ChristianForums: AM I NOT MERCIFUL?


Categories: Religion

There’s been some discussion at CF. Any time someone’s signature or avatar or other “bling” mentioned pro-choice positions, drama ensued, so a policy was reached where only pro-life things could be said, but drama ensued, so the policy was that no one could put comments like this in signatures or avatars; you can talk about these things in posts in certain forums, but not in others, and the ruling was that putting such things in signatures was “discussing” them in other forums. This has been changed! Read on.

Pro-Life Ribbon/Signature Policy

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

There has been quite a controversy lately over the topic of Pro-life and Pro-choice signatures.

As is well known, CF has long had a policy of not allowing mention of either position in signatures and avatars, although we do allow for discussion of the topic within certain forums. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

And while that policy has served its initial intended purpose at CF, it is also true that CF is like a living thing that grows and matures over time. Sometimes circumstances dictate that we revisit certain policies. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

In this case the voice of many members has been heard that they would like to express their pro-life views within the context of their signatures, avatars, and profiles.

This has been a difficult decision for us to make. That is not because we don’t all have strong opinions on the matter - because we do. The difficulty comes in finding a way to accomodate those who want to express their pro-life stance, while at the same time respect others who either have a contrarian view, or those who may be hurting due to past decisions or actions. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

The fact is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of CF members whose lives have been directly touched by abortion. And while not everyone has the same experience, the truth is that many people struggle with deep pain and trauma for many years because of it. This is especially so for those women who have come to regret having had an abortion. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

Even those who have become active participants in the pro-life movement because of having experienced this trauma are subject to renewed pain and anguish through the careless or thoughtless words of those who may mean well, but do not always express themselves in a sensitive or compassionate manner. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

So should we permit free speech in the name of a good thing (i.e., defending life) become an occasion of sin by being insensitive to those who are hurting? Is our need to express our pro-life beliefs so great that we can trample on the sensitivites of the very people we most need to minister to? ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

And yet, it is, objectively speaking, a good thing to promote life-affirming ideals. In this day and age when there are so many other alternatives to abortion, there is no reason why a Christian website should not allow the pro-life message to be expressed in some form. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

There are many aspects of the pro-life movement that can be expressed in a positive way. After all, there are messages pertaining to alternatives to abortion, such as adoption. And there are also messages that can be focused more on love and healing than they are on the conflict between pro-life and pro-choice advocates. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

Another consideration we struggled with is that this is a ministry with a mission toward “Uniting All Christians As One Body” - it is NOT supposed to be a mission to exclude those Christians we may personally disagree with. And the fact of the matter is that there are some pro-choice Christians who are happy to promote life affirming goals such as adoption and the healing power of those organizations that minister to women’s emotional health issues. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

While pro-choice is not a stance that I can personally agree with, the truth is that CF has hundreds of members who take this view. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

And so are we Executives to send the message that CF is really only interested in Uniting All Pro-life Christians As One Body - or - do we really mean it when we claim to offer a welcoming environment for ALL Christians - period? ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

That is a very serious question.

Before the pro-life advocates reading this statement just dismiss the pro-choice members as immaterial to the question at hand, I invite them to think in terms of the WITNESS that their pro-life message is supposed to reach. For if the very people you seek to witness to feel unwelcome at CF in the first place, and leave this website because of it, then to whom are you witnessing? To put it bluntly, if all CF members are pro-life because the pro-choice members have left, then you will be preaching your pro-life message to the choir. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

The only way for a pro-life member to effectively engage in a discussion with a pro-choice member (within certain restricted forums of course) is to make the pro-choice members feel just as much a part of the CF community as the pro-life members are. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

Therefore, the Executives want to LOUDLY affirm our commitment to the mission of uniting ALL Christians as one body - even those Christians whose worldview may differ from ours. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

There is also another affirmation we want to state clearly and without equivocation: we advocate the pro-life position. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

