Offending God


#1

I'm cautiously working my way back toward Catholicism. Haven't had much faith for many years, and I miss the Church. Someone said I should just proceed as if I do have faith and that it will come. That's a tough row to hoe. However, that's not really the point of this post. It's just to sort of let you know where I'm coming from.

My question for now is this: I just came across the Act of Contrition---haven't really thought about it or read it for a number of years---and the question of "offending" God occurred to me. How on earth can anything you or I do offend God? Doesn't that presuppose some level of surprise on the part of the Deity? i.e., I can't imagine God saying, "Wow. I never expected that out of him. How disgusting!" For one thing, Got is perfect, and he's my creator. And he knows everything. It just seems, logically, that there really can't be much question of our offending Him. At least not in the way I understand that word.

Thoughts?


#2

The problem is that the way you understand the word is wrong. :smiley:

You offend God not because you surprised Him, but because you deliberately hurt Him. He may have known you would do it, but it certainly still offends him.

Let’s suppose you were very angry with your next door neighbor (and he knew it so he would not be surprised) and you kicked him in the . . um, shins. Would he NOT be offended? (and possibly litiginous?)


#3

Do you ever experience guilt for a decision made when only you know the decision you made? If so, then you have offended God. We were all given free will to choose. Either to offend God in order to please ourselves and our lusts, or to make self sacrifices for the edifying of God’s people. We sin agains ourselves just as much as we sin against God. Who’s God anyway?


#4

I think perhaps you have a misunderstanding of the word “offend”, it has nothing to do with surprise. Offending God would be disrespecting Him, dishonoring Him, not living by the Commandments, etc.

thefreedictionary.com/offend

of·fend (-fnd)
v. of·fend·ed, of·fend·ing, of·fends
v.tr.

  1. To cause displeasure, anger, resentment, or wounded feelings in.
  2. To be displeasing or disagreeable to.
  3. a. To transgress; violate: offend all laws of humanity.
    b. To cause to sin.
    v.intr.
  4. To result in displeasure: Bad manners may offend.
  5. a. To violate a moral or divine law; sin.
    b. To violate a rule or law.

#5

The basic problem, by my way of thinking is this: If I have it within my power to offend God—i.e., to cause him some kind of mental anguish or repulsion by the things I do—then does that not place me in a weirdly inverse power relationship with Him? i.e., I’m powerful enough to change the way God feels about something?


#6

[quote="aarontassin, post:3, topic:178384"]
Do you ever experience guilt for a decision made when only you know the decision you made? If so, then you have offended God. We were all given free will to choose. Either to offend God in order to please ourselves and our lusts, or to make self sacrifices for the edifying of God's people. We sin agains ourselves just as much as we sin against God. Who's God anyway?

[/quote]

I understand what the concept of offending God means, and the sort of thing that is said to cause it. My problem is whether or not it's really possible to offend the almighy, omniscient, omnipotent creator.


#7

Thanks. Yeah, I know what the word offend means. My point was that offense usually carries a level of surprise with it. As in, "Jenny, I’m offended by your belching at the table. I never would’ve expected that of you. " Usually, it seems to me, offensive things are somewhat surprising things, too. But I can see that word sort of threw you off track. My comments to the above posters should clarify my question.


#8

Let’s go back to your neighbor who knows that you are angry with him. You call him names, you threaten to kick him, then you kick him. That is offensive. He certainly isn’t surprised–you told him you would kick him. You didn’t have a ‘power’ over him; you simply used your free will to choose to kick him. And he is offended. Now, given that he is, say, the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, your kick probably won’t hurt him for long. He’ll be good as new, but your offense in kicking him has a consequence (possibly a charge for assault and battery). Now who winds up in the position of a loss of power (and possibly freedom?) You do. . .


#9

[quote="Tantum_ergo, post:8, topic:178384"]
Let's go back to your neighbor who knows that you are angry with him. You call him names, you threaten to kick him, then you kick him. That is offensive. He certainly isn't surprised--you told him you would kick him. You didn't have a 'power' over him; you simply used your free will to choose to kick him. And he is offended. Now, given that he is, say, the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, your kick probably won't hurt him for long. He'll be good as new, but your offense in kicking him has a consequence (possibly a charge for assault and battery). Now who winds up in the position of a loss of power (and possibly freedom?) You do. . .

[/quote]

I see your point. And the neighbor, being a human, probably has not much choice in the matter of being offended. He'll be offended. My action changed his mood, and understandably so. God is different, though. He's perfect, he's omniscient, and all the rest. What you're really saying is that my action is going to *change *God---in a small way, yes, but change nonetheless. That seems absurd.


#10

I think I see where you’re confused. If your child said to you one day “I hate you!” you would be offended, very hurt. But you wouldn’t be changed as a person. It wouldn’t even change your relationship with your child because as a parent you know that it doesn’t mean anything in the long run. It’s not an exact analogy, but pretty close to our offending God. The offense is in what we do, not in how it’s received.


