Pause for thought by Ray Dadswell: please don’t give offence

What do all of these have in common: postcard, Police Constable, public convenience, Probate Court, pie and chips? They are all p.c., which you guessed straightaway, of course.

You also realised that the most frequently-used expression today with the same initial letters has to be ‘political correctness’.

A while ago, I chatted with some friends on this subject, which I often think of as a malicious excuse designed as much to take away our freedoms as to protect the minorities, and we came up with some interesting ideas.

One of our number, Angela, commented that Jesus himself, born into a Jewish community, would very likely be considered racist if he were living in the 21st century. “I’m thinking of the story in Mark chapter 7 of the Greek woman who approached the Lord requesting deliverance and healing for her daughter who was possessed by an evil spirit. At first reading, we would say that he was exercising unashamed discrimination. In the end, though, after a confrontation, he did as the mother wanted.”

Nothing of the ‘gentle Jesus, meek and mild’ here, then. On occasions, he would call children to him, true, but when it was needed, he would speak condemnation to the religious leaders.

“On the other hand”, suggested Phil in our mini-debate, Jesus invented equal opportunities by putting women and disabled people on the same level as men. Without doubt, he went against the social prejudices of his generation.”

A different view again was put forward by Lionel, who thought that Jesus was not political at all. “He brought the Good News to everyone, foreigners as well as his own compatriots. His final commission to the disciples was to ‘go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature.’ After his ascension, the disciples started out from Jerusalem, and the apostle Paul set his attention on Rome.”

We, in our generation, are led to believe that political correctness means not giving offence in any situation, but when we look into the matter, we find it impossible. Jesus, however, did upset his hearers. Constantly. He would be in real trouble in our day, wouldn’t he? And so he is.

When we approach Easter, we recall that the Lord proclaimed a totally revolutionary message, and would never compromise in exposing hypocrisy. He suffered for his Father’s honour. Would the same thing happen in 2013?

Listen also to G.A. Studdert Kennedy, an army padre and poet in the First World War, who likewise didn’t over-subscribe to political correctness ...

‘When Jesus came to Golgotha they hanged him on a tree,

They drave great nails through hands and feet and made a Calvary;

They crowned him with a crown of thorns, red were his wounds and deep,

For those were crude and cruel days, and human life was cheap.

‘When Jesus came to Birmingham they simply passed him by,

They never hurt a hair of him, they only let him die;

For men had grown more tender, and they would not give him pain,

They only just passed down the street, and left him in the rain.

‘Still Jesus cried, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”,

And still it rained the wintry rain that drenched him through and through;

The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,

And Jesus crouched against a wall and cried for Calvary.’