Hateful Christianity in Social Media
To be honest, I have a love-hate relationship with social media, Facebook in particular. I love finding out what other people are thinking and doing, but I am deeply disturbed at the way some Christians use social media to disagree with others. Here’s why:
The “Up Yours” Effect of Isolation
There’s something about the safety of isolation that brings out our worst. You know – the mild-mannered individual who, on strapping in behind the steering wheel, reverts to thinking that their horn and middle finger are the two most important implements for getting their way on the road.
Or in the electronic space: how many angry emails have you received and sent over the years?
Yep, isolation tends to give us a sense of safety, and apparently, a license to behave badly.
Enter social media.
Let me use abortion as an example. It’s one I’m passionate about, because I know (Psalm 139:13-18) that the moment a child is conceived, there is a person, made in the image of the Living God.
But as passionate as I am on the issue of a child’s right to live, tears welled up in my eyes when I saw a Christian post an image of Michelle Obama on Facebook, holding a sign that had been photoshopped to read “Baby Killer”.
The arguments of Hateful Christianity – now there’s an oxymoron if ever there were one – will never win the day. There are a few reasons for that:
The God of Love
It’s easy enough to believe that God is love in the relative safety of a church building, or a Christian family, or a home group of supportive Christian friends (although even there, it can be a challenge sometimes to live out His love, right?)
But what about when you’re confronted with something – like, in this case abortion – with which you vehemently disagree? Not because it benefits you to do so necessarily, but because you’re outraged at the taking of innocent human lives. Then what?
Answer: ask yourself what would Jesus do?
Well, of course He managed to get angry a couple of times – traders in the Temple, hypocritical Pharisees, faithless disciples – but remember, His anger was only ever directed at those who should have known better; those who professed to believe in God.
How was it that Jesus reacted when Peter decided to lop off the ear of one of the people who came to arrest Him?
Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. (Luke 22:50,51)
Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. (Matthew 26:51,52)
It simply wasn’t Jesus’ way to lash out in that way. Anger was for Him, by far the exception, rather than the rule – even though He spoke plainly and directly.
Correcting with Gentleness
To the contrary, Scripture implores us to correct with gentleness:
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
It seems that God is more interested in their salvation, than in us winning the argument. And how we respond to people with whom we disagree, speaks to them of the God we purport to represent. Our vitriol, in short, is likely to be a stumbling block to their salvation. Now …there’s a scary thought!
Wisdom is never based on hatred. Wisdom is always based on love and sacrifice. Always. The Bible tells us that the time is short, and we should make the most of the time that we have available:
Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15)
Screaming at the world, and telling people how wrong they are and how far they’ve strayed from God never works. Let me ask you, when someone comes at you with angry vitriol, does that ever convert you to their way of thinking?!
Let’s Go with Something that Works
What works, is speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:14-16). What works is wisdom that stands out from the crowd, because it is expressed with a love so sublime, that it cannot be ignored. Love always overcomes evil. Because where love is, there God is in all His power; there God will work with a supernatural power to bring about His purposes – a power that makes our angry little tantrums appear so … small and ineffective.
Does that mean that we have to be weak and wishy-washy? No.
Does it mean that we shouldn’t confront evil when we find it? No.
Does it mean that we shouldn’t speak out? No.
It means that whatever we say and do should so manifestly exemplify the sacrificial love of the God who sent His Son to die not just for us, but especially for every last sinner with whom we disagree, so that our argument simply cannot be ignored; so that Christ is glorified through us.
It means that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, so that we may be children of our Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:44)
People won’t always agree with us. That’s a fact. But they are much more likely to be won over by an argument of love, than of hate; of encouragement than of vitriol; of true wisdom than of the world’s “wisdom”.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. (James 3:13-18)
Abortion – My “Argument”
So, for me, when someone comes at me telling me that I don’t have a womb and how dare I impose my chauvinistic, outdated religious views on “a woman’s right to choose” here is my reply.
