Sometimes I feel like Christians don’t think about how their words sound to others—especially on Facebook. I’ve noticed that many of my Facebook friends (and non-Facebook friends too) who claim the name of Christ are quick to condