Christianity: You’re selling it badly

Christians sometimes become complete morons on the Internet. Everyone, for that matter, has the potential to become a moron on the internet, but Christians are risking more than the average person by putting on the persona of idiocy. Like it or not, Christianity is a brand. I’m not saying Jesus is a brand — most people will tell you, no matter what their social or religious stripe, that they are more than cool with Jesus. Jesus is still alright with them. Jesus isn’t the problem. As Ghandi said, “I love your Christ. It’s that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

StuffChristiansLike blogger Jonathan Acuff posted an article on CNN about why so many Christians are jerks online. Reading the comments to that article, which was a chastening bit of writing (for me, because I’ve been a Christian jerk online, at times), though, seems to prove his point rather than showing one bit of self-reflection on the part of the article-reading-Christians. They all pointed out that there is more hate directed AT Christians by those online, than there are Christians directing hate at anyone else. Seems like some Christians in the U.S.  have a bee in their bonnet and don’t remember to turn that other cheek.

I lead Beta (our Tuesday night Bible Study). This week, we were reading the section of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe that recounts how Lucy, upon returning from Narnia the 2nd time, is still mercilessly persecuted for her failure to back down from the truth of what she’s experienced. I asked the participants if they’ve ever been really persecuted for their Christianity. To a person, they said “no.” We have it easy as USian Christians. We have been blessed in that whenever the church is open, we can enter in to worship or seek help or counseling and gather together. Our students can pray around the flag pole. They can pray in class. Just because a teacher in a public school cannot lead students in prayer (and I’m personally happy about that – I don’t want any state authority telling my children how to worship), doesn’t mean that there is no prayer in schools.

Having people not like us because we are Christians isn’t persecution — it’s fulfillment of prophecy. Mark 13:13, Luke 21:17, Matthew 10:22 “All men will hate you because of me…” I believe some Christians are trying to MAKE all wo/men hate us. Or, it gives them leave to be jerks online (and in person) because we’re going to be inevitably despised. We bring it on ourselves. We create a zero tolerance zone for the BIG sins – don’t come in this church with your adultery or fornication or murder- but we don’t love one another enough to welcome them. We expect grace where we’ve offered none. That doesn’t work as a selling point for Christianity, though. Not one bit.

I’ve been horrified by the amount of gay teen suicides, of late. One incident happened right in my area of town. He was a middle schooler, 13-years-old. He was teased at school, by everyone, Christians included. He was knocked down, kicked around and mercelessly pursued by bullies. I don’t care what your feelings are on homosexuality, if you are a Christian, persecuting others isn’t ok. Slandering others for what we perceive to be their sins doesn’t make people want to join a group of reformed sinners who are publically cannibalizing the reputations of others.

I’ve seen public debate forums go from heated to hostile because of this. A Christian will believe that the Bible’s teaching on a matter is self-evident, and post a passage of Scripture that they think “proves” that something (you name it) is a horrible, vile, sin. Then, they will ask some innocuous question, like “What do you think about this?” And people start piling on to say that the Bible is not an authority for them. They are agnostic, atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish (if from the NT) or other, and so see the Bible as literature, platitudes, fiction or fantasy. As a friend pointed out to me last night, Christians that post like this have it backward. They want others to clean up their act and then will automatically accept the authority of Christ. Really, the way it goes is, we come to Christ and the Holy Spirit convicts us of our wrongdoings and then, we ask forgiveness for our sins and struggle with Christ’s help to erradicate that sinful hold on our lives.

We don’t need to be so concerned with the speck in our brother’s eye as we should be with that 2×4 protruding from our own. What being the Christian spammer, Christian troll, Chrisitan jerkwad online, does, is convince all those non-Christians that they were right about the Christian brand. It really is all about pointing out others’ flaws while ignoring our own sins (like not visiting those in prison, clothing the needy, feeding the poor,  or washing the lepers)  If you claim to be a Christian, you’re a marketing tool for the brand that is Christianity. Jesus polls great. His PR is just fine. His work and worth speak for themselves. Christianity, as an organized non-profit, unfortunately, has to streamline the message. We need to decide whether we want our public face to be “Christ-centered” or “hypocritical jerks with hypochondrial persecution complex.” I prefer the former, as it’s much more iconic and easier to say, but I worry that our lasting reputation has been irreperably damaged by the latter.


