Bene has commented on a controversial post by Josh Claybourn last week. On one hand, I enjoyed the discussion. Not everyone agreed with Josh, and the exchange of ideas was good and healthy. But the discussion also got ugly. A lot of ugly comments were posted, some anonymous. Same for emails. Some of the comments were so bad, it’s hard for me to understand why they weren’t deleted or at least challenged by Josh. Of course, I responded, which led someone else to post this challenge at Rev. Mike’s:
Frets over silly little things like tact and name-calling are clear ear-marks of a Christian who is more concerned about approval before men rather than approval before God. They’re also ear-marks of someone who is very immature.
I’m a little amazed by this. Even apart from faith-based issues, personal attacks are the weakest form of argument. Calling someone names and personally attacking their character are not necessary on any level. But personal attacks are also wrong from a faith-based perspective:
Jesus said that if we call someone a fool we’re in danger of hellfire. Paul said that those who are Spirit-directed are gentle, kind, etc. He said all the knowledge in the world won’t make up for a lack of love. That’s just for starters. So the overwhelming prescriptive teaching of the Bible is tact and love (not a feeling, but an action) are important. I think it’s good to be direct and forceful. No problems there. But calling someone a hag or bipolar, or breaking confidences out of revenge, is pretty hard to defend.
Something is wrong that we don’t already know this. I can understand losing it; I do that all the time. But saying that it’s okay to lose it is entirely different, and to me, very frightening. A lot of us seem to be fear being too nice, or being doormats. News flash: most of us don’t have to worry about that. It’s not like Jesus had to always turn to his disciples (or me to my kids) and say, “Would you guys stop being so nice to each other! It’s driving me crazy.” Some of us may need to work at being more assertive, but being respectful and kind to others is never negotiable.