“If you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. So warned Paul in Galatians 5:15. Who can come away from a perusal of the Christian blogs of late and not feel heavy-hearted? We’re confronted everywhere by accusations, defenses of accusations, and criticisms of the defenses of the accusations. There’s a lot of biting and devouring going on.
Christian-authored websites devoted exclusively to publicly vilifying other well-known Christian leaders have either missed or overlooked Paul’s warning. Perhaps these authors have convinced themselves that creating a public forum for posting private matters or disputes between Christians is the right application of Matthew 18:15–17. It isn’t. Neither there or elsewhere in New Testament instruction about dealing with believers’ sin do we find anything about airing dirty church laundry to the world at large. When nonbelievers get a whiff of this laundry, they shake their heads and want no part of the Christian faith, which is what they think they see exhibited here. Love is lacking, despite the spiritualized spin used to justify it. It would seem that Christians engaged in publicly venting scorn, anger, and accusation toward other Christians haven’t read Proverbs lately: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17). The snide anger posted only undermines good intentions and exposes spiritual immaturity and a lack of biblical knowledge.
Public disagreements eventually fade away, but the taint of them sometimes does not, and lingering taint enshrouds not just those involved but all they represent—their Bible teaching, their leadership, and their authority—and, supremely, the reputation of Christ. So how is any of this truly beneficial to the body of Christ and the gospel? Removing church infighting from the public arena is an act of love, and being willing to forgo public vindication in the short run often underlies the most supreme acts of love. As it did with Jesus.