#11

[quote="Porcupine, post:9, topic:178384"]
I see your point. And the neighbor, being a human, probably has not much choice in the matter of being offended. He'll be offended. My action changed his mood, and understandably so. God is different, though. He's perfect, he's omniscient, and all the rest. What you're really saying is that my action is going to *change *God---in a small way, yes, but change nonetheless. That seems absurd.

[/quote]

Hi Porcupine. Welcome to CAF!

First off, we are so very, very limited in our knowledge of God and His ways, that we do our best, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to verbalize understanding of God.

Of course, from scripture, we know God is a jealous God and He gets angry. How could a perfect, omniscient God get jealous and angry? I don't know, but it appears it's true. Yet he still loves us. Angry and loving. Offended and loving.

I was journaling one day in prayer and I was dumbfounded by how God can still love as he does in the midst of our sinful, sometimes downright evil existence. I felt like God was saying, "No, you will never grasp the love I have for you. It is beyond your understanding. Your sin does not change my love for you. It is not within man's power to change how I feel about my creation.".

As I've walked in my journey with Christ and grown closer to Him, my sin is "offensive" (from my perspective)...I know how much God loves me and I desire to respond to that love, but instead I do the exact opposite. And I feel it, oh how I feel it.

Does God love me less? Nope. It's not possible. Can he be displeased (the only puny word I could come up with in my limited human intellect) with my actions? Sure. Aren't parents displeased with their childrens actions at times and yet still love them?

When I pray the Act of Contrition from the deepest place of sorrow and regret, I pray those words with great sincerity. I understand where the author was coming from. In my mind, I am prostrate before the Lord, not wanting to look upon His goodness, saying "I detest all my sins...because they offend you, My God, WHO IS ALL GOOD AND DESERVING OF ALL MY LOVE." I may be assuming more offense than was taken (again, we are limited by human intellect) but how else can we put into words the amount of love God has for us and our failure to respond to that love, even reject it? I guess we could say--hurt you, disappoint you, anger you (thought I think offense and anger don't go hand in hand).

Another version of the prayer

My God,
I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In chooosing to do wrong and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you
whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with your help,
to do penance, to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In His Name, my God, have mercy.

You can also make up your own prayer of Contrition. It is not dogma that you have to say that particular Act of Contrition. What matters is the sincerity of your contrition.

Sorry for rambling.:o

Happy Advent!
Teri


#12

Ok lets try this another way.
You are being disobediant to your father as a rebelious child. He instructs you not to drink and drive he tells you and tells you many times. Even though you love him you are parting with some friends some night your ride leaves you so you drive drunk.:( CRASH) next thing you know you are in a ditch the other car has two little kids in it and they are hurt.
FLASH
You are in the hospital with back injuries and a fractured leg. In walks your dad he has heard the whole story and knows just what happened.
How do you think he feels????? :shrug:
Hurt,offended that you didn't respect his advice.
See you didn't damage his property but he loves you and knows now you will have physical and emotional pain from this disobediance.
He could have stopped you from going out anywhere but he trusted you and gave you your freedom.
I hope this helps

Start praying every day for God to send you help, understanding, compassion and zeal.
I WILL PRAY FOR YOU BROTHER!!


#13

[quote="seagal, post:10, topic:178384"]
I think I see where you're confused. If your child said to you one day "I hate you!" you would be offended, very hurt. But you wouldn't be changed as a person. It wouldn't even change your relationship with your child because as a parent you know that it doesn't mean anything in the long run. It's not an exact analogy, but pretty close to our offending God. The offense is in what we do, not in how it's received.

[/quote]

Well, it depends on what you mean by changed. To be hurt, even slightly, is to be changed. (I know, you're saying that the deep core of my feeling for my child wouldn't change, and you're probably right (unless the child is, say, 35 years old), but it's the taking offense, the being hurt that I'm speaking of as the change---a slight change, granted, but one that you wouldn't think I'd be capable of bringing about in God's case.)

If the offense is in what we do, not in how it's received, then "offend" seems to be the wrong word, since it's a transitive verb that takes an object. i.e., to say that someone "offends" means that someone else is offended.

I guess my original point was that it feels silly to apologize to God for "having offended" him. It might make more sense, to me, to say something like "God, as you can see, I am clearly a nitwit; I can't seem to be good for more than five minutes at a time. I'm really sorry about that."

BUT, even the apology there at the end feels a little false. I'm apologizing to the God who created me and who knows me better than I know myself? Why is the apology necessary, unless he's somehow offended or requires a bit of groveling before he'll agree to let bygones be bygones?

Sorry, I know this is a complicated thing.


