Saturday, 24 January 2015

Are there limits to insults?

Pope Francis was correct in his interpretation of the Gospel when a person one loves is deeply insulted or hurt by the behaviour of others. Unfortunately today, secularists and public leaders confuse insults against a person with insults against that person's loves.

This is all embedded in Christ's reaction to those who insulted his Father's House by turning it into a marketplace, and He, “meek and mild”, reacted angrily by taking up cords, whipping those involved, turning over their tables and chasing them out of the Temple.

In that very same incident He responded to those who questioned His authority by pointing out that they could in fact insult and destroy His person, which they later did, and He would undo all their evil by re-building Himself. From this we can accurately conclude that Christians must follow the practice of turning the other cheek when somebody insults them or even kills them, but woe betide anybody who insults those whom he loves and that includes the Church and all therein.

Let us put this into a secular context: you would be in trouble if you burned the Union Flag in the USA, or if you threw your shoe at the Head of a Country, and in the Armed Services all have to show the utmost respect for the Queen, her Ministers, the Flag and Officers who are her representatives by Royal Commission. These very forces are used to defend the national way of life and their loved ones or else they would be mere mercenaries offering their lives for worthless money. Heroes are created by this love for what is dearest to them, and few service personnel would fight merely to support law makers' dubious overseas policies. The only acceptable justification for risking one's life is to defend that which one cherishes and loves in our families and our country.

We cannot condone those Muslims who react to those who insult their beliefs - which they would die for and many do - by killing them. We also cannot condone those Muslims who destroy Churches and kill Christians because they don't accept their beliefs while paying lip service to respecting elements of their belief. What we do demand is that their reactions should be within the norms of acceptable behaviour: to punch a person on the nose when seriously provoked may be frowned upon but viewed sympathetically within the context of the provocation, but killing is rightly viewed as a punishable crime.

So Christians should react to defend that which they love: their families, way of life, culture, Church and Sacraments. Otherwise, people will rightly conclude that they don't care about these things and will continue to attack and insult them. The authorities today are quick to admonish any sign which might upset Muslims because they know that Muslims care, and rightly so, about matters concerning their beliefs. Christians have the right to the same consideration or one day they will angrily react to the increasingly insulting provocations and attacks on their way of life and faith in increasingly godless Western countries.

Those law makers and churchmen who cried out against Pope Francis are either hugely ignorant of the Gospel or hypocrites. These very people would be the first to hit out in outrage against anybody who insulted or attacked their precious views, loved ones or sacred cows.

Placing this issue in its right context: if there is nothing which we feel strongly enough about and would react to defend then either we have no feelings whatsoever or are, worse still, psychopaths. There are acceptable ways of reacting and sometimes in the last resort in defense of our loved ones and way of life, it may require force within the bounds of a justifiable and proportional response.

So thank you, Pope Francis, for reminding us of the difference between personal insults and insults against what we love and cherish; one we have to accept, the other, if we care enough, we cannot.

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