General Question

cage's avatar

Why are blasphemous terms offensive?

Asked by cage (3114points) May 15th, 2008

I said (again) “Jesus Christ” today in college (which is a non religious college) and got scolded for it by the teacher who said
“Do you realise how offensive that is?!?!?”
She is Christian.

I just wanted to know why it is offensive, since in her belief (as is my understanding) it would be I who is punished by God, not her.

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41 Answers

Spargett's avatar

Talking about Michael Moore is offensive to Republicans. Offensive is all relative.

phoenyx's avatar

It’s because it is someone she cares about and you are treating that person poorly.

Why not just say “spaghetti monster”?

El_Cadejo's avatar

Because its something thats very important to them. Its just like if someone called your SO a bad name. You would be pissed off wouldlnt you? But they arent even talking to you theyre talking to them. Same thing.

Brew805's avatar

yeah, sometimes I don’t get it either. I had a teacher who cursed nonstop, but when someone said “jesus christ,” THEY were the bad person.

wildflower's avatar

It’s pretty much explained in the definition of Blasphemy: Blasphemy is the disrespectful use of the name of one or more gods

I second the idea of opting for the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the future

MrKnowItAll's avatar

Why pass up an opportunity to be self-righteous.

mzgator's avatar

I am a Christian. I do not believe that I should use Jesus’ name for any reason but to praise and worship Him. That is My personal belief. It is what I practice and hold dear. My faith is a very importatant part of what makes me Me. It hurts my feelings to hear someone being blasphemous.

Maverick's avatar

Just try to be respectful and blaspheme equally against all the fictitious gods.. Christ, Zeus, Alla, Athena, whatever. Its really not fair to exclude any of them. Perhaps the Christians will see how childish they are being when they hear you use Zeus’ name in vain and they don’t feel the urge to interject, even though its just as valid and blasphemous. Ya, I doubt it too.

wildflower's avatar

Can’t believe you left out the likes of Thor and Odin….......should I be offended?

Maverick's avatar

Well it would take me all day to list them all. Some children worship Santa Claus as a god, and most Westerners worship money, so those should probably be there too. And the FSM, of course.

cage's avatar

I’m really not getting this.
How did I offend her by saying Jesus Christ.
that is what he is!?!?!?!?!?!?!?


psyla's avatar

For Christ’s sake, will you please stop blaspheming the names of the pagan gods! It’s so offensive!

psyla's avatar

The only “True Gods” are the 120,542 Gods of Hinduism. I personally prefer Ganesh, the Elephant God. Did you know there are no swear words in the Japanese language? That would be no fun…

ccatron's avatar

the reason that it is found offensive to say is that the Bible specifically warns against it.

“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” – Exodus 20:7

“you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” — Deuteronomy 5:11

what do those verses mean? the popular interpretation is that “taking His name in vain” means that you shouldn’t say G D. Vain is defined as empty, no value, or futile. So, if you’re not praying or talking about Jesus Christ (part of the Trinity..Father, Son, Holy Spirit, with the Son being Jesus), then you are probably using His name as an expletive or not taking His name seriously. Did you use His name where you could have said a different expletive? So, in her eyes and many other Christians’ eyes, you were disrespecting the name and person of Jesus Christ.

@maverick – the Bible or any other document for that matter doesn’t say anything about taking the name of other gods in vain. so you are free to do so.

LunaFemme's avatar

Cage, u r probably never going to understand why she is offended because you don’t believe what she does. You are trying to intellectualize an emotional issue for her. At this point, she is offended because she knows you know it bothers her & yet you still choose to do it. Does that make sense?? I, personally, think it is a silly thing to be offended about but I try to be respectful of others beliefs.

I personally believe being offended is a choice. A word has no power, & I personally refuse to give anyone enough power to offend me. There is one word in this world that I hate. It is haole, whichs literal translation is newcomer in Hawaiian. Today it is used to refer to a white person & not necessarilly in a nice way. I grew up listening to people call me that word in a deragatory manner & to this day I cringe when I hear it.

So, now, rather than get offended, I try to educate people what it means to me and ask them to please not use the word around me. How an individual responds to my polite request tells me volumes about their character & how future interactions with them will proceed.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is don’t worry about understanding it, just know it bothers her & try not to do it anymore. You don’t need to antagonize this teacher. Just stay focused on passing her class & NEVER take another class from her again. Again, it sucks but it is the way the world works.

DeezerQueue's avatar

So what else are you doing with this besides asking about it on Fluther, if it is leading to conflict in the classroom? Ordinarily I wouldn’t be combative, but this is the second time you’ve raised the same issue.

Spargett's avatar

LunnaFemme is right when stating that you choose to be offended by something.

People call me a “fag” all the time because I have long hair, but I can’t take offense because I’m not gay. In addition to the fact that I don’t see being gay as a bad thing.

