Header Image: Jars of Clay in Toronto, by Ian Muttoo (https://www.flickr.com/photos/imuttoo/)

By now, most people (in Christian circles, at least) will have heard about the Jars of Clay controversy. For those that are thinking "how on earth could there be controversy over some jars?" let me clarify: they are a contemporary Christian music band. The controversy is because the frontman, Dan Haseltine, tweeted some thoughts on the topic of gay marriage.

Shocking, I know.

 

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This is what started it all:

 

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Plus many, many, more tweets as time went on, with the whole twitter/blogosphere alight with this madness. Apparently even some radio stations had pulled Jars of Clay's music because of this assumed support of gay marriage by Dan, and by association, the band too. Dan has since issued an apology on his blog, and expanded on his thoughts in ways which the twitter character limitations wouldn't allow him to previously.

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But as much of a hot-button topic as gay rights within the Church is, it is not what I want to talk about now. No, what got me was the way in which the Christians reacted to this news about JoC and the tweets, and how all the bloggers etc. exploded with articles with some hints of condemnation.

jars_of_clay.jpg
Jars of Clay at Toronto, Canada. Photo: Ian Muttoo

Though I do agree that twitter probably wasn't the best place to voice such questions and thoughts, which I do think were genuine and not merely provocative, that doesn't excuse the way in which people responded.

 

It all comes across as very judgemental, mean and downright nasty in some comments. Completely Christ-like behaviour. Obviously.

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The whole things just comes across very much with the tone of "you can't question this belief or that doctrine"; but which beliefs and doctrines — well that's entirely up to whoever you speak to! Though in recent times, questioning issues relating to homosexuality — whether secular or Christian related thoughts, can get you in some hot water with certain groups and people.

Which is exactly what happened with Jars of Clay. Just take a browse through Dan's twitter feed or the Jars of Clay Facebook page to see the reactions to his thinking out loud.

I can't embed Facebook comments, but to give an idea of some responses I'll post a few screenshots which I've taken, and some which Patheos also took when they covered the story:

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It all comes across as very judgemental, mean and downright nasty in some comments.

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And my "favourite" has got to be the call to go and basically commit suicide using a veiled reference to Luke 17:2 –

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Since writing this will probably come across to some as though I'm not "toeing the party line" on the issue, this comment pretty much sums up my sentiments on the "gay issue" as far as this post will go:

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Whether you agree, disagree, call it sin or not – the fact of the matter is is that the laws of the land (whichever land you happen to be in) are not based on our beliefs. You may say the Bible is your ultimate authority in and for life, but that doesn't make it so for everyone else, and especially not for those in government who dictate the laws. Sometimes I think the sooner we realise that, the better off the Church as a whole would be.

 

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It was only last week I was writing a similar post about the online actions of Christians and how unloving they were in regards to Google not posting an Easter themed "doodle". This week it's the similarly unloving actions and attitudes towards someone who dared to question. It's not like it was asking or seeking heretical doctrine, but simply trying to get to the root of an issue. As a friend of mine also blogged last week, "Could your Evangelical Church be Unhealthy?" he addressed the issue of cult-like mindsets that can creep into some churches. Point 5 especially comes to mind now: "SACRED SCIENCE - The ideology is given special/sacred status and cannot be critiqued."

If no one is allowed to question and seek, then how can anyone come to the Faith fully and completely? Christianity is not "blind faith" (as much as some would try to say otherwise), but is based on the teachings and actions of a real man and was spread by the testimonies and accounts of eye-witnesses. Even before Jesus, the Psalmist declared, "O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him" (Ps 34:8) — that's a challenge right there to do something, to actually try your faith and see that God is there and real. This faith is a demonstrable one.

But I digress. As to the title of this post:

Proverbs 6:16-19

There are six things that the Lord hates,
    seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
    and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that hurry to run to evil,
a lying witness who testifies falsely,
    and one who sows discord in a family.

From the way Christians are reacting to things like this, whether online or not, I'm sure their attitudes will fall into at least three of these "things that the Lord hates."

  • A lying tongue – As far as I could see online, the Jars of Clay frontman hadn't expressly stated whether he supported SSM (Same Sex Marriage) or not, but was just asking about the arguments surrounding the topic, yet many posts that I did see were saying that he'd come out as supporting and/or advocating for gay marriage!
  • Haughty eyes– Now, I had to look up this word to make sense of it. It is defined as "arrogantly superior and disdainful." A quick skimming over the comments on Facebook and Twitter will show you the amount of arrogance and disdain on display.
  • One who sows discord in a family – If we are meant to be all brothers and sisters together in Christ, then it follows that we are all one big family united by Spirit and not blood. The malicious attacks against someone for asking questions is definitely not uniting and is sowing plenty of discord.

Yes, Dan is a public figure and a Christian, so what he says and does has more far-reaching consequences than maybe our own non-celebrity lives do, but that doesn't mean we ought to verbally crucify the man, rightly or wrongly (plus it's not the first time things like this have happened, even on a smaller scale). While I do think that public figures should probably be answered publicly if they are acting against the Body of Christ on a public platform – there are better and more loving ways to do it. 

We need to be more aware of our actions as Christians, and "abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thess 5:22). As Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits" and if you have love for one another, "everyone will know that you are my disciples" (Matt 7:16; Jn 13:35).

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There are ways to discuss and correct people who have wronged you (cf. Matt 18:15; Galatians 6:1), or who you think are saying/teaching the wrong things (cf. Acts 18:26), or times to just listen and wait (cf. James 1:19-20; Proverbs 18:13).

“Jars of Clay: Cracked!” by nakedpastor David Hayward
"Jars of Clay: Cracked!" by nakedpastor David Hayward

 

The Kingdom of God is counter-culture. That means the ethics and morals often go against what secular culture says and approves of. Just look at the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Everything Jesus says to do it practically the opposite of what you'd expect or want to do!

 

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You've got no food – don't worry and trust God.

Someone slaps you in the face  offer them another go.

Forced to do something for another carry on beyond expectations.

Persecuted and hated by people go and pray for them instead of retaliating.

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And of course, above all, love your neighbourThat sums it all up. Laws and politics may (and probably often) do disagree with our Christian ethics, and while there could be some noble causes to change certain laws which do oppress, endanger and strip people of equality and justice, as followers of Jesus; as those who claim to be born-again, Spirit-filled, as having the mind of Christ – the only laws we should fight to change are those which go against justice and equality for all.

Our lives, as those lived out by following the teachings and examples of Jesus, by making the Kingdom of Heaven a reality on Earth, should influence and change our immediate environment and surroundings – through the power of the Spirit in us and by love.

I've said what the Lord hates, but what does He love? "For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing" (Isa. 61:8)

Isa. 1:16-17

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your doings
    from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
    learn to do good;
seek justice,
    rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
    plead for the widow.

Deut. 10:17-18

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.

James 1:27

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

This is the nature of God. If our actions don't match those which Jesus taught and displayed, if they don't match up with this sense of equal justice for all, then can those actions really come from the Spirit of God who is meant to motivate and move us?

And before your thoughts are dragged back to the issue of Same Sex Marriage...

1 Cor 5:12

For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge?

So I don't care what cause you lobby for or against, if it isn't something which will ultimately display the love and justice of Christ to others, then of what use is it?

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