Cyber War

There have been numerous articles written about how the internet has reshaped the way we interact with people. A recent article in Christianity Today noted that,

…the invention of social media, like blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, created a radical departure in communication. In pre-2004 Christianity (that is, Christianity before Facebook was invented), only a small group of Christian leaders and teachers had access to the printing press—but today everyone has WordPress. In pre-2004 Christianity it was difficult to become a published author, but today everyone is surrounded by dozens of “Publish” buttons.

Blogging is not an occupation to be taken lightly. You are in a position of leadership. Your thoughts, your beliefs, are available to the entire cyber world at the click of a button. And because of this “instant access” capability, it’s very easy lose sight of the responsibility to weigh our words. Instead of carefully considering what we’re going to say before we say it, we just sizzle and pop like cheap Chinese firecrackers.

“Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more
hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs 29:20)

These days, its a popular pastime to hop over to a prominent blog (say Challies or Veith), read the latest controversial post, and then throw oneself heart and soul into the vicious bar fight going on in the comments section. Put on your boxing gloves and angry eyebrows, ’cause it’s gonna get really ugly, really fast.

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but
the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)

Now, don’t misunderstand me: I’m all for respectful, reasoned debate. And I’ve been privy to several comment-thread discussions that have been a real pleasure to read and participate in. But too often, what I see is not respectful, reasoned debate: it’s all out war. The participants aren’t concerned with engaging in a thoughtful discussion. They’re more concerned with humiliating, wounding, and retaliating against their brothers in Christ.

Whatever happened to Ephesians 4:15? “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”

When we catch sight of something in the blogosphere that we disagree with – whether it’s a post or a comment on that post – we don’t need to act as if the world is going to end if we don’t immediately respond. In fact, oftentimes the best thing to do is to just walk away: don’t respond at all. Resist that urge to pick a fight. In those cases where a response is in order, do so thoughtfully, firmly, and lovingly, in a manner consistent with the character of Him Whom you serve. Christians shouldn’t look at a debate as an opportunity to beat each other up. They should view it as an opportunity to teach, an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to quicken each other’s beliefs and convictions. Measure your words, for “death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:21)

“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps
himself out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23)

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15 thoughts on “Cyber War”

  1. The best post yet (from what I’ve read so far)!!
    “we don’t need to act as if the world is going to end if we don’t immediately respond. In fact, oftentimes the best thing to do is to just walk away: don’t respond at all.” Amen, amen, and amen! Love and blessings!

  2. Great post, Ink Slinger, you nailed it dead-on. I like the part of the responsibility of blogging, especially since I’m just starting and am gathering ideas and thoughts that I can translate into guidelines for doing this sort of thing.

  3. Great post! I agree the tendency is to just go “flame on!” and start swinging. Back in college, we had a group called “The Socratic Club,” and we’d get together to discuss a topic related to Christianity. And it seemed like every week, it would eventually devolve into a brainless argument between the very vocal two sides of an argument not germane to the original topic. Because someone on one of those two sides would find a reason to be offended.

    I’m with you…I love spirited debate, but when it gets petty and personal, nobody wins. Least of all the Kingdom.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Seth! I recently came across a neat quote related to the subject I was addressing… “The best time for you to hold your tongue is the time you feel you must say something or bust.” ~ Josh Billings.

  4. Great post!

    I am all for spirited debates and defense of the faith once delivered to the saints. Unfortunately it is easy to type first and think later or worse take valid criticism as a personal affront or against one’s hero. If I get riled about something, I’ve learned and am learning to let it wait until I calm down. More often than not, I don’t write but pray instead.

  5. AHH!! This is SO true. I know I sometimes forget how many people can access my blog. You can be a good witness online, too! My mom is always reminding me of that fact… thank goodness, too, or else I might forget!

    Thanks so much for posting this! I may have to ‘steal’ it for my blog.. lol! Great reminder for anyone.

    Sarah

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