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4 Topics Christians Need to Stop Finding Funny

I stood in the sanctuary talking to a law-enforcement friend about a recent bust he’d made. “Man,” he said laughing, “it took about three of us to subdue this guy. He had what we call ‘retard strength.’”

He must have noticed me looking awkwardly at my feet because he quickly said, “I’m over 40—I don’t have to be politically correct.”

You often hear the term “politically correct” spoken by the churched through clenched teeth. It’s a boogeyman that, too many, represents a huge loss of liberty, as if saying something off-color or insensitive strikes a blow against “the man.”

But I didn’t feel uncomfortable because my friend was being politically incorrect; I felt uncomfortable because he was being insensitive—and mean.

If you knew me, you’d know that I’m the last person to be lecturing anyone about appropriate jokes. My humor offends people so regularly, I have to spend a lot of time lubricating my relationships with apologies.

But there are jokes I’m tired of Christians being comfortable hearing, telling, and laughing at. In fact, there are jokes I am tired of hearing fall lazily out of my own mouth.

1. Race

Sometimes I feel like we’re a little uptight about racial issues. But I had a Japanese friend tell me, “that’s because you’re a middle-aged white guy.”

“I know that when you say humorous things about my culture, you don’t intend to be racist,” he said, “but as the minority, I go from interaction to interaction where I’m reminded, by one stupid comment after another, that I’m different. To you it’s a couple funny comments, but you don’t see the fact that I hear this crap all day long. It’s a constant reminder that I don’t fit in. It’s exhausting.”

He’s right.  I don’t think about it, and I should. My beliefs should be informing the way I think about and treat people. They should be inclusive.

For God’s sake, if Jesus taught first-century Judaism anything, it was that racial stereotypes have no kingdom value. (Lk. 10:25–37)

2. Gender

I make pseudo-sexist jokes too often. I don’t do it because I believe women should be barefoot and pregnant; I do it to parody what I see as obviously outdated ideas about gender.

But I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately and I’m changing my views.

Sexism hasn’t stopped being a issue. The church still bickers about what women should and shouldn’t be able to do.

If I’m perpetuating archaic gender ideas (even in jest), maybe my actual views don’t matter. The only difference between me telling a sexist joke and an actual sexist telling a sexist joke is that I (and a maybe a few people who know me well) know I am kidding. That’s probably not a big enough difference.

What do I lose by not relying on gender stereotypes for humor? Lazy jokes that are only funny because terrible people truly believe them.

3. Disabilities

I have a confession. I occasionally drop the “R” word as an adjective—sometimes even as a pejorative noun.

Despite the fact that I have a little brother who’s extremely developmentally disabled, I still describe ridiculous things as “retarded.” I don’t mean to do it. I’ve just been conditioned to see it as acceptable. If you hear me say describe anyone or anything as “retarded,” you have my permission to slap me.

That’s the issue with a most of these things. We let culture condition us to be accepting and even cavalier with ideas that should be abhorrent. To think that it’s okay to draw a verbal correlation between things that annoy me and people with Down’s Syndrome is one of them.

This is only the beginning of jokes about disabilities that I hear Christians make . . . jokes that I’ve made.

Jesus ushered in a new kingdom by waging war on a broken and sick creation. He did this by making the healing a priority. It probably wouldn’t hurt if we valued the disabled enough to stop thinking that disabilities are funny.

4. Homosexuality

If dummies like me aren’t calling things “retarded,” they’re calling things “gay.” It’s another disparaged minority we invoke to communicate our displeasure.

But more than just misusing the word “gay,” guys use homosexuality as a joke between each other. A favorite go-to joke among us guys is to challenge each other’s masculinity and imply that our buddies are gay. Sadly, the humor lies in the implication that there’s something wrong with gay people.

A gay friend once told me that when he was younger, this kind of teasing between guys constantly made him feel like it was never safe to confide in men. From his perspective, the way guys teased each other about being gay told him that there was something wrong with him. This was a quiet sort of terrorism inflicted by well-meaning guys who just didn’t think about the implications of their humor.

