Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Churched" and a Firestorm

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.


Jessica Turner said...

Thank you for your kind post.

Maureen said...

Would that everyone might have your perspective, Glynn, to reason thoughtfully, to accept with understanding , to be kind no matter what, to value differences of opinion.

There is so much ugliness in the world. . . and altogether too many people who contribute to it.

This morning's Washington Post has a lengthy article titled "Publicly, a whole new lewdness: Everywhere you look, porn is suddenly inescapable"; interesting how this topic and the posts come at the same time.

Jessica Turner said...

Your kind balanced words are very much appreciated... thank you...

Anne Lang Bundy said...

Comments have been disabled on Mr. Turner's blog, where I wanted to ask if he considered porn or Mr. Piper the foremost enemy.

It's always interesting to watch politicians. Before the primaries, the infighting is vicious. After the primaries, they suddenly patch things up to attack a new enemy. Then after the election, do we really expect these people to effectively unite on what betters the country?

I can never feel good to see infighting among Christians on any level, when we fall prey to the devil's ploy of "divide and conquer." We are one body. It is not possible to tear down or weaken any member of the body without making ourselves less effective.

When Jesus used strong language with legalists, He was not speaking to those on His side. To His Own, His words of truth held only grace.

Anonymous said...

the more that we, as believers in Christ, can see the good and the bad in a person, and still treat them with the Love of God, the more we will see the truth of God and His Love.

a blessed circle instead of a vicious circle.

travelmom said...

I actually found Turner's response startling and mean spirited. I believe he overshot here and really came across quite petty. He hurled personal assaults against another brother contending for the faith. I am not against "edginess", but his attack was bizarre and obviously filled with baggage against Mr. Piper. It did not enlighten me, it muddied the waters and was a smear to the gospel and any who bear the name, Christian. The difference here, for me, is that he did not simply "criticize theologian John Piper," he slandered him personally. Whether a christian agrees w/ Mr. Piper's statement or not, is not what's at issue here. The issue is about how do we graciously disagree with a brother or sister in the Lord. We are image bearers of Christ, shouldn't we look different from those who rip each other apart for sport in the public arena, or does this even matter?