My advice on how to avoid rushing to [social media] judgment

How should Christians respond to the Jacob Blake shooting and the Black Lives Matter movement in America? God gives us plenty of guidelines when it comes to making our voice heard.

Let’s start with the idea that Christians should first avoid becoming part of the problem. Rushing to judgment is a re-occurring problem I see again and again on social media. It’s honestly why I just want to sign off Facebook and Twitter and despise the mainstream media. I get so tired of it. I see people rushing to judgment to condemn a person or a group of people. At the same time, I see people rushing to judgment to make criminals out as martyrs. And I see media members acting as political operatives who manipulate truth and create division.

God gave us an entire book devoted to exercising discernment. How much better and more civil would the world would be if, instead of instinctively reading and reacting to the latest mainstream news stories, we daily read God’s Word and applied wisdom and discernment from it?

I’m going to go out on the world’s tiniest limb and say our discourse would be far better.

Let’s apply some Biblical guidance toward the recent Jacob Blake shooting. Blake is a black man who was shot 7 times in the back by a single white police officer in Wisconsin. This incident promotes a mainstream media narrative of injustice and police brutality. If that’s all we know about the incident, it would be easy and understandable to draw that conclusion. It very well could be excessive use of force. I’m interested in learning about the internal investigation findings, and I want justice to be done. Just applying common sense to the matter, seven gunshots to a man’s back seems way over the top. Regardless, God warns us we are unwise to rush to judgment and instinctively believe the first story presented.

“The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.” Proverbs 18:17

Dig deeper. Why were police involved in the first place? They were responding to a 9-1-1 call alleging that Blake violated a restraining order for an alleged sexual assault from May. This should raise the question: If Blake had been accused of sexual assault, why was he not behind bars? According to the NY Post, Blake had an outstanding warrant for felony sexual assault.

If Blake had turned himself in, it’s unlikely he would’ve been shot by police. Second, Blake violated a restraining order and returned to break into the home of his victim and allegedly sexually assaulted his victim again. When police attempted to arrest Blake, he was uncooperative. They attempted to non-violently take him into custody and tasered him twice. It did not work. Blake continued to resist the officers. One report indicated Blake forcefully resisted putting an officer in a headlock. By opening the door to a vehicle, Blake attempted to flee the scene. The police report also indicated Blake was armed with a knife. One witness filming the incident said he heard officers yell, “Drop the knife,” but did not confirm seeing it on Blake’s person.

Now again, I’m not saying Blake should’ve been shot seven times. What I am saying is Blake had at least four non-lethal opportunities to cooperate with law enforcement and de-escalate the situation (by turning himself in after learning about the warrant for his arrest, when the police initially responded to the 911 call and ordered him to comply, when two different police officers tased him). Blake failed to take them. Consequently, he bears at least some responsibility for the police escalating the level and use of force. To argue otherwise, a person is either dishonest and/or unreasonable.

Search out additional (e.g. drowned out) voices missing (or largely ignored) from the narrative. Another voice that must be heard in this situation is the sexual assault victim. Why is the media leading news cycles with updates on Jacob Blake’s medical condition instead of the woman’s condition he allegedly sexually assaulted? Why does alleged police brutality get prioritized over an alleged #MeToo incident? The answer is Black Lives Matter is a more convenient, useful, and influential political movement at the moment, and both BLM and the mainstream media are choosing to highlight and advance the Blake story. Both of these groups downplay or dismiss the sexual assault portion of the story. That omission is wrong, because only telling half the story is dishonest and misleading.

Why doesn’t the mainstream media and BLM ever highlight black law enforcement officers who are murdered? They largely ignored David Dorn’s murder. Dorn put his life on the line day in and day out to protect his community and strangers. Yet we don’t see Dorn’s name on helmets, on t-shirts, or the backs of professional jerseys? We didn’t see professional games suspended when Dave Underwood was murdered. Why are these names less familiar? They lived more selfless and heroic lives than George Floyd or Jacob Blake. The reason is these tragedies don’t fit the BLM/MSM narrative.

Would Drew Brees, other NFL players and WNBA players have worn Jacob Blake’s name on football helmets and t-shirts had they bothered to learn beforehand Blake might be a rapist? I hope not. That’s why it’s so important we understand Proverbs 18:17, do our due diligence in seeking truth, and apply wisdom and truth to our day-to-day actions, including social media interactions.

Jesus said, “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

Christians must be discerning. We need to understand there are political agendas, media narratives, news story manipulations, and these interests often assail truth. We need to be prudent and pursue truth instead of naively thinking we’re dealing with honest brokers in the mainstream media and political movements who are dutifully handing us “fair and balanced” truth on silver platters.

In Thomas Constable’s commentary on Matthew, he writes:

Jesus pictured His defenseless disciples in a dangerous environment. The Shepherd was sending His “sheep” into a wolf pack. They needed, therefore, to be as “shrewd as serpents,” a proverbial way of saying prudent. People sometimes think of snakes as shrewd because they are silent, dangerous, and because of how they move. The disciples’ shrewdness must not be cunning (sinister or dishonest) though, for they needed to be “innocent” as well. Either characteristic without the other is dangerous. Innocence without prudence becomes naiveté.

Commitment to following Jesus, who is the Truth (John 14:6), should far outweigh any allegiance we have to social justice causes or political movements. When narratives come into conflict with truth, we prudently speak truth (in love) and exercise wisdom through our interactions. However, this doesn’t mean we correct every vain and poorly reasoned social media post (see Proverbs 26:4).

Be mindful of the bigger picture. The Great Commission calls us to be faithful disciples who (through love, humility, grace, and wisdom) make disciples. So we keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), and prudently focus on fulfilling the commands of our King including the one that brings more people into His Kingdom and under His authority (Mark 16:15).

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