Caring for the Other

The common denominator between these topics is that they represent some form of “other.” One thing that followers of Christ should have in common is their desire to protect and advocate for minorities, the weak, or anyone society deems as less than important.

Humor often comes at someone’s expense. I probably won’t stop making dumb jokes, but hopefully, I’ll stop being willing to get the kind of cheap laughs that Christ probably finds embarrassing—if not infuriating.

After all, you can tell a lot about a person by what they’re willing to laugh at.

Agree? Disagree? Did I miss a topic? Let me know about it in the comments.

62 Comments Post a comment
  1. Bigby #

    The common denominator is not “weakness,” but “other.” I would agree that humor at the expense of others is not indicative of a Christian. However, homosexuality is sin. Being Japanese, female or disabled is not.

    November 8, 2013
    • Ugh. So, in the context of the post you’re responding to, are you saying it’s okay to make fun of homosexuals because it’s a sin?

      Or do you just feel compelled to respond if you don’t see the word “sin” in the same paragraph as the word “gay?”

      November 8, 2013
      • Bigby #

        Sorry for the late response. I was coming from the angle of lumping in gays with minorities or protected classes. Probably not relevant to the thesis of your post, but I thought the clarification was worthwhile. I have made jokes about all four people groups, and I appreciate your admonishment and encouragement to be sensitive to others.

        November 8, 2013
    • But Japanese, female and disabled people sin too. His post wasn’t about reacting to sin – it was about being mindful that we don’t carelessly speak.

      November 8, 2013
  2. Ed Sumner #

    Are you telling me there’s nothing wrong with homosexuality despite what SCRIPTURE plainly states? Because if you are, you need to stop calling yourself a Christian. That said, homosexuals shouldn’t be picked on or singled out for their sin unless they’re of that militant crowd that goes around shoving their perversion down people’s throats with government approval. The average homosexual is no better or worse than the average adulterer; he or she needs to repent and believe on Christ and allow Him to deliver them from their perverse way.

    November 8, 2013
    • Ed,

      You are the person with the second-highest comments on my blog (I’m first.). But I’m not sure why you keep coming back. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it. It’s just that you hate everything I say.

      I’m not sure why I allow most of your comments because they generally annoy me. You’re often aggressively mean, have a hair trigger for the slightest provocation, and display a conservatism that makes Hazzard County look like Berkeley.

      But there’s something about you that makes me smile. It’s probably that I picture you in a room with nothing but a card table and a bare swinging light bulb rage typing into an old Smith Corona typewriter (your cap-lock key sticks by the way) and somehow typing angrily enough that the words appear on the internet.

      November 8, 2013
      • Ed Sumner #

        No, sometimes, you make perfect sense. But you didn’t answer the question, Jayson. IS homosexuality wrong or not? Stop avoiding the question and have the fortitude to answer it. Your attitude toward the teachings of Christ is quite frankly appalling to me at times. I find it quite disturbing. So again: ANSWER THE QUESTION.

        November 8, 2013
        • For those who cannot have a conversation about showing common courtesy to another without shouting about their “sin”, Lord we pray.

          November 8, 2013
  3. Scripture also states, “Judge not and you shall be not be judged” and “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”

    The point isn’t to simply condemn others, but to recognize your own sin every day. The tax collector was more justified than the Pharisee because he judged himself before the Lord more than anyone else.

    November 8, 2013
  4. jeffreywetherell #

    I think you are right on! In response to homosexuality: whether or not you consider it sin is irrelevant. Demeaning a person for ANY reason is not ok. Of course that would be the first thing people bring up though, can’t be a good Christian without pointing out that gay people are bad…

    Anytime we make jokes about a gender, race, orientation, or disability we are saying that you are something other than normal. Like you said, we (white males) really don’t know what it is like to be in a minority or disparaged group of people. So, maybe we should lay off a bit. Thanks Jayson.

    November 8, 2013
  5. Love this list. I too have been learning a lot of this stuff, especially learning to be aware of how often I casually say “No homo” or “that’s gay” or other stuff that I don’t think about.

    November 8, 2013
  6. seanatherton #

    If you’re serious about jokes that promote disharmony rather than healing laughter, you might check out a book called Microagressions in Everyday Life. It’s not perfect and slightly one sided, but it does provide a decent place to start looking at how we treat each other.

