This sermon is part of the sermon series "Holy War". See series.
I went to a university that was known for its basketball team. The students who attended the games (like me), were known as the sixth man on the team, because of our persistent vocal support of what was going on on the court. We had all sorts of cheers, but one of the things we were best known for was our creativity in taunting the opponent. Many of these taunts were sophomoric, but our best taunts were reserved for those individuals whose guilt, whose worthiness for the taunt, transcended their mere presence on the opposing team. So one year when the player was introduced who had earlier been accused of assaulting a pizza delivery man, he was greeted with empty pizza boxes thrown onto the floor. Or when another player who had been arrested for joyriding was introduced, he was greeted by a sea of car keys jingling. The list goes on, and it doesn't get any nicer. My freshman year, in fact, we all got a letter from the president of the university telling us to reign it in. It had gone too far.
There comes a point in basketball, even in ACC basketball, when taunting ceases to be good, clean fun and becomes instead the quite destructive language of the bully. For taunts are, in fact, the native language of the bully. Long before he dominates his victim physically, the bully will almost always seek to humiliate his victim verbally. In fact, sometimes that's all he's got to do to get what he wants. Taunting is a powerful form of speech. Some of us have very unpleasant memories of having been bullied, of having been taunted publicly.
In essence, the taunt is an attempt to demonstrate that the victim deserves what he is about to get, and that there is nothing he can do to stop it. Which is why for most of us, real taunting ...
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