Cruel and unusual.
Add to this the safety issues posed by technology.
I cannot fathom allowing my two teenagers to be on social media for fear of the venom they would receive. When my kids have to report on current events at school, they’ve learned to ask before they click onto news sites, since I never know who is saying what about me where.
Add to this the gossip that surrounds me, which once compelled an older woman to approach me at church and ask, while our children listened on, why I beat my wife, Grace. The woman just assumed that what she’d read online somewhere was true, despite the fact I have never and will never raise a hand in anger toward my wife or children.
In general, going out in public has gotten tough. People feel free to interrupt family dinners out to sit at the table and either cuss me out or talk for a long time without permission. My kids have gotten so sick of strangers handing them a phone to take a photo that one of my kids recently told someone, “I’m his child, not his photographer.”
Some people are just cruel. I was running errands with my youngest daughter, our most sensitive and affectionate child. She was holding my hand as we were walking around a hardware store when an older woman who looked like a sweet grandma came up, smiled, asked if I was Pastor Mark, and then asked if this was my daughter. The woman got down on one knee to look my little girl in the eye and say, “I’m sorry you have such a horrible man for a father. He hates women, which means he probably hates you, too.” And she did not stop there. In fact, she would not stop at all and just kept going. I did not engage, but rather walked away holding my daughter’s hand, since she was bawling at this point from being startled.
Then there’s the downright bizarre. Some years ago, I was standing in line to buy burgers for my kids when they noticed my face next to a column in one of Seattle’s alternative newspapers, and they asked why I was working for them. Apparently, the paper took my photo and name and started writing columns pretending to be me.
Just as odd was when an amateur porn film festival announced the criteria people could meet in order for their movie to qualify. One option was to feature me and/or Mars Hill Church. Yes, if you had sex at our church or in my presence, your porno film would be shown in a local movie theater and voted on for a prize.
With so much video of me available online, I feared being edited into a film, and my staff had to check the church and bathrooms before I walked around on Sundays to ensure that I did not end up in a porno. I also had to explain all of this to my wife in case she heard any rumors that I was in a porno, even though I am completely faithful to her.