Well-known Pastor Rick Warren's personal tragedy of losing his son Matthew as the result of suicide last Friday has not only garnered sympathy and condolences from around the world, but also online vitriol from his detractors. Perhaps most disturbing to Warren and many in the Christian community is that some of the attacks have come from people professing to be Christians, as well.
Warren posted through Facebook and Twitter: "Grieving is hard. Grieving as public figures, harder. Grieving while haters celebrate your pain, hardest. Your notes sustained us."
Upon learning of the news of Mathew Warren's death and the response on the Internet by some Christians, Beth Moore, founder of Living Proof Ministries, wrote in her blog post that after a mixture of emotions on Saturday, she became "madder and madder at the bullies in the Body of Christ."
"I thought how much it turns out that the Warrens have been through personally and, if they are like most leaders, all the while putting out fires and putting up with a bunch of trash-talk from people who would call the same Jesus Lord," Moore wrote. "God help us. In the words of James, these things should not be so, my brothers and sisters."
Moore stated that she believes that no one in the Christian community thinks that leaders should be immune to questions, constructive criticism, and accountability.
"That's not the kind of thing I'm talking about here. I'm talking about bullying. There are Scriptural means for going to a brother or sister to reason with them about matters we genuinely consider to be off base, misleading, or in error," she said. "You and I both know that much of what happens out there in public forums is the furthest thing from biblical."
Moore adds, "Life is hard enough without hatefulness rife in the Body of Christ."
Christian author Frank Viola posted several of the hateful comments from "Christian news websites" on his blog post, "Rick Warren's Horrific Tragedy & The Sickening Response of Some 'Christians'."
Viola, who wrote that some of the comments made him want to vomit, posted them without attribution. The comments included, "Suicide happens soon after your stupid enough to read 'The Purpose Driven Life,'" and "Poor Matthew denies God's Love with suicide."
"If you are a Christian and you're heart doesn't go out to this brother and his family, something is wrong with you spiritually," wrote Viola. "I don't care what you think about Warren's theology, his books, or how he combs his hair. The fact is, he lost a child. Few things can be more painful and nightmarish in this life."
Warren, who uses social media frequently and has nearly a million followers on Twitter, was more active on Tuesday than previous days, posting his thoughts and recommending articles through links.
"I'm sick of careless, idle words thrown out there in the public square and professing believers in Christ standing on the necks of their own brothers and sisters to sound smart and superior," Moore stated. "As if it's not enough that we are surrounded in this culture by Christian haters, we've got to have our own hater-Christians. It's insane."
She concludes, "I love the Body of Christ. I don't want to get cynical. I don't want to sit around and hate the haters or I become one. But this morning I just want to say this. We can love each other better. Let's do. People have enough hurt. Let's be careful with one another."