Is God Offensive?

(Matthew Mingus) #1

I have heard many people say that they find God to be an offensive concept, or that they feel like there are times when the Bible or God offends them, even though they do believe. So, I thought that I would try to shed some light into this issue and, hopefully, help provide a clearer understanding of why this seems to be a commonly heard idea.

Early in my development as a Christian, I would read my Bible with many emotions that I should not have held about such a task. I allowed myself to tread into the territory of feeling much like a child who is constantly asking “why do I have to?” with the obvious answer of “because I told you so” ringing out in response. Apart from that feeling though, many times there was a feeling of dread. I felt it every time I came across certain verses or passages that I did not particularly like. These verses and the ideas that they presented stung me in certain ways and offended my senses quite forcefully. Why would the Bible offend me? It is the living word of God, the absolute and perfect scriptures that He has revealed to us. But what if that is exactly the issue?

There is a certain stigma about the truth that it seems we have let slip into our lives without even having noticed that it exists. How often does the truth feel good? Are we more likely to give the truth to someone because we think it will feel good for them to hear? Or do we give them the truth because we believe that lying to them might feel better in the moment, but be more detrimental in the long run? There is no doubt that the truth is painful. Sometimes the smallest truth that relates to us can bother us all day when we hear it. But what about truths that relate to our character, how we live, even our very principles? Let’s face it, the truth hurts. It is especially painful when it involves such deep parts of ourselves such as our beliefs, our principles, our moral standing, and our sinfulness.

I believe that this is perhaps the exact reason that there are many times when the Bible hurts us or offends our senses as we read it. It is directly comparable to turning on the lights and watching all the little creatures, that were comfortable in the dark, flee from the light that has revealed them. When we allow God and His word into our hearts, I think pain, shame, and a certain dread is exactly what we should feel. If that is not what we feel in some capacity, then perhaps we have not truly opened our hearts to Him. Such feelings are completely natural when fallen and sinful beings come into the presence of the all good, all powerful, and perfect God that we serve.

Jesus Christ died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. But before sin can be forgiven, we must be sorry that the sin is there in the first place. The forgiveness of God requires repentance, which means that if we open our hearts to Him and accept Him, He will reveal to us those things which we must repent of and correct. He will reach into our hearts and our minds and show us what needs to be removed. The more we grow in Him and study His word, the more we will discover what needs to be fixed in our lives. This is because God desires to use us for His purpose, and to be capable of fulfilling His purpose, we must first stop fulfilling the world’s purpose. But that does not mean this will be a smooth transition. As with the little creatures that run from the light, so is our sinful nature to the light of God’s goodness.

In Genesis 3:8-10, we are shown that once Adam and Eve sinned, they were ashamed. They hid themselves from the presence of God when He came into the garden, because they were ashamed. We are not proud of our sin when it is revealed to us. It hurts to be shown how desperately wicked our hearts truly are. But just as it hurts when we put antiseptic on an open wound, so will it hurt for a time when God comes in to cleanse our hearts and make us new.

Finally, remember that sin is terribly destructive. It destroys and corrupts everything that participates in it. We are all guilty of sin, and that sin is forgiven through Christ if we accept Him. But the scars of our sin, the marks that it makes upon us will remain with us until we are given our new lives and new bodies. There may be times when the sin of the past may sting us like an old injury that occasionally flares up. So, if you have repented of your sin, and yet still feel that sting of shame, take time to pray and ask God to keep you from making the same mistakes again.

In conclusion, if you find yourself feeling offended when you read the Bible, if you feel as if you are ashamed, or that it hurts to read certain passages remember that growth does not come without pain. The fact that this is being revealed to you is not cause to retreat in shame, it is cause to charge forward through it. Recognize that this is something in your life that you likely need to focus on correcting and pray for His guidance. Be encouraged by the fact that God is taking the time with you to reveal the sin. That means He is working in your life and helping you to grow. God never promised to make such things painless, but He did promise to take our deserved death and replace it with eternal life.

I hope that this helps to clear up some of the confusion on this subject. Questions or Comments are welcome. God Bless you all and thank you.

