When Haters Hate (Which Is Always)

Foreword: I originally wrote this for my writing blog, but criticism is something we all have to deal with, especially during the school year. I’m sharing it here so you can also be encouraged by it.

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When I first talked to my mom about starting a blog (or two or three), she warned me about comments. I had lots of helpful stuff to share, I was a good writer… all that sweet mom stuff. But she also warned me that I, as a Christian, would be a target. People would immediately try to attack me without hearing me out. That was okay with me- it still is. As my brother so eloquently says it, “Haters gonna hate.”

What I didn’t count on was how many “haters” would actually read my blog.

You would not believe some of the comments and feedback I have received, even if I’m talking about something that has nothing to do with Christianity. People have called me a second-rate storyteller, a hater of women (not even joking), an indoctrinated homeschooler, a tyrant, and- my favorite- Robin Hood with merry men. I have even seen people creating false identities and leaving scathing reviews for Son of Ren… without reading the book first.

How can we answer such outrageous claims? Sure, I laugh about them now, but it’s harder to see clearly when hearing such comments for the first time. My mind is blown at some of the things people come up with, but I still have to answer them in a way that reflects God’s grace and truth. So today I’m making a list of things I want to remember when giving an answer for the hope that is within me.

In the world we will have trouble.

God said so, therefore it’s going to happen. That’s the thing about God’s predictions; they always come true. Jesus explained in Matthew 10:16 and John 15:18 that if people hated Him, they will most certainly hate us who represent Him. No way around it.

Persecution is a blessing.

Another one of God’s predictions is that persecution grows us. It’s the funniest thing about nonbelievers; even when they think they’re doing great, mocking and persecuting and killing us for being representatives of Christ, the true church ends up growing all the more stronger. (China is a good example.) Why does this happen? Because, under persecution, Christians have to think about what we believe and decide what is really worth fighting for.

Maybe the person is right about some things.

I always say to my siblings when teaching them about logic, “The first step to winning an argument is to be right.” When I receive a comment that presents a claim, no matter how rude or illogical, I want to look for the truth in it. Of course I am not a legalistic do-good-er who hits people with Bibles, but could it be that my theological terms are confusing or offensive to the unchurched reader? Looking for the nuggets of truth can make me a better storyteller, debater, or even friend.

Ask the right questions.

Honestly, when someone flames me, it’s usually not because they think my storytelling is going to melt children’s brains, or because they believe that Tauriel’s love story contributed to The Hobbit trilogy in some way. Meanness is significant of a deeper problem. The troll who calls me a second-rate storyteller might have been horrified at a Christian twaddle book years ago and now thinks that all Christian writers are artless idiots. The Tauriel-fan may be angry at Christians because her grade-school teacher told her that the Bible condemns women.

Now, of course those things don’t make a whit of sense, but people are not entirely rational creatures- least of all without God’s truth. Satan’s traps run deep. There is always an underlying problem, and I can find out what it is by asking the right questions. What do they mean by such extraordinary claims? Can they explain why they think that? What if there was a different answer?

It’s an opportunity to represent Christ.

This one is hard. When God wanted Him to stay silent, Christ did not open His mouth to defend Himself. It didn’t matter that the people were bringing false accusations; Christ would only say that He is the Son of God, and no more.

Maybe it’s time to try a different tack. People come and demand that I explain why I hate Muslims or am homophobic or don’t take responsibility for my own actions. We could easily explain that these claims are wrong, but most of the time, the people who ask these questions have already heard all the answers. They’re spoiling for a fight. When I meet people who are only interested in listening to themselves talk, I won’t be the one to knock the chip off their shoulder. My actions (or books or blog posts) can speak for themselves, and through us people will see something- or Someone- better.

Even the worst troll can change.

This one really blows my mind, but I’ve actually met commenters who were very rude and attacked me personally, but when I replied graciously with the truth, they came back and apologized. Since then, we’ve come to a few agreements and realized just how many ideas we have in common.

Imagine that the zealous, Christ-hating Saul lived in our day and could interact with Christians online. What do you think he’d be like? Open-minded, polite, and conversational? More like rude, obscene, and illogical! And yet God changed Saul’s heart, turning him into the world-changing Apostle Paul.

You see, Saul was not unlike many “trolls” and “haters” today; he believed what he believed, and he was willing to do anything to make sure no one disagreed with him. That didn’t stop God from using honest Christians like Ananias to show Saul the truth. I want to be Ananias- the one who fears God, who can change the heart. I want to be the one God uses to show Himself to unbelievers.

Haters gonna hate, so of course God is going to use it for good, and I want Him to use me in His plan.

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9 comments

  1. Jacob says:

    Yes, Christian Colors is the post I was referring to. That’s why you couldn’t find the metaphor in the post I linked. What a stupid mistake on my part. And it was you, not Amanda who wrote it. This excerpt:

    “[…] Christians are, by nature, a people set apart from the world. That often means that we have to be the grown-ups in a childish society, and the only way we can do that is by looking at the most grown-up person who ever lived.”

