I’ve been reading Churched: One Kid’s Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess by Matthew Paul Turner, aka @JesusNeedsNewPR on Twitter (and I’m a follower). It’s Turner’s story of growing up in a fundamentalist church, and I’ve stopped counting the laugh-out-loud moments. And then, just as I started reading it, Turner found himself in the middle of an online firestorm.
What Turner did was criticize theologian and author John Piper.
And it was all over a tweet by Piper on Twitter: "Is anyone really addicted to porn? Put a blow torch in their face; they will turn off the computer. IF they believe its real."
Turner took exception – a big, fat, whopping exception – to that statement. Read his blog post – he says it better than I can summarize it.
There was a reaction. As of last night, there were 82 comments on that post. Turner had to remove 15 because of their content (these are Christians, people; Christians!). The firestorm carried over to other blogs; on one, a commenter said he’d like to strangle Turner.
It’s hard to imagine, but the people involved in all of this are part of the body of Christ. Or claim to be.
If you follow Turner on Twitter, or read his blog or his books (I do all three), you will quickly learn that he’s not your typical Christian writer. He’s sarcastic; he makes fun of a lot of our sacred cows; and he’s edgy, sometimes beyond edgy. He’s all three in Churched. And he takes positions on some issues that I don’t agree with. But I never thought of strangling him because of it.
Just so you know, I also follow John Piper’s blog and his web site; I’ve read some of his books. Piper is not sarcastic; he doesn’t take on sacred cows; and he’s not what I would call an edgy writer. I like what he writes, and he writes a lot. And I’m closer in age to Piper than to Turner, and if I had to choose which Sunday worship service to attend, I’d probably follow in Piper’s footsteps.
But in this case, if I understand Piper’s statement on Twitter correctly, I think Piper is wrong and Turner is right. Pornography can be and often is an addiction. I don’t think I would have said it the way Turner did, but, hey, that’s his style and that’s how he writes (and how he tweets; his running commentary on the Country Music Awards last night was a total stitch, and I wasn't even watching the program). I also find it hard to believe that Christians can get as vicious as they have over this, but it’s pretty clear that they did.
And that’s what hurts. We can do better than this.
As I get deeper into Churched, I’m learning something. There’s sarcasm, and edginess, and ridicule, to be sure, but there’s something else there, too, and it’s surprising me because I didn’t expect it.
It’s called tenderness, and affection, and caring. Would some of his critics have shown a little bit of that.