Love Your Enemies, Even on Social Media

"Union Seminary’s actions deserve criticism; confessing and praying to plants is full-on paganism and should be named as such. But deserving criticism and even denunciation does not supersede Jesus’ commands to speak and act charitably nor undo Paul’s admonition found in Ephesians 5 where followers of Christ are commanded to 'walk in love, as Christ loved us.'" - John Ellis

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Aaron Blumer's picture

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Three brief thoughts on this

  • I appreciate the call to more respect and gentleness in general public discourse. Who can deny that much is far more vicious than it ought to be?
  • The thing about love is that it has to be put in the context of truth. Love of one person may seem to conflict with loving another. Likewise with groups. The conflict is an illusion, because ultimately, what's most loving for everyone is to speak the truth. Hence, Jesus in Matthew 23 delivers a scathing rebuke to the Pharisees.
  • There is a difference in Scripture between one's personal enemies and the enemies of truth and of God (as a result, harmful to everyone). Jesus' call to love enemies is primarily about personal enemies. But if, say, a gang of violent attackers storms my house, should I be thinking about loving them or loving my wife and children?

I'm not really sure if satire sites like Babylon Bee are doing more good than harm. I'm certainly open to the possibility that they are. Because in the overall mix of communicating truth (which is objectively loving) sometimes its humor and the sting of satire that exposes the absurd. And much of that absurdity is hurting a lot of people. It isn't loving to those people to let it go unchallenged.

Steve Davis's picture

Perhaps I will convicted of this in the future but don't some absurdities deserve to be mocked? Elijah mocking the false prophets of Baal comes to mind as an analogy. Even more, people should be warned that when you reject the gospel and refuse to worship the Creator as revealed in Scripture, that there is no telling how far people will go into error. It made me wonder if the plant cannabis had made an appearance. These people need the gospel. To that end we should love them and tell then the truth. They are doing what Roman 1 speaks about, worshipping the creation rather than the Creator. 

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

It's a tough balance. Jesus said don't be surprised if the world hates you. Sometimes they hate us because we're telling the truth, and however lovingly we might say it, it's still not want "the world" wants to hear. 

Other times, the hate is fueled more by the contempt and disrespect of the delivery.

But often people think they see contempt and disrespect just because they hate the message.

So there's going to be a certain amount of "I reject your message because you're mean," whether meanness is reality or not. That's no excuse for actually being mean where it isn't called for.

Is it sometimes called for? I think so, yes. I mean, it's horribly cliche, but what if some widely-known church leader got up and said we need to kill all the Jews and other "undesierables," take over the world, and establish the Third Reich? There is no "nice" way to deal with a Hitler, rhetorically or militarily!

So Jesus tears into the Pharisees who were not only rejecting the Kingdom but hindering others from entering it also. John the Baptist did it before Him.

In these situations, Jesus and John are not speaking in order "win over" the Pharisees et al. He is speaking, in part, to persuade everyone else to join them in rejecting that bunch.

And that's a key factor. Who do you need to persuade? Who are you aiming to persuade? Sometimes satire works for waking up the targets of the biting humor. Maybe more often it only fortifies and feeds those who already get it... and further alienates the targets.

In Jesus' and John's case, the religious leadership were already committed enemies and alienating them further was not worth the trouble to avoid.

Most of the time, that's not where we are--or where we ought to be--in our public discourse!

M. Osborne's picture

Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence; reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge. Proverbs 19:25

That verse has come to mind as I've thought about this, and it seems to go along with Aaron's latest post.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA