Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ugly Facebook Fights and Handwritten Letters

A while ago, I witnessed a very ugly Facebook attack between two people I know. One person was in the process of making a decision she would regret for the rest of her life and a family member, seeing that this person was repeating the mistakes her own parent had made, tried to warn her about that choice in a private text message. The warning was as polite and thoughtful as it can be when you have to tell someone they are being selfish and doing something they will regret for the rest of their life but this woman didn't take it well.  Instead, she posted a screen capture of the text message on Facebook and attempted to berate this loving family member for being "ugly" and "mean" and "judgmental." Another person (who was also making bad life-choices at least partially in response to her own parent's mistakes) jumped in, berating the family member who had sent the text, stating that loving and helping someone means that you "support them no matter what," by which she really meant that you condone and support any action the person you love takes, regardless of how irresponsible, sinful, or selfish that action may be. Together, these two tried to attack this family member who had tried to privately warn someone she loved about a terrible decision she was making.

The attack made me angry, in part, because this woman who didn't want to face the selfish nature of her actions chose to attack someone who acted in love and, in part, because they were pushing the lie that loving and supporting someone means never telling them when they are making bad decisions or doing something wrong. Proverbs 13:24 tells us, Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them (NLT). While this verse specifically talks about parent-child relationships, it echoes a sentiment that is found throughout all of scripture: loving someone means calling them on their sin so that they don't cause themselves harm. A loving response is not one that says, "I support you in your sinful act" but one that says, "I love you, but what you are doing is wrong and you're going to hurt yourself and others if you continue." A loving response says, "I love you too much to put your opinion of me before your welfare" and "I will always tell you the truth, even if you hate me for it."

At another end of the spectrum, when my wife and I decided to start trying to get pregnant, my best friend wrote me a long-handwritten letter telling me that he thought I was making a mistake and detailing a list of his reasons. Instead of getting angry, I called him and we talked about it. I explained our reasons for trying to have kids, several of which he was unaware of, and he accepted my decision. I don't know if he ever agreed with me, but he realized he hadn't seen the whole situation. I could have gotten angry and called him judgmental and told him to butt out. As far as I was concerned, he was wrong. But I consider him my best friend, in large part, because when he thinks I'm doing something stupid he is willing to call me on it. Even when he's wrong, he cares about me enough to tell me the truth and I know he cares about me so I'm willing to listen.

Loving and supporting someone doesn't necessarily mean you keep your mouth shut when they are doing something stupid and the fact that someone tells you you're being selfish doesn't mean they are judgmental. Sometimes we are being selfish and only the people who truly love us will call us out for it. Only fools get angry with someone for being honest, even if they are honestly wrong. And only uncaring people keep their mouths shut when they see someone about to hurt themselves.

Signing God's Non-Disclosure Agreement

Suggested Reading: Romans 11:33-12:2 In the television series Stargate SG-1 , the United States Air Force controlled an alien device call...