Sunday Sermonizing: Why Do We Have To Be So Mean?
My boss wrote an article published by the Gospel Coalition this week. It was a good read, encouraging Christians to consider the possibility we're looking at refugee and immigration issues in the US the wrong way - and, perhaps, there are some things to reconsider. Maybe we care a little more about "safety" than we should.
A controversial subject in our political climate, to be sure. But real food for thought and consideration.
The comments on The Gospel Coalition's Facebook post prove the controversy. We need to work on the thought piece.
I'm actually concerned, and found the comments beyond troubling. My concern isn't disagreement. That's something the church in particular, and society in general, has had to deal with since the Fall. It's the way we disagree. The vitriol and hostility in the comments of that post were flat out disturbing. It seems we don't know how to have differences of opinion any more.
In my younger years, I was somewhat skilled in debate. I enjoyed the art of rhetoric and found it enjoyable to engage point and counterpoint games with others. Debate can be fun.
Then I got married. Younger me found out quickly that this was not a great approach for disagreements in the marriage. Not really appropriate - or fun. I had to find a better way - a more Jesus-like way - to work through disagreements in my marriage.
Christians need to find a better way, a more Jesus-like way to disagree with each other about current political issues (and apparently a lot of other things) because the name calling and personal attacks I see in Facebook comments is not Christian and it's a poor way to express differences. I feel like secular message boards are better behaved than Christian website comments.
As I think about it, there seem to be a few things we could do to have a more constructive debate.
Let's generally not argue on the Internet
This article is important. A counterpoint article would also be important.
Arguing the merits of these articles in comments seems futile.
Facebook, Twitter, and Blog comments are generally poor places to resolve a dispute - especially on issues of importance. I'm not saying there's not a time and place (and probably a way) to discuss differences of opinion online. However, I wonder if many of the more emotionally charged issues are best left for in person discussion over a cup of coffee. The "discussion" (using the term loosely) in The Gospel Coalition's Facebook comments is not accomplishing anything. It's not changing anyone's opinion, nor is it exemplifying any sort Christlikeness to any who might be reading from afar. Arguing on the Internet rarely accomplishes much more than stress.
It's my personal rule. I don't argue on the Internet. If you want to argue with me, we'll do it in person like people.
Let's be slow to speak while getting all the facts
There's a lot of misinformation being presented as fact in these comments. Whether leaning to the political right or the political left, we should all be careful to read widely, think discerningly, and carefully sift through all of the information before publicly asserting we know the truth. We live in a polarized world where the truth is often skewered in the name of perspective. Speak carefully while fact-finding. Otherwise it's very easy to end up with one's foot placed squarely in one's mouth.
Let's not get personal
The thing most disturbing about the Facebook comments for this article is the personal attack on the author. I happen to know him. Personally. The things said about him are both mean and untrue. It's fine to disagree. That's normal human behavior. It's not fine to personally malign and attack. That's not Christian. We need to get better at this.
Spending this week in Asia, has been a refreshing break from the relentless onslaught of the current muck of American politics. But, I'm concerned that Church in America is more divided than America's political world.
I'm concerned our brokenness has reached new levels.
We need healing.
In the process of seeking to better love, we also need to better disagree.