone can come.
- Harvest Christian Fellowship contracted with The Irvine Company and paid for signs to be placed in two of The Irvine Company’s large shopping centers – Fashion Island and Irvine Spectrum.
- The Irvine Company said people complained (even made threats) and they asked Harvest Christian Fellowship to change the image on the signs. Harvest Christian Fellowship complied with the request and removed the image completely.
But that wasn’t good enough. The Irvine Company changed their minds about allowing their customer to advertise their event and refunded the customer’s money.
In their official statement The Irvine Company had this to say:
Billboards for the SoCal Harvest event were removed from Fashion Island and Irvine Spectrum Center after complaints were received. We are reviewing our internal protocol to better manage future advertising requests and we have apologized to Pastor LaurieStatement Regarding SoCal Harvest Billboards, Irvine Company, August 9, 2018
Which in reality says absolutely nothing, other than they caved to some people who were offended by words advertising an event.Have you heard the one about the picture of a preacher holding a Bible? It was banned. Click To Tweet
What We Ought To Be Offended At
Sometimes it is good to be offended. Offense lets us know there is an injustice that needs correction.
Truth is missing, and whoever turns from evil is plundered. The Lord saw that there was no justice, and He was offended. Isaiah 59:15 (HCSB)B
God is offended at the lack of truth. He is offended at the oppression of the weak. He is offended when there is no justice.
It is good to be offended at true injustice. God forbid we become a people desensitized to the brutalization of children or the oppression of people who lack the power and resources to stand up for themselves.
How Should Christians Respond To The Intolerant Who Cry “Offended!”
I shared the news about the signage being banned for being offensive and asked my Facebook friends:
Would they had been offended if the image had been a half-naked women?
One of my friends responded that as Christians, we ought to be speaking up for the things that are truly offensive to God. Maybe that will put some balance back in the game.
I rather agree with her.
What Do You Think?
Has our culture gone “offense crazy”? How should we respond to claims of being offended?
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