A recent experience on another blog caused me to feel frustrated, angry, sad, confused, and finally encouraged (but not necessarily in that order). The blog topic was obviously controversial and two distinctly divergent voices dominated the discussion. The more popular voice was closer to the position held by the blog author but the minority voice was not completely alone. In fact I was part of the minority though not the dominant responder. At one point the blog host cautioned the minority dominant responder concerning the tone of her comments. I must admit I did not see what the host saw when he gave his caution but the responder took his caution without comment so I did not comment either. After a day or two the author of the post informed those who were continuing to comment that he was not going to be able to comment for a couple days.
Soon after the host excused himself the tone of three responders from the majority point of view became, in my opinion, ugly, self righteous, and defiantly out of line. First the research methods of the dominant responder from the minority were questioned. Then she was accused of saying things she had not said. Next she was reprimanded for not answering questions (which I would argue she did answer just not in the way the questioner wanted them answered). Finally, her salvation and standing in Christ were called into question. Another commenter and I repeatedly defended her by pointing out when and how she was falsely accused, by agreeing with her assertions that her critics were questioning her at a personal level while not addressing the issues she raised, by trying to advance the original discussion through questions, and by calling into question the name calling and belittling tone of her critics. As a result of our objections our “spiritual health” was also called into question by at least one of those who had treated the dominant minority responder so viciously. When the author of the blog returned he did not reprimand any of the commenters I would say had become extremely offensive. Instead he closed the thread saying that doing so needed no explanation.
My frustration or confusion was with the author of the blog. I realize that many of the comments had veered away from the original topic and therein closing the thread was justified. However, doing so without addressing what had become ugly, self-righteous name calling and slander on the part of people who basically shared his position might be construed to mean he was in agreement with those voices. Having visited his blog numerous times in the past I highly doubt that to be true thus my confusion. His unwillingness to hold the voices supporting his position to the same standard (regarding tone) he established with the dominant minority voice in the beginning of the thread (and which, by the way, she maintained) was frustrating.
My anger was aroused by those who would have me believe they were representatives of Christ but who never the less saw no problem with attacking a person’s integrity rather then focusing their attention on the points of the debate. Even if they could justifiably say they were more mature in their faith then those with the minority point of view(and I would argue they could not) the Bible is fairly clear as to how we are to treat those who are weaker in faith then we are–and it is not with hostility and self-aggrandizing platitudes.
I am deeply saddened by experiences like the blog one I described. When Christians treat others with the kind of contempt, hostility, and disrespect that was shown on the blog in question I am embarrassed and outraged. But even more than that I am grieved. Why, to what end do people behave so childishly, so selfishly, so cruelly? Most of the time I try to find some point of compassion. Hurt people hurt people I remind myself. And yet, arrogance, self-righteousness, and derision on the part of people who claim to represent Christ make compassion very difficult. On a personal note I invite accountability from people I trust in all areas of my life including the tone and attitude of my writing. I am aware of a tendency I have to be critical. And while I continually ask God for discernment I also ask Him to expose any judgmental spirit within me so I can hold myself to a higher measure then I hold others.
To end on a positive note, one other commenter on the blog in question earnestly tried to reflect a godly spirit. While attempting to hold us all accountable to being more courteous he or she gently pointed out the harm being done by some of our words. I am hopeful when I get to witness strangers standing up of other strangers. The true body of Christ is reflected in such behavior.