I’m sad to say that there are times where I feel almost ashamed for being Christian. Some people would take that statement and run with it making assumptions of my “lacking” faith. But that statement is to be used purely within the context of when you see other people, proclaiming to be Christian, do or say something to blaspheme the work of Christ on the cross. For instance, I feel like a good number of us are ashamed by the actions of Westboro Baptist!
I say this to bring up the issue of slander. It is a poisonous and divisive weapon that Christ never authorized us to use, no matter the circumstance.
January 21st marked MLK day and the inauguration of President Obama. Twitter was ablaze with commendation and condemnation for the President. While scrolling through my Twitter feed, I was surprised to see a tweet from Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church state, “Praying for our President, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.” Equally as divisive was prominent Christian leader Shaun King’s response to Mark Dricscoll’s tweet (which I will not post due to an excessive use of profanity).
Bold words from Christian leaders.
Now disclaimer: I love Mark Driscoll’s ministry. I don’t like what he did, but I love what he is doing. He is doing mighty work for the Kingdom, and I respect him for that. But realize, this post is aimed at his action, not his character.
At first glance, Pastor Mark’s statement does not look so slanderous. To begin with, he notes that he is praying for our leader (which we should do), and that indicates concern from him. Yet that concern is countered by assumptions he makes that in turn, negatively affects Obama’s character.
Understand me on this: this is not a debate on Obama. This is an issue on slander, and worse, slander coming from Christian leaders. I understand many people want to justify Pastor Mark on what he said by drawing on the Word, but when you live in submission to the Word, you find that the Word does not treat the subject of slander so kindly. In fact, Scripture is pretty clear that we are not to do it.
Ephesians 4:29-31 speaks to this. It says in clear words: “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? Did Pastor Mark’s words build the character of our nation’s leader up?
And then, in the next verse, it is no coincidence that it talks about grieving the Holy Spirit. We literally grieve the Holy Spirit inside of us when we slander! 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 Eph. 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?
I am writing this post from the standpoint of someone who is deeply hurt to the bones by how my fellow brothers and sisters in faith can use the Word to justify slanderous speech. Especially Christian leaders.
We must reconcile the slandering Christian by realizing that man is fallible, but the truth and conviction of Scripture is infallible. When we slander, we make a mockery of the truth of Scripture we proclaim. It logically does not make sense to pick up the use of slander in your Christian arsenal when Scripture clearly denotes it. We must bow down, in humble submission to God’s Word, and set aside the slanderous talk that corrupts our lives. Like Eph. 4:15 says, we must speak the truth in love. This is a powerful statement. The truth, meaning the conviction of Scripture (and that includes not slandering), must be spoken in love.
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. We would do more justice in representing the truth of the Father, Son, and Holy Sprit, working for the redemption of this world.