No, I’m not a woman, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to carry a child inside me that I don’t want. I simply cannot imagine. But here’s the thing. In this whole debate, there is one party that cannot speak and who must remain silent. It is the child.
And let me say, with all the love and respect that I can muster, if I were that child – I would ask you to give me the chance at the life that lies ahead for me. Good, bad or ugly, just give me the chance. Bear me to full term – and afterward give me up if you don’t want me – but please … give me the chance to live my life.
Would you do that for me?
And I pray for them. Because I know that even when I can do nothing else, prayer for the sinner is the single, most powerful thing that I can do.
The test should always be: “Am I speaking the truth in love? Is what I am saying the truest reflection of the God whose Son died for every sinner on this earth? Do my words, bring Him glory?”
Thank you got your wise biblical words. May I ask you a question? In your opinion, is it okay for Christians to speak out against issues on social media that break our hearts and the heart of God (such as in the area of abortion) as long as we’re not being belligerent or mean spirited? It seems that many Christians feel that we should never use social media…such as facebook….to speak out and voice our opinions. We are living in a time when Conservatives are looking more like liberals so voting isn’t necessarily our voice anymore. I would love to know your thoughts. Thank you and God bless!
THE ANTI SOCIAL NETWORK AND ME I live in a small isolated town where all the churches except the Cathilic church have closed down. This town is full of sin and I didn’t know any christians then and I now know that’s why God in His infinate wisdom put me here, (even though I was trying to do a Jonah and get away from Nivenah). So I had to join facebook to get onto another site. I thought cool I can see all my family on here and catch up on what’s happening. Then I thought why not find some Christians to talk to, bad move. First thing was these guys talking about their new tattoos and one had one for his dead mother so I quoted the tattoo scripture and was told that that part of the Bible wasn’t relevant any more. I then watched what everyone was doing and realised that basically these guys were witnessing to each other with out actually having any meaningful contact and love was not the priority. When I said a few things I was told I was looking for a revival and was eventually kicked out of the room. I also noticed on the sides of the facebook page were a lot of ads promoting gambling, video games etc and decided it was much like other media, full of traps and Satan really is making the most out of the air waves. I would urge christians to be very carefull. These things can be used for God’s work if one is called to do that otherwise it’s better to be very wary of them. Brent
We cannot judge or condemn the other person whether he is a Christian or not. We cannot argue also. We can only share who we have accepted as our Saviour in a spirit of tolerance. Ultimately we can share as much as we wish in words, but our actions speak louder. Even our actions are often sinful. So we must also say that we are sinners; or else we would not need His grace. I am sad by the way many Christians judge and condemn muslims instead of showing love.
Once again, the voice of wisdom. I have to confess, there are times when I slip up, but there are posts of others that I delete immediately. I do not like seeing pictures of our PM with a penis as his head, or references to ex PM backside etc. I detest these Christians who are full of vitriol and utter hate against people they do not like. Supporting violent protests and signs calling for all sorts of horrid actions towards their object.
Recently, I fully supported the campaign to BRING BACK OUR GIRLS. The Nigeria situation. Well, I don’t think I need to tell you the posts the haters put up with Michelle Obama with superimposed signs saying she is this or that. I am not a big fan of the Obamas but I will not resort to calling them filthy names. I am not a supporter of our own Labor, but I am not going to slag off at them.I say what I don’t like about their policy and if they have a policy that I agree with then I say it, but boy oh boy, don’t I cop a heap from anti Labor people.
I am also supporting the West Papuan Campaign. I have great trouble getting Aussies on board with this simply because of their utter HATE for the Greens and illegal immigrants, of which Greens are doing something about.
Anyway Berni, you have once again jolted me into thinking before I give my opinions on facebook without making sure it does Jesus proud.
Thankyou and God Bless you.
What a beautifully thoughtful post Bernie. Thank you so much. To run everything we write and say through the filter of “what would Jesus say” has to be such a vital and effective way to conduct our lives, particularly as the stain of the words we use in social media lasts. May so many be touched by your gentle and loving wisdom here I pray. God Bless you and all that you do. Your friend in Jesus 🙂
I have been alienated because of what I stand for and on. I WILL NOT tolerate any verbal profanity, sexual innuendos or anything a a person will not do face-to-face.
