Before we can answer the question about why Christians are so mean, we need to biblically define Christian and clarify the word mean. In Western culture, the word Christian has come to signify anyone who likes Christmas and does not identify as belonging to any other religion. But the Bible defines being a Christian quite differently (Romans 8:14; 1 John 3:7–10). For the purposes of this article, we will define a Christian as someone who has accepted the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the sufficient payment for his sin and has transferred ownership of his life to Him (Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 10:9–10). For a more in-depth explanation of what it means to be a Christian, please see this article.
Christians—those who trust and follow Christ as Lord—should not be mean (purposefully offensive, selfish, or malicious). Yet the charge that Christians are “mean” continues to be leveled. In many cases, the charge is a response to behavior committed by nominal Christians who have never been born again; that is, much of the public activity that leaves the impression that Christians are “mean” comes from those who are not really Christians. Nothing is harsher or more arrogant than self-righteous, man-made religion. It was true in Jesus’ day, and it is still true (Luke 18:9–14).
The world is flooded with voices and opinions, many of them professing to speak for Christianity. At the same time, many of them are crude, foul, abusive, and hateful, which is everything Jesus was not (Matthew 11:29). The comments section below any social media post is filled with half-truths and angry diatribes spewed by arrogant people claiming to represent “truth.” In contrast to the spirit of many of these comments, Colossians 4:6 clearly tells believers how to conduct themselves in discussion: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Another factor to consider in whether or not Christians are “mean” is the source of the accusations. When we trace this statement to its origins, we often discover that the ones doing the labeling are actually mislabeling. Today, it’s considered “mean” to refuse to bow down to the religion of the day, which in Western culture is known as Tolerance. This religion’s creed demands total acceptance of anything someone else chooses to do. The worshipers of Tolerance demand “inclusion” in any and everything they choose, even when such inclusion is not practical or possible. When Christians gently point out that God has given definite instructions to His human creations and that life works best when we adhere to those instructions, they are instantly labeled as “unloving,” “phobic,” or “mean.” In recent days, Christians who disagree with the current redefinition of morality and reality are marginalized in the media and the public square. Tolerance is quite intolerant of anything that it considers intolerant. But adherents don’t seem to catch the irony.
So the meaning of mean needs a closer evaluation. If the accusation that Christians are mean is coming from those who have set themselves against God and His right to define truth, we need to recognize that those same people also consider God to be “mean” because His standards will not bend to their sensitivities. Refusing to ordain an unrepentant homosexual is not “mean”; it is scriptural (1 Timothy 1:9–11; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10; Jude 1:7). Calling abortion “murder of the innocent” is not “mean”; it is true (Ezekiel 23:37; Psalm 106:38; 139:13–16). Standing for the truth that gender is defined by God and cannot be redefined by man is not “mean”; it is reality (Genesis 1:27).
The behavior of some who call themselves Christians is dreadful, but we must remember that becoming a Christian does not result in instant maturity. When a baby is born, it spends a lot of time dirtying diapers, crying, throwing fits, and making messes. As that baby grows, he develops manners and social skills and matures into a civilized human being. The same is true of those who have been born again (John 3:3). Many enter the kingdom of God as uncivilized, evil people. They receive a new heart and the Holy Spirit at salvation, but His work in them takes time. Newborn Christians, like babies, may spend a lot of time causing trouble, making mistakes, and sometimes acting “mean.” But God’s desire for all His children is that we conform to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). He is patient as we grow and wants us to be patient with each other as He continues His ongoing work in us (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13).