In the last few weeks, months, even years in our society, we have been too quick to take offense at some slight, perceived or real.
See my post below on the blog comment exchange I had with Elizabeth Kaeton. I used the term "reappraiser" thinking it was emotionally neutral. She took offense at it. Now, being human, we will always be confronted by people who offend out of ignorance - and out of a desire to offend (unfortunately).
As Christians, what should our response be? I find that I am not far wrong when I assume that someone doesn't mean to offend. I often try to educate the offendor that his/her actions or words are offensive. Most of the time, people offend out of ignorance and not out of spite.
What do we do, then, with those who desire to offend? First, I think the most effective thing we can do is to not take offense. They are trying to get a rise out of us. We should react with love and charity towards the offensive people. It disarms them! Particularly in the little cyber-wars we have been having. I find it effective to let my "opponent" rant and rage while I remain (or try to) cool and reasonable. The best defense against offensive speech is to the the offender keep talking! The whole world will see what an ingorant and offensive and close-minded person they are.
How, then, should we behave in our dealings. We will offend someone. We should never never use epithets like "bottom feeder" or "priestess" or "nazi" let alone other epithets. If we find that we have used a term that offends someone, ask for education as to why it is offensive and then find a way to not use it. Sometimes we will be successful and sometimes we won't be successful in not attempting to offend. When in debate, we should always engage the other person's arguments and not their persons.
In short, we need more charity on all sides of the discussion. You cannot claim the "other side" is offensive when you are using terms like "bottom feeder" or "priestess."