Thursday, June 4, 2015

Are You An Internet Pharisee?

Ever since the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started to encourage the church's members to have a more active presence on the Internet, share their beliefs and testimonies, and be an influence for good online, it seems that a large portion of well-behaved members have grossly misinterpreted this charge.

Instead of being shining examples of Jesus Christ, the posts in my news feed over the past few years appear more like they are written by tyrannical Pharisees who feel the need to jump right into the powder keg of emotionally charged political and socially controversial topics in order to "defend the faith" and "promote good."

The sad part is that the mud that these "good people" sling is only distinguishable from the rest of mud flying around from the mainstream media by its particularly potent stench of hypocrisy and it's ability to wound the broken-hearted and down trodden as it is flung in the name of "Christ"! 

These "Christian" Internet crusaders take a stand through their posts in the name of God in ways that are not only offensive, judgmental, and rude, but also in the most unChristlike tone.

Gay Marriage becomes legal in a state, they feel the need to "Share" the Proclamation on the family to remind everyone that they feel homosexuality is a sin. A transgender person makes the cover of a magazine, and they choose to share a dissertation about how transgender people have mental illness and throw in the family proclamation to justify their opinions as being those of Jesus Christ's! Popular Bloggers, feminists, or those whose opinions differ from the Official Church Rhetoric are excommunicated and these people feel compelled to remind everyone how those who express differing opinions are apostates and deserve to be "cut off" from God. Never in my life have I seen so much mud thrown in the name of God, Church, and defending beliefs, as I have in the past 10 years! And the sad part is, it is only increasing and the mud is hardening into stone!

In John Chapter 8 we read:

3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

And the mainstream media brought unto "them" a transgender on the cover of vogue, a homosexual couple adopting a child, a community of Muslims desiring to build a mosque, or whatever potential story or principle which is out of harmony with your particular religious beliefs.

6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

Never has the age old adage "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" been more applicable than in this day and age where it's easier to throw the stones of judgement and condemnation in relative anonymity from behind our computer screens. We don't even have to view the damage they cause or the harm they do.

10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

A true Christian believes that the ONLY one with the right to judge is Christ and we may well be surprised that he is a lot more understanding and forgiving than we mere mortals tend to be.

So, instead of wallowing in the mud and stirring the controversy in order to get more clicks, what SHOULD we be doing if we want to follow the counsel of Church leaders to flood the Internet with "Good"? 

The official Church Handbook states: 

"Members are encouraged to use the Internet to flood the earth with testimonies of the Savior and His restored gospel. They should view blogs, social networks, and other Internet technologies as tools that allow them to amplify their voice in promoting the messages of peace, hope, and joy that accompany faith in Christ."

"Members are encouraged to share messages from official Church websites and social accounts, as well as their own words, images, and media. As members express their own thoughts and feelings, they should not give the impression that they represent or are sponsored by the Church."
"As members use the Internet to hasten the work of the Lord, they should exemplify civility and focus on sharing praiseworthy messages that strengthen those with whom they come in contact."
Elder L. Tom Perry taught when speaking about the appropriate way to share the gospel online, "Our lives should be examples of goodness and virtue as we try to emulate His example to the world. Good works by each of us can do credit both to the Savior and His Church. As you are engaged in doing good, being honorable and upright men and women, the Light of Christ will be reflected by your lives."
No where in the "official" charge does it say stand up and defend the faith by pointing out what's wrong in others! 
There is so much good happening in the world! Instead of commenting on what we think is wrong, why do we not share the things that are right!? Articles that are uplifting and praiseworthy and ones that reflect people's good works. We should seek after these things as the 13th Article of Faith suggests. These are the types of articles we should be flooding the Internet with. These good works can be attributed to the light of Christ and an opportunity to bear testimony arises. 
When we take the time to sling mud these faith promoting articles get overlooked. The other day I learned about an amazing story of how a people who were destitute shared their means with another people whom they felt were in even greater need. This story was incredible, inspiring, faith-promoting and almost completely overlooked by the more titillating debate to pass judgement on the recent vogue cover! 
I have heard it said, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything," but if what you "stand for" is pointing fingers, passing judgement, and tearing other people down, then haven't you already fallen?!?
Here are four guidelines to use to evaluate the posts you write, read, and share on the Internet:
1. Does it build someone up or tear someone down? Whether or not you agree with the actions of the person - are you showing compassion and love to them or just condemning their actions?
2. Does it make you feel the spirit? Remember the fruits of the spirit are love, peace, meekness, gentleness, happiness. The spirit uplifts and invites and entices to do good. Or does it make you feel justified, vindicated, or "righteous" indignation? 
3. Does it open the door for you to share your testimony of Christ in a productive way where the spirit can be felt and both parties are edified together? Or, does it open the door for you to share your testimony to be received in a hostile and confrontational way? We call this bashing - usually the testimony bearing is just trying to be right, not trying to be kind!
4.  Does it use words like disagree, disgust, angry, enraged, or place you in a position where you feel you have moral superiority over others? Or does it teach correct principles and stir up your mind to the things the Savior taught?
If you find that you are on the wrong side of any of these guidelines you may want to reassess what you write, post, and share. They may in fact be the hurtful stones of a Pharisee instead of the helpful teaching tools of the Savior that you originally thought them to be.
It's ok to disagree with MOST of what the mainstream media shares and posts. I don't think it's a bright revelation that they generally do NOT represent the good in the world. But it's important to consider the WAY you disagree! The scriptures teach that you may know a true disciple of Christ by the fruit they bear. If all you have to offer are sour grapes about your disgust, disappointment, or disagreement with what other people are posting, sharing, or doing, then it's hard to see any "Good Fruit" you might possess. 
If you don't like that someone is being called a hero, why don't you share stories about some heroes in your life. How did they help you? How do they point to Christ? You needn't even mention what you are disagreeing with, because that would detract and detour from your message of Christ! If find a cover of a magazine pornographic, why draw more attention to it? Instead share articles about some people you find particularly virtuous. Bear testimony about how virtue has affected your life! Point to Christ! If we flood the Internet in this way, then we truly are allowing correct principles to be taught and hearts to change.
We need to re-examine our posts! If they in ANY way even suggest condemnation, passing judgement, or calling out sin we should remember those truly on the Lord's side don't cast stones! Let's take a higher road, and follow the counsel of our leaders, and most importantly the example of our Savior! 

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Glad you are blogging again. :)