“Mysoginist”, “bigot”, “racist”, and “homophobe” are just a few of the harsh labels used in social media conversations today. Much of the Internet has turned into a verbal and emotional war zone. Videos and articles now instantly spark heated debates, often filled with rage. For example, if you log on to YouTube.com and click on the first video you see, what will you find? The odds are, you will find that the further you scroll down in the comments, the more hostile and demeaning the conversations become. The problem, however, is that both Christians and non-Christians are guilty of such language. It is important for us to consider how to communicate faithfully in such a hostile environment.
Pearls Before Swine
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7:6
“Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words.” Proverbs 23:9
Scripture urges believers not to take what is holy and throw it before those who will not value it. We would not take our riches and throw them before dogs and swine who have no regard for its worth, would we? The animals would just destroy the riches. Many online users will simply trample on and make fun of the riches we have in Christ.
Many articles are set up to brood controversy and anger. Because of the controversial nature of these articles, many commenting do so out of the anger in their hearts and have no ears to hear any truth. If you speak the truths of Scripture many will ridicule and “tear you to pieces” because they do not have ears to listen in the first place. Don’t waste your breath! The majority of the time, comment sections are not filled with those who have ears to hear truth, but are filled with people eager to shout their opinion and ridicule others. Do we really want to become “bathroom wall warriors” who rarely help anyone?
Though much of the content on social media and the comments found there can be compared to the discourse found on a bathroom wall, there are times when Christians will find it appropriate to respond. God may urge you to speak. Someone you love may be headed down a destructive path. Some may be seeking truth. However, when we do respond, we should follow biblical guidelines.
First Examine Your Own Life
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5
Many Christians forget this very important verse that comes before Matthew 7:6. How can we speak truth if we are blinded by our own sin? We must first turn and remove the sin from our own life before we can even begin to help others. The blind leading the blind is already rampant in our society. There is no need to add to their numbers.
Respond In Love
“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” Proverbs 26:4-5
At a glance these two verses seem to contradict each other. However, they do not in fact contradict. These verses have been interpreted to mean that we are not to stoop to the level of the fool, by arguing in anger and speaking harsh words as he or she does. However, we are to reply out of love for the fool. If we are going to respond it should be because we wish to help the other person not continue down a destructive path. We should never do so out of hate or in a hateful manner. I know I have become the hypocrite by claiming to speak truth, when in reality I was using cynicism and passive-aggressive comments to pierce the heart of the other commenter. Speaking biblical truth must never be confused with spewing angered opinions.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 25:1
Christians can be some of the most vile and hateful people on the Internet when they speak out of the anger in their own hearts. The founding editor of OnFaith (now FaithStreet.com) wrote a piece called “When It Comes To Hateful Internet Speech, Christians Are The Worst.” In this piece, she cited a multitude of professed believers calling her demeaning names when she founded a “pluralistic religion site.” Whether or not we agree, disagree, or are angry with an article or commenter, we are called to avoid such harmful language that would not represent Christ or our faith.
Christians must be careful when engaging social media. Controversy sells, and that many articles and videos exist simply to make noise. Don’t waste your time on such things. Also, remember that a large portion of the people commenting on articles are not there to hear truth. Spending our days throwing our pearls to a sea of people who aren’t willing to listen is simply not the best use of our time. Do not become a part of the angry, social media herd. However, when that time does come to speak truth, we must do so out of love and not hate. We are to examine and correct the flaws in our own lives before we consider correcting the flaws in others.
 http://biblehub.com/commentaries/barnes/proverbs/26.htm (Albert Barnes Commentary)