I'm Offended!

Were you ever in a disagreement with someone only to have them claim they were offended by you or by what you believe?  Such a comment has a chilling effect. It's as if an invisible barrier were lowered, and all further explanation, discussion, or communication on the topic is shut down. The very beliefs of one person are supposedly so offensive to the other person that nothing further can be said without the offender looking like a brute who revels in torturing the offended. The comment silences debate and appears to give the offendee a win by forfeit.

I used to debate with people (when I was young and thought debate would actually help) about why I could not accept certain religious or moral beliefs as being as valid as mine. Not that they weren't valid in the sense that the other person had those beliefs and had a right to those beliefs etc, but valid in the sense that they were not true. I would try to explain that if I believe what I believe is true, it's necessarily true that I must also hold that what they believe is false as long as it is diametrically opposed to my beliefs. So while I can respect everyone's right to believe or disbelieve truth - I can not accept all beliefs as equal or as truth. Does that make sense? 

As an example, a friend's son argued recently with his sister who called Tarot cards evil. He said she was a bigot, and told her it was offensive for her to say such a thing because she was dissing his and other people's beliefs. She argued that she felt Tarot cards and fortune tellers were charlatans, and that the devil uses them to mislead people. Therefore, she reasoned, she had a right and duty to say so. She argued, that since she  believed Tarot cards were evil, and that they lead people to evil, she had a right to say so.

Definition of Valid

Personally, I am never offended by hearing what someone believes.  A woman once told me the Pope and the Catholic Church were evil. I was prepared to explain any belief I had with the woman and willing to listen to her beliefs, but I was unwilling, indeed I would be a liar, if I conceded that her beliefs were valid. Again, she had a right to them, but I could not accept her beliefs as true.

I find so often in this SSA world that many who identify themselves as homosexuals say they are offended by my faith. To my mind, it would be more legitimate, and more helpful, for them to say they do not believe what I believe. Even for them to say they feel sorry for me because they think I'm ignorant or blind would be more legitimate than to claim my very belief offends them. Why be offended?  

I have friends who say they are searching and working for a world where everyone accepts everyone's beliefs. That would be a silly world, I think. Truth is black and white, and morality is based on standards. For instance, we all must agree that red means stop and green means go on the traffic signals, or chaos will shortly ensue. My point is that tolerance is not the same as acceptance. It would be more useful for my friends to wish for a world where everyone accepts that every person has a right to his or her beliefs. 

The problem in the LGBT world that I encounter regularly is that many will not stop being "offended" until every last person in the world accepts their beliefs and their actions as true and right. But I do accept my friends as they are. I do accept that they do not share my beliefs, and that they have the free-will to pursue their own path to happiness as they see fit. I even accept that they have a right to continue to claim something wrongly and unfairly, such as taking offense at my right to live and speak as I do. I just wish they would extend the same courtesy to me. 

Image from Spunkinator - Creative Commons Public License