Monday, August 15, 2016

Why I Find "Offensive Christianity" Offensive


These days, when I finally find the time to blog, it's usually to express an opinion that is counter to the typical Catholic view being expressed on social media. 

Today is no different. 

In yesterday's Gospel, we heard some pretty interesting comments from Jesus:

“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided,three against two and two against three;a father will be divided against his sonand a son against his father,a mother against her daughterand a daughter against her mother,a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-lawand a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Quite often, we try to make it seem like we're super cool with what Jesus is saying here, which I think does a disservice to just how intense this statement is meant to be. 

It's a hard saying, and I think it's only right to point that out. 

Yesterday on social media, however, an interesting line of thinking based on this Gospel message was getting a great deal of mileage.

It went along the lines of: "Unoffensive Christianity is Ineffective Christianity"

If you were one of the folks tweeting or retweeting this, please know I'm not trying to call you out specially, I just kind of didn't like that this meme was what we were all supposed to come away with from yesterdays' Gospel. 

Yes, what Jesus said is true: His message, and the life of a Christian in general, is certain to bring division. 

However, it isn't because that division happens that the message has power. 

It isn't, "Hey, look how much the culture hates what we're saying" that validates the Christian message and way of life. 

In fact, being unoffensive in our evangelization can actually do more to bring people to Jesus than being brash and offensive with the Gospel message (think, the strategy of the Daughters of St. Paul)

Example: 

When evangelizing about the Church's teaching on contraception and NFP, saying something like, "Contraception is intrinsically evil, and while most people think it reduces abortions, it actually increases it" is sure to cause division. 

While the statement is true, it isn't typically effective to express the truth in such an offensive-to-our-culture's-ears manner. 

Instead, saying something like, "We completely understand why someone would use contraception, but we have a better idea that will open people up to being more unconditionally loving toward their spouse" may be a better path to take. 

It isn't offensive, but it has the potential to be effective. 

Sure, Jesus' message will eventually bring division no matter how you slice it. 

But, taking the stance that we are meant to be offensive, and if we aren't being offensive we must not be doing Christianity right, misses the point. 

This post is intended to set the Catholic Blogosphere on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing...

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