Social Specks and Planks

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
– Matthew 7: 3-5 (NIV)

I’ve written before about the lack of social media participation among evangelical men, along with their (in my opinion, flawed) rationale for abstaining.

But what about people (of all sexes) that do participate? While some are completely lovely and many silently lurk to avoid causing “division” (a stance I find slightly cowardly, but can at least wrap my head around), there’s a clear contingent that’s somehow able to a) see their screens and b) slam that post button, despite having giant planks in their eyes.

Aside from the ongoing stream of Instagram-ready scripture snippets or MLM pitches from this crowd, you’ll also generally come across judgment-heavy memes or endorsements that cover the full playlist of greatest hits from the two-headed conservative/evangelical monster that this country painfully birthed decades ago:

  • Purity, purity, purity!
  • Keep your hands off our guns
  • Democrats want to murder babies
  • Hillary is (sometimes nearly literally) the devil
  • “Mainstream Media” can’t be trusted, you’re being conned!
  • We need to hold our ground against LGBTQ rights

And yet, maddeningly, there’s near-total radio silence surrounding:

  • The effects of purity culture (especially on women and teens)
  • Consideration of even small gun control efforts in the face of endless school shootings and clear evidence of success outside of America
  • Compassion, reflection or willingness to have the hard conversations on the complex issue of reproductive rights
  • Any criticism of Trump and his growing laundry list of unprecedented abuses
  • The value of seeking out (and supporting) legitimate journalism, even if the facts uncovered are painful to your existing worldview
  • The importance of wrestling with existing interpretations of scripture as it relates to the LGBTQ community (looking to Jesus’ example)

This essay puts it another way:

“They passionately worship a deity made in their own image: white, American, Republican, male—and perpetually terrified of Muslims, immigrants, gay children, Special Counsel reports, mandalas, Harry Potter, Starbucks holiday cups, yoga, wind turbines, Science—everything. Their God is so laughably minuscule, so fully neutered of power, so completely devoid of functioning vertebrae that ‘He’ cannot protect them from the encroaching monsters they are certain lurk around every corner to overwhelm them.”

My wife and I were both flabbergasted to see a recent Facebook post from within our own church movement actively instructing people not to “like” an update from someone brave enough to come out of the closet. I typically try not to curse these days, but frankly this is some vile, hateful bullshit. “Jesus wept,” indeed.

It of course goes without saying that someone’s social media presence isn’t a complete representation of their “real” life, but consider that the number of people you physically see in a given day is minuscule compared to your online footprint, so the content you share or endorse (as well as what you avoid talking about) sends a powerful message.

All of this is really driven home in this great piece:

“To clarify, I mean the tunnel-vision, white supremacist, refugee-refusing, gun-toting-equals-faith, gay bashing sort. The ones who see a terrorist behind every tree. And those who use prayer as an ATM and easy answer, instead of performing actions to make the world a better place by providing healthcare, food, shelter, and love to the suffering human creatures God put in front of them. The bumper sticker bearing and meme fans of fake news. The Bible-verse-stuffing-down-your-throat sort.”

I’m personally sickened that Christianity has, in the minds of so many, now become inextricably linked with this crowd. Does any of this bother you as well? If so, it’s time to engage! Raise your voice online, because by remaining silent, people are (understandably) going to assume the worst, and your message of love will be lost.

Published by

Kyle Ford

Husband. Father of several clowns. Product guy.