Inspired wisdom, Berni! Thank you for your solid biblical insight into a huge international abuse.
Thanks brother B for your caring & life changing input! Before I came to Christ I know it was the loving caring faith filled Christians who impressed me the most to come to Jesus & live! It is the love of God that draws us in… AMEN? Vitriol was a new word for me brother B… TY! Vengeance is Mine… saith the Lord… let us put our concerns in the palm of God & He gives us supernatural power to overcome, forgive & even love our enemy! I’m glad we don’t have to “like” our enemy… because lol sometimes I don’t even like myself! Lol! We just got to love them! It’s so simple but not easy sometimes! Ask God for the power to forgive & He will show you how by His example Amen? God bless you.& family & ministry! LOVE IN CHRIST, jayne <
Again Berni, I am in awe of the word of God and how it speaks directly me. This is a topic which I have been thinking about a lot recently. You know, it’s so easy to get embroiled in social media chat without thinking of the consequences. One action, a thought or word can get us into such a lot of trouble. It’s so easy to take our opinion and make it public, in the heat of the moment, and sometimes without asking What Jesus would do or say in the same situation.
It’s very difficult to retract something once it’s out in the public domain.
Christianity seems fair game these days for anyone having a pop. It’s inevitable these days that you will read something, regarding all faith groups not just Christianity, where believers are the target of some hateful comments. Some real hurtful stuff gets posted online and as followers of Jesus we take it personally. These comments might as well be to our faces.
Jesus asks us to love our enemies more. My prayer for all those determined to undermine Christianity is one of hope and love towards them, that God’s grace may cause them to seek Jesus and to repent. Look at Paul, is there a greater example in the Bible of how those against us can turn around. Only by God’s grace and through the Saviour.
There is no room for hatred with Jesus in our hearts. We have to always look to Jesus first and let the fruits of the Spirit guide us in how we should respond. You never know it may be the spark that person needs to make them question their belief.
As always Berni a wonderful message, and may God bless your ministry.
People tend to seek out ratings on sensitive issues while disguising themselves. In this case they spill out venom thinking they’ve helped only to cause chaos. As God has called us to sit down and reason, if many took this stand we could have a check on many riots, destruction and division caused by people using social media as a launching pad on spiritual matters.
God’s image is tarnished not only on FB, but also in the wider public media. I think of the way the ‘church’ has failed for years to resolve its stance on the same sex issue . Where are the prophetic voices of anointed leaders that declare the way of the Lord so that people can be clear about what God’s Word actually means? God is not a God of confusion, as may be perceived from the way the ‘church’ is still quarreling over abortion and same sex issues. It’s a bigger thing than Christians on either side of an issue expressing their beliefs in love. People need to hear about and follow a God they can trust.
Thank you all for your comments and perspectives. Keep them coming …
I really applaud the way you have express all this, I am sure if every christian read this article they would understand what it means to speak in love and walk in the spirit. I think as christian should spend more time in the word of God so to understand what is really going on in the world today.I truly thank you for this article may God continued to strengthen you.
I think you have the right way of handling the argument. We need to handle people with love those who are not Christians and those who are. Remember the bible says the toung is the hardest thing to tame. When dealing with people we have to pray and youse the wisdom of the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Great thought Bernie! We seldom forget that we are products of God’s love and thus should radiate same even in our words. God make us love-filled Christians.Amen
Hi Bernie, I try and listen to your message on 92.9 on my way to work so it’s so nice to have your devotionals via email. It’s hurtful to watch Christians lose it in the public arena, people then judge God that way. Some signs written on Church boards can be very judgmental as well. There was one with a double meaning about the person taking the issue of government funding for School Chaplains to the Supreme Court. The sign was changed when the person challenged them in the local paper. not nice.
Yes very well said. The same goes for people that stand on the corner of streets shouting out the gospel message. That is never helpful.
