It’s been an eventful week here in Nashville. Many have been in a state of panic this week because of an onslaught of ice (mixed with a slight bit of snow) that I’ve dubbed the #mixedprecipocalypse. If I had a dollar for every post on my social media feeds asking about road conditions, I could build a mansion and retire.
Recently, I’ve noticed a few other topics dominating social media as well. From the release of the “50 Shades of Grey” movie to Rob Bell’s statements about gay marriage in the church, Christians have been in a bit of an uproar recently. And the way they’re handling these things has gotten downright ugly. (You might recall that this isn’t the first time this has happened.)
I normally stray from the comments section of articles like the one featuring Bell, but take a look at a few of the “Most Agreed” ones:
These are direct screen shots taken from the Christian Post. And they’re not just random comments that had a common theme, they’re the “Most Agreed” – or at least they were at the time I accessed the article. Judging by the “Agrees,” these comments represent the majority of those who read the article.
Do you notice what they all have in common?
“Puppet of Satan,” “#heresy,” “nonsense,” “vile and degenerate,” “prophet for Satan,” “religious loon.” These comments all appear to come from other Christians, given their content. Regardless of whether you agree with Bell or not, these comments are insulting, destructive, and hateful. Notice that one commenter who dared to disagree was down-voted significantly.
This isn’t to say I agree with everything Bell says. I’ve shared my thoughts on homosexuality here before, but it’s really beside the point. There’s a bigger issue going on here.
I’ve seen similar sentiments to these comments expressed among my friends on social media. There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone else, but there’s a huge problem with expressing disagreement in this manner.
When we look at the teachings Jesus gave us in the New Testament, one statement stands out. It’s found in John 13:35. I like the way it’s phrased in the New Living Translation: “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Jesus instructed his followers several times to love each other, but there’s something special to me about the statement made here. Not only are we to love each other, but love is what shows the world that we’re Christians. That’s why Jesus described loving God as the “first and greatest commandment” in Matthew 22 and declared loving each other to be second. Everything else, Jesus said, hinges on these two things. Not hatred, not trolling, not bashing, not arguing. Love.
In today’s world, however, Christians seem to operate on a different set of standards. Today, it seems, if you disagree with someone, you have license to criticize that person in any way possible. Bad theology is akin to a “get out of jail free card” for loving that person. The anonymity of the Internet only multiplies this phenomenon.
But that’s not what Jesus said. The Bible doesn’t have an asterisk in those places or a footnote explaining the exemptions. Loving God and loving others are the two greatest commandments, even higher on the totem pole than good theology.
I don’t intend on seeing “50 Shades of Grey” any time soon – if anything, there’s a positive unintended result to the movie: Christians, feminists, and BDSM proponents all agree on something! – but I won’t be bashing it on social media either. And regardless of my thoughts on Rob Bell’s latest controversial statements, it’s certainly not the place to bash someone, especially a fellow follower of Jesus.
Christians won’t come to an agreement on 50 Shades and they won’t agree on Rob Bell’s comments either. Bbut remember as you choose your side of the fence that the person on the other side is not an enemy but a friend and a brother.