    • Ashlyn says:

      Ah, again I must apologize. It was clumsy wording, and I didn’t realize how it could confuse an unchurched reader. “Childish society” refers to the mud-pie-throwing culture of social media after a disaster, whether the mud-throwers are Christians or not. “Grown-ups” means that the people of God aren’t supposed to join in the childish mud-wars, but we are supposed to be the adults, the “set apart” peacemakers who show a better way. (John 8:3-11 is a good example of Jesus’ peacemaking: http://www.esvbible.org/John%208/.) Of course people with other beliefs can be peacemakers, too, but it’s specifically our calling as Christians.

      Thanks for pointing it out. I see how it was confusing, and it seems I need to slow down and take time to explain what I mean when I write.

      • Jacob says:

        No worries! “Hate” is a strong word I used only due to it’s relation to your current post. I knew your intentions were good; writing is a tricky thing. Your explanation makes complete sense!

        The thing is, you can watch a video of yourself throwing a baseball and tell your form is off, but unfortunately writing isn’t so clearcut. :/

  2. Jacob says:

    Perhaps it was the email?

    I apologise if this goes to spam again. I’ll do a quick reply in case it goes to spam. If it doesn’t, I’ll do a longer reply after this one.

    As for the blog post, I’m pretty sure I read the metaphor somewhere here, although it appears I linked to the wrong post. I apologise for this. I’ll try and look for the correct post I’m referring to.

    If I can’t find the correct post, perhaps I’m mistaking it for another blog (again, sorry if this is the case!), in which case I’ll summarise what I read, as I believe it’s still relevant to hate (albeit an unintentional form) and perhaps you can still respond?

    • Ashlyn says:

      It did go to spam again. Could the email address have a typo?

      Okay, I think I might have found it. I looked through some recent posts and found one called “Christian Colors,” which appears to fit with your structural description: http://www.aheartdevoted.com/christian-colors/ Maybe check that one out and see if it’s what you’re talking about.

  3. Jacob says:

    Ahh I think the spam may be due to typing/leaving replies on a phone? If this goes through that’s the case, as I’m on a laptop now. We’ll see…

  4. Jacob says:

    Lurker of a few months here. I don’t believe in God, but I hope I’m still welcome. If I could inverse your post, please don’t discount all unbelievers as rude haters.

    If you could put the most vile haters out of your mind for a moment, this comment doesn’t apply to them:

    There’s a huge difference between “haters” and people who respectfully hold different opinions. One thing I’d like to point out to you: Sometimes Christians and non-Christians don’t realize we’re being rude to each other.

    Example:
    http://www.aheartdevoted.com/why-im-looking-forward-to-summer/

    I know you (Ashlyn) didn’t write this, but it’s a good example of how Christians can be unintentionally offensive to non-Christians (fwiw, I’m spiritual but not religious).

    So, Amanda’s post: it starts out good. Apologizing for the rude “Christians” more interested in their social agenda than being Godly.

    But then Christians are likened to grown-ups, and non-Christians to children. And I found that offensive. Whether you want to believe it or not, I know I’m equal to you morally. God doesn’t tell me right from wrong, but I still have morals.

    To me, it’s hateful to suggest I’m an immoral person because I don’t believe in God or subscribe to your belief system. We don’t have the exact same morals, to be sure, but I’m not going on a killing spree tomorrow just because I don’t believe in God. God doesn’t need to tell me killing is wrong — I *know* it is wrong. I’d *feel guilty.*

    • Ashlyn says:

      Aaand your comment went to spam again. I swear I’m trying to fix this. I apologize in advance for the length, but you bring up some good points that aren’t conducive to 140 characters.

      As you hopefully gleaned from my last reply, I don’t believe all atheists are haters (or vice versa). To clear this up now- please read through the examples of extreme comments. If you don’t leave comments like that… you’re not a hater. As we say in our mission series, all kinds of people like to think and discuss, so this blog is for all kinds of people. Good questions really add to a discussion.

      For Amanda’s post, I think I can speak for the other girls and say we are sorry for hurting you. However… I don’t even know if we’re reading the same article. I’m probably an idiot, but I’ve re-read it three times over and still can’t see where she compares nonbelievers to children. Can you show me that metaphor?

      Now I hope this too isn’t off-topic, but you keep coming back to a critical point, so let’s talk about morality. As I have said before, I know that you’re a morally upright person. Most people are, and the majority of Christians know that. (The idea that we are “holier-than-thou” Bible-beaters is pretty much a pop culture stereotype, like the unlettered cowboy Texan or the snooty Brit.)

      In fact, that is one of the things about human beings: we essentially know right from wrong even if no one tells us. As a Christian, I believe that is because God puts right and wrong in everybody’s heart from conception, so that we recognize our own sin and, hopefully, need for a Savior. After all, God says (in Luke 12) that humans would not be judged so harshly if we didn’t know right from wrong. C.S. Lewis called morality “the law of human nature,” but most people call it conscience. Christians add that moral understanding, like every other important life question, is a gift of God that is ultimately meant to lead us toward Him and His perfect goodness. So that’s my perspective.

      Now I’ve been wanting to survey a variety of nonbelievers for some time on this issue, so I’ll ask you: where do you- a spiritual non-Christian, correct?- believe we get our knowledge of morality? Yes, we disagree on some issues, but you know it’s wrong to murder people, to rape someone, to cheat on a business deal. But why? Where do people get that understanding?

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