Don’t upset Jesus!


I just read another piece calling out someone for calling out someone else. Maybe there was a third level of calling out in there. I’m not sure. It’s all pretty muddled at this point. The point is, calling out people is bad and we need to call them out on it.

There aren’t many things that make me want to quit blogging, but the unending circle of making sure we’re morally superior to “those other guys” is one thing that makes me vaguely consider it.

Let me be very clear. I am totally okay with people writing blogs wherein they disagree with the writing/teaching/tweeting of any other person. It’s usually big names like Mark Driscoll or John Piper or Rachel Held Evans or Rob Bell. They do something that rubs someone the wrong way. So folks will write about it. Some will write about the actual content, some will attack character. Some will look for dialog, some are using the names to get blog hits.

Whatever. It’s how blogging works. I get that. Most of the time, even if the content is less desirable, there can be positive outcomes from the discussion about their words. There may be clarification offered, or sometimes an apology for something that was stated poorly. It’s not always pretty, but it’s often beneficial.

But then? Then comes the part that I hate.

We see that the person that we like got called out for their words. And we don’t like that.

So we get all hyper-spiritual and we start writing about unity in Christ. And we write about Matthew 18 and going to our brother privately. And we write about being silent. (Because nothing contributes to silence like another thousand words or so about the subject.)

Here’s the deal. I don’t think that Jesus has a whole lot to do with it. Mostly, we just don’t like that the person or the ideology that we associate with is under attack. Or sometimes even just questioned. It feels a lot like WE are being scrutinized.

It doesn’t sound great to say, “Please don’t pick on my friend,” or “Please don’t question my belief system.” So instead we make it about Jesus or the Church. Instead of “Don’t upset my friend,” it becomes “Don’t upset Jesus!”

But seriously, can we stop? Not the discussion of ideas. But the discussions about those discussions.

And if we can’t stop that, can we at least be honest? Can we please stop dragging God into it?

It sucks when someone who is a friend gets run through the shredder. I hate seeing someone who I know being called names because I know that it actually hurts that person. They’re not just a persona, they’re a real person who has feelings. It can be really tempting to want to get spiritual about how hurtful it is to the Church when we tear down a brother or sister in Christ. But that’s not why I’m upset. I just don’t like seeing my friend in pain.

That’s okay. We’re allowed to empathize with our friends. I think it’s good when we do.

But I don’t think we’re doing ourselves or our faith any favors by dragging God into these arguments. Instead, we make it seem like we worship some petty deity who gets humphy because this blogger called out that pastor or because that pastor called out this author.

By all means, stick up for your friends and for your beliefs. Let your friends know that you care about them, and let us know that you care about your beliefs.

But stop bringing Jesus into it. It’s just making me absolutely crazy.

And I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t want that.

  • Ed_Cyzewski

    Thanks for calling us out on the way we call out those who are calling out others… Or something like that. But seriously, I know that I have a hard time empathizing with someone who feels that his/her position has been attacked if I don’t agree with it. It’s tough to be fair and balanced.

    I also really love this line: “Because nothing contributes to silence like another thousand words or so about the subject.”

    • Alise Wright

      I really DO think that sometimes there is a need for silence and I don’t think that it’s necessarily bad to remind people about that (I loved Shawn Smucker’s post the other day at Deeper Church about the need for silence). More than anything, I just want us to cut the bullshit and be honest about why we’re upset. If I don’t respond in the first couple minutes of X fight, it’s not usually some super spiritual reason.

      But you already know that I think you’re one of the best about this.

  • Sarah Askins

    Oh my soul, yes to all this! I wish we could simply keep our disagreements over ideas and not attack the person. Crap like this makes me want to quit the internet daily.

    • Alise Wright

      Yeah, I would FAR prefer discussions to be about ideas. And I think we bump up close to that every now and again. I just wish we could leave Jesus out of it. Or at least admit that it’s our brand of Jesus that is offended. ;)

  • Jim Fisher

    YES!! … And your “one word for better love” — empathy.

    In Kathryn Schulz’s book, “Being Wrong” she points out that certainty kills empathy. We run into people out here in the blogosphere who hide behind their barricades of certainty pitching rocks at our friends. It sucks. And as Brene Brown points out, empathy and love and a whole bunch of other great things start out with vulnerability (“Daring Greatly”). And when a friend has the courage to be open, honest, transparent and vulnerable, to dare greatly. in a public forum those who do NOT respond with empathy are really doing the rest of us a disservice (I really tried to word that nicely) who want to empathize, learn, and grow.

    But what do I know? I’m just making this stuff up.

  • Amber Lee Peace

    On one of the posts yesterday, I struggled to make my comment stay on topic. I had to keep it brief. I admitted I wanted to stray. From the idea to defending. But I didn’t! It was a personal victory.

  • Kimberly Moore Waggoner

    Slow clap. This is perfectly said, Alise!

