The Constant Convert
Virtual Lesions in the Body of Christ
My husband and I took a walk yesterday. I don't know why I do the things I do, but when my husband said something a little bit critical of a certain person we know, I decided to declare it Criticism Day all around, and I used the rest of our walk to pile on all the things that had crossed my mind over the past week that my husband could do better. Mainly, he could not be so critical.
He pointed out that I was being critical of him.
But I noted that that's different, because I know him, and so I really am a good critic, while he really doesn't know the person he's criticizing (and he did start the criticalness, by the way), so he's really not one to talk about that person's particular challenges.
This debate went on for the entirety of our walk, and by the end of it, I had had the last word—mainly because my husband decided it was futile to continue talking to me, so he zoned out of the conversation.
When our walk was over, and we went our separate ways back at the house, I felt lonely. I'd made my point. I'd had the last word. I had also squandered what might have been our only concentrated time alone together for the rest of the week.
I felt justified for a minute; I had administered fraternal correction by pointing out the error of his criticalness—I was concerned about making him a better person after all. But we had set out on our walk as allies, and by the end of it we were adversaries. This was not a win.
What exactly had I expected? That he would agree with my criticisms, commend me for being observant, and then speedily change his ways?
And what would it have cost me to remain silent about my feelings? I'd have had to continue being married to someone who found someone else annoying.
The cost of speaking? Now, I'm married to someone who finds me annoying as well.
I think we're over it now. This is how we operate: we annoy each other, we avoid each other, we miss each other, we reconvene. It's not a perfect system, but it's us.
My reason for sharing this scenario is that I think it pretty well mirrors what happens when people try to offer fraternal correction to Christian brothers and sisters online.
There's only one caveat: online, we don't have the advantage of twelve years of marriage, and a history of love and affection that causes us to miss one another and reconcile. Instead, we annoy each other, then we unfriend and/or block comments precluding any further interaction or potential dialogue.
And thence forward, there's a nice little lesion on the Body of Christ.
Elizabeth Duffy is a freelance writer and author of the blog, "Betty Duffy." Her writing has appeared online at Faith and Family, the Korrektiv Press Blog, and numerous other venues. She and her husband live in rural Indiana with their five children.