It is interesting how so many Christians, especially in the US, see the Media as being evil or Anti-Christian. While there may be some evidence to support such allegations, it seems as if a lot of it stems from a desire for some Christians to emphasize their “other-worldliness.” I am not so sure that is a great thing to desire since God placed on “this-world” for a reason. Additionally, however, a lot of the persecution and misinformation that is complained about is pretty tame by world standards. A lot of the complaints come off more whiny than justified.
But I would like to suggest that the Media may actually be serving God… especially when it reports on the evils in the church. Consider the Media as it pertains to some other groups.
Reading the news today here in the Philippines, the big thing is the problems happening in the religious group, Iglesia ni Cristo. Despite its name (Church of Christ) the group’s beliefs are generally quite far from historical Christianity. The news is all about corruption, infighting among the leaders, threats, and basic financial mismanagement. All of this is pretty surprising since, despite the clear heterodoxy of the group, they have always been able to maintain the illusion (apparently) of organizational control and competence.
For the last few years, the Catholic Church has suffered under the scrutiny of the press for its historical habit of covering for the misbehavior of its priests… especially pertaining to young boys.
In social media, the inflaming language of various Islamic clerics is shared to seek to demonstrate that “that’s how all Muslims are.” News media sensationalize the behavior of the most outrageous representatives of that religion. (Curiously, they tend to show examples of Buddhism at its unrealistic best. )
Why should we as Protestant/Evangelical Christians care? Our time is coming. One day, soon, the press will start focusing on the massive corruption in our churches, the misbehaviors covered up and the ridiculous and evil inflaming language of some of our so-called leaders.
Consider sexual misbehavior. How many churches are transparent about sexual misbehavior of their leaders? Few. Commonly, it is about covering up. The thought is often that it is “good for the church.” Or it protects the pastor from disgrace. But what have Protestant churches done when the Catholic church had to deal with its own cover ups? Did we feel for them… empathize in their plight? Not that I have noticed.
We should not witch hunt… we should not share ALL of our “dirty laundry.” But we need to protect the victim more than our religious leaders. And we need to support our leaders through holding them accountable (balancing justice and grace), before, during, and after problems.
We need to hold our leaders accountable for not only their sex lives, but what they say, and how they handle finances.
The church needs to be countercultural. We need to live by a higher standard than those around. But part of that is expressing grace and justice first for the victims, and for the membership…. and for the leaders… and for the church. And probably in that order. But we need to be honest about our own failings.
When the church does not police itself. When it plays cover-up, protecting its own reputation and its leaders at the expense of victims and the truth, it is hardly surprising if God utilizes the media.to do what we were supposed to do… express our faith with honesty, integrity, and transparency.