Friday, March 20, 2009

Christian Insults

Today I was pointed to a discussion about Obama's appearance on the Tonight Show.

I won't relate to you the story on that, since you can just click on the link above. What I'm more interested in at the moment is part of the discussion in the comments below the story.

One person called Obama a "stumblebum." Another person chastised her, and said she was being "unChristian." This immediately brought to mind a chapter of the Bible. I commented (with a few more typos) as follows:

I have to laugh at the idea that calling a man who supports evils like abortion a “stumblebum” is a terribly unChristian thing to do.

Let me quote someone who once addressed leaders who were not fulfilling their duties:

“You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” [Matthew 23:27]

“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” [Matt 23:33]

Ah Jesus, worst Christian ever…

(Not that I’m saying we should be be eager to be insulting, but we also might not want to react too harshly when someone is insulting in an appropriate context.)

I was afterwards rebuked and told there is no appropriate context for insults, unless you are Jesus, and thus the judge of men. This is certainly a strong point, but I'm not sure I fully agree with it.

In this blog's comments I list some quotes from Saints calling people things like, "beasts,", "fools," and, "mad women." I think that examples like these are fairly uncommon, but they still show that there may indeed be an appropriate context. It seems to me that such insulting language is reserved for those who are clearly and objectively transgressing the moral law and leading others to do the same.

March 21 edit: I think I've found a missing piece of the puzzle. These insults are mostly intended to instruct the listener, to impress upon them the gravity of the crimes of the insulted party, so that the listeners do not follow their example.


Nathan said...

Here's some quotes of early Christian saints using insulting language:

"But I guard you beforehand from those beasts in the shape of men..." -St. Ignatius of Antioch (referring to heretics)

"So away with Novatus, who would not hold out a hand to the erring! perish Montanus and his mad women!" -St. Jerome

"Learn then, you foolish men, that Jesus who suffered for us, and who dwelt among us, is Himself the Word of God." -St. Irenaeus

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying this!!!

I followed you from F&F live and appreciate what you had to say there, and here, too!

Donna H.