Matthew Mingus

(Kathleen) #2

Thanks for sharing these thoughts with us, @mmingus36! I am curious if this this a talk you either have delivered or are going to deliver? I’d like to engage with some of what you have written, but I need to take a moment gather my own thoughts. :blush: brb…

(Kathleen) #3

Right. I’m back… :grin: I like that you’re engaging with the concept of being offended! There seems to be a lot of buzz surrounding it in our world today…esp. if you’re in America.

I wanted to first ask you about your personal story. I very much appreciated your frankness about the dread you experienced when you were reading the Bible as a younger man. Do you still sometimes get that dread today? If not, what’s the difference between your attitude/approach then and your attitude/approach now? Is God still saying ‘Because I said so’ to you?

I was intrigued by your statements/questions in the third paragraph, particularly when you use the language of pain when referring to the impact of ‘truth’. Are you speaking particularly of the pain (i.e. disappointment, embarrassment, shame) that comes from being convicted that we are in the wrong? On the flip side, have you ever experienced truth that is not painful, but reassuring, comforting, or freeing? I have no doubt that certain truths at certain times can be distressing, but I would venture that those truths are far outnumbered by the greater truths (and peace) that come with grace. Oftentimes, I find it’s the lies I believe that cause me the most pain, and God’s truth that brings the balm.

Really?? :thinking: I often associate those feelings with not opening up my heart to him. I find that shame and avoidance come when I am desperately trying to ‘earn my keep’ in His Kingdom. That is, the more I try to make myself worthy of His grace (an oxymoron in itself!), the more I don’t measure up and am racked with shame, so I condemn myself and avoid dealing with Him. I am thankful that God, while bluntly diagnosing the human condition, simultaneously speaks the words of grace and love that woo us back into relationship with Him.

Once again I am intrigued by your own personal journey. Do you generally feel bashed about by God? I myself have experienced some (not at all fun) seasons of discipline in my life, and each time, though the wounds were deep, God’s mercy and lovingkindness went even deeper. I hope you’ve known that in your life and not just the club of conviction to your head!

There are a couple of other things that grabbed my attention, but I’ll leave them be for the time being as it’s late here and this message is long enough already! But I’d love to hear your responses to some of these questions/thoughts. Blessings to you! :slight_smile:

(Matthew Mingus) #4


Thank you for your questions and for highlighting to me some of the areas that I can certainly see where I failed to really clarify what I meant. First of all, I was really getting at the early feelings I had when I was acknowledging God, but failing to change my life in the proper ways. So while I was reading my Bible and trying to really strengthen my relationship with Him, I was feeling quite dreadful at the time because of the sin in my life being more and more of a weight. My attitude/approach toward the Bible has improved significantly as I have grown and learned to let go of the sinfulness that I was holding onto.

On the painfulness of the truth, my meaning was that, while there are certainly truths which are not painful, there are times when we must acknowledge those truths that are painful, or we will fail to truly grow. Sometimes the truth does hurt, and it is especially in those times, I find that commonly they are truths that will help us to grow and continue to move our lives toward a place where we can be better servants for the Lord. I apologize if it seemed as if I was trying to say that the truth SHOULD hurt all the time. Sometimes I get so caught up with a particular point that I am attempting to make that I forget to provide the further clarification of what I am trying to say. What you say is very true, but I find that even those truths that hurt at first, open us up to a greater peace and joy when we are finally freed of the sinfulness in our lives.

Sometimes in my developing relationship with God I have felt that I have not fully opened up my heart to Him because of a certain dread or shame I feel about sin in my life. This is what I was referring to in my statement about opening our hearts to Him. While there are certainly indescribably wonderful benefits to doing so, I get the feeling sometimes from people that they refuse to do so because they fear what He will see. When we show Him the deepest parts of ourselves I think it can be difficult because of the amazing goodness of God being allowed to reveal our wretchedness. It is that bluntness that you spoke of that I was referring to, and I think that I probably could have said that better so thank you again for helping me to see where I needed to clarify.

