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Many dogs don’t have rights. They live in a world of masters. Like a lot of people.
There are many ways to silence a dog. Just like there are many ways to silence a person. Many of these techniques have been used on me and my friends. I’ve been threatened. Hurt. Muzzled. Ignored. Shamed. Banished. I was going to include “put down”, but that carried a double connotation I didn’t want to entertain.
Christianity Today ran a twitter chat last night called #CTshame. The issue was about how Christian chatter on the internet contains a lot of shaming. “Christians, too, can get wrapped up in an accusatory, reactionary, defensive mentality designed to ‘call out’ and ‘expose’ the people we interact with online.” There have been “harsh words between leaders and bloggers”. The question is: “How can we be open to critical discourse without resorting to shame-based campaigns against one another? How can we launch conversations designed at building up and honoring the Body of Christ, rather than bringing people down?”
I didn’t participate in the chat, but I’ve read through it. Even though some validate online critiquing, many believe that critiquing others online is not cool and is considered shaming or even bullying and destructive to the Body of Christ.
This is my observation: The “leaders” Christianity Today is talking about have all kinds of platforms from which to tell their story: books, blogs, social media, networks and connections, publishing houses, speaking gigs, conferences, fans, followers, social media, lawyers, money, and then their friends that exponentially multiply all these platforms for them. The victims of their abuse of power have little to nothing.
So when a victim of someone who abused power shares their experience online, it’s shaming. They are bringing someone down. Their words are a harsh, accusatory, reactionary, and defensive calling out and exposing of the leader. It is not honoring to the Body of Christ and embarrassment to the church.
Let me tell you a little story that happened to me a few years ago. I wrote a rather positive post about a very prominent and popular Christian leader. That same day I got a private message from a young woman claiming this man sexually assaulted her. I’ll admit… her voice sounded shrill, irrational, hysterical, and even unbelievable. I have no idea where that story’s going to go. I’m just telling you this because this Christian leader has tons of resources to protect himself, including my own socially constructed presumptions about him built up by years of his popularity. But this young, isolated, unbelievable woman has nothing. She’s a voice crying in the wilderness. What if she decided to start sharing her experiences on her Facebook? She would probably be ridiculed into a corner. Silenced. Which is why she won’t do it. She wouldn’t dare expose herself to the shame that would be unleashed on her.
So where is the shaming? Is it shaming to call out leaders on their abuse of power that is happening every single day? Or is it shaming to silence the victims of this rampant abuse?
- Why is it more shameful to call out abuse than to abuse?
- Why is critiquing the abuse of power more embarrassing to the church than the abuse of power?
These are the questions burning in the minds of victims everywhere!
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