    November 8, 2013
  7. Sara #

    Thank you Jayson, for always speaking from you heart, and for making the average man, and average Christian really think about what is important. Loving all people, accepting everyone regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual preferences… You encourage people to be better. And we are so grateful to you. Also…Haters gonna hate. Love is stronger.

    November 8, 2013
  8. Joel Wembley #

    Nowhere in scripture does Christ ever refer to homosexuality. Not only is “Ed Summer” conveniently misinformed on the topic but he is also glaringly oblivious as to what Christ’s central message to his followers was and is: love one another unconditionally. Period.

    Great blog, btw. First timer here 🙂

    November 8, 2013
    • Ed Sumner #

      Mr. Wembley, could you AT LEAST have the common courtesy to get my surname correct? It’s S U M N E R. Not “Summer”. Summer is a season.

      I am hardly misinformed on the topic. Christ never mentioned homosexuality by name, however since homosexuality is a type of fornication, He DID mention it in general. AND HE SAID DON’T DO IT. In order to allow homosexuality, you have to ignore the entire paradigm of Old Testament teaching on the matter. Not only that, Paul speaks to the matter, and as that worthy has said of himself, he has the Spirit of God. Romans 1 speaks to homosexuality. Galatians speaks to homosexuality.

      Can you tell me exactly where Jesus ever says that we are to love one another uncondiitonally? I have never found that verse. We are to love one another, this is true. However, there ARE conditions. We should be walking as Christ walked, agreeing with what God has said. If we do not, Paul says, such a person is to be set out of the Church. Paul had no problem excommunicating an individual who causing a scandal by having sexual relations with his own stepmother. Do you think for an instance that Paul would permit a practicing and unrepentant homosexual in the Church? I don’t. If you’re practicing any sin, and proud of practicing that sin, those who are repentant should be showing you the door (corporately) and as individuals refusing to associate with you.

      I honestly don’t where some of you have gotten your teachings, but they aren’t from Scripture. I’m done with you.

      November 8, 2013
      • Mr. Sumner,

        You thinking about homosexuality and your reasoning is 100% correct because it’s incisive. Many Christians don’t think incisively and have flawed reasoning because of flawed beliefs. People can use reason and scripture to justify anything. Nowadays, people use it to say homosexuality is “normal”. Reason only leads to truth if we want it to.

        Love has nothing whatever to do with being “nice”. However, we should never be cruel to others either. Jesus did command us to show love to people. But that does not mean be “nice”. Did Jesus “love” the Pharisees? Yes? How did he treat them? Nicely? No.

        Either he was a hypocrite, or these folks misunderstand what it means to love. Love DEMANDS discrimination. When you love one thing you hate another. Jesus said that. It’s foolish to think you can just blindly love everyone. These folks are confusing love with “niceness”.

        December 26, 2013
    • Jesus also never referred to child-sex trafficking, or abortion, or meth-dealing, or crudity in gangsta rap, etc.–so I guess that makes those things okay, right? . . . How can you be so utterly naïve and absurd in your reasoning here, Joel?

      November 30, 2013
    • andydoerksen #

      Jesus also never referred to abortion, child-sex trafficking, the slave trade, corporate or political corruption, meth-dealing, etc.–so I guess that means all those things or okay with Jesus, right? . . . Good grief, Joel, how can you be so naïve and absurd in your reasoning here? Talk about clutching at straws in your efforts to invent excuses for sin.

      November 30, 2013
      • andydoerksen #

        (I should have typed: “that means all those things ARE okay with Jesus”–and then I should also have proofread what I typed.)

        November 30, 2013
  9. Brilliant writing. My favorite part was the subtle “lubricating my relationships”, given the subject matter. I looked, and sure enough sex wasn’t a subject to be covered. That’s what she said.

    November 8, 2013
  10. Well said, Jayson. I truly appreciate your insights once again, (and I always get an extra chuckle from reading the colorful comment threads). Peace!

