Until recently, I hadn’t been very open about many beliefs on social media because I am incredibly sensitive. Life is so much more vivid for me than many, not in just the good, but in the bad things that happen. And social media is a highly volatile place. Opinion reigns supreme and actual discussion instead of “yelling” is rare.
But in recent months, I’ve become more open about my lack of political affiliation, my stance against Trump, my beliefs in human rights, my anti-racism standards, and other “controversial” subjects. I cannot remain silent, even though I know deep wounds will be gouged into my heart by people on social media. My conscience won’t let me.
I am a people-pleaser. I am sensitive. The hurt will happen. Period. But that is not a weakness and it is not a reason to remain silent. As one friend put it, “The silence of the church is deafening.”
Most responses have been gracious, supportive, and loving. I have invited actual discourse on the issues people may disagree with me on. That is not an invitation for argument but for a conversation on the matters. Arguments accomplish nothing except generally proving someone is a jerk.
The only inflammatory responses I have received have been from white, conservative, evangelical males and one white, conservative, evangelical female. Most of these responses have been belittling, condescending, and sexist. One person sent a private message to me in response to a public statement I made, telling me that I was “falling for the liberal, fascist agenda.”
Calling a Jewish woman a fascist is pretty offensive to begin with, but then to also place quotation marks around the title of bishop because the church leader I referenced is a woman is equally offensive, especially because this offense was intentional.
Yesterday, I shared my own experiences about sexual assault in the church and by a stranger on a hiking trail. The response from a white male evangelical was to say he was sorry I was treated poorly, then tell me that I should “know” that a female cannot be a pastor, completing missing the point of my commentary and the article to which that commentary was tied. The article? “These Evangelical Women Are Abandoning Trump and the Church.” The topic? The #MeToo Movement and evils done to women in the name of “Christianity.”
My initial thought to this sexist response was that I should give a snarky comment back. I’ve got a lot of Biblical training, 32+ years as an active Christian, Bible degrees, etc. and certainly didn’t need to hear his arguments against women as pastors as though I’d never heard them before. I thought about saying, “Thanks for mansplaining this to me!” or more inflammatory remarks.
I did point out that telling me I should “know” something is belittling and sexist and that he missed the point of the post. He responded, again, that women can’t be pastors, still missing the point.
Again, I was tempted to remark in sarcastic ways.
But the reality is, sarcasm and inflammatory speech do nothing to change minds. Folks won’t simply flip their views of racism, sexism, and other bigotries because I scream back across the internet.
So, I write what I’d LIKE to say and then scrap it. Getting the words out helps me even if not anyone else. And then I craft reasonable responses that not only speak of how the arguments miss the point but point out things like red herrings, straw man fallacies, etc. This is far more effective than letting my emotions fly free on the wings of snarky, inflammatory words.
And though I doubt that my reasonable responses will affect change with the people who’ve been arguing with me (when you only care about being right, you’re not actually listening), I do have hope that someone watching on the sidelines will hear and learn, and maybe that’s how some good might come of all this.