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Joined: 2009/12/12
Posts: 592

 Why Christians are jerks online

My Take: Why Christians are jerks online

By Jonathan Acuff, Special to CNN

Bono is a born again Christian.

Or he’s not.

It’s one of those two. I’m just not sure which, but I am certain that the faith of U2 is something we Christians like to argue about. That and beer. You never know if your small group is populated with prohibitionists. You have to say things like, "Is there anything you need me to bring to the dinner party, anything at all?" Then if they say, "Sure, how about a bottle of wine?" you’re good.

U2, beer, our favorite pastor’s kid-gone-wild Katy Perry: these are usually the topics I write about on (Which is indeed a direct rip off of the site But today I thought I might deal with something with a little sharper teeth. Something you don’t see addressed often, but you might have experienced.

Put simply, I want to talk about why sometimes we Christians are jerks online.

Much like "Christian hate mail," being a "Jerk Christian" defies logic. We serve a loving God. We follow a Christ who very plainly told us what to do. In Matthew 22 someone asks Jesus, "What is the most important commandment?" The answer is simple:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

There’s no confusion about that. No smoke monster. No mystical wisdom that must be found on a mountain peak after growing a ZZ Top-worthy beard. Someone asks Christ what matters and the second thing is "Loving your neighbor as yourself."

So then why are there so many hateful Christian blogs? Why do Christians write bitter messages on Twitter? Why do we send hate mail?

I think there are two reasons Christians are jerks online.

1.The business traveler approach.
It’s unfortunately not that uncommon for business travelers to get in trouble when they’re on the road. With a "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" approach they tend to do things they would never do at home. "The rules don’t apply here. I’m a different person. This is 'road me,' not 'home me.'" I believe sometimes Christians approach the Internet the same way. The rules of "real life" don’t count. Sure, I have to love my neighbor, but are people on Facebook my neighbor? The Internet doesn’t "count." These are just words. Surely I can throw a missile of hate at someone on Twitter. And when we buy into this logic, we develop an unloving, anything goes, whatever happens online stays online mentality. We become two different people, "Offline Christian" and "Online Christian." And we become jerks.

2.Room Cleaning Christianity
Why do Christians argue about drinking beer or why the tankini is the least slutty of all bathing garments? I think it’s because we sometimes practice "Room Cleaning Christianity." Think of it like college. When you’ve got a final paper due Monday, you will be amazed at how energetic your desire is to clean your room. You will scrub tile with a slow toothbrush if it means avoiding the bigger, more difficult work of writing your paper. The same thing happens with Christianity. Loving your neighbor might be simple, but it’s not easy. Maybe my neighbor is a jerk too. Maybe they hate God. Maybe they are actively and violently opposed to everything I believe. And showing them grace feels impossible. So instead of dealing with that, we get online and police people. We find small things to focus on that will distract us. I think God wants us to discuss the little stuff, but we make it an idol when we practice room cleaning Christianity at the exclusion of love. And we tend to become jerks.

Hopefully you’ve never experienced either of these things. Hopefully this article feels like Amish Romance Fiction, currently a hit amongst Christians. But if it doesn’t, if you’ve been an online jerk, if you’ve acted like I have, there’s hope.

Jesus came for the mess-ups like us. Jesus came for the failures. Jesus came for the jerks. (That’s not in the King James version of the Bible, I remixed it like Timbaland.) And the truth is, grace is the antidote to being a jerk online.

So my hope is that you won’t prove my point in the comments section. My hope is you’ll accept my apology for the times I’ve been a jerk to you online.

My hope is that I’ll see Bono in heaven, or at the bare minimum "the Edge."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jonathan Acuff.


 2010/7/31 0:24Profile

Joined: 2010/2/19
Posts: 89

 Re: Why Christians are jerks online

Thank you brother, I needed to hear that. I think I may need to retrieve from posting for about a week or two. lol. Seriously though, I need to be more careful.

 2010/7/31 0:42Profile

Joined: 2006/11/7
Posts: 1178

 Re: Why Christians are jerks online

Very interesting post here.

My personal opinion, for what it's worth, is that christians much of the time are jerks in general.

As a restaurant owner I have had to live with my servers hating Sundays, because the christians that come in after church are the rudest, most demanding, and cheapest people they have to serve all week. These people come through the doors snarling at times and don't stop until they leave. Don't get me wrong, there are some joyous ones that come through too, but my girls only see the bad ones.

