A Bullying Culture

The tragic death of 4 people on a ride at Dreamworld last week is still in the news.  There are statements about people returning to work there voluntarily, getting paid regardless, but no decision being made as to when to reopen the park.  There are the different enquiries being announced.  It is still big news.

With all the big news on this story, I wonder if you noticed a story that came out last week about a contractor who works at the park who made a joke on his Facebook page which was in poor taste about the accident.  It was prominent on the news.com.au web-site for a while (I know, I look less, but still waste too much of my life by looking at it at all).

The whole story was about how bad this guy was for making a joke in poor taste, and a long list of quotes from no-bodies (no-one famous, that is) who piled on telling him what a despicable person he is, and worse.  For something that probably had fairly restricted exposure until he was shamed on a widely accessed national website, and mercilessly bullied by the author and others in public.

Other people have made the observation a long time ago, and much more eloquently than I can, but we live in a time when bullying comes in the guise of occupying the moral high ground.  And the thing about the moral high ground is that there is always an endless number of people to look down on and abuse.

This is not so strange, as every culture has its form of righteousness which is merciless in making you conform to it.  Ours has just entered a wider and more technologically intolerant phase.  But its the same sort of thing that you see in operation in acid attacks on women who shame their families in Pakistan, through to the tut-tutting in an upper class English environment (from what I have seen on BBC period dramas, at any rate).

What is strange is that people associate this type of shaming and bulling with God.  Because the Bible portrays God as the one who extends grace to everyone.  He does not pay people back when they have done the wrong thing, but is patient, willing to forgive, abounding in mercy.  Its what we see in Jesus.

The teaching about turning the other cheek, not resisting an evil person, leaving vengeance in God’s hands.  The woman caught in adultery.  Jesus did rebuke some people, but he didn’t make a public spectacle of them, didn’t invite the whole world to join him in berating sinners, and offered acceptance to those ‘sinners and tax-collectors’ that the culture he was a part of liked to publicly denigrate.

Jesus modelled grace and forgiveness, something our culture does not recognise, and does not practice.  If you have ever been on the receiving end of public shaming and bullying, know that you can go to Jesus for acceptance.  He will tell you that you need to turn from your sin and follow him, living the way that God created you to live.  But he will never publicly shame or encourage a pack to bully you.

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