We are not, as a site, neutral on this question even though we do not want to stifle the free exchange of dialog on this topic in certain forums. We are not neutral on life even though we will be neutral in how we moderate our forums. We will be fair and balanced and will hold to the standard of mutual respect for the opinions of others. We demand this of all forum participants as well as of our own staff. We will remind members that we have people on staff who fall on either side of the pro-life/pro-choice debate. We include Christians from all sides on our staff, and hence this ministry really does embrace its stated mission. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

Our position is that life will be affirmed at this website whenever possible, while remaining sensitive to the needs of those who are either hurting or those who wish to hold to a pro-choice position. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

Brothers and sisters, this has not been an easy challenge to perfectly overcome. We are well aware that no matter what decision we make, there will be some who disagree. We may lose some members over this, and this does distress us. There is no such thing as a perfect win-win situation when some aspects of the question are mutually exclusive. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

Therefore we have come up with the following decision in an effort to speak to the needs of all of our members while still remaining faithful to the gospel message of life, the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, and the mission statement of this website. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

We have decided to permit PRE-APPROVED pro-life ribbons and/or other pre-approved CF images in members’ signatures, avatars, and profiles. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

We will offer a selection to choose from (please be patient as we gear up - we will make them available as soon as possible). We will offer a variety of tasteful and non-offensive images and ribbons that will inspire hope, healing, love, and life to those members who choose to sport one. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

For example, we will have a standard simple pro-life ribbon that many people already seem to be pushing for. We will also carry a pro-adoption ribbon. We will try to have a tasteful image of Jesus holding a hurting woman and a baby: a message of love and healing. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

Many of the choices will be something that even pro-choice members might want to have. Most pro-life and most pro-choice members are in favor of pro-adoption and pro-healing to those in need. We need to seek out common beliefs where possible without denying the sanctity of life. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

We have just begun working on this, and if you have a suggestion of things you would like to have, please give us your ideas. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

But, beloved in Christ, there are two things that we cannot and will not permit.

The first is that we will not allow any member to put additional text or commentary alongside these pre-approved images. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

This is not because we want to stifle people’s right to express themselves. Rather it is in an effort to avoid unintended hurt to those who may be pained by possibly aggresive messages. It is also an effort to keep the website peaceful from potential flame wars breaking out between those on both sides of the divide. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

The second thing we cannot permit at this time is a pro-choice ribbon or any other image promoting a pro-choice view. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

As I explained, this is not an easy decision to come to because we truly do not want to make our pro-choice members feel unwelcome or not a part of the CF community. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

So we tried to come up with a decision that would come up with some life-affirming ribbons and images that even pro-choice people can agree with. By keeping these ribbons, etc. simple and tasteful and not allowing extra commentary, the pro-choice people should not feel attacked for their views. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

And we will remind all members that if they desire to dialog and discuss abortion-related issues with other members, CF has long offered places where members are permitted to do so in a respectful manner. That policy and those places remain unchanged. Please ask a staff member if you are not sure where they can be found. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

Brothers and sisters - if you are a prayerful person - please remember this ministry and our members in your prayers. Please remember the hurting in your thoughts. Pray for those you disagree with. Do not attack them with righteousness - but rather love them into the Truth. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

If you are pro-choice, please know that you are welcome here and that your dignity will be respected and protected. While you may be disappointed about not having a ribbon, please remember all the other ways you can share your views in our forums, and also consider wearing some other life-affirming ribbon that you can embrace. ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL?

With much prayer, respectfully submitted,

Christian Forums Executive Committee


Boy, that sure is welcoming. (I added the “ARE WE NOT MERCIFUL” lines; I felt they made it more welcoming.)

The problem here is that there’s a small but very vocal group of people who are not only anti-abortion, but absolutely opposed to any recognition or respect for people who are not absolutely opposed to all abortions in all circumstances. I have seen people at ChristianForums told that they should have died in screaming agony from a ruptured fallopian tube, because the alternative (aborting an ectopic pregnancy) condemns them to eternal damnation. That’s okay. CF staff supports and endorses telling people you wish they’d died painfully.

