Throwing the First Stone: The Scourging of Dan Haseltine by Christina Knowles


Courtesy of Google Images
Courtesy of Google Images

One of my favorite bands is Jars of Clay. When I first became a Christian, Redemption Songs was the first CD I bought. I learned to worship God listening to this CD. Then I bought their self-titled debut album, which contained the song “World’s Apart.” This song speaks to me deeply still to this day. In fact Jars of Clay is a huge part of my daily worship of God.

If you follow Twitter’s trends, then you know that a big scandal erupted when Dan Haseltine, of Jars of Clay, tweeted some questions he was wrestling with regarding how Christians should approach the topic of gay marriage. Obviously these questions just could not be discussed adequately on a platform like Twitter. In his blog he explains what caused the biggest offense and what he actually meant:

“I don’t particularly care about Scriptures stance on what is ‘wrong.’ I care more about how it says we should treat people.”

“In the heat of discussion, I communicated poorly and thus unintentionally wrote that I did not care about what scripture said.  Thus, the tsunami hit.  It was picked up by bloggers and written into editorials before I could blink.  And rightly so, people were shocked and offended by my statement dismissing the value of scripture.  I got it. And possibly, I got what that combination of statements warranted for response. I should’ve chosen my words more wisely” (Dan Haseltine)

You can read the full explanation and apology here at his website:

To me this is an obvious mistake. Have you ever told your child, “I don’t care what you think! Just do it!”? You don’t mean that you really don’t care; you just mean that it is beside the point or not relevant to the discussion. Whether or not it was a sin was irrelevant to the topic of how we treat people. Clearly, Twitter is not an appropriate platform for complex discussions.

When I read his tweets, I immediately thought that he was working through some complicated issues and needed to discuss them–nothing more. Personally, if he did decide that he did not oppose gay marriage, that would not make me assume he is denouncing the faith or anything else. Some Christians believe that they have no right to impose their beliefs on those who do not share their convictions. Other Christians do not believe that it is actually a sin the way they interpret the Bible. Lots of Christians are confused by these issues and have to struggle with passages in the Bible that go against what our culture accepts.

But what seems worse to me is the mean and, in my opinion, Pharisaical response directed toward the band as a result of a few tweets. A couple of days ago, I started seeing shocking posts about “throwing out your Jars of Clay CDs” and all manner of name-calling, “heretic,” “apostate,” “false prophet,” along with accusations that they have always just been “in it for the money.” Shocked, I immediately went to Haseltine’s tweets and waded through more of the insanity, searching for a lucid explanation.

As a person who openly struggles with my faith, the tendency for some Christians to lash out and attack their own scares me. It is one thing to point out a mistake or ask what was meant by a certain remark, but why the knee-jerk attack on his beliefs? Just from listening to the lyrics Jars of Clay write, and what they choose to record led me to believe that this was either a new crisis of faith or more probably a misworded expression of frustration in getting his point across, the latter turning out to be the truth. Why are people so quick to jump to conclusions? Doesn’t anyone ever ask questions and wait peacefully for a reply anymore?

In my opinion, indignant Christians did more damage to the faith by attacking Dan Haseltine than his misspoken tweets could ever do. I believe there are many reasonable and unruffled Christians who do not immediately turn every mistake into a platform to attack those who disagree with them, but unfortunately, the ones who do are much more visible.

While reading the comment thread on Michael Brown’s article “The Shattering of Jars of Clay” on CharismaNews and on Twitter, I could not stop the image of the Pharisees self-righteously throwing accusations at Jesus while harboring murder in their hearts. Granted, Dan Haseltine is not Jesus, but he certainly was not deserving of their hypocritical scorn. By their very words they reveal the redwood tree lodged in their own eyes while they attempt to gouge out the speck in Haseltine’s.

The irony of this situation is glaring. While attempting to rescue Christianity from Haseltine’s innocent solecism, the whole point being that Christians should treat others with love first and foremost, they batter and abuse Haseltine, treating him with anything but love. Who is really guilty of the greater error here? — Christina Knowles

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