The Hamster Wheel
I just left my last “Christian” board, and I’m not the only one. People no longer know how to discuss anything of importance, follow a train of thought or argument, disagree with civility, or separate the argument from the person. The boards run rampant with double standards, gossip, and betrayal, not to mention heresy and blatant false teachings. The so-called Christian world essentially fiddles while Rome burns, and the boards mostly operate at one of two extremes: a wild cage match whose religion is really conflict, or a sickly-sweet garden club whose religion is really etiquette. Real fellowship, real Bible study, real trust and character, are rare commodities these days. The “church” is distracted by programs and internal squabbling and has utterly failed to be the “salt and light” of the world, with few individual exceptions.
I used to think that such boards were a great place to learn and help others, and for a while I do believe that happened--- well, at least I learned a lot about people. And what I learned is that only a very precious few can be trusted. I’m a fiercely loyal person, but if someone I trust turns on me (especially over a secondary teaching), that trust will never return. It only happened on occasion in the past, but in recent years it has become the norm. People who will defend you on topics you agree on will suddenly become your worst enemies the moment you happen upon a topic where you disagree. And even moderators have shown an uncanny ability to take the most innocent statements as “goading and flaming” while ignoring blatant violations with obvious ill intent. I could cite examples of trumped-up charges that would make a police state blush.
More recently, this trend has spread to blogs and social networking sites. People you “friend” will not allow you to post your opinions on your own home page without feeling the need to get in your face about it. I personally just ignore or “hide” people whose comments/status updates irritate me. I don’t go to their “walls” to lambaste them about what they believe, I just post my own views on my own page, and they’re free to ignore me or “unfriend” me. So I get very angry when they don’t treat me with the same respect of free speech.
And this is the world we live in. We see this double standard all the time, in the media, the “protests”, government, everywhere. People want to impose their opinions and preferences on others, even while blasting those others for wanting to do the same thing. The world, and the “church” with it, has devolved into chaos and anarchy. Did the “church” structure/hierarchy prevent this? Did big government? So why do people look to those institutions for rescue from the ills of the church and world?
These discussions have become so futile and counter-productive, mere exercise that goes nowhere--- like a hamster wheel. But the way off this hamster wheel is to live on principle and character derived from the very nature of God. The Bible is where we learn this, yet this too has become a “double-edged sword” in more ways than one. The way people mangle and twist the scriptures has often made me wish those scriptures were still hidden by jealous control freaks. Most of the “isms and schisms” plaguing the Christian world would never have come to fruition without wide access to the scriptures. But the price would have been too steep; the ones who take the time to study and exercise discernment and patience would have been robbed of this great treasure, and injustices such as slavery would still be thought “natural” (yet, ironically, the subjugation of women still remains, though Christian women were instrumental in ending slavery in the US). Would we still know that Jesus rose from the dead without the written testimony of the eyewitnesses?
I’ve often said that the best way to test character is to disagree with someone on a topic they hold dear. The fact that many proclaiming Christ get nasty about opinion or tone but show no emotion about blasphemy (or even defend it!) tells me everything I need to know about their character, about what they really hold dear. What upsets you (or fails to upset you) is at least as telling as how upset you get or how you express it. I’ve mentioned this before concerning Bible prophecy (the bride not caring if her groom ever shows up), but it extends to every topic.
For all those reasons, the only message boards I’ll ever post in again will not have anything to do with religion or politics. The blogs I comment in will be very few if I post at all. Blogs have their own followings, and there is usually an inner core who cannot be disagreed with. (And I forgot till now to mention the practice of both boards and blogs of erasing or altering comments, removing evidence that could be used against them.) I have lost all hope of finding fellowship in this life and seem to have completely failed in my quest to be of some use to the Body of Christ. And while I’m sure there are quite a few people who cheer at the thought of being rid of me, we’ll see who’s cheering at the Judgment. My conscience is clear; nobody can say I never tried. But I cannot try anymore.