  • Lisa Colón DeLay

    nothing ironic to see here, people ;)

    gosh, Alise, I love you.

    • Micah @ Redemption Pictures


  • Micah @ Redemption Pictures

    This is true. I would add that sometimes, when people have devolved into rounds of “the Bible clearly says” and “well, you obviously hate Jesus” (like those shenanigans they were saying about RHE a few days ago on that one site), no amount of calling out or peaceful discourse or anything will do any good.

    Some people have no empathy, no self-awareness, an endless amount of tolerance for cognitive dissonance, and no desire to change. At that point, it’s usually best to shake one’s head and back away slowly.

    • Warwick

      I wish I could like your comment twice! Dealing with a similar mentality from a friend who just dissed on two well recognised OT scholars and a Jewish friend because the don’t fit his model of Genesis 1 “should” mean.

  • Kelly J Youngblood

    I have tried not to get involved in those types of conversations, for a couple of reasons. I don’t want to just defend someone who I like just because I like them, plus, there are a LOT of people who jump in on the conversations. I also have seen people I disagree with called out, and that has disappointed me too, because while those doing the calling-out seem to think it is their job and they are being informative to the rest of us, I sense that there is also something mean-spirited about it. I’m not totally sure what the answer is, because I think there are things that genuinely need to be addressed and not ignored…but…there’s a lot of grace and love missing.

    • Alise Wright

      Yeah, I mostly try to stay out, but I know that can be hard. And I don’t know that we have to stay out of them altogether. I just want us to be honest about why we’re involved. And I often think that our super-spiritual reasons are not so much why we’re involved. That’s okay, but just tell the truth.

      • Jim Fisher

        Kelly, Alise, Sarah – you all know me, at least a little. I have not engaged with the self-appointed gatekeepers of right belief very often. Twice, I think.

        It pains me to read the vitriolic comments. It pains me as I empathize with RHE and y’all as the internet Pharisees pelt you with rocks.

        Know that I pray for you all daily. And I pray that the Holy Spirit continue to do Her work much better than any of us could in the cold hearts of those barricaded behind their certain, stolid orthodoxy.

  • Sarah Bessey

    Good word, Alise.

  • Jessica

    First off, that first paragraph is golden.

    Second off, I think I may know the article in question and I thought it was a bit off base, as well. People.

  • Jennifer Luitwieler

    Two things. (I hope I can limit myself. Once I get going, you know how it is.) First the title cracks me up. It makes it sound like Jesus is some cranky drunk in the back room with a nasty hangover and if we kids aren’t quiet he’s gonna get out the whip. It makes me laugh that people use that, and it makes me laugh that they don’t see any irony or hypocrisy in that.

    Second. Yeah. I don’t write about these conversations, or pay much attention to them for that matter. Because it’s all just a big circle jerk (if you’ll pardon the expression) of my argument and her argument and their argument, and it’s just so much arguing, about an argument. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Plus, it just gives these blowhards (some of those people you listed above are just that, ahem) more clickthroughs. Stop the madness folks.

    If it doesn’t upset Jesus, the cranky drunk in the back room, it certainly upsets me. And nobody wants that.

  • BlessingCounter

    Great post Alise! I have trouble understanding why it is so difficult for people to disagree without getting ugly. I love a good debate, but I hate when it turns into a personal attack. If we are supposed to be know as followers of Christ by the way we love, we need to make some changes. Thanks for this!

  • Bethany Suckrow

    You hit the nail on the head with this, friend. Thanks for calling it like it is, and thanks for doing it without taking one specific person to task over it. I think it’s important to talk about the issues – sexual ethics, feminism, gender equality, the list goes on – but I am SO TIRED of the constant back and forth between different people getting mad at each other. It so quickly becomes a sh*tfest of insults and fall-outs, when the very reason the conversation got started was because we were trying to learn to love each other better. You are such a great example for the rest of us, Alise. Thank you.

  • Miles O’Neal

    “But stop bringing Jesus into it. It’s just making me absolutely crazy.
    “And I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t want that.”

    I think every paragraph was my favorite, but as Jerry Clower once said, “”Lawd, what an endin’!”

    I have noticed that about 90%[1] of the time when someone says, “The Bible clearly says…”, either it doesn’t clearly say that, or translations vary a good bit, or they have taken it out of context.

    [1] Or maybe it was 73% or 99 44/100%. But it’s definitely a number, and I’m certain it’s Biblical. Don’t piss off Jesus by sweating which exact number it is!

  • Monika Jankun-Kelly

    It doesn’t sound great to say, “Please don’t pick on my friend,” or “Please don’t question my belief system.” So instead we make it about Jesus or the Church. Instead of “Don’t upset my friend,” it becomes “Don’t upset Jesus!”

    Truth! Truth! And it applies to anyone who uses any organization or revered authority as an excuse for airing their personal grievance or defending their own beliefs. Wish we never saw this in academia, but it’s sometimes there. Objectivity and civility require a thick skin!