John Piper is “farewelling” again.
No, this time it has nothing to do with Rob Bell– he’s actually farewelled Burger King. (Though he changed the Bell trademark to “Good-bye”).
Burger King recently announced a new LGBT pride wrapper for their sandwiches in some markets. The move had created a little stir around the internet, but with Piper’s “Goodbye Burger King” tweet, it’s sure to generate a lot more buzz over what should really be a non-issue. In a world where most people die because of a lack of access to clean drinking water, call me a heretic, but I think we have bigger things to worry about than what our chemical laden fast food sandwiches are wrapped in.
However, this isn’t a post about Piper– and it’s not a post about fast food or LGBT rights. This is a post about… why it’s so easy for Christians to get a divorce. It’s something I’ve been thinking about, and Piper’s public farewelling of a secular sandwich maker just reminded me about our culpability on this issue.
There are a lot of statistics out there on divorce. I’ve seen some that show Christians get divorced at higher rates than people of other faith or no faith, and I’ve seen some which show the opposite. That’s the frustrating thing about statistics– they don’t always express the full truth or give one a legitimate picture of a given scenario, and one can often find statistics on the same issue but that draw opposite conclusions.
In this case, the statistics aren’t really relevant to my point. Today I simply want to talk about why it’s so easy for Christians to get a divorce. And, in full disclosure, I write about the subject with my own broken history on the matter.
I think one of the root causes of Christians divorcing is something completely outside of any factor previously considered. I think it’s something outside of infidelity, something outside of irreconcilable differences, and something much closer to our “spiritual home”.
The reason why it becomes so easy for far too many Christians to get a divorce is actually Christian culture itself– and John Piper’s trend of farewelling people (now businesses) he disagrees with reminds me of this point. Let me explain:
Piper’s public behavior reveals something far deeper and more troubling about Christian culture; it reveals how quickly we are to sever relationships with one another. Just look at how Christianity is structured: denominationalism. While I appreciate the rich heritage and diverse thought we have due in part to denominations/Christian traditions, they’re all rooted historically in one thing: broken relationships. Even within those denominations we find further sub-sets of denomination, all rooted in broken relationship as well (this is precisely why we have about ten thousand different flavors of Baptist, my originating tradition). Have two people or two Christian groups who don’t see eye-to-eye on 100% of the issues, all of the time? Fine, we’ll just leave and go start our own group and call it something else.
Have a person or a few people within that new group who don’t agree on everything? Just publicly farewell them, socially ostracize them, or find a reason to place them under “Church discipline” and the problem is solved.
We have all sorts of creative and “godly” ways to break relationships with people who disagree, even people who just disagree part of the time. Personally, I think as Christians we’re actually addicted to breaking relationships to the point where it has become second nature to us.
“Wait a minute… you believe that the rapture comes during the tribulation and not before it? Wow, I guess we should just go our own separate ways.”
This is something I know a little too well. While Piper hasn’t tweeted me farewell, plenty of people in my real life have done it in more subtle ways. Since I accidentally became a public voice for disaffected evangelicals, the loss of real-life friends has been one of the more painful consequences I’ve been thrust into experiencing. Sure, the blogging and book deals are nice, but just know that I’ve paid a high price for all of it. I’ve even had a friend confess that they’ve been questioned by others as to why they’re still friends with me. And, just as I was writing this piece, some “pro-life” Christians on twitter said they were blocking me because my piece yesterday was clearly a desire to “justify my support of killing babies”.
I’m a Mennonite baby killer now… whatever.
And this is why it is so easy for Christians to get divorced: we do life in a culture that often thrives via a cycle of broken relationships instead of being built upon a dedication to peace making.
While the Burger King issue isn’t the real issue, and I think consumers are free to spend their money wherever they want, it does at least point to the real issue: we’re faster to say ‘farewell’ than we are to say ‘let’s share a meal and talk’.
And, I’ve got to be honest, I’m realllly tired of people farewelling other Christians. I’m tired of Piper doing it, and I’m tired of Progressives doing it. Every time we do this it simply continues the cycle of reinforcing that broken relationships, opposed to nonviolent peacemaking, is the correct path for a Jesus follower.
Well, it’s not.
It might be the path of least resistance, the path of least conflict, and the easier road to travel, but it’s not the path that Jesus has invited us to walk on. Certainly, it’s not where one will find him.
The question then becomes: how the hell do we expect two people to hold it together and not quit– two people in the most stressful and complex of all human relationships– when we as a Christian culture are so busy flipping each other the spiritual bird that has become saying “farewell”?
Until we reject a Christian culture that functionally places a high spiritual value on breaking relationships, even considering it spiritually mature to break relationships, we shouldn’t be all shocked and disgusted when married couples within such a culture, break that relationship too.
They’re just following our example. Who could blame them?
May we, the people of Jesus, reject this faux spiritual nonsense of saying “farewell” to one another, regardless of our preferred method of saying it. Instead, may we choose the path less traveled– the path of peacemaking– that we might become the people known by their refusal to break relationships.