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Casting Pearls – Twitter and the Christian

31/12/2013

Casting Pearls
Twitter and the Christian.

Jesus said, in Matthew 7: 6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

I’m fairly new to Twitter, possibly a bit naive, something of an innocent abroad. I’ve been a Twitter subscriber for a couple of years, but I’ve rarely used it until lately, and my ‘following’ extends to around four hundred and fifty or so people, most of whom, to be fair, are trying to sell me something, and only follow me so that I will follow them in return, so they’re not interested in my opinions in the slightest. So far my ‘tweets’ have been inoffensive comments and observations on contemporary Christianity, and a few Bible verses and reflections. Few people have expressed any interest. Occasionally, someone makes a tweet their ‘favourite’ – or retweets a comment.

Over the past few days however, I have made two comments which seem to have gone global. Both were about abortion, which, as a Christian, I deplore. In one, I attempted to argue that the evolutionary theories put forward by Darwin cheapened our appreciation of the sanctity of human life, and has made abortion a socially acceptable practice. In the second I simply expressed my opinion that the proliferation of abortions reflects the total depravity of our human condition. I said,

“How deep is our human depravity when we sacrifice so many of our unborn children on the bloody altars of promiscuity, narcissism and feminism.”

That sent the ‘twittershere’ into meltdown! Comments fell into three basic camps.

The Evolutionists. Quite a number of ‘twitters’ are horrified if you attribute any malign influence upon mankind to their hero Darwin. Comments included people who couldn’t accept that there was a Creator, – the same people who believe that were evolved from monkeys…

The Atheists. The modern atheist is not a person who just doesn’t believe in God, they actually want you to not believe in the God they don’t believe in. Most of the comments from Atheists and God-haters were actually just abusive, and demonstrated an abysmal lack of knowledge about Christianity. But then what more would you expect? The high-priests of atheism, like Dawkins simply beat down their opponents with abuse and ridicule. They ridiculed the Bile, blasphemed God, and suggested that the reason that Christians opposed abortion was that their clergy needed more children to abuse. One respondent actually had the temerity to state that the Bible not only permits abortion, but actually gives instruction on how it is to be carried out. He quotes Numbers 5:16 – 22. It is worth reading this in full:
16 And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the LORD: 17 And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put it into the water: 18 And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD, and uncover the woman’s head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse: 19 And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say unto the woman, If no man have lain with thee, and if thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband, be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse: 20 But if thou hast gone aside to another instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled, and some man have lain with thee beside thine husband: 21 Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell; 22 And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen.

Now there is no suggestion whatsoever in this text that what is being described here is the procedure for an abortion. None of the ingredients are in themselves harmful, or capable of inducing a miscarriage, and it is utterly foolish to suggest that they do. The passage is about unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant, where a woman had committed adultery. In ancient society, the tests for adultery were merciless and horrific and often resulted in the death of the woman, whether she was guilty or not. The Israelite were not to engage in such wicked practices. They were to seek the judgement of God upon the woman. The woman so accused or suspected would stand before The Lord, and her hair would be lowered, as a sign of the broken covenant. She would take upon herself a ‘self-imprecatory oath’ – that God alone would judge her, and if she was found guilty, would punish her. The words to which she agreed would be washed off the scroll and into the water, which the woman would then drink. She would literally eat her own words. (There is no suggestion that there was anything in the water but dust – ‘bitter’ refers to the result of the judgement, rather than the taste of the water.). So, having put herself in the hands of God, the woman drinks the water. If she is truly innocent of the crime, there will be no effect. If she has been unfaithful, then God will judge her, and she will be barren and thus shamed for her sin, from that day forward. No ‘abortion’ is being performed here, and to suggest otherwise is to be disingenuous and malicious.

The Feminists / Pro-death Lobby. Their reaction was predictable, vitriolic and abusive. They use the tired old arguments about severely deformed ‘foetuses’ (They don’t like the word ‘baby’) and women who have been raped. They complain about the woman’s health or mental wellbeing being at risk, and they never seem to consider the fact that the majority of abortions are carried out upon women who consider their pregnancy inconvenient. They also argue that since it is the woman who is affected, they have the absolute right to decide what they want to do with their own body, and no man has the right to interfere. One pro-life protagonist replied using this cartoon…

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There were others of course who supported my viewpoint, but these were in the minority, and even some of them were abusive in their attacks on others.

So what have I learned from my weekend Twitter experience?

1. The world really does hate Christ, Christianity and Christians. Jesus said it would be so. John 15:18-19. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

2. The Christian’s real task is to declare the good news to sinners not to engage in dialogue with sinners. I have heard it said that the late Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones, a great and faithful preacher and apologist, consistently refused to engage in debates about religion on radio and other forums. He was convinced, it seems, that no good would come of it, – he was called to preach Christ and Him Crucified, not engage in pointless debates.

3. The real question posed though is about Twitter itself. It’s format, and it’s endless possibilities for spreading information, and it’s restriction of messages to 140 characters may well make it an unsuitable vehicle for any kind of meaningful Christian apologetics. It is always dangerous to present Christian theology in sound bites, – theology demands a rigorous and full discussion of issues. It needs in-depth argument and thorough exegesis of Scripture, not engaging in multiple soundbite exchanges with sceptics, atheists and internet trolls. We must learn to heed the words of Jesus, and not cast our pearls before swine, for they really will trample them underfoot and return to devour us also.

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