Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

Insult Becomes Compliment

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2009/01/27

A couple millenia ago, a certain group of people started calling a different group of people a bunch of “little christ childs.” The “little christ childs” took the derisive term as a badge of honor. The name has stuck with them for over 2000 years now. It is the name “Christian.”

The song Yankee Doodle Dandy came from the new Americans’ accepting as a badge of honor a term the British meant as derisive.

Those are two examples from old history of insult becoming compliment. I have had similar, but much less earth-shattering, experiences in my life.

When I was in high school, I could be counted on to interject a Christian perspective into the secular debate of the high school curriculum. I did it all the time. I remember one particular incident. As I was leaving Geology class, something caught my ear so I stood in the doorway of the classroom to listen. A girl had gone to the teacher to ask him a question of great interest to me. “What does he do? Read the Bible every day or something!?” The question, and its delivery was so full of attitude it was easy to understand. The girl was shocked and amazed and disgusted by the fact someone would actually read the Bible in the first place, let alone read it regularly.

Now I readily admit I did not read the Bible every day then and I read it even less now, but her derisive attitude still stood. And it was that very derisive attitude toward those who read the Bible regularly in general and me in specific that caused my week-long emotional reaction. I was on an emotional high for the rest of the week. To this day, any time I remember that event, I get a “chill” of pride running up my back. To be counted as one closely associated with my Savior, despite my own glaring short-comings, brings me great joy.

I have heard and read many words about insult and derision. I have heard and read many words from those insulted or derided who have taken them as badges of honor. I have also heard and read many words from the insulters and deriders mocking people. “How can you claim I tried to insult or deride you if you’re claiming it as praise at the same time? Aren’t you being hypocritical? You can’t have it both ways, you know.” As a whole, and in general, I feel sorry for these people. But when it comes down to specific instances, I suffer from the fact I am so much less than Jesus. I do not feel sorrow or pity; I feel anger and frustration toward those who claim my shifting their insult to praise is hypocritical.

It does not change the fact that many derisive comments, many insults, many dysphemisms have been taken as badges of honor by the intended victims. It does not change the intent of the comments.

One Response to “Insult Becomes Compliment”

  1. sailorette said

    Sounds a bit like my response to those who look down on Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    I agree with them on…well, little to none of their odd points.

    That said, it’s still rather admirable to bike from door to door, and even end up 50 miles from the nearest other human home (as happened when my mother was visited) to spread the Word.


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