#14

Hi Teri:

Thanks for the thoughtful post. I see where you’re coming from. I think I agree with the main point, if I understood it correctly—that it’s clear to us that we’re doing things wrong, things that are out of line with the way we’re supposed to behave, but that we really have no knowledge of how those things affect God. So we’re left feeling the need to somehow unburden ourselves, castigate ourselves, for missing the mark. And our “apologizing to God” is really a way of expressing our disappointment in ourselves and promising ourselves that we’ll do better.

Sort of?


#15

I understand the various ways in which God/dad/neighbor can be offended. I’m saying that offending God has to be qualitatively different than offending any other entity, since he’s perfect, etc. No matter how you slice it, stories like this still seem to me to be saying that my actions can change God’s feelings. And it seems impossible to me that my transgressions have the power to alter God, even in that slight way.


#16

[quote="Porcupine, post:14, topic:178384"]
Hi Teri:

Thanks for the thoughtful post. I see where you're coming from. I think I agree with the main point, if I understood it correctly--- that it's clear to us that we're doing things wrong, things that are out of line with the way we're supposed to behave, but that we really have no knowledge of how those things affect God. So we're left feeling the need to somehow unburden ourselves, castigate ourselves, for missing the mark. And our "apologizing to God" is really a way of expressing our disappointment in ourselves and promising ourselves that we'll do better.

Sort of?

[/quote]

Thanks Porcupine.

that it's clear to us that we're doing things wrong, things that are out of line with the way we're supposed to behave, but that we really have no knowledge of how those things affect God.

I would say, not "no" knowledge, but very limited understanding in how God thinks/feels. And if we're at a point of even praying an act of contrition, then we must be at a point where we realize are actions are a contradictory response to God's love. The only way we get to a point of contrition, is because the Holy Spirit is working with us to experience God's love and the affects of sin.

*So we're left feeling the need to somehow unburden ourselves, castigate ourselves, for missing the mark. And our "apologizing to God" is really a way of expressing our disappointment in ourselves and promising ourselves that we'll do better.
*

I repent because I love God. It is an unburdening (same as when I apologize to someone), which is such a beautiful affect of repentance. I would say, early on, I repented more out of obedience, since scripture tells us we need to, but that's before I loved God. Knew of Him, didn't particularly love him.

Either way, God loves us. My repentance doesn't make Him love me more, just as my sin doesn't make Him love me less, even if he is offended by it;)

Peace,
Teri


#17

[quote="Porcupine, post:15, topic:178384"]
I understand the various ways in which God/dad/neighbor can be offended. I'm saying that offending God has to be qualitatively different than offending any other entity, since he's perfect, etc. No matter how you slice it, stories like this still seem to me to be saying that my actions can change God's feelings. And it seems impossible to me that my transgressions have the power to alter God, even in that slight way.

[/quote]

Well, once a person gets an idea into their head that's erroneous it's really hard to get it out. You cannot change God, God is unchanging, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. No matter what you believe you cannot change Him. But God has feelings. He loves everybody and it is His desire that all men be saved. Yes, you can offend him by sinning because that's His nature as God but you are not effecting a change in Him.

Sorry, you're just not as powerful as you thought you were!


#18

Well said, Teri. I think my problem probably starts with a fairly lousy level of faith. I'm trying to work on that.

THANKS


#19

[quote="Porcupine, post:13, topic:178384"]
Well, it depends on what you mean by changed. To be hurt, even slightly, is to be changed. (I know, you're saying that the deep core of my feeling for my child wouldn't change, and you're probably right (unless the child is, say, 35 years old), but it's the taking offense, the being hurt that I'm speaking of as the change---a slight change, granted, but one that you wouldn't think I'd be capable of bringing about in God's case.)

[/quote]

Don't forget we are made in God's image. Do you think he's incapable of emotion?

I guess my original point was that it feels silly to apologize to God for "having offended" him. It might make more sense, to me, to say something like "God, as you can see, I am clearly a nitwit; I can't seem to be good for more than five minutes at a time. I'm really sorry about that."

:rotfl:
I've actually said something exactly like that!

BUT, even the apology there at the end feels a little false. I'm apologizing to the God who created me and who knows me better than I know myself? Why is the apology necessary, unless he's somehow offended or requires a bit of groveling before he'll agree to let bygones be bygones?

You're apologizing because you did something wrong and you know it. You need to acknowledge your sinfulness and promise to try to do better. Putting it into words, saying it to God rather than just thinking vaguely about it helps you to realize that it's not just about "you", it's about your relationship with God. If someone you love was always doing things to bug you but never apologizing for it, wouldn't that offend you? The other person could say "well you know I love you and I'm sorry, why do I have to say it?" Wouldn't you say "well it's still nice to hear it"


#20

All you need is a mustard seed!! God will work with you :slight_smile: There are times I picture Jesus very excited saying, “Come on, Teri! I have such a great adventure ahead for you!”

I’m sure he’s thinking the same about you:thumbsup:

Praying for you,
Teri


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