It was a personal story about herself and her husband. It was a story about what she felt God had shown her. It was about the complicated, messy business of marriage and repentance.
I don’t want to talk about the content of Emily’s story. I want to talk about the reaction it caused.
The reaction was huge. It was swift. And much of it was downright visceral with hundreds of comments from people who suddenly cared very passionately about Emily’s relationship with her husband. It became an emotionally taxing day for Emily herself and my friends who run Prodigal.
Another friend, Bryan Allain, has poured a ton of effort into launching the Killer Tribes conference the last two years in March. Obviously, the word “Killer” is meant in a completely fun, non-murdery context.
But I wonder if we as modern, educated, worldly, connected Christians – as bloggers, as culture-makers – really are becoming more tribal, more primitive, more warlike and more eager to kill people in other tribes, instead of more welcoming, more understanding, more inclusive.
Where’s the Party?
Any student of American history knows that George Washington was opposed to the formation of political parties in American government (though today he is considered to be a “Federalist.”) Political parties represent the “tribalization” of government, a hive mentality rather than the promise of free democracy.
Of course, Washington’s vision didn’t last past his presidency. The federal government became quickly divided as leaders ran to one side or the other of the line in the sand, and before you knew it, there were the Federalists and the Democratic Republicans.
I think Washington’s fears about party politics have completely come to fruition in modern America, (and have played throughout our history), as Americans are deeply divided, distrustful of each other, ready to go to war with each other – not through lofty rhetoric, but screaming and personal attacks.
Maybe the states of our country are united, but certainly not our people.
An Easy Command I Give To You
When Jesus sat down for his last meal with his disciples, he commanded them to do just one thing:
To love one another.
Jesus didn’t say this because he had never said it before (he had). But with just hours left in his life, he wanted to tell his disciples that people would identify his followers by how they treated each other.
It’s not like it would be easy, even for those twelve guys. John and James had a bit of an ego problem. Matthew was a traitor to his countrymen as a tax man working for the Romans. Nathaniel was kind of a racist. (Can anything good come from Nazareth?) Peter was a buffoon. Simon was a zealot (that means he was a fringe political right-winger). Just put Matthew and Simon in a room together and see what happens.
Jesus told these men to love each other because it would be the toughest thing for them to do. They could barely get through that meal and get along.
And Christian history has proven just how difficult it has been to just love one another.
Everyone’s Orthodoxy Is Someone Else’s Heresy
We think we have come so far. We are so advanced, so modern. We don’t sacrifice babies like the ancient Molech worshipers. We don’t buy “snake oil” tonics like gullible people from the 1800s. And we don’t burn heretics at the stake like in the Dark Ages.
Or do we?
According to Jesus, killing someone in our hearts makes us just as culpable as a murderer who kills a man in his body. And with the internet, it’s just put us into contact with more of Jesus’ disciples than ever. But instead of loving one another, we are often so ready to form into tribes, to beat the war drums, to burn a heretic at the stake.
Our blog community is full of heretics. Our churches are full of heretics. This is the way it has always been. Paul addressed churches where Jewish Christians followed Kosher laws and Gentile Christians ate meat sacrificed to idols. If you go to church or read blogs or interact with Christians in any way, you are going to come across some heretics.
Because what is orthodox to someone is going to be heresy to another.
You are a heretic to someone out there.
And we have a choice about how we treat heretics. Our tribal, primitive instinct is to light the torches. Our command is to love.
So what do you think? Has our connectedness online allowed us to understand more? Or are we just more prone to our natural instincts for tribalism and war?