In today’s politically correct culture we are often told that we should make sure we do not offend people when we are speaking the truth of the Gospel. We are also told that we need to make sure we are speaking the truth in love. But what does that mean? Does that mean to not offend? Does that mean we should do everything to make sure that feelings are not hurt? Are we really supposed to go about our preaching and teaching in such a way that nobody can take offense? The answer is NO!
The idea that we are not to offend people does not come from Scripture. This is the construct of a culture that is obsessed with being politically correct. A culture that believes there are no absolutes and that everyone can believe what they want to believe and that is true for them, except Christianity. The truth is this, the Bible is an offensive book to those who do not follow it. The truth is offensive to those who wish to reject it. And, could it be, that when feelings are hurt by hearing the truth it isn’t really their feelings but their conscience tugging at their soul because they know they are in the wrong?
But what about speaking the truth in love? Doesn’t that agree with the do not offend and don’t hurt feelings viewpoint? First, where does this verse come from and what is it talking about? It is true, Ephesians 4:15 says that we are speaking truth in love. Of course, this one phrase is taken out of the full context of the passage. The greater context of the passage is talking about speaking against false teaching and unity in the body of Christ. It is not saying to not offend. It is saying to be loving enough to care about people and having them be taught correctly. We are to speak the truth out of love for those who are in error. This does not mean to not offend. This does not mean feelings will not be hurt.
Of course, we don’t have to only look at the context of Ephesians to know that the idea of not offending anyone is not biblical. All we have to do is look at the lives of the people in the Bible, including Christ Himself.
On multiple occasions Jesus called the Pharisees a brood of vipers (Matt. 12:34, Matt. 23:33). John the Baptist used the same phrase (Matt. 3:7, Luke 3:7). Do you think they were worried about offending the Pharisees with these statements? Do you think they were worried about their feelings? Better yet, do you think that the Pharisees were not offended by these statements? Of course not!
Or what about turning over the tables in the Temple? When Jesus rushed through the Temple turning over everything and driving out the money changers do you think He was worried about their feelings or offending them?
Jesus said in John 15:18-19 that the world will hate us. They hate us because they hate Christ. They hate us because they hate truth. The Bible and Truth is offensive to them. Darkness does not like the light.
So no, nowhere does the Scripture say that we are not to offend people. We must necessarily offend people because the truth is offensive. Now, this is not to say we are to be mean. But we also shouldn’t cower in fear of hurting someone’s feelings when we speak the truth and stand up for the correct teaching of Scripture.