We’ve decided to try to be welcoming to members of the “Executive Committee”. Obviously, we want them to know that we are ABSOLUTELY committed to welcoming them. To make this clear, we’re saying so, once, here, in this post. There will be no other signs, ever. We are encouraging people to design and wear buttons that say “all members of the Executive Committee will burn in hell forever”. We are also encouraging people to design and wear buttons that say “The executive committee is a hellspawned lie.” We regret that, at this time, we cannot allow people to wear buttons that express any condoning of the existence or wellbeing of the Executive Committee. We will allow people to make individual posts in which they condone the Executive Committee under restricted circumstances, or conditionally, but we reserve the right to edit or delete these posts, or ban posters, in the event that such posts are reported by people who hate the CF executive committee.


Comments [archived]

From: PlaidMan
Date: 2007-04-25 11:14:45 -0500

Would it be unreasonable on CF to discuss the Biblical basis for determining when life begins? The only passage I know of which addresses it is Exodus 21:22, which suggests that life begins at birth.

From: Swart
Date: 2007-04-27 04:09:34 -0500

I have always been of the opinion that once you have a “club” of Christians that is willing to build fences to decide who is and who isn’t a Christian, you are bound to have problems.

It’s very much like racism. Once you have a “White’s only” sign, how do you decide if someone is white enough? Who makes that decision?

The fences become tighter, the definitions become narrower. After a while, you find yourself excluded as well.

“First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

From: tubby
Date: 2007-05-21 19:55:03 -0500

You are not a true Christian unles you are bornagain. Jesus Christ makes that decision.

If you don’t come to God by way of Jesus Christ, you are not saved.

From: seebs
Date: 2007-05-23 12:06:27 -0500

Tubby, what’s that got to do with the price of tea in China?

A friend of mine knew a priest who had on his wall a poster which broke down the beginnings of wisdom to two observations:

  1. There is a God.

  2. You are not Him.

You have made some posts that appear to imply that you think you know for sure which specific people are, or are not, saved, or born again, or whatever. Unless you’re God, that strikes me as pure hubris.

From: Da_Funkey_Gibbon
Date: 2007-06-07 00:03:55 -0500

Look, CF isn’t perfect, it has faults, the system has faults and the staff make mistakes. However I don’t see why there is such a need to mock this post so unjustly and so viciously when it’s just an honest attempt to resolve a long standing debate, that needed a solution, with a degree of understanding. I dunno what heck you are on with that last paragraph.

Personally, I think it’s quite a good compromise as it stops people from putting insulting comments in their sigs. I would have been in favor of people putting anything in their sigs, but this is better than nothing - it’s also ridiculously easy to get round the new rules, I’ve seen examples on both sides that don’t seem to be corrected.

In any case, am I the only one who thinks the whole attitude on the part of, not just this post, many who frequent “off site” discussion boards about CF is blown out of all proportion? I’ve seen people get so worked up about it it’s ridiculous, I’ve seen friends of mine attacked in the most insulting way, and all over a message board. I mean this post - it isn’t even about what people can or can’t say, it’s just about where they can say it. If someone went into a reasonably mainstream Christian church in the USA with a large placard with a pro-choice slogan, they’d probably be shown the door. Not unreasonable, I don’t think, and the Church would be perfectly within their rights because at the end of the day they have to right to decide, to a reasonable degree, what goes in in their church.

Same with CF, privately run site, if you don’t like it go someplace else. Don’t make these endless posts about CF unless you can conduct yourself with decorum, which wile you usually can on this blog (and I do like your blog), you often seem to struggle to do so when talking about CF.

Just my lil rant… sorry it was you that pushed me over… this rant has been brewing slowly for almost a year now and 99% of it has nothing to do with this blog.