Postmodern culture equates love with unquestioning approval — as long as we unquestionably approve of politically correct people, behaviors or causes. When we question people or views that the majority of people enthusiastically support, we usually receive harsh tongue lashings condemning our unloving positions.
Oh, the irony!
Yesterday we started looking at questions people on opposite sides of a given issue can should ask themselves in the midst of disagreements. Since I’m currently embroiled in heated debates as a discernment blogger, I’ve chosen to illustrate my thoughts by challenging discernment bloggers and our critics to examine how lovingly we deal with conflict. But please don’t imagine that the principles in this series of articles apply exclusively to discernment bloggers and our critics. They actually apply to all Christians.
As we did yesterday, let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as the basis of our self-examination:
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (ESV)
Today I’d like to move a little more quickly than we did yesterday, so let’s consider envy and boasting as two sides of the same coin. Envy desires another person’s position, while boasting elevates oneself over someone — perhaps even over the person you envy.
In most cases, reputable discernment bloggers don’t envy the teachers we call out. That said, every discernment blogger should routinely ask herself if she envies a false teacher’s money, fame or influence. If so, does she subtly boast about her discernment skills or Biblical knowledge in order to exalt herself over the false teacher?
By the same token, critics of discernment bloggers need to evaluate whether or not they secretly envy bloggers. Frankly, I don’t see envy as a typical characteristic of our critics, but I wouldn’t rule it out. And do they dispute with us in an effort to display that they understand the teachers they defend better than the discernment blogger does? Do they argue their cases with a determination to demonstrate their ability to send a blogger home with her tail between her legs?
Similarly, love is not arrogant or rude. Now 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 doesn’t seem so pretty! Twitter overflows with arrogance and rudeness as people viciously attack each other for mere sport. Those who tweet the most about love seem to be the worst offenders.
Does the discernment blogger proudly throw darts at false teachers with an attitude of moral superiority? In doing so, does he dispense with any form of politeness or consideration? Does his craving to be proven right lead him to justify cruel comments about the teacher’s appearance, family or personal life rather than holding that teacher’s teaching and/or sinful actions against the standards of God’s Word?
Critics can arrogantly pretend to know the motives of discernment bloggers, however. Do they proudly declare that the blogger wrote his post with the primary goal of promoting his blog? Where did they get such access to the blogger’s secret thoughts? Do they then treat him as a moron incapable of doing responsible research? Do they rudely put words in his mouth?
Love doesn’t insist on its own way. I don’t believe we need to say a great deal about this point. Both discernment bloggers and critics should ask themselves if they’re honestly interested in the truth, or if they just want to win an argument. If proven wrong, will a discernment blogger write a retraction? Will critics admit a mistake in judgment?
I want to close on this point by speaking directly to those who criticize my participation in the Open Letter To Beth Moore. I have made a commitment to retract the letter if any of my critics link me to documentation that Beth Moore has stated a position either way on homosexuality since MLK50. Yes I saw her tweet denouncing sexual immorality, and I directly asked her if that blanket term (for her) includes loving, committed same sex relationships. If I’ve missed her response, please show me my error and I will happily write a retraction. Doing so would show love.