Christianity has a real problem with voyeurism. No, I am not talking about peeping through people’s windows at night. I am talking about watching other Christians fight in public. When one prominent Christian says something, another responds with sharp criticism. Then the vultures begin circling via social media looking down to see who is vulnerable. The comments start flying and things get ugly.This isn’t just a thing for celebrity ministers. This can happen in local ministry with less than well known ministers as well. People get torn apart with little to no concern for their well being or for reconciliation.
It isn’t right.
It isn’t right to revel in someone else’s pain. It isn’t right to get enjoyment by watching other people suffer. It happens every single day on social media and we should be ashamed. This is one reason why I am not a fan of “open letters.” When you call something an open letter it draws the vultures. In the web world a post entitled “open letter” often gets 10-20 times the traffic as posts without that title. I don’t have any statistics behind that number but I have witnessed it first hand by talking with people I know who have posted letters like that. People want to peer into places they would not normally be allowed, to read or hear or see things they might not normally get to experience. Often that thing is the suffering of another person.
It is hard to take your eyes off of a train wreck. We have to train our eyes to see people differently. No one will do it for you. No one will help you to see the good in people rather than the bad. You have to want to see people differently than you already do.
I want to close with this thought. The problem with Christian voyeurism is that someone gets joy out of someone else’s pain without feeling any sort of Christian connection, community or commitment with that person. It is like spiritual pornography…getting pleasure out of the interaction without a commitment to the well being of the other person or people. That is not how we are called to act, think or see people. These posts would mostly go away if we didn’t feed them. We would stop circling the carcasses if we saw how unhealthy the meal was.
Very true. It reminds me of when no one ever came to the defence of the young people when they were frequently condemned to hell by preacher after preacher sometimes not for their own sins but for the sins of others. I know it may seem fun to watch but would God be happy when you delight in it?
Such important truth, and so foreign to our contemporary world of instant, exponentially augmented communication. (I think I’ll take advantage of that and give this some instant exposure on social media, in hopes that it may encourage someone to think before they click on other things….)
Some of the sayings of John, a monk in Gaza, remind one of advice columns in the daily newspaper. He was once asked: “If someone is not actually criticizing another person but is gladly listening to criticism, is he also condemned for that?” To which he replied: “Even listening gladly to criticism is criticism.” –Just read that while ago, in an interview with Robert Wilken