Paul’s Rules for Social Media Interactions

There are certain Bible verses or passages that can trip you up as you read them. You’re humming along through a passage when suddenly you’re stopped cold. In that moment, you may have the thought, “Really? Is this really here? How have I missed this before?”

Last week, I had this experience with Titus 3.

In the letter to Titus, Paul is giving instructions to Titus to “put things in order” in the church on the island of Crete, by identifying and training elders to lead the church, and by teaching the people to live in a godly manner.

Then, in verse 2 of chapter 3, Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) says this:

“[Remind them] … to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

I had to stop and re-read that verse. Then I started thinking about social media.

What if we actually followed these commands on Facebook and Twitter and in our blog posts? How would it change how we write, and what we write about? How would it affect our responses to others?

Before any of you sound the alarm, I’m not turning into a Raised-Pinkie Blogger™ who blanches at the slightest hint of online critique. There is a time and place and approach for critical thinking and critical writing, and when it comes to theology, it’s important to recognize false doctrine and even to mark false teachers. The Apostle Paul himself had no qualms about “naming names,” and since it’s part of the Bible, one can safely assume that God ordained those specific and personal warnings.

But if we claim to be followers of Jesus who hold up the Bible as our standard for faith and conduct, we can’t ignore the clear commands of Scripture that govern our interactions with others, even if those interactions are through a computer screen. We can’t excuse reputation-slandering, quarreling, and rudeness by draping them in reformers’ robes. We don’t reflect Jesus when we do this.

Contend for the faith, Christian, but contend without becoming contentious. Speak clearly about doctrinal error, but do not speak evil of your brother who is in error. Be firm about the truth, but gentle in your answers to those who question you. Show contempt for the Enemy and his works, but treat all people–the God-hating, the corrupt, the deluded, the confused, the proud, the ignorant, the naive, the worldly, the cowardly–with perfect courtesy.

I’ll freely admit that I’m not very good at all this. But by God’s grace, I’ll grow in it. If I truly want to follow Jesus, how can I do otherwise?

UPDATE: Please see a few more comments on this issue in the “Comments” below. Thanks.

One thought on “Paul’s Rules for Social Media Interactions

  1. ADDENDUM: Paul grounds these commands governing our interactions with others in the bedrock of the Gospel. Look at what comes after verse 2:

    ” 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

    We bring our words under control because we remember what we were before we were rescued by Jesus, and what we are now because of Jesus. This isn’t merely being nice for niceness’ sake. When we are floored by the reality of God’s grace to undeserving sinners, it should crush our pride and make us thankful, humble, and kind. Our fiercest opponent is no more foolish, ignorant, and hopeless than we were before God intervened on our behalf.

    Something else to consider in this discussion.

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