What Happened The Day Facebook Blew Up In My Face

What Happened The Day Facebook Blew Up In My Face

Last week I published an article entitled, “You Cannot Be A Christian And Support The NRA,” and shared it on Facebook and Twitter.

Within hours it blew up my Facebook wall. Since I don’t check Facebook while I’m working, I didn’t know what was happening until friends started texting me.

By mid-day, there were 83 blistering comments, mostly from people I didn’t know. The majority of them were pastors.

This entire ordeal disturbed me for a two reasons.

The Title Was Terrible

The title I chose distracted readers from engaging with the message of the article.

90% of the negative comments came because people thought I was suggesting that I believed someone couldn’t be a Christian and be an NRA supporter. I was completely taken back by this. It honestly didn’t even occur to me (or the four people I gave the article to read prior) that people would come to this conclusion after reading the article.

I was speaking in an overstated fashion to make the point that NRA-loving Christians should re-evaluate pledging their loyalty to an organization, which in my opinion, stands at cross-purposes

with the gospel. I knew the article would be controversial, but not because of this!

For 25 years of ministry, I have staunchly defended the evangelical doctrine of Sola Fide (i.e. justification by “faith alone”). We obtain the righteousness of God because of the substitutionary atonement of Christ’s death on the cross, and it is imputed to us by faith, not works. Surely, I assumed, that anyone that knows me, heard me preach, read my books, followed my blogs, or tracked my staunch defense of classical evangelical doctrine throughout my 25 years of ministry would know that I wasn’t launching a soteriological and ontological debate regarding the possibility of a person jeopardizing their salvation by supporting the NRA.

But listen, their misperceptions are my problem as a writer, not their problem as a reader. It’s obvious that I did not make my point clear enough. I am in no way sorry about what I wrote about the NRA, but I am truly sorry that I might have given some the impression that disagreeing with me on a non-essential matter of opinion meant they weren’t authentic believers.

For that, I am truly sorry. Please forgive me.

Non-Christians Got A Front Seat To Watch Christians Act Cruelly On Social Media

How pastors handled themselves in the conversation was frightfully embarrassing. If you didn’t see it, count yourself lucky.

My integrity was questioned. My intelligence was questioned. I was mocked.

But here’s the thing: it’s one thing to attack me. I can handle it.

It’s quite another thing to attack a college kid coming to the defense of his pastor, and then have three theologically educated middle-aged pastors with over 60 years of combined experience 

simultaneously jump on him, typing some of the most derogatory statements I’ve read anywhere. TO. A. KID.

When I saw this happen I became furious and blocked every single one of them, took screen shots of all the comments, then took down the post on Facebook.

It was the most asinine display of Christian immaturity I’ve ever witnessed in 25 years of ministry, and I deeply regret allowing their comments to continue without immediately shutting the whole thing down.

Redeeming Moments You Didn’t See

The cool thing that was happening behind the scenes, that nobody saw, was the dozens of people who messaged me throughout the day to encourage me. Not all of them agreed with me, but all wanted to let me know they appreciated what I was trying to do, that they knew I was being misunderstood, and that they appreciated that I wasn’t responding in kind. For your kindness, thank you.

Here is a meme a good friend created soon after this happened (which was hysterical!)

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that everyone that commented on the thread was mean-spirited. That was not the case. There were some who disagreed but were very respectful and articulate in the way they shared their ideas in the conversation. For your thoughtfulness, thank you.

How To Deal With Trolls

But the trolls. Oh, what to do with the trolls? In the words of my friends from the south, “Bless their hearts.”

How do I handle mean-spirited comments online? You may not think it’s a good approach, but I choose to never respond. I will not give trolls the dignity of a response.

I get attacked. I say nothing.

Question my intelligence? I say nothing.

Question my character? Again, I say nothing.

I just happen to think that 1 Peter 2:21-23 tells us that is what Christians are supposed to do.

Did I contribute by picking an unclear title to a blog post? Absolutely. I’m still kicking myself over that. But you and I disagree with dozens of people every day on social media, but we never act like this. Ever.

Why? Because the guidelines for Christian behavior apply wherever we are, especially online.


Five Things I Learned From A Facebook Failure

So to sum up this whole ordeal, I thought I’d share with you a few things I learned from last week’s experience:

  1. Always be kind, even when others aren’t.
  2. Friends will appear where you least expect them.
  3. Turns out people really like guns.
  4. Don’t give people the impression you think they can lose their salvation over a cultural issue if that’s not your intent. Hyperbole is hard to pick up on, so make it clear, especially if you claim to be a writer.
  5. Always be kind, even when others aren’t.

    Friends, I appreciated your constructive feedback, I heard you, and I will do better.

    Thank you.



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