Yesterday I received this comment from Steve York on my website. If you don’t know who Steve York is I won’t go into detail rehashing the issue. But this is his posted comment below, with the post that he commented on.
A week after the fact and you still can’t help but mentioning me.
Do you have an attraction to my name? A blogging fetish? Well? I won’t judge you based on what thoughts you have on me; let’s get it into the open and take it from there.
-Stevie Why/Steve York
This posted comment led me to write a short email to him. I won’t get into details, but it has led me to think about a few things. These thoughts are not necessarily fluid and completely cohesive, but nonetheless I owe them to you and to Steve.
We sometimes go about the task of blogging, posting comments or emailing, I believe, without really taking into consideration that who we may talk about is a real person at the other end. Technology has allowed us to depersonalize many things, including. So when I blogged about Steve and the UCSD incident, it is quite possible that I thought less of Steve as a real, tangible person, and more about my own thoughts on the issue. I honestly believe that whether it was Steve or someone else, we all tend to do this. I know I do. Question: How many of you blog without really thinking that that person you are criticizing or judging or condeming, may actually be reading this? Maybe that’s what you want. But I think most of us, especially if our audience is small, don’t expect many people to read our stuff. But that doesn’t happen anymore when you can type in your name at Technorati.
Hugh Hewitt did the right thing by bringing Steve on the air and voicing concern about the incident. Hugh could have just as easily aired hiw own thoughts about him, but Hugh seemed more concern about him as a person, and giving Steve a chance to talk.
This is evident from the opening statement from Hugh in the interview:
HH: Good. Steve, I’m not really interested in debating you so much as getting some facts about this that are just not out there. So let’s start with you. How old are you and where are you from?
later on Hugh says this:
HH: So, no one’s come up to you and said Steve, what you’re going to do is change your life, you’re going to mark yourself forever as the guy who did the show at UCSD.
then this about going back:
HH: Well actually, there is. There is going back. There’s always…you don’t have to do this, right?
then this about the porn industry:
HH: Okay, because this industry destroys a lot of people. And I actually don’t want to argue with you so much as just to let you know it’s okay to later on say you know what? I really screwed up, because I think you really screwed up here.
then this, which I really think affirms Steve as a person, though Hugh disagrees with the incident:
HH: Okay, Steve. I’m out of time. Maybe I’ll have you back. But hear me say this. You don’t have to stand where you are right now. You can go back. You can say I made a mistake. And I’ll pray that you come up to that decision. Thanks for joining me.
This exchange is interesting to me. If I had to do it over again, I wish I would have tried to make contact with Steve. But I didn’t, because it’s much easier to talk about someone than it is to actually make contact with someone, whether it’s forming a relationship, friendship, or just having a conversation.
Jesus always seemed to be concerned about relationships, and making that priority over someone’s sin, brokeness, mistakes, etc. Both in John 4 where Jesus confronts the woman with multiple husbands, and then John 8, when Jesus confronts the woman caught in adultery, what seems to be at the forefront of Jesus’ interactions is a restoration of relationship; of valuing a person for who they are, not for what they have done. I think it is much easier for Christians to devalue a person, and to elevate one’s wrong doings over them as a person. This gets even easier in the age of cyberspace. There is little accountability and relationship building.
If I had to do it over, I would go back and make sure that if someone were reading my posts on this issue, that they would know that I can strongly disagree with what what Steve did, and I can strongly believe that the porn industry is dangerous; but they would know that I still value Steve and care about Steve as a person.
I think we often fail as Christians because we spend a lot of our life removed from the really difficult and tricky issues of life. Meaning, we remove ourselves from people or places where life is messy or broken, and instead stick with a very safe and sanitized way of living, removed from tough relationships. We are fearful of entering into other people’s lives and situations, for fear of how it may look, or fear of being pulled into it, etc. It reminds me of the the scene in the Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe in the Chronicles of Narnia, when asked if Aslan (the lion figure who is God) is safe. Lucy responds, that no He is not safe, but that He is good. Jesus was not a person who played it safe, and that seemed to be the scandal surrounding him when it concerned the “religious order.”
I think the UCSD incident was a mistake, and I think pornography is dangerous. I have seen too many lives affected by pornography, and I work with many students who struggle with it. That being said, I would hope, like Hugh, that Steve York could move on from this incident and head down a different path and away from pornography. I would hope that Steve could look at someone like Hugh, and know that Hugh does care, and will be praying for him. I would hope that Steve would look at the actions of other Christians and know that there are other options in life…other healthy, creative outlets. That we can be forgiven and transformed by Christ. I would want Steve to know, that though I don’t agree with the choices he made, that I still value him as the person that God created and loves.
This is what I am learning about blogging and how it can affect the communities and relationships that we are a part of, or talk about. I think that all of us who blog, or write a lot of emails, should think twice before we send out that post. We should be asking ourselves questions like does this do more good than harm? What is my relationship to this person? And if there is not relationship, do I need to form one? Do I have the right to say this? What am I trying to accomplish? Does this build up, or tear down the community of God? Etc., etc.