jesus, politics, justice, mission & life

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How we respond matters

A lot of things events have sparked my desire to return to blogging recently. I’ve realized that most of my comments are best left to a blog setting as engaging in facebook/twitter wars seems misguided and pointless. Though there has not been a single issue that brings me back to this page, the issue at hand is the Phil Robertson comments.

To get this out of the way, I believe friends of mine have covered the legal and first amendment side of this. Robertson’s first amendment rights have been protected. He hasn’t been charged with a crime nor thrown in jail. However, there are consequences to what you say. And as there is a group of people out there who were offended by his comments, A&E has the right to do whatever they want. Over the last week, I learned how few of my friends actually understand what the first amendment actually is.

Let me start by saying that it is close to impossible for me to feel bad for a wealthy, white, straight male for losing his reality show gig, no matter what the reason. Next, it is definitely impossible for me to believe that a Christian is being persecuted in America. Little frustrates me more than Christians claiming persecution in America. I’d like to see people drop the idea of Phil Robertson being persecuted and take up the mantle for those who are being persecuted for their beliefs across the world. To be harsh, if you are one of those getting hyped up and petitioning for this issue, you need to reallocate your time. Real persecution is happening across the world. It is happening in Africa or Southeastern Asia, not here in the United States. Quite the opposite actually, Phil Robertson has gotten his message out louder than ever. Not only does (did?) he have his own reality show, his interview was just published in GQ and retweeted and shared millions of times. I’d say persecution is nonexistent here and I would imagine both the Duck Dynasty team and A&E love the publicity from this mess.

However, the primary thing this situation has made me think about is how we, as believers, respond…particularly on social media.

We, as Christians, need to think about things before we respond. Social media often makes it seem like the first to the party is the best, however, it is the words that are well-thought and compassionate that are the most important. The way many conservative Christians reacted to this was embarrassing. They pounced on the opportunity to attack the sin without really thinking about the issue or reading how offensive some of his words were.

It does not matter if you didn’t find the comments offensive. What matters is that some did. It has become fashionable and cool to be offensive as a Christian. I know many believers, including myself at times, who believe something along the lines of “Jesus was offensive, so I should be too.” I would counter by saying that Jesus was always first and foremost loving. I would also ask how that train of thought works in your personal life. If you are married, do you really say, “I don’t care if it’s offensive, I’m going to say it because it’s true.” That doesn’t work. You wind up hurting your spouse and you get absolutely nowhere (I speak from personal experience). In your personal relationships, has being offensive ever moved the relationship into a better place? For most of us, that answer is on. If we aren’t doing that in our personal relationships, why would we ever do that to someone who is already hurt? Their is a place for bluntness. But we, as a Church, largely missed an opportunity for a conversation with people who were hurt by Robertson’s comments.

As a whole, Christians did not counter Robertson’s comments (whether in agreement or disagreement) with love and compassion. Too many of us responded in protest, frustration and fighting for a television star who doesn’t need us fighting for him. I don’t really care about the over-arching message. Like I said, the presentation matters. Especially over social media.

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