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Why Do Christians Say Dumb Things?

Reclaiming the lost art of speaking the truth in love.

There are times when I’m ashamed to be called a Christian. Some would interpret that statement by making assumptions about my “lack of faith,” but it’s not that. I’m ashamed to be called a Christian when others proclaiming to be Christians act in ways that counter the work of Christ on the cross.

Like when a pastor makes a point of tithing—at the expense of someone to whom he could have shown love and generosity. Or when a leader makes a judgment on the president he has no place making. Or the countless other incidents when Christians open their mouths ... and we’d rather they didn’t.

Often they are speaking from their moral anchor, which motivates them to step up onto their soapbox. But just because it’s “right”—and often it’s not—doesn’t mean it needs to be said out loud. And when a moral judgment call is made without grace, it’s not truth—it’s slander.

Is our community defined by love when we make statements that defame others? Do we profit from it as a community?

Slander, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means "to defame another through the use of false statements." It is a poisonous and divisive weapon that Christ never authorized us to use, no matter the circumstance.

Yet many Christians use speculation and slander under the guise of truth-telling—which is, of course, not only justified but encouraged in the Bible.

While in my favorite coffee shop one day with a friend, we were talking about faith, love and politics (you know, the usual!). Yet in the midst of the conversation, he began making assumptions about a certain friend of ours—speculating that he is gay and how, consequently, he is going to hell.

All of a sudden, I was embarrassed to be sitting with my friend who honestly believed, on a hunch, that our mutual friend was not only gay but going to hell for it.

I was astonished by this friend's incredibly hateful words. I was also surprised that this wasn’t the only slanderous comment I'd heard this week. In fact, on every occasion throughout the week, the slanderous comments I'd heard came from the mouths of Christians. And all of them, including my friend, believed they were justified by Scripture to say the things they said.

I remembered a moment that had occurred in this very same coffee shop a year ago. A friend of mine told me he couldn’t become a Christian. When I asked him why not, he replied, “Because I’m gay.”

Imagine how radically different our society would be if Christians would clothe themselves in love rather than the bigotry and hate that the media loves to capitalize on.

Slander inadvertently closes the door on Christianity. To non-Christians, it forms the idea that unless you conform to the level of judgmental piety we hold over you, you cannot receive the saving power of Christ. Slander has depreciated the Church and has detracted it from its mission of saving the lost, just as Christ set out to do (Luke 19:10).

What is tragically wrong with our society is that many people want to justify those who slander homosexuals, abortionists and even our nation’s leader by drawing on the Word. They believe they are correct in doing so. But this is a tragic flaw only made visible upon a life in submission to the Word. The Word of God does not treat the subject of slander so kindly. In fact, Scripture is pretty clear that we are never to speak of others in this way.

Ephesians 4:29-31 speaks to this: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up.” In what way does your talk build others up?

And then, it is no coincidence that the next verse talks about grieving the Holy Spirit. We literally grieve the Holy Spirit inside of us when we talk of others without love and grace.

Think about it like this. In Ephesians 3:16-17, Paul lays out an appeal to be sanctified because we have the Spirit inside of us. This means that the power of the Spirit within us is to be strengthened—not grieved! The work of Christ is to be matured within us. In Ephesians 4:15, love is shown as a maturing and measuring factor for us as a community, growing up into Christ. Is our community defined by love when we make statements that defame others? Do we profit from it as a community?

When we slander, we make a mockery of the truth of Scripture we proclaim. It does not make logical sense to defame and slander others with an arsenal of Christian conviction when Scripture clearly renounces this.

We must bow down, in humble submission to God’s Word, and set aside corrupting talk. Like Ephesians 4:15 says, we must speak the truth in love. This is a powerful statement. It is not enough to speak the truth alone. It matters just as much how we speak it—in love. And if you can’t say it in love, it’s best not to say it at all.

Imagine how radically different our society would be if Christians would clothe themselves in love rather than the bigotry and hate the media loves to capitalize on. Imagine if we could erase the reputation of Christian soapboxes and become known for our love and co-work with Christ’s redemption in His world.

50 Comments

Ben Suggs

1

Ben Suggs commented…

What Crystal Hill said!

Mapalo

3

Mapalo commented…

hmmm...don't know what's wrong with the Driscoll comment...Wondering what exactly we are advocating here...

Rob Schlapfer

2

Rob Schlapfer commented…

Younger evangelicals, especially, are increasingly embarrassed about things said by their leaders. That seemed to be the major theme of "Blue Like Jazz" — a popular book + film designed to mitigate such angst. But it isn't the manner in which these "hard things" are said that is at issue. {Although, granted, they can always be said with more love.} It is the *content* that is really the problem.

The Bible is full of difficult teachings — difficult for our contemporary culture to accept. Evangelicals have gotten good at glossing over many of them. {Listen to Tim Keller's expertise, for example.} But sometimes they are just stated in matter-of-fact ways — the square edges are exposed for what they are; lacking the "roundness" of smooth-talking, modern communication. People are given a real glimpse of the Bible's perspective about Hell, or Homosexuality, or Sin — hard things for non-believers to digest.

These things embarrass younger evangelicals because they want to be accepted by contemporary culture. They want to be cool, hip, and "relevant". But the Christian world-view, at least as the Bible presents it, is none of these things. The Gospel is something alienating and hard to swallow for modern folk, especially if they are reasonably educated.

Jesus said he came to bring a "sword" that would divide people. He was referring to his teaching; the "Christian worldview". What teaching? The teaching that is so hard, if not impossible, for contemporary non-believers to accept. What younger evangelicals are embarrassed about is the Biblical worldview *itself*. And with good reason: it does not comport with *reality* — what humans have come to KNOW about our world and our selves, especially in the last decade or two.

The fields of Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Psychology, among others, have given us a better understanding of what it means to be human. They also demonstrate how utterly wrong the Bible is — misguided, even. Younger evangelicals know this intuitively, hence their embarrassment when they encounter the honest biblicism of a Mark Driscoll comment, and others.

Rob Schläpfer

Elisa Kim

11

Elisa Kim commented…

Sadly, this article seemed one sided.
Where is the balance of "truth" in love.
There is condemnation we got to watch out for.
But permissiveness is also a problem with christians.
Like the ones who bless homosexual marriages
instead of standing by biblical truth.
This article was not finished.

Should write a part two and change it to adress
what speaking the Truth in Love looks like.
Especially in addressing the homosexuality issue.

We should not be afraid to stand by God's truth.
And we should not become so inclusive that we
allow for sin to be called good by been afraid to
call it what it is. I've heard this argument from a
christian before. And the three of us with this
fellow christian squirmed in our sits while this person
was slandering anybody that said anything against
the sin of homosexuality.

Bailey Herrstrom

1

Bailey Herrstrom commented…

Question: Yesterday I posted an article about a former Lesbian's response to the song "same love." It speaks of how we often make God's grace so little that it is unable to change our hearts. As if homosexuality is too greatly engrained in people that not even Christ on the cross could change it. I loved the stories theme of this young woman's redemption and forgiveness she found in Jesus. However, I was painted as intolerant for such a post. I never referenced any sort of scripture saying "homosexuals" cannot go to heaven. Instead, I pulled out scripture focused on the POWER of GOD to CHANGE HEARTS in those who accept him. My point being that God is a God of change and redemption. Still, the response was not good. I deleted the post because my words were futile. I wasn't reaching those who needed it anymore. I apologized. I used grace as hurtful words were chucked at me. I want to know...was I wrong?

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