I’ve been hanging out amongst the residents of the interwebs for a long time now. This blog has existed, in one form or another, for seven years. Before that I enjoyed myself thoroughly on the Amazon Christianity discussion forum. Before that was MySpace. (Remember Tom?)
Online life can be fun, engaging and surprisingly deep.
It can also be disheartening. Even nasty.
On Sunday night I briefly wrote about the howling over Focus on the Family’s small article (actually a Q&A piece) regarding vaccination in their magazine, Thriving Family. The response of a certain intensely opinionated blogger* caught my attention. This blogger is out-and-out offended that nobody from Focus on the Family has picked up on or crafted a statement about the response. While avoiding telling anyone to engage in bad web etiquette, this blogger made sure to say that it was important for any followers who were equally offended to publicly explain on the Focus on the Family Facebook page why support is being withdrawn. The people have taken up the torch.
The flames leap high.
It’s shameless fit-throwing. While I do not think that anyone has to be a fan of Focus on the Family in order to be a Christian, what is happening on the organization’s page is sad. Negative, one-star reviews are popping up and right and left because this blogger has purposefully stirred the pot on an issue that should not be this heated or divisive. This is not a litmus test of salvation. Yet every time a new post comes up in the feed, no matter what it’s about, followers of this blogger comment with a link to the response. All because Focus on the Family maintains a position of supporting vaccination (and medicine in general; some comments are mixed) and because nobody in the organization has opened up a forum for debate.
Except Focus on the Family isn’t obligated to publish an in-depth, thesis-length piece on vaccinations. Or medicine. Or why the sky isn’t purple. They aren’t obligated to respond to every single person with access to a computer and a blog. Such a thing would be nigh unto impossible.
So the ranting? It’s distracting. It’s immature.
Again, you don’t have to be a fan of the organization to be a Christian. But you also don’t need to flame a group that has worked for decades to help families. If their stance on vaccination bothers you, fine. Great. Don’t listen to their programs, purchase their materials or send them money. Move on.
Spamming and trolling never win an argument. Never. Like I said, I’ve been around the internet for a long time. I’ve made connections with many bloggers and site operators. And we just lurv spam. We just adore trolls. Send me a link once and I’ll gladly look. Engage in honest, respectful dialogue with me and I’ll talk. I’ll listen. The second you start screaming is the second I think you’re a nutcase, an attention-seeker or just plain arrogant and want nothing to do with you. Shouting only makes me close my ears. Everyone else I know who operates online feels the same.
Christians, this is NOT how we behave. We do not throw fits. We do not engage in histrionics. We do not get so everlastingly full of ourselves that we work, however cunningly, to undercut a legitimate ministry. These are the attitudes and antics of toddlers, not Spirit-filled adults.
Worse, it’s what one non-believer called “Christian cannibalism” as she watched the fracas unfold.
It’s the Enemy cackling with glee.
* I am choosing to not share the name of this person because I don’t want to drive traffic to the site or the blog’s Facebook page. Based on the information provided in this post, you can figure it out for yourself. Please do. Go and make your own decision. Feel absolutely free to disagree with everything I’ve written. Feel free to tell me what you think.
I realize that I walk a fine line here. I don’t want to tear this blogger or this blogger’s followers to pieces. I don’t question their salvation or the sincerity of their beliefs regarding vaccinations and medicine. I don’t deny them the right to voice their opinions in an appropriate manner. Nevertheless, what they are doing is wrong.
How do I know? I chose to interact with them. It was a highly discouraging experience.
And why is this so clearly under my skin and dear to my heart? Why have I written several posts in the last few months about illness and medicine? Because my body is torn apart every day. The bodies of many I love are torn apart every day. We struggle. We suffer. We simply don’t need the additional stress of the ever-growing health-and-wealth, just-eat-organic-and-you’ll-be-fine-no-matter-what, Jesus-doesn’t-want-you-to-go-to-the-doctor-ever-ever, vaccines-are-black-magic juggernaut. I can’t stand by and let it roll on unchecked.