As far as being bashed by God, not at all. I have never felt bashed by Him. Although there have been some deep seated sins in my life that I had convinced myself that I did not have to get rid of. I think when we do this we really hurt ourselves. God wants to be in a relationship with us, but there is room in our heart for only Him or our sin. I took a long time to realize this as I grew and any bashing about that I received, was well needed. God has a way of showing us the things in our lives that are wrong and I am so glad He does.

I am glad you answered as I now see that I should have clarified some things much more. Thank you for pointing those things out and for helping me to see some of the shortcomings that I still have to overcome in my writing. My intent here was more to focus on those things that we may consider offensive, but actually have a deeper purpose than offending us. But our sinful nature would much rather convince us that God is offensive and we should not pay any attention to Him. I think that is part of the problem in our culture today where we are so afraid of offending someone that we sometimes neglect to say what we should. I thank God all the time that He does not do that, but rather He comes right out and shows us what we need to fix.

Thank you again Kathleen. It is so great to be able to talk to people on here who can help me to recognize and overcome my shortcomings. Thank you for pointing these things out to me and please give me any other questions or feedback that you have. I will try to clarify some of the things that I am saying more carefully in my next post. I am by no means perfect, but I am so glad to have the support of other believers such as yourself to help me grow. God bless you Kathleen and thanks. I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Matthew Mingus

(Kathleen) #5

Hello again, @mmingus36! Thank you so so much for taking the time to clarify your thoughts, and I’m glad to know that God isn’t always bashing you about! :wink:

I do actually agree with a lot of what you say. The truth about ourselves (our sin nature, as you put it), when it comes to light, can be volatility unsettling, traumatic, overwhelming, and all sorts of ugly. You mentioned the ‘sinfulness that [you] were holding onto’, and I smiled to myself thinking about those times in my life when I hold my idols (those things that I worship that are not GOD) in such a death-grip. And when GOD figures it’s time for me to give one up to Him, it’s my instinct to shout “No! Mine! My precioussss” and run as fast as I can in the other direction! :running_woman:t3:

I am so very thankful for God’s word of peace, His pursuing grace, and of His loving work of reconciliation. :slight_smile:

Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey with us!

(Matthew Mingus) #6


That is very true. It can be so hard sometimes to just let go of those things that we know we should, or that we know God is telling us to get out of our lives. In those moments it sometimes feels as if the sinful nature we all have is telling us to be offended that God would tell us to change our lives in such a way. Especially in this perpetually offended culture that we live in, it can get blurry at times. This is part of what makes that close relationship with Christ so important. It keeps us focused on the right path, and lights our way, even when we get a little lost.

Thank you so much again for all your helpful comments and questions Kathleen. God bless you. I hope you have a great day.

Matthew Mingus

(Warner Joseph Miller) #7

Thx @mmingus36 for starting this topic and for the insight both you and @KMac shared. Reading what you both have written only aid in making the information you guy’s have given robust and well-rounded. So, thanks a million and well done!:+1:t6:

I’m essentially echoing the sentiments of what both of you have said. Truth can hurt! This is evidently true especially with regard to Gospel truth. To tell someone that they are (sinfully) sick, are unable to cure themselves and are in need of a Savior – Someone other than themselves – is incredibly offensive…particularly in our Western, self-actualization, self-realization, self-affirming culture. This is certainly the case relative to a prideful person, regardless of geography. I think that the measure of how much the truth hurts – specifically the Gospel truth – is in direct proportion to how much pride we carry with regard to a certain thing. For the person who rightly sees their sin and recognizes their need for something or Someone other than themselves to make them “right”, the Gospel of Christ can be a refreshing brook; cool water on a sweltering day. That’s humility. However, for the person who doesn’t see themselves as being “that bad” or “not as bad as this/that guy”, then the concept of repentance and grace is disdainful and resentful. I love how the NLT Bible translation puts it:

So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.” ~ 1 Corinthians 1:23 NLT

Christ crucified is offensive - or stumbling block, in other translations. We understand, then, when Scripture says that God “rejects the proud but gives grace to the humble”. (James 4:6) Humility is at the very core of belief. A humble man sees and admits his depravity while acknowledging his need. A prideful man resents and is thereby offended even by the very notion.

Thanks, again, you guys for the great post and follow-up! Grace and peace!:v:t6: