The US Supreme Court recently legalized gay marriage nationwide. Today’s blog post actually has very little to do with that, and much more to do with the sudden, blinding proliferation of rainbows across the Internet.
Rainbows are a symbol of the LGBT community. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, they began appearing everywhere on the Internet. Facebook was overrun by rainbows, and my Twitter feed would have given Joseph’s many-colored coat a run for its money. Flipping heck, even my blogging site, WordPress, replaced its usual monochromatic theme with a rainbow-colored one.
(On a vaguely related note, I recommend listening to the Rainbow Road soundtrack while reading the rest of this blog post.)
With rainbows suddenly popping up all over the Internet, I signed back on to Twitter to make a joke about them. I planned to say something goofy and innocent, something like: “The rainbows! They’re everywhere! Where are my shades? Ah, it’s too late! My eyes! MY EYES!”
However, as I typed out the joke, I hesitated. My comment wasn’t bitter or celebratory or controversial. It wasn’t anything but silly, but I couldn’t help worrying that it would ruffle someone’s feathers. Gay marriage is such a touchy subject that I was reluctant to mention it, even in the most lighthearted way. In the end, I remained silent.
(By the way, I thought about discussing the legalization of gay marriage in this blog post, but everything I want to say has been said much more eloquently by another blogger. Whatever your stance on gay marriage, I recommend reading her blog post; it’s a sensible, compassionate take on recent events. I’ve already discussed my own views on homosexuality on this blog, so I won’t repeat myself here.)
My reluctance to discuss gay marriage in even the most lighthearted way was an uncomfortable reminder that I selfishly want to be liked. I don’t want to offend anyone, even if it means keeping my views and thoughts and beliefs to myself. If being honest or insightful offends others, I’ll settle for being funny or clever.
This is a problem, because I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and he offends practically everybody.
In his lifetime, Jesus offended religious people; today, Jesus offends nonreligious people. The religious leaders in his day despised him every bit as much as many atheists do today. Jesus Christ has never been politically correct. He condemned not only sin and faithlessness, but pride and religious hypocrisy. In the end, the people who orchestrated his execution were religious authorities, not secular ones.
If I insist on following Jesus Christ, it will be only a matter of time before I offend someone. As a follower of Christ, I must believe that truth is absolute, even in our pluralistic, postmodern culture. I must believe that some things are not okay, however widely they may be accepted or celebrated. To wit, I must not compromise my beliefs, even when they offend people—and sooner or later, they will.
That’s hard for me to accept. I hate upsetting others. I really want to be liked by everyone. Offending others for any reason makes me feel like a deplorable jerk.
It all begs the question: Do I believe Jesus Christ is worth the risk of annoying, upsetting, or alienating people? Is the Christian faith, which is built upon loving others, worth offending some of them?
I believe it is.
Of course, I’ll do my best not to be a jerk. I can definitely be a jerk sometimes.
Jesus Christ offends people, but he is not a jerk. In his lifetime, even when flipping tables and railing against sin and hypocrisy, Jesus acted with the utmost of intentions. He loved people, all people, crooks and prostitutes included, without ever compromising his convictions or beliefs—and yes, he offended people. He still does.
I will offend someone at some point. I must come to terms with that fact, while doing my best never to be a jerk, and to be as kind and accepting as I can.
That said, after a week of seeing rainbows flipping everywhere on the Internet, my eyes are really starting to hurt. I’m thinking I should invest in some shades.