My wife challenged me this morning on honking at someone that wasn’t accelerating fast enough for me (I almost missed a light). This has been an ongoing issue for us and so I decided to settle it once and for all with the Bible. I had one question going in, “Is it wrong for me to honk at someone who is preventing me from driving how I want due to their not paying attention or lack of driving skills?” I was pretty sure that I would find that yes it is sometimes OK and my wife just needs to give me more grace for when I don’t get it perfectly sometimes. So the easiest way to judge Christian behaviour is to look at 1 Corinthians 13 which gives a rock solid definition of love.
My argument was that honking to let someone know that we want to go is like saying excuse me when someone is in our way and we want to walk past them. An argument was made that since most people probably don’t feel loved then honking (except in danger) is unloving. I don’t see scripture that supports that yet. However, I lost it on at least two points, Patience and Provocation. Love is patient and love is not provoked. Not love is not easily provoked but love is not provoked. The definition of provoked is very revealing especially in the rush hour context –
“3947 paroksýnō (from 3844 /pará, “alongside” and oxys, “a sharp edge”) – properly, cut close alongside, i.e. to incite (“jab”) someone and stimulate their feelings (emotions); “become emotionally provoked (upset, roused to anger)” (A-S), as personally “getting to someone”; (figuratively) “to provoke feelings, spurring someone to action” (Souter).”
Love is Not Provoked
This specifically means that when someone is purposefully trying to get a reaction from us or to bother us we are to be able to discipline our emotions to not respond in a negative way or out of negative emotions. So if I want to honk I have to wait until I don’t have negative emotions or intent.
Love is Patient
Along with the above is that I am not to act out of impatience. If I want to honk I have to wait until I am not impatient. This is almost a subtitle of the above but comes up often enough that it deserves its own heading.
Consider Others More Important Than Yourself
Phillipians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” This means that I may not honk purely out of desire for some outcome for myself. This means that love first considers others needs. If that person was taking a long time did they want to enjoy a relaxed drive to work instead of rushing? If that person missed the light turning was it because they had other things that they wanted to work on instead of driving that might have been important? Now the frustrating thing about this one is that I don’t know what others might need or what is important to them. I am also not very good at imagining that. This means that I basically can never decide that my needs are more important than someone else’s driving needs unless I am in danger or my wife is giving birth (then the other person would be going faster than me not slower if their needs were more important).
In summary, I lose. Honking is never OK as a Christian except when
-there is a risk of danger
-I have already demonstrated patience in the situation
-and considered their needs
-and/or see that others needs are clearly conflicting with this persons (I have waited a long time and there are other people behind me that need to go
Well I might as well take out the horn from my vehicle…