All right, all right. I know everyone’s probably going to–well–get offended by this. But I’ve been pondering something lately.
This morning, I had a conversation with someone wherein they talked about how often people cussed in public school. “And we’re not supposed to even think about those words because Holy Holy Holy, right?” she said.
No matter your personal convictions, there’s something I have to say.
First of all, besides cussing, things exist in real life that no one wants to see, think about, or hear about. Everywhere you look, there’s likely to be some kind of revulsion because humans are sinful, and humans have corrupted many good things.
And if you’re reading this right now, you likely exist in such a world: a world where everything you know contains something offensive: there might be racism, sexual harrassment and assault, gossip, bitterness, fighting, cussing, immorality–around every corner. If you’re reading this, you have Internet access, and you’ve probably found some things on the Internet you didn’t want to see. Everyone has.
By living in the world, we see these evil things around us every day. Some people want to escape from it and listen only to music with no “cuss words”, only watch “clean” movies and read “clean” books. Maybe this works for some people. But God has called us to a higher purpose.
If God wanted to, he could have created a sinless world. If God wanted to, he could have stopped pain, sin, and evil from happening. If God wanted us to focus on “clean” things, he could have told us so.
Instead, God wants us to focus on “Good” things.
This brings us to another issue: What is Good?
And for you, something might pop into your head: God is good. Right? He is. And we need constant reminders of this, through praise music and Bible verses and prayer. However, we could also conclude this:
If God wants us to set our mind on what is “good and true”, and God is good, therefore everything God does is good. And what does God do?
God does not shy away from the sin and messiness of life. He Himself is above humans and their issues. Nothing scares him to talk about, nothing does he shy away from mentioning, nothing does he censor that is neccesary. Instead, God in his perfect holiness transcends the gap between our trivial, sinful selves by sending His son–He Himself–to live among us, see our shame, and die for us. This is Good.
And notice that in this, there will be things that offend you. If you read the Bible at all, something will offend you. But that is good.
Here is why.
Reality offends people. Both in our lives and in the Bible, we see sin which we find offensive. But it is neccesary. You can’t communicate with someone unless you speak their language. If the Bible excluded sinful, real elements of life, it could not connect with our souls in the way that it does.
Secondly: writing must offend people to provoke thought. It is known that tragedies, or even painful elements in books, forge deeper connections between the reader and characters and create a lasting impression in your heart and mind.
If you read complete fluff, you wouldn’t come across a very offensive sentence and have to ponder it. You wouldn’t reason why you disagree with that action or question how you will confront these realities when they happen in real life.
Not only does offensive parts of writing help you understand the story better, but it helps you wrestle with your own worldview, to think about what is being said, to pay attention of where the story is taking you.
The purpose of writing, of course, is not to offend: it is to make us better people. Writing is meant to reach the mind and soul and produce thought and action about how to live a better life. To impart knowledge, to tell the truth, to make the reader educated and thoughtful about how they live their lives.
All writing aspires to this purpose. If writing were to bend over backwards to accommodate our delicate sensibilities, it would not serve its purpose, which is Truth.
All for now,