    November 8, 2013
  11. froginparis #

    LOVE THIS!! Particularly the “gay” teasing. Both of my boys dance (17&19) and are straight. Their first love is ballet, but all the other forms are included. Because of their chosen sport, they have gay friends. They felt trapped between both worlds. In “the world” there was some teasing, as to their sexual orientation but it was never as cutting as the stuff they caught from their Christian friends.

    The “worldly” jocks finally got it when the boys could out run, push-up or crunch them. The football players assigned to take dance in the first semester looked to one of my boys for instruction. It didn’t take long for the teasing to die away and respect paid.

    BUT the white “christian” boys they went to school and church with wouldn’t let it go. Teasing about what was and wasn’t “gay.” My boys would quietly laugh along because trying to defend themselves to people who choose ignorance was their path of least resistance.

    *Stepping off of soap box*

    November 8, 2013
  12. I love this list, and I love your commentors. I’m a first-time visitor, but I’ll be back! Thanks for handling off-the-rails commentors with class and style.

    November 8, 2013
  13. Michelle #

    “Continue to love each other with TRUE Christian love.” Hebrews 13:1
    “Never seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone, but love your neighbor as yourself.” Leviticus 19:18
    “So now I am giving you a new commandment:love each other just as much as I love you.
    Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John13:34-35
    “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged. And why worry about a speck in your neighbors eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log from your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your neighbors eye.” Matt.7:1-5
    One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “You must love The Lord your God with all your your heart, all your sou, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the other commandments and all demands of the prophets are based on these two.”Matt22:34-40
    “This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to SAVE SINNERS–and I was the worst of them all. But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.” 1Timothy1:15-17
    ***Bottom line is I am a sinner. I was born a sinner. We all sin..everyday. The greatest part is we can repent and ask for forgiveness. Who are we to judge ANYONE? I mean really? Once I am perfect without sin I can judge away. Clearly being perfect is NOT gonna happen. We are called to love. Love. Love. God made it a commandment. He didn’t say love your neighbor if they’re nice or love someone only if they not a cheater or a homosexual. We are to LOVE ALL. Good or bad. I am a Christian. I have a personal relationship with my Savior. He loves me without conditions. Lucky for me! That’s why He died on the cross. If He put conditions on His love, every single one of us would fall VERY short. We aren’t to put conditions on our love either. Maybe if people started loving more instead of judging, amazing things would happen. And for those who always point out homosexuality as a sin…Judging a person for it is a sin. We all need Gods grace and mercy in a big way. The ones we judge are people we should be loving and sharing the Gospel with right? And is it really fair to tell someone they can’t call themselves a Christian just because they aren’t trashing on people’s sins the way you think they should be? Tell you what…it’s hard enough to live in this world being what the world considers “normal.” Imagine being someone who feels judged and loved
    with conditions. It’s sometimes easier to turn our negatives feelings about ourselves or unhappiness outward towards others. That’s when we need to do a self eval. . I’m just gonna continue to love …bc I’m not perfect nor do I want to
    be. I will leave that up to God:)

    November 8, 2013
    • What you’ve written above is factual but not truthful. None of these scriptures address whether or not a male desiring to have anal sex with another is normal.

      Whether or not we need to love everyone is not what’s in question. The issue is whether or not we love homosexuals enough to tell them that in spite of their feelings, having sex with others of the same gender is not okay. That’s the real issue here.

      I don’t know of any serious Christian that questions that we need to love all people. But loving all people has NOTHING to do with telling people what is or isn’t right.

      It’s foolish to think you have to be perfect to tell another person not to sin. Sin destroys us all. It’s not love to fail to tell someone they are in error. It’s sin.

      Again, love is not the issue. We’re in agreement on that. The issue is whether or not God intended men to have anal sex with men. That’s the issue. You don’t determine what’s right based on what you feel like doing. You base what’s right on scripture.

      December 23, 2013
  14. Michelle #

    Sorry about the novel I wrote Jayson:) Just a tad passionate about it..I appreciate what you say!

    November 8, 2013
  15. southernhon #

    Agreed, but I’d title this blog, 4 Topics Everyone Needs to Stop Finding Funny.

    November 8, 2013
    • They do. But I am more concerned with how the people who claim that made in God’s image treat people than those who don’t.

