Honking the horn: Being helpful or being rude?

Most people would describe me as a VERY laid-back, easygoing personality. But when I get behind the wheel of my, ahem, sporty, 2016 Volkswagen Jetta, I get a little crazy. For some reason, in the privacy of my car, I become less patient and more ornery with others. Well, for one thing, the stakes are much higher when you’re speeding along at 60 mph and the driver in front of you does something really stupid that endangers both of your lives. Still, I’m trying to be more patient and forgiving of others as we share the roads and expressways. I have not always been the perfect driver, either.

In contrast to me, my wife is a very bubbly personality who always tries to be effusively nice to people. Well, maybe not always.  🙂  Anyway, my wife and I have an ongoing dispute over one of my specific driving habits. Here’s the scenario: I’m cheerfully driving down the road with my wife in the passenger seat, but must slow down as I approach a red light at an intersection. There’s one car ahead of me also waiting at the red light. The traffic light finally turns green, but the car ahead of me is not moving. I give it a few quick seconds, but then beep the horn to alert the driver ahead of me to stop looking down at their smart phone and start driving. I don’t overdo the honking. Just one quick, respectful beep to catch the preoccupied driver’s attention

In the above scenario, my “happy” wife invariably becomes quite incensed with me because I was “rudely” honking at the other driver. She thinks it is much kinder and nicer to just sit there and wait patiently until the distracted driver has a chance to look up and see for themselves that the traffic light has turned green. I have explained to my wife countless times that, in the above scenario, I have an obligation to the cars waiting behind me to get the stopped driver moving. This is a situation where being too patient and too “kind” could lead to bad consequences. It would be rude to the drivers behind me not to help them rightfully advance through the intersection before the light turns red again. A frustrated driver in such a situation could easily become aggravated and take dangerous risks. Also, what about oncoming drivers who are desiring to make a left turn at the intersection, but are waiting for the distracted driver who remains stopped at the green light? Should they go ahead and turn and risk a collision? No explanation satisfies my wife. To her, honking at an inattentive driver is just plain rude and wrong and she will reflexively scold me every time I do it.

Yes, sometimes being married is work, no getting around it.

Certainly, the Lord commands us to be kind, patient, and forgiving. Road rage is sin, no two ways about it. But as Christians, we also have an obligation to our fellow drivers to “wake them up” and alert them to the circumstances if they’re not paying attention. Hmm, I see there’s also many spiritual applications that can be plumbed from this “gripe.”

“Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:15-16

12 thoughts on “Honking the horn: Being helpful or being rude?

      1. In this scenario, it’s really a warped understanding of being “nice” and “kind.” Not alerting the inattentive driver is irresponsible and dangerous.

        This brings to mind that many/most Christians are put off by those who expose false teachers and false teaching. Discernment is actually quite offensive to them. They would rather just hold hands with everyone who also claims to “love Jesus” and sing Kumbaya together.

        Liked by 3 people

  1. We had someone lay on their horn a while back, we got over and for some reason in this particular town going around someone is considered very rude. Honestly, I’ve never been flipped off by so many sweet looking grandmas in all my life. If you get in the highway here you can expect to go 10 under the speed limit and if you attempt to go around they get aggressive. Often times they drive side by side so no one can go around. I thought it was just me at first, but we asked other travelers and they’ve had similar experiences. It’s so weird! A quick honk is polite, and helpful, laying on the horn for half a mile is weird.

    I love the spiritual application you give, brother!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for all the good comments, sister! Yes, the county next door to ours is rural and I’ve noticed folks living there take it upon themselves to “enforce” driving regulations and/or acceptable norms.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Using a phone while driving is illegal here and it has been proven to cause more accidents than anything else, therefore these people are very dangerous and deserve a long continuous blast on the horn.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good post! I see this as analogous to the role of warning others and rebuking others in ministry. Of course that doesn’t mean Christians agree always when to use the “horn” but there’s got to be a time and place for it…

    Liked by 1 person

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