Even though I use social media I don’t use it to discuss views on anything. Rarely do I comment, this is a rarity. People use the social media to say what they are afraid of saying in person. We all have thoughts and like The Lord states he who hasn’t sinned cast the first stone. We should respect others opinions as we would like ours respected.
It is a case of putting your foot in your mouth. We need to think through our feelings about an issue before we react in word or action; we need to allow the bravery of forgiving someone and bridling our temper. Too many times we see results of “one punches” which sets up a landslide of reactions.
Thanks Bernie Awesome piece! It has needed to be said for a long time now. Pete Australia
Love it! Thank you…totally agree. Well spoken and very, very truthful.
Yes, very true, a very good lesson for those woman who go for abortion. Because that is killing a God’s child, and simply is against God’s command ” do not kill “. We all can only pray for those victims, and all media should all speak very loud against it. Thank you, Bernie, for all your effort to help others. God bless you and your family.
We need wisdom from above to speak the words of love. There are times however that the truth hurts – His Word is like a two edged sword, it’s accepted in faith or rejected. Bernie, I like how you explained that what we communicate on FB should be for the benefit of the reader and not stir up strife or anti- Christian sentiment – is it possible though to always avoid offense?
Rodney, no. Of course we can’t always avoid offence. The truth is offensive to many, and for those Jesus is a stumbling block. But what we can avoid is accusatory, belligerents and downright hurtful vitriol. When we treat the sinner with dignity and respect, we demonstrate the love of Christ while disagreeing with them.
Bernie, thanks for the post. Your are right that you don’t have to go to social media to see Christians behaving badly … just look inside many churches. The difference is that the rest of the world sees the social media behaviour whilst unfortunately the body of Christ on earth suffers the internal bad behaviour. I also agree that angry, hateful arguments are usually about trying to beat (up) the other person not about winning or loving them.
I couldn’t agree with you more Bernie. So much damage is done by some of the words Christians speak and the judgements they make. Jesus indeed came so much more for the sinner. Abortion is a tricky issue. So many people have little understanding of when life begins and that a child even though not fully developed is a living person right from the moment of conception. The far reaching effects of abortion on the mother are also little understood by many. It’s interesting as I write this I am aware of how little teaching there is in the church body on just how precious a new life is to God. I think in my 64 years of going to church I have only heard one teaching on the subject. God bless you Bernie as you explore this subject further.
I enjoyed your article and it also reminded me of situations when you may not agree with the actions or decisions of friends/family and how we should respond. Thank you for the reminder.
Re. Abortion and “My Argument”. Thank you. Well thought through.
Thank you for this. I agree with all you have said here. It is good that you deal with the facts of the issue themselves. I hope many will read this and be challenged. I have worked with teenage mums who have chosen to give those babies a life rather than abort. I suggest that if people feel strongly and are able then this is a great place to serve and to pass on any parenting and life skills they have. It is grass root stuff and invests into where Gods heart lies… In my opinion . Blessings to you. Kathy
Very well said. Thank you
I could not agree more with your insights. I do not usually write on the internet, but not too long ago our U.S. President said and did something I found very much against God’s Word and one of His people. It made me angry – not biblically angry, just angry, and I certainly did not respond biblically. I went right online and posted a response in anger. Nothing profane, but certainly not graceful. As soon as I sent it, I began to feel the Holy Spirit convicting me. Some of the Scriptures you mentioned came to my mind. I repented, and asked the Lord help me not to post anythiing again until I had first prayed about it and made sure it was something that would bring honor to Him, not dishonor Him. I teach and practice biblical counseling, and tell people in conflicts not to speak or act until they have prayed in a similar way. I need to practice what I teach and what the Bible teaches. So thanks for your wise, biblical counsel. I will save this post and use for some of my counselees, and, more importantly, for myself.
I have such an appreciation for your calm , quiet and love filled approach ……I can not agree more…….some brothers and sisters’ belligerent remarks offend me….how much more those we actually want to reach out to……it is so easy to wear the wristband WWJD………but seldom practice what we preach……