Or if someone were to call my mother something (fat, slut, etc.), it only matters if it were true.

But most importantly, you have to respect the person’s opinion who is making the comment for the words to have an impact. For example I’d have to care what some meathead thinks about mr in the first place when he calls me “fag!”.

cage's avatar

@ DeezerQueue
Actually last time I was complaining she was having a go at me, whilst there were people in the classroom doing much more offensive things to everyone.
this time round I’m giving an example to ask a question
“Why do people find blasphemy offensive?”
Not as you obviously think
“Why is my teacher bugging me
I think you’ll find they’re two completely different things.
Learn to read.

thanks, great answer. In fact I was tempted to ask her if she could explain why it was offensive, but I thought she’d just see that as an attack so I stayed quiet.

@ everyone who is saying I need to respect her views
I do.
I think the problem here is that, as lunafemme pointed out, I don’t and will not understand. I never say it in an offensive way because I don’t think it is. And I would never say it specifically to annoy her or anyone else! I just say it because I’ve been brought up with it as an acceptable term, and no one has ever complained about it to me before.

Thank you for actually answering my question! =great answer

jrpowell's avatar

I totally feel ya cage. I’m agnostic and I have noticed a few things. Christians usually feel like people are trying to destroy them. Huh. The census bureau would disagree. Idiots.

Duplicate the first. Christianity won the bid on eBay for hypocrisy. A++++ Would buy again.

cage's avatar

simply lol

jrpowell's avatar

And I should add that I don’t hate religious people. Just people that follow it.

And I should add that I don’t hate gay people. Just people that perform the act.

Randy's avatar

Christianity isn’t just about doing what God says and worshiping him. Its also about bringing others close to him. It would be hard to witness to people if you allowed some to mock the one you worship. Catch my drift?

If I was to say something derogatory about someone you cared about and you didn’t stand up for them, and they found out, how do you think they would feel? They would be hurt by the comment and a little hurt that you didn’t stand up for them. She was just standing up for someone she really cares for.

buster's avatar

how does a language like japanese not have swear words psyla?

LunaFemme's avatar

@Randy—if someone said something derogatory about someone I loved, I probably wouldn’t say much about it as that persons opinion probably doesn’t really matter to me. Conversely, I wouldn’t get too upset if someone didn’t defend me for the same reason, I probably don’t care about that person’s opinion. The persons opinions I most value would never speak negatively of me and I would never want them to put themselves in a position to defend me.

Also, thank you for so succinctly stating what my biggest problem with Christianity is,“It’s also about bringing others close to him [God].” It really bugs me when someone wants to bring me closer to their belief in their God. I understand it comes from a place of love and I always appreciate someone loving me enough to want to save me and I try to politely let them know I don’t wish to be saved and am glad they have a faith that works so well for them. I believe strongly in God, just not in organized religion or in the way Christianity tells me to and I wish people would respect me beliefs as much as I try to respect theirs.

DeezerQueue's avatar

@cage I know how to read, there’s no reason for you to get snippy with me. I said this is the second time you’ve raised the issue here because it is. You can ask 50 questions in the end to the Fluther community but in the end, will it resolve the conflict in the classroom if you continue to use it there without bothering to ask the teacher about why she’s offended?

DeezerQueue's avatar

Less one in “in the end.”

To directly answer your question, because it is their very nature to offend.

Randy's avatar

Let me first say that in Christianity all people are Gods children. Now let me reask; if your child was talking bad about you, how upset would you be?

LunaFemme's avatar

Isn’t it expected that ALL children will at one point in time talk smack about their parents? Isn’t that what being a teenager is all about?

I don’t have children so I can only speculate that it probably wouldn’t bother me as I would expect them to complain about boundaries I set as the parent. I think I would probably explain to them that I understand that they don’t like the rules, or me for making them, and that is okay. As they grow and mature this attitude will change. What is important is to understand that the rules are in place to keep them safe until the time when they are independent individuals and can be fully responsible for themselves.

psyla's avatar

buster, go to Wikipedia & look up “Finnish Profanity”. When Christians tried to eradicate Paganism, they turned the names of Christian deities & concepts into profanity! Japan never had this sort of “remedy”, so profanity never developed! LunaFemme, I never found the word “haole” used as a derogatory word in Hawaii! We all still use the word “haole” to this day to refer to a white person much as you’d say that someone was “black”, “Mexican” or whatever. DeezerQueue, rationalizing that someone got offended for an invalid reason is not the solution. It was what it was – she was offended. You cannot dictate to other people what they are allowed to get offended about! You need to apologize. Especially moreso since your grade might be…affected!

richmarshall's avatar

There is no definitive answer to this question. None of us have the same background or the exact same belief system. You can’t find any church (regardless of the religion), work place, sports league, book club, organization, Fluther, etc. with all of it’s participants holding the same beliefs or offenses.

