The concern of Jesus — part 2
40 blogs of Lent — day 13
This passage is personal to me because of how it has been used in the past. I goes something like this.
If I am walking with a cup of tea and someone knocks into me what spills out is not tomato soup, but tea. In the same way when someone knocks into you and you react with anger it is because of the anger that is inside you. This is not necessarily true.
10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: 11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” 13 He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. 14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”Matthew 15:10–14 ESV UK
You are what you eat, they say. In that case last night I was a chicken breast, chips (fries in the US) and slaw. One of my many problems is that I tend to be over literal. I never see the figurative common meanings to things straight away. The opposite is also true, people do not see me or my reactions straight away.
I am autistic. I have meltdowns that are nothing to do with anger, but are a result of over simulation. One of the situations that trouble me is when a church meeting is split into discussion groups. I van hear voices from all around which makes it very difficult to join in with the group I am supposed to be in, I am unable to switch the other voices off. Add to that other triggers, lighting which is over bright or flickering and my brain fills up and I am unable to think or control my actions. What happens looks like a 5 year old having a tantrum. I am not angry despite appearances.
But the answer of some people is to come over and talk to me. Another avenue of stimulation is opened up and things get worse. All I need is to escape the over stimulating environment, 30 minutes to chill, to be calm. What happens is that people tell me that I have anger inside me and that is not Christian; all inside the room that is causing the problem without allowing me to escape. I am not feeling anger, I am feeling acute confusion at my inability to reason or control myself. What I need is that people know about Autism, and that they will listen to what I am saying rather than assume that they are automatically right and abuse me. Abuse is not too strong a word.
What has this to do with the passage above. When Jesus spoke about “what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” he was talking about deliberate statements, not things said under the duress of being in an autistic meltdown. It is what people deliberately choose to do or say that defiles them.
I would extend this to online too. Deliberate online stalking, starting shadow profiles and abusing people while hiding behind a pseudonym are, in my view of equal standing.