Monday, September 23, 2013

Sunday School Smackdown

Got your attention?

It's all fine, I promise...but yeah, it felt like someone smacked me down.

Yesterday morning in SS, we were studying from the book of James...specifically on the power of the tongue and how we should use our words. Our teacher asked us what words were encouraging...what words were hurtful, etc. He brought up the fact that there's at least one word that we should never ever say...a certain racial slur. He didn't say it...we all knew what he meant. We talked about how hurtful it was and how, if you use it, you could lose your job, your friends, and maybe even your family...and for sure you will lose your reputation.

It was during this conversation that one of the class members brought up a word that our family finds offensive. An intellectual slur, so to speak. She said that it was okay for her to use this word, because she has a son with a learning disability...and that by using it, it "de-powered" the word. She said she was "so thankful" when kids started calling each other this word...because it lessened the power of it ( it didn't). She said that people have t-shirts saying we should get rid of this word (I have one)...and stickers and rubber bracelets saying we should get rid of this word (yep, have those, too). I understood her a point...but I thought I was going to jump out of my skin. My face was flushed and I was shaking. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. Jim was squirming and everyone was nervously looking around at each other, and at us. Finally, I just said, "I could not disagree more with that."

I mean, when you have a son like mine...and he comes home from school saying kids called him that word...and told him he "had a messed up brain," I'm just sayin'. It clouds your judgment. Or maybe it enhances it.

I stated my thoughts in a very calm and restrained way. I mean, we're new here, and I want friends. I typically do not confront people when they use that word in front of me. I've found, in my personal experience, that it's just a habit...that most people don't want to offend anyone...and that you can get more people to see your point if you aren't all up in their face. But that's just me. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:12, "Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is helpful..." Or, like this in The Message: "Just because something is technically legal doesn't mean that it's spiritually appropriate..."

I like that. Not everything is "spiritually appropriate." This goes for many things in the life of a Christian. Lots of "gray" areas when it comes to conduct. Christians have taken issues with each other over drinking alcohol and dancing and clothes we should or should not wear, and what movies we should or should not watch or books we should or should not read, and who to vote for and what causes to support...and words we should or should not say.

It may all be okay...but I just wanna throw this out there: it might not be spiritually appropriate. It also might be a stumbling block to others. "Be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block for the weak." 1 Corinthians 8:9

In the end, it was all...okay. I will never agree with her point of view. Like, ever. She will never agree with mine. But we were civil and neither one of us harbored ill will toward each other later.

Jim and I are Christians...but what if we weren't? What if we were visiting this church for the first or second time? What if we had preconceived ideas about Christians and Christianity and what church was all about, and we were in this class when this discussion took place? What if the whole thing was a stumbling block to others? I struggle with that every day, my example to others. Because there are times when we should stand up for what is right ("speak up for those who have no voice..." Prov 31:8), and times when we should hold our tongues. And I never want to keep anyone from Jesus.

I was thankful there were no visitors in our class today. I don't think I would've responded if there had been, because we just need to be very careful when it comes to visitors. We don't know where they are in their walk with Christ, and the last thing we would ever want to do is run off someone who doesn't know Jesus as their Savior. I hope what happened in our class this week serves as an example of how we don't all have to agree on every single thing, even as Christians. There are theological and doctrinal issues that I will not give an inch on, but there are other this situation today...where I'm not gonna die on that mountain. We can agree to disagree and we can still all be friends.

I was thankful that others in our class spoke up in defense of the defenseless. Except not, because no one did. Afterwards, I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. Not gonna was more than a little disheartening. But it was a lesson to me that sometimes we will stand alone, and that's okay. Still...there are millions of words available in the English language. Why would we choose to use hurtful and divisive words when we can choose words that can encourage and heal?

Our words...let's use them wisely. Let's use them well.

And, this has nothing to do with this post, really, but we came home from church, and Joshua posted this as his Facebook status. I typed it exactly how he wrote it:

"There is power in the blood of. Christ. And I'm grateful of the message of the cross mean's to me. That by the blood of Christ I'm a new creation. Thank you. Jesus Christ for the blood you have poured out to save me. From sin."

"...but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. We praise our Lord and Father with it, and we curse men who are made in God's likeness with it." James 3:8-9

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