We christians think that as long as we put our Sunday on and go through the motions of church we have fulfilled out duty and are therefore good with God. There is no real heart full of love there, or compassion on a server who has the possiblity of coming into the kingdom if you loved her and blessed her a little. It is a symptom of hypocritical christianity.

We want to talk the talk, but we don't really want to be real. These same folks are in the checkout line at Wal Mart. Ugly as all get out. But when they are in the pew the put their sweet face on.

I feel to repent right now because I am not always as I should be. I can be impatient too. God forgive me.

How will God judge our everyday lives? Do we do it into the least of these? Hmmm.


 2010/7/31 0:44Profile

Joined: 2006/9/13
Posts: 3156

 Re: Why Christians are jerks online

When the Lord first got a hold on me, SermonIndex was my training ground. For a while I thought that Christians were supposed to be rude - that for some reason we were supposed to ignore each other unless someone needed to be set straight. I can not even begin to count the number of times that I was in tears over what people said to me.

One time I asked the Lord why people were so mean, and He told me that they had said things that He had not instructed them to say. One good thing that came from it all was that it certainly helped me learn how to discern the voice of the devil, however, it was very confusing to hear the voice of the Lord come out of someone, and then the next time they posted something, having it switch to the voice of the enemy.

 2010/7/31 0:46Profile

Joined: 2008/10/25
Posts: 1196
North Central Florida


Hi HeartSong,

It has been a long time since we last 'spoke,' I hope you are well. :)

Your last paragraph ". . .it was very confusing to hear the voice of the Lord come out of someone, and then the next time they posted something, having it switch to the voice of the enemy." brings to my mind the Apostle Paul. I remember when Jesus was telling of the trials facing him and Peter said, "Not so, Lord!" Jesus' answer was "Get thee behind me, Satan."

Then when Jesus was transfigured, Peter started talking about making 3 tabernacles. Of course, the most glaring of his misstatements was to say he would never turn on his Lord and he did so 3 times that night. This was the greatest of the Apostles and he behaved in a jerk-like manner, how can we expect anyone else to do better? Just considering his words and what it must have been like to eat those words helps me when I am self-condemning and when tempted to judge others for the same jerkiness.

I am glad you posted that example.

Kindest regards,
white stone


 2010/7/31 9:10Profile

Joined: 2009/5/15
Posts: 1042
Pacific Ocean

 Re: Why Christians are jerks online

It is out of the abundance of the heart that the fingers type, and the mouse links.

Jeremiah Dusenberry

 2010/7/31 10:36Profile

Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7463


It is out of the abundance of the heart that the fingers type, and the mouse links.


Love it! No one could have said it any better...

Still grinning, almost laughing...:-)


Sandra Miller

 2010/7/31 10:58Profile

Joined: 2007/10/28
Posts: 1232
United States


This was the greatest of the Apostles and he behaved in a jerk-like manner, how can we expect anyone else to do better?

Thank you whitestone for the grace to "forgive" some jerks i have also encountered in my life. To see that though they may have a "jerky" moment does not mean their life is not all for the Lord. :P Lord help us to see the big picture.

God bless.


 2010/7/31 11:15Profile

Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas


Many believers are the way they are, and act the way they act because they have not understood and yielded themselves to the mortifying work of God.

Paul Frederick West

 2010/7/31 11:23Profile

Joined: 2006/11/26
Posts: 3463


I have witnessed some heavy weight fights right here on Sermon Index. As a matter of fact I have been in a few, but the Lord has always dealt with me when my attitude and motive were wrong even though I might have been right about the issue.

The mark of a true Christian should be that we love God with all of our heart and love one another. That is not to say that we agree for the sake of agreement but that we speak the truth in love.

None of us see as we ought to see. None of us have the whole picture. We can learn from one another, and the main thing that we need to know is that every member of the Body of Christ is precious, and we are all at different levels of spiritual growth. I praise God that He has been patient and longsuffering with us, so why can't we show the same grace to one another?

Why should the world want to come to Christ when they see Christians fight and bicker the same as non Christians?

When the world sees the true love of God demonstrated in the lives of Christians, then they will want what we have. They will listen to us when they see that we are living from a higher life than they are. There are non Christians that are good moral people, so there has to be something different about those that profess Christ that sets them apart. The Christian life should be a supernatural life. "Not I but Christ."

"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." (John 17:20-23)



 2010/7/31 11:31Profile

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