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Further Thoughts on a Faux Pas

We have had some fun the past couple of days discussing whether or not it is rude for a person to ask himself (or his family) to another person’s house. Opinion is divided but it seems that most people are siding with my wife and suggesting that I was rude to ask myself to a friend’s house. I continue to disagree.

But before I make this conversation serious, I wanted to point to a couple of comments that made me laugh. A commenter named Aaron posted some interesting biblical interpretation.

What we need here is some sound biblical eisegesis on the doctrine of the invitation system. For our text, we shall turn to the book of Hebrews:

Hebrews 10:25 - “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

First, we note that we must take care not to give up meeting together. So it is apparent that meeting together is good and should be continued. And how should we meet? “all the more.” If the onus of invitational responsibility lies always on the hosting party it is unlikely that meetings will increase all the more. Tim is being faithful to this passage by increasing the “meetings together” twofold by both inviting others over and inviting himself over to the abodes of others. If we all followed such a practice, think how much we could increase our meetings together! And we must not forget to encourage one another. This could mean that we should encourage others to have us over to their place. So I think this system of inviting oneself is not only biblical, but inevitable as we see the day approaching!

I appreciate Aaron’s eisegesis and feel that he builds a strong case, though one that does brutal violence to sound, accepted hermeneutical standards. Of course in this day and age, such eisegesis is accepted and even encouraged. So kudos to Aaron for his eisegetical masterpiece.

Another poster, Andrew, provided the following challenge: “If you can write a valid deductive syllogism from Scriptural assertions/deductions that shows that inviting oneself to someone else’s house is never rude, then she’s [Aileen’s] wrong.” He then said, “There may be a case where Jesus invited himself to someone’s house, perhaps Matthew or Peter’s mother-in-law?” And, of course, Andrew is right. Let’s turn to the nineteenth chapter of Luke.

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

There are two things that we must note in this passage. First, Zacchaeus did not extend an invitation to Jesus. Rather, Jesus simply stated that he would stay at Zacchaeus’ house that particular day. He apparently did so with no remorse and, in fact, suggested that he must stay. There was force behind his reverse invitation such that Zacchaeus felt compelled to obey. Second, note the reaction of this man. He received Jesus not with regret or reluctance, but with joy. Zacchaeus sets a pattern that we would do well to follow.

It is clear, then, that the Bible demands that we invite ourselves to other people’s houses. It also demands that, when asked, we receive other people with joy.

But in all seriousness, I thought the comment made by my mother was profound (and not just because she is my mother). She said, “I have found in life that most people are not interested in getting to know most people. When somebody does have a particular interest in me, I take that as being of the Lord. If they want to come and visit our home in order to get to know us, I feel I am doing God’s work in graciously serving them.” That is the example that was modelled to me when I was young. You may have noted that two of my sisters commented in the thread and both of them agreed with my perspective. Maryanne, who recently went door-to-door in her newly-built neighborhood canvassing for friends, said, “I think a self-extended invitation is a high compliment…and not rude at all, though perhaps unethical in our closed-door society…In suburbia, unless you force yourself kindly on people, they are going to be swallowed up by the garage every evening, and relationships will not happen. So, have at it.” Susanna offered the following advice: “I would say just make sure to offer to bring something if it is over a meal in order to relieve any pressure they may feel which would most likely be about having to make food.” I should have mentioned that my wife all brings a peacemaking salad whenever we go to someone else’s house. She may also bring her famous plagarized spinach dip with nachos.

So as my mother said, if people are interested in myself or my family enough that they ask if they can come over, I understand it to be an honor and privilege and will happily accept the invitation. After all, most people are not interested in getting to know most people. I love people and am always eager to get to know others. If that has to happen in my house and even at a moment’s notice, so be it!

And so I suppose the reverse is true. If I ask another person if he would like to have myself or my family into his house, I would hope the he would understand that I extend the invitation because of my admiration for him. I ask myself to his house because I am eager to get to know him. I would suggest that it is our culture that has taught us that it is an insult rather than a compliment to receive such an invitation.