      November 8, 2013
  16. In follow-up to your post, or maybe in conjunction, its helpful for me ask, “Does Jesus ever give me a pass for acting without love or compassion?” Conversely, is it ever okay to be mean, nasty or cruel, even when I’m being “funny”?

    Let’s also get this elephant out of the room. Being cruel, nasty or mean, to someone is not speaking the truth in love. The ugliness I’ve seen many Christians show towards LGBT people is disturbing and sad. Would Jesus act that way?

    Moreover, as you say Jesus never made a person the butt of a joke, or get a cheap laugh on behalf of anyone, including the “others”, such as prostitutes, Samaritans or tax collectors. Conversely did seem to give the ultra religious rule followers a hard time.

    November 8, 2013
  17. Zachary Erwin #

    Hello all this is one of Rebecca’s boys. I have read most of the comments and I find that Mr. Sumners comments to be completely off topic. The preface of that section had nothing to do with whether or not homosexuality was a sin or not. we all know that by Gods law THE ACT of having sexual relations with a person of your same sex is a sin, now for all of you that didn’t get that the first time it is THE ACT! AND NOT THE THOUGHT OR THE RELATIONSHIP that is a sin.
    thank you for your time and hope your world has even just a little bit expanded and if not then just keep scrolling

    November 8, 2013
  18. thecampwhisperer #

    I’m tempted to include an obnoxious comment about your tendency to voice everything in the negative (so I just did), but also really did appreciate this post. Once again, you manage to present yourself clearly and simply, but with a depth that challenges us to rethink how we act and think. Thanks!

    November 9, 2013
  19. theirishatheist #

    Funny how it’s only the atheist who can come on here and say “I absolutely agree. We need to be kinder to one another” without adding “But the dirty gays are perverts!”

    And people say I’m the immoral one….

    November 11, 2013
  20. KeninWA #

    Thanks for challenging me and reminding me that is in not funny when it is at the expense of someone whom God has created.

    November 11, 2013
  21. Marsha #

    I totally agree. I’m thankful that I am a little older, so “that’s so gay” was never part of my vocabulary, but the other areas have been issues where I have had to become more sensitive. I have a developmentally disabled son. I would fight anyone who used any word to hurt him. I do not find the word “retarded” wholly offensive because it just means slow… can we not even use it in the context of music? It’s only when it is used as a derogatory statement that it matters to me. I am a professional woman old enough to have endured a lot of both sexism and sexual harassment…. nothing with a gender bias is funny to me. I estimate that having been born a woman has cost me well over $1Million in lost income… just a fact of life. I certainly do not want to see our society try to remove all references to gender… that would be too awkward. I do, however, know that there are innate physical differences… frankly, testosterone is a great advantage in lifting, opening and pushing things…I just don’t have enough! I grew up in and live in the South, when I was little, the “N” was just a descriptive term used to describe all black people. As I grew older, and the Civil Rights movement grew, I learned and I have never used the word in any fashion, but that is not my only struggle with racism. I wish I could not see race. I wish I was like my son and had no idea that some people are white, black, Asian, Native American. To my son, people are just people! And “they” say HE is disabled! I do see a lot of “reverse racism” everywhere. As a minor example, it’s okay to have “Where Black People Meet”, and it’s okay for certain sororities and fraternities to describe themselves as “black sororities and fraternities”. Nothing is perfect, but as long as we are aware, and we are trying to overcome these issues, that is all we can expect.

    November 11, 2013
  22. I would add mental illness to the list.

    November 12, 2013
  23. Wow. Maybe I’m just clueless, or hard of hearing or something….I’ve been going to church for as long as I can remember–Lutheran and Baptist–and I’ve NEVER heard a comment like those. If I had, especially when I was young, it would have turned me off of Christianity altogether. I hear the hen pecking order sometimes, but usually its over mundane things. And you’re right, Jesus was against everything that was spoken above–its why I still practice Christianity, and take my kids to church to teach them about Jesus. I’m sure there are plenty of people who go to church who are racists, or homophobes, but I never hear it. That’s sad that you even would hear that in a church. Great article!