22 responses to “Christianity: You’re selling it badly

  1. I totally agree with your post:
    “If you claim to be a Christian, you’re a marketing tool for the brand that is Christianity. Jesus polls great. His PR is just fine. His work and worth speak for themselves. Christianity, as an organized non-profit, unfortunately, has to streamline the message.”
    I believe that our life and work should reflect the Jesus Christ that we claim to serve.
    The word says:
    “James 1:27
    Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

  2. From what I’m seeing, a good number of Christians want the circle to be drawn tighter. They know they are offensive, they like being offensive, and they see the people who they offend and wound as not being “true believers”. I don’t see the church in America changing any time soon.

    • I think you’re right, but I hold out hope. I read a theorist once that talked about closed rhetorical groups, and he said that in tightening the circle, you have to create the impression that there is a lot of opposition from the outside… but not too much opposition, so that the circle doesn’t collapse on itself.

      I’m still thinking about that, and may end up with another post.

  3. I could not agree more. We don’t have a clue what it really means to be persecuted but too many of us seem to go out of our way to provide a reason for Christian persecution. Great post.


  4. I agree with you too. How do we change it? I mean, obviously we can make the right decisions ourselves, but how do we confront our brothers and sisters in Christ in a way that is loving, but not shown as divisive?

  5. I think so many people are jerks online because of the feeling of anonymity. The thing is, everything about following Christ is relational. We are one body. I think if we operated like that, people wouldn’t be so quick to criticize.

    It’s the same even in our own communities. People gossip and talk trash about other people but most of the time they don’t have real, authentic relationships with those people. It’s easy to judge from the outside. It takes a lot more effort to develop a real relationship and understand people’s heart.

    I believe there is hope. I see it in my community. We’re not perfect but we’re living this thing together and our goal is realness, transparency and grace. It is happening in the church, sometimes you just have to go look for it.

    • I am glad I see it happening in my church and I am hoping to see that spread to those with whom members of our church interact. If we each reach one with a message of grace, I can see the light growing. I think anonymity is a prime reason why people are jerks online. I know I feel instantly snarkier online, because I can’t “read” their nonverbal messages and I assume they are being catty, which gets my defenses up.

  6. Good job Kristin. This is why I don’t discuss my beliefs, and why I have an issue with organized religion. The blind followers, the jerks, the ignorant… they all ruined it for me at at an early age. I chose to believe/follow on my own free will, in my own way.

    • Samantha- I can understand that. I don’t think I could ever give up church, because I see so much potential to be the body of Christ on Earth… I still believe there are enough of us that want to bless and not condemn that we can make a difference.

  7. This is a great post! I love that several Christian bloggers have stepped and said things are not okay. I have been shocked in the last few weeks as people who claim to love our Jesus have said horrible things, things that literally made me sick to my stomach, all in His name.

    Love the last paragraph. 2×4 is right! I know I am guilty of this but I am trying to change…and hopefully more of us who feel this way will speak out and our voices will be heard and they will know we are Christians…by our love. Not our hate.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog…it is nice to meet you through SCL! Loved your perspective on this!

  8. Just wanted to say how much I loved this post – I quoted you in one of mine.

    I found you through Stuff Christians Like. 🙂

  9. Great post! One of the reasons I’ve been so hesitant to blog for so long is due my fear of persecution, whether it be about my faith or my politics or whatever else I might be doing/saying/writing about online. Despite fear (which I keep reminding myself is not the spirit of the Lord), I started my own blog. I still cringe at the idea of making someone mad, but I trudge onwards. I can’t help but point out and wonder why it’s so easy for some to say whatever awful things they want about whomever they want online, but I just want to talk about God and my daily struggle and I’m worried about what people might think about me. Doesn’t make sense to me, yet it’s my reality.

  10. like your post.. thanks for speaking out.

    As Christians, we don’t do a very good job at proclaiming our faith, but then again we are still sinners. We must remember that non-believers are always watching us. If we are to proclaim our love for Christ, then we really need to be Christ-like.

    We cannot do this alone, only by His help through the Holy Spirit.

    I’m glad I found your blog site. I like your posts.

  11. I am curious as to why you feature another woman blogger on here who says [expletive] to the republican party for not supporting abortion because of rape or incest. I am referring to the blog about shaving her legs with conditioner. Could you explain this to me please?

    John Wilder

    • I have Beth’s blog in my blog roll. She is not featured as a guest poster. Beth is a friend and an honest person, telling it the way she sees it, just like I am. Beth is someone whose blog I read, when she updated it, and while she may not have chosen the same language as I do or would, her transparency is refreshing to me.

      I did not post that language on my site, and would prefer it if my commenters kept from using it as well.

  12. Pingback: Put it on my Bill of Rights « Messiah Mom

  13. Bravo!

    Wait. You mean we should deal with ourselves before lashing out at everyone else’s issues? That’s just crazy talk.

    Love your blog.

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