10 thoughts on “This is Not How We Behave”
Wow… I guess I had missed all the hubbub. You are very right in saying this isn’t how we are to act. I never have understood why people think that online is different than face to face. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it to them online.
By the way, I’ve been getting your posts in my email, and I just love what you’ve been covering this week. I live in the heart of what used to be a major RLDS center. (Now it’s Community of Christ.)
Have a good day, and hang in there.
Thanks, Melinda. People really do get vicious online. I love a little snark or sarcasm, but there’s a line. You’re so right that if we wouldn’t say it to someone’s face you shouldn’t post it.
The LDS stuff came up this week a little bit out of left field; Shepherd’s Chapel isn’t LDS but there are some definite similarities. My grandparents are involved in the LDS religion and it weighs really heavy on me. I imagine your neck of the woods can be tough sometimes.
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You have no idea. I’m a member of the Church of Christ (kissing cousins to Christian Church or Baptists). You say that around here and people automatically assume you’re a Mormon. But I meant to say, thank you for the insight. It does help to understand the mindsight just a bit better. (And I’m snarky with the best of them.) 😉
Snark girls unite. 🙂
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I really love your last comment. Recently a friend of ours who had had cancer and terrible sciatica was shamed by another member of our church for having gone to a doctor to seek help instead of relying solely on the Lord and “natural” remedies. The person who was unwell came to my husband horribly upset that he had done something wrong.
People are entitled to have their own opinions, and if they choose to take this path themselves fine, but when it comes to hurting others by imposing their views on the rest of the world, that crosses the line. Ranting and raving and being rude only makes it that much worse. “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love” is how the song goes, not by our self-righteous vehemence.
Your last sentence – spot on.
Honestly? I see this whole growing debate as a symptom of people’s hearts growing cold and their heads being turned by fads. It’s sad and people, lije your friend, get smashed.
At the risk of spamming you, about two-and-a-half years ago, I wrote a blog post called Attack Dogs that addressed the very question of how and why “religious people” are so rude online. The short answer is that they’re just as human as anyone else and are not leading “transformed lives.”
That’s not spam. I’ll gladly read. 🙂
The cover of anonymity provided by the internet seems to tempt many to behave badly. But really, how hard is it to remember that kindness and civility are to be practiced in all areas of our lives? Sure, we all screw up, but the pattern should be one of growth in love and truth, not rudeness and, well, syncretism. (I really believe a lot of this crap comes from mixing different religious and philosophical views into Christian faith).
I’m notorious for loving natural remedies. But I am sad to hear that some fellow “crunchy” people have been so unkind. It’s not ok. Might does not make right; whether cyber or physical.
If it weren’t for skilled surgeons and modern medicine, my Dad would have died December 26, 2012. Would he have been ready to die at that point, yes, He loved God. But because of his surgery and recovery he lived until September 2014.
In that time span, he touched countless lives of doctors, nurses, fellow patients, and visitors. Not to mention, the fact that he had one more Christmas with our family, in which he was able to bless so many family members with words of wisdom and a solemn knowledge that life is short.
If ANYONE tried to tell me that Jesus can’t work with surgeons…. I suppose I’d have to pray extra hard that God would help me hold my tongue.
If we’re going to get passionate about something, let’s be passionate about showing the love of Christ, even when we disagree.
“If we’re going to get passionate about something, let’s be passionate about showing the love of Christ, even when we disagree.”
You know me. I’m not completely against natural remedies. There is absolutely a place for vitamins, supplements, nutrition, exercise, etc. I just don’t see why that has to be in conflict with modern medicine. Seems to me like there are times for both.
I need to find a word or phrase to show the distinction I make between the “alternative health movement” and “people who prefer to try natural methods first/in tandem with modern medicine.” I really do see a difference between the two. One group is…well, rabid, from what I’ve seen. The other is more like, “This is my preference but I’m not closing the door on other ways and I’m also not throwing stones at people who don’t share my preference.” I may disagree with both, but at least with the latter the conversation is kind.
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