    November 19, 2013
    • There’s no such thing as a homophobe. It’s an invented word pushed by homosexual activists. A phobia is a mental disorder. It’s not a mental disorder to say that homosexuality is biologically wrong and morally sinful.

      The mental disorder would more likely exist in the person wanting to commit the act. Not in the person that sees it like God does.

      It’s funny how we’re quick to call people mentally I’ll for looking at things biblically, but in the next breath, say we should “love all” and that Christians should be more sensitive.

      Do we call people that disagree with us “God-o-phobes” or atheists?

      Strange how that works.

      December 26, 2013
      • I cannot for the life of me figure out why a blog post about not making light of homosexuality has become a place you feel the need to fight your ideological battle. The way I see it, this isn’t an issue of whether you believe homosexuality is the most grievous sin on the planet or you don’t.

        A. If you think that it is the epitome of sinfulness and you need to devote yourself to the comment sections of blog posts to make sure people understand your viewpoint. Then it’s too serious of an issue to make jokes about.

        B. If you think it’s wrong, but you still want to recognize the humanity of people who do things that offend God: divorce, gay sex, stealing, false teaching, pre-marital sex, abortion, but you still want to treat people with respect, then you should joke about it.

        C. If you don’t think it’s wrong, you shouldn’t be making jokes about it.

        I don’t understand why a request to treat others with respect becomes a lightening rod for people to beat their ideological drums.

        December 26, 2013
  24. andydoerksen #

    Jayson, in your section on gay-themed jokes, you wrote this line: “Sadly, the humor lies in the implication that there’s something wrong with gay people.” You mean, something wrong /other than/ their sexual perversion…? (But of course, we are /all/ morally perverted relative to the character of God Himself.)

    November 30, 2013
    • No Andy, I was not addressing morality; I was addressing humanity. If Christians think there’s an acceptable correlation between disagreeing with someone and making fun of them then this post will do nothing for them.

      No one deserves to be treated poorly, belittled, or dehumanized because you don’t like what they do.

      November 30, 2013
      • andydoerksen #

        I never suggested that anyone “deserves to be treated poorly, belittled, or dehumanized because you don’t like what they do.” I was reacting to your choice of words, which could be construed as implying that you believe homosexuality is morally legitimate. I was merely pointing out–in case that *was* your intended implication–that homosexuality is one of many moral perversions in a fallen world.

        I too have often been angered by how Christians have sometimes treated homosexuals (or any other stripe of sinner).

        November 30, 2013
  25. andydoerksen #

    I disagree–in part–with your point #3. I still say–and will continue to say–“retarded” in certain contexts, the same way one might refer to a person behaving “idiotically” or “moronically.” Bear in mind that terms like “idiot,” “moron,” “imbecile,” etc., were once scientific designations for degrees of mental disability. But I’d be willing to bet that if you heard anyone say that someone made an “idiotic” decision, you wouldn’t react with indignation to their use of “idiotic,” would you?

    Same goes for “retarded.” /Exactly/ like the other terms I’ve listed, it’s morphed into a colloquial rather than medical term, used to refer to someone behaving idiotically, or to an idiotic idea. It’s /not/ inherently a slam on the mentally challenged. But of course–like a lot of terms, in any language–context is determinative. So in a given social context it’s very insensitive to use the term “retard(ed).”

    But in the right context, it’s /not/ insensitive or unethical. So it’s not the term itself that’s the problem; it’s our (in)ability to discern the context in which we’re operating at any given time.

    November 30, 2013
    • bigby #

      Andy – using your logic, then it should be acceptable to use the words “d**n, a**, b***h, hell, f**k, etc. All of these words in different times and contexts have been used without offense. However, saying the word “retarded” or “retard” around a parent with mentally-challenged kids hurts deeply. You pose a legalistic argument that I think Jayson was challenging us to re-consider. We can all use the reminder to be kind to one another.

      November 30, 2013
      • andydoerksen #

        No–using my logic, you’d apply discernment to every situation. One of my pet peeves about today’s “Christendom” is that it’s chock-full of people who are either sensitive but undiscerning, or discerning but insensitive (more the former than the latter, I think).

