Last week, after publishing a blog post about "selective disobedience," I was treated to this screed in the comments:
I tried to brush off this obvious silliness in a lighthearted way: if Lucifer was depending on me, I wrote, then he would surely be disappointed. The whole accusation was so ridiculous that it scarcely seemed worthwhile to defend myself as more than a "wicked person."
And judging from the way this commenter continued to drive the point home without regard to thoughtful nuance or even basic human courtesy, it would indeed have been pointless to argue.
Yet I have continued to reflect on it. Blogging is an interesting enterprise. Good bloggers strive to spark thoughtful conversations about important issues of the day, and sometimes we even succeed. At other times, we are simply providing a platform for people like this to call one another names.
Sometimes I am able to rise above hurtful or misguided comments and not give them a second thought. I say a prayer for the person and ask God to enter into whatever brokenness might have inspired their rigidity, their intense need for safety and order.
Their insults, so clearly driven by fear, reveal far more about them than they do about me.
You can't blog for four years about religion and not encounter both the best and worst of humanity. My skin has gotten pretty thick since 2010.
But I've never been called an accomplice of Lucifer before, and it does give me pause. Not for the reason that the commenter likely hoped; people who hurl ludicrous accusations always seem to hope that the person on the receiving end will go away/stop writing/shut up/be afraid.
And that is not going to happen.
No, the reason the comment gives me pause is that it reveals "selective obedience" in perfect display -- to the danger of the soul of my church.
How many times did church leaders in General Conference urge Mormons to disagree with civility, with respect for those people who hold different views? And yet within a few days, a commenter feels free to disregard that prophetic counsel in order to act as judge, jury, and executioner on a sister in the gospel who dares to disagree with his ideas?
Elder Andersen taught us that there is no place in our religion for bullying:
“The Savior taught us to love not only our friends but also those who disagree with us, and even those who repudiate us. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no place for ridicule, bullying or bigotry.”
I have a testimony that we as a people are grown-up enough -- that we can become Christlike enough -- that we can manage to depersonalize our disagreements with one another. There will be disagreements in the Church. That's just a given. But we don't need to seek to destroy one another just to come out on top in some theological or political argument.
I will not call people names on this blog. I will state my opinions clearly and openly but will not resort to personal attacks in order to prove a point.
If I ever violate this promise and descend from open civil disagreement to personal attack, I expect you all to hold me accountable. As U2 put it, we get to carry each other.