The best you can do is ‘try not to offend others’.

Impossible task for sure, but you can try to do your best based on life experience.

LunaFemme's avatar

@ psyla – I spent the first 18 years of my life on Oahu. I cannot tell you how many times I was referred to as a piece of Haole s&$; growing up. Not to mention all the kill Haole days I lived through at school. I understand for you it might not be a negative & that’s great. In my experience it is a racial slur & I never want anyone to refer to me as that ever again. Thank you for respecting my feelings about this.

cage's avatar

I’d really like to thank all you guys for your views on this.
you’ve all been very useful in helping me to understand.

As I said above though, I just think the problem is I’m not a Christian, and do not believe in it, so I will never be offended by the term or find it that offensive.

jasonjackson's avatar

Meh.. I think people who are offended by “blasphemy” are being too sensitive, personally. When you exclaim “Christ!” when you stub your toe or something, all you’re really doing is demonstrating that you don’t cherish some of the same things they do. But really- isn’t that pretty much part of life? Different people, with different backgrounds, are going to respect & cherish different things, almost by definition; get over it.

Of course, it’s to be expected that such a demonstration will increase the social distance between you and people who don’t share your outlook – simple because you don’t share the same outlook. But being offended by your worldview (i.e. being offended that you don’t share their worldview, while not caring about what your own worldview might be) is a little silly, verging on hypocritical. IMHO.

On the other hand, if you’re going out of your way to offend people with profanity, then they’re right to be offended, since your whole purpose then is to disrespect them – in that case, you’re being a jerk on purpose, which is somewhat offensive. But it doesn’t sound like that’s what you were doing here.

Not to offend any of the Christians who have also answered this question; some of you gave very cogent and kindly-worded answers. :) I just happen to disagree with you.

Side question to those who are offended by blasphemy: why do you give others the power to bother you that way?

Randy's avatar

I wouldnt say that its giving others the power to bother us, as much as the power to stand up for your beliefs. I only talk to others about Christianity when they have an interest because if they arn’t interested, they couldn’t care less. I understand and respect that they believe differently so I wouldnt waste their, or my own, time. I don’t hide the fact that I’m Christian, but I’m not going to run around and offend others by trying to convert them to my belief. Some Christians see it differently though. One example could be this teacher.

DeezerQueue's avatar

But what about turning the other cheek, Randy? In fact I would dare to say that turning the other cheek is more about one’s own spiritual progression, part of spiritual detachment from this world.

Randy's avatar

To me turning the other cheeck and standing up for your beliefs are two compleatly different things. Another thing is, just because you turn the other cheeck doesn’t mean you should let yourself be trampled over. Christianity isn’t really about spiritual detatchment. In Christianity, we were put her to glorify God. We are here to worship him and do what we can to bring others to know his love.

Now, do I think that woman should have been offended? No. All people believe differently. I’m sure at some point, I’ve offended someones religon.

Critter38's avatar

I think being offended is about power. It enables the offended to control a situation by playing the emotional card.

Personally, I am a strong believer in supporting people’s right to be offended.

Critter38's avatar

Perhaps you could try to make her feel better by telling her that blasphemy is a victimless crime…

I think I saw that on a t shirt once…

Ivan's avatar

So the consensus among Christians in this thread appears to be ‘Because our book tells us to feel that way.’ How is that a reasonable answer?

justme1's avatar

Because that is what she believes I guess

esmewatson's avatar

Yes but the question was why it is offensive; too anyone, not just some bitch. Every second ‘christian’ you meet, or Salvation Army Worker LOVES to pull you up on any term biblical used in a cursing tone.
Due to my social conditioning and upbringing, I still say today at 29 years old words I picked up as a 3 year old like, jesus christ! Fkn hell! My God! for christ’s sake!
and probably therefore always will. I am a programmed average citizen, I chose to find this insignificant that I make these remarks and pity the fool that is offended by someone else’s choice of words.
I don’t believe in God, nor do I think religion is helpful or healthy.
In an effort to kick the whole story book called the bible out of my more than happy life, (as a NON BELIEVER) I wish I could stop hurting my arm and yelling Oh GOd!!
Since I can’t I choose to care more about paying the rent and making my kids happy.
Any way I have been surfing the origins of blasphemous terms to better understand their origins. Interesting stuff, It really has no merit to the average citizen as it is only blasphemous to do it angrily in a bid to entice anger from another or to taunt an enemy in war. This act was deemed offensive. It has no reference to uttering the words in a ‘believers’ presence as it is not directed at them. Yet due to the protective/defensive nature of ‘believers’ they jump on ANY opportunity to prove they love ‘god’ the most! more than anyone!
makes ya confused huh? but then they apparently understand th bible so shit just makes sense to them even if it is fucked up shit? I don’t get that shit

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