        You just wrote that “saying the word ‘retarded’ or ‘retard’ around a parent with mentally challenged kids hurts deeply.” In other words, you just supported the very point I was making: your operative phrase is “around a parent with mentally challenged kids.” Obviously in that CONTEXT I /wouldn’t/ use such language.

        Then you went on to accuse me of “pos[ing] a legalistic argument.” Uh, no, I didn’t. I did the very opposite. I posed a CONTEXTUAL argument. It’s actually Jayson who was being legalistic (in a minor way though) by speaking as if there has to be a flat rule on the issue. Forming a strict, unbreakable code is in fact what’s legalistic, and that’s precisely what I /didn’t/ do. Instead, I offered a /contextual/ solution: discern the /context/ in which you’re speaking. If that context makes such language hurtful, then in /that/ context, don’t use that language.

        So, please rethink your perspective, but you clearly didn’t grasp mine.

        November 30, 2013
        • I am curious how you know the proper context for appropriate language. There aren’t t-shirts or arm bands for people with developmentally disabled kids.

          November 30, 2013
          • andydoerksen #

            There’s /always/ a context for every communication. Indeed, no communication between any two parties is /ever/ possible without at least some recognition of context, even if the parties involved aren’t fully conscious of it.

            If you’re in a social situation where you simply /don’t know/ whether or not someone present may have a mentally challenged family member–then that lack of information /is/ the context. And in /that/ context–lack of information–the ethically appropriate choice is to /avoid/ potentially offensive or inflammatory words.

            I use the term “retarded” only with close friends or family members who share my sense of humour and who I’m confident wouldn’t take offense at such language on my part.

            This applies to /lots/ of terminology, differing senses of humour, etc., well beyond the four issues you listed. And please understand: I don’t go around speaking insensitively in front of others. I’m actually known as a fairly sensitive person toward others; my reputation’s solid in that regard.

            I reacted to what struck me as a flat-out, no-nuance rule without regard to context.

            December 4, 2013
        • bigby #

          Still not sure how using the word “retarded” in any context is edifying. The word has morphed into an offense. Peace, bro.

          November 30, 2013
          • andydoerksen #

            Two points, brother bigby: (1) You still haven’t addressed my other examples: “idiotic,” “moronic,” etc. If there’s going to be an all-encompassing rule that ignores different contexts, then the rule should also apply to those terms. But I’d bet you don’t find those terms offensive–even though by the dictionary they mean /exactly the same thing/ as “retarded.”

            (2) When you say “the word has morphed into an offense,” you’re saying it in the form of a blanket statement, as if it applies to everyone in every situation. The reality is that /not/ everyone finds the word “retarded” offensive. If they did, then Jayson wouldn’t have felt any need to post on it. The word’s only an offense to /some/ people.

            I’ll give you a parallel case: my mother hates hearing people say “pissed off.” Me, I’m not bothered by it at all. There are endless examples like that. What makes the difference? Context.

            December 4, 2013
            • andydoerksen #

              I should add a further thought: While I really do /not/ want to speak insensitively around others, at the same time it’s well known that we live in a very politically correct society. A huge number of people in this society are easily offended by practically everything. Political correctness itself offends /me/!!

              Therefore when anyone says that a given term should be blacklisted, regardless of context, well, I just react negatively to that mentality. It’s a mentality that’s rule-oriented and, frankly, /fear/-oriented – rather than discernment-oriented.

              I would argue that /real/ sensitivity occurs when, rather than talk a certain way just because somebody somewhere made it a rule – we actually pause and think about who we’re with and what we’re saying and why we’re saying it.

              December 4, 2013
            • I am sorry that you feel like some guy on the internet is trying to restrict your freedom. I assure you, I am not. Even if I was trying to create rules, I really can’t enforce them. I think you’re probably going to be able to say whatever you like tomorrow without any reprisals. You’re welcome to label this discussion as “political correctness” and “fear-based” and dismiss it entirely.

