The Cult of Christian Opinion

Yesterday, in my Facebook newsfeed, I came across a blogpost about another prominent Christian’s divorce from her husband. And, I’ll admit, I was curious, and I gave into the temptation to click and read on…

The whole ‘scandal’ left me feeling physically ill– but not for the reasons you may think. 

As I continued to this lady’s website, I read, in detail, about her husband’s continued transgressions. As this woman attempted to make her case for a Biblical divorce, she unwittingly opened herself up to increased criticism. Because, that’s the world of the Internet.  But what bothered me most is that, in writing such a post, she was forced to betray her God-given right to make her own life decisions in light of the personal counsel of the Holy Spirit.

What does this say about today’s Christian culture?

It seems to me that prominent Christians today feel the need to spend much of their time defending themselves against the impending judgment of other Christians. And that saddens me. Because, shouldn’t our faith embolden each of  us to live the life we are called to? Isn’t Christian freedom also about breaking free of the cult of public opinion? Sure, it will always continue to exert its pressure, but our response to it– Christianity tells us that matters. Are we actually living that way?

And, let me explain before getting too far ahead of myself– I don’t believe this particular woman did anything wrong. Even in airing out her husband’s infidelities as she explained the reason for filing for divorce. As far as I know, she spoke the truth from her own perspective. The issue, as I see it,  is why did she feel the need to explain herself in a public forum to other Christians she will likely never meet? She was exercising her right to divorce according to Biblical standards, according to her account of things. Shouldn’t that be enough?

It’s a dangerous dynamic at play here… the one where we subjugate ourselves and our Faith to the pressures of tribal conformity. And I know that, in my own self, overcoming this personal weakness has been an essential component of strengthening my faith. Which is why I cannot understand the perpetuation of this perverse act of judging the lifestyle choices of other Christians we don’t even know. If their choices don’t personally harm us, what right have we to berate them on behalf of God?

What hope is there for the broken-hearted, the imprisoned, the afflicted, and the oppressed if we cannot make room for Christian men and women to extricate themselves from abusive relationships without fear of condemnation, or further abandonment by their own body of believers? Does the world care about the Bible verses we quote to justify our lack of active love for one another? Hell-to-the-no! All they can see are a bunch of judgmental, holier-than-thou types moving in for the kill.  Again.

No Christian should feel the need to explain themselves preemptively. If we were truly practicing what we as Christians preach, other Christians would feel safe to admit their mistakes and shortcomings in proportion to their level of personal comfort. And not in proportion to another’s anticipated response. The Church should  be a safe place to be imperfectly human, and respectful of the boundaries of personal agency. Because the individual, and the freedom to choose, matters so much to God. So much so, that He sent His Son to pay the price for our inability to exercise our own agency in perfect accordance with His. This is the foundation of all Christian belief.  Why are we so quick to shove that truth aside? If God refuses to control us in His love of us, why do we insist on exerting social control over the private life of the individual and contend it’s “speaking the truth in love”? 

Anyway, here’s a passage from 2 Corinthians that expresses the ideal of Christian freedom better than I ever could. Enjoy:)

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stone tablets,came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at Moses’ face because of the glory of his face, a glory now set aside, how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! 

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. “
2 Corinthians 3:4-11,17-18 (NRSV)

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6 thoughts on “The Cult of Christian Opinion

  1. I think there’s a difference between people you know personally and people you don’t. If you don’t know someone personally, even if their celebrity status invites such speculation, I think it best to refrain from what is, most times, simply gossip.

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    1. Right. If I’m in a relationship of accountability with fellow Christians, I’ve already given them permission to insert themselves into my situation, and have a responsibility to retain a certain level of transparency with them. But, ideally, those people would be ones I know are wise enough to give me the guidance I need, instead of the judgment that harms.

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  2. Well expressed as always! I remember there were people who thought I should go into great detail about what was going on in my family and why I ultimately resigned the church. Christ’s opinion (not “Christian opinion”) is what matters. He knew my pain and healed my heart. If there is anything the Christian community should do, it is refrain from sharing their opinion and pray for this lady who I’m sure if dealing with deep hurt. That’s my opinion😀.

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    1. Matthew, thanks:) And that’s the thing that raises my dander… people going through a divorce are in pain– it’s not a time for fellow Christians to mete out personal judgment (is there ever a time it’s appropriate to do so?). It’s a time for the binding of wounds, not the throwing of stones.

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