              December 4, 2013
  26. Bigby #

    Andy – I totally agree with what you’re saying. Political correctness shouldn’t be our guide. So, if we are looking for “an all encompassing rule,” we can remember what Jesus said in John 13: “34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
    If you read my first post to Jayson, I was questioning him and his motives and coming from a position of moral superiority. I realize that this stance was wrong, and that he is just another beggar showing us where he found bread. In other words, he admitted how he has missed the mark and challenged us to reflect on the same attitudes and actions he is guilty of for purpose of being more conformed to Christ’s image. There are no words that can hold enough power to be forbidden, but if we use words in the context of loving one another as Christ loves us then we will never have to wonder whether we have offended anyone.

    December 4, 2013
  27. “Sadly, the humor lies in the implication that there’s something wrong with gay people.”
    Ummm. There isn’t? Please explain.

    December 19, 2013
    • I don’t care what your opinion about homosexual acts are, I refuse to entertain the idea that there’s something wrong with homosexuals that deserves to be treated with humorous derision or contempt.

      December 26, 2013
  28. I’m unequivocally certain that homosexual behavior is not okay. (I emphasize behavior, not feelings) Thus, I’m not trying to pretend that I’m here to have my “mind-opened”.

    I never got a reply to my question above. Admittedly, it’s a leading question. But the blog owner here seems highly intelligent and impressively articulate. I’m looking forward to hearing the biblical justification for anal sex between men. (Or oral sex between women). It’s pretty darn obvious that a mans anus was not designed for penile penetration.

    I don’t take the position that every person with homosexual attraction can just “choose to change” any more than I can choose to like men in a sexual way. But we can choose to engage in certain behavior or not. We can’t choose to like the way diet soda tastes. But we can choose whether or not to drink it at all.

    One of the basic teachings of the Bible is that our natural inclinations have to be measured against scriptural admonitions. What’s happening here is that we’re using feelings to define what’s right instead of scripture. Someone has same sex attraction, therefore it’s ok. Bad reasoning.

    Our command to love people has nothing whatever to do with calling homosexuality normal. This is not a matter of loving people or not. It’s an issue of morality.

    Did Jesus love the Pharisees? Yes? How did he treat them?

    Wrong is wrong.

    December 23, 2013
    • Sorry Hikmat. I have a whole life that doesn’t revolve around this blog, so I apologize for not responding to you in a more timely manner.

      I have no interest here in arguing about homosexual acts.

      Was I a little too provocative in saying that there’s nothing wrong with homosexual people? Perhaps. But I stand by it. I feel your response (as well as a couple others) justifies my position.

      When I say there’s nothing wrong with homosexual people that makes them deserving of insensitive jokes or derision, the response is “how can you say that!? Look at what they do . . .” I am not sure at what point this became the super sin that it has? The New Testament is so overt regarding the sin of greed or gossip, but it’s virtually ignored. We don’t wring our hand about the greedy agenda (although we should), we don’t look at gossip and identify the gossiper by their behavior in the way we do homosexuals (even though gossip is never consensual).

      There is one line in this that was intended to recognize the humanity of homosexuals. I am sorry that you are too focused on anal sex to acknowledge that gays are made in the image of God and deserve a modicum of respect.

      December 26, 2013
  29. andydoerksen #

    @Jayson: You said, “I am sorry that you feel like some guy on the internet is trying to restrict your freedom.”

    No need for facetiousness, brother. I’m just addressing a mentality that, if it goes unchecked, can be unhealthy for both church and society. I’m speaking in broad principles here–not at all suggesting that I find your blog personally threatening.

    I do notice, however, that you didn’t actually refute the items in my previous post.


    December 26, 2013
    • I appreciate your comments Andy, but I’m not driven by the need to refute the items in your previous post. I’ve noticed that, for some reason, you have decided you need to take up residence in the comment section of this post. I’m not really sure why.

      I wasn’t being facetious. I sincerely don’t understand why you’re so driven to refute the idea that we need to be sensitive to others or why there’s a need to dismiss any desire to be sensitive as political correctness.

      There are plenty online who want to get locked in a perpetual back and forth about every issue. I’m not one of them. I’ll accept that’s probably a weakness on my part.

      December 26, 2013
  30. Robin #

    Thank you for this! One I would add is addiction/ addict jokes. While they aren’t quite as prevalent as the above categories, they do exist and can bring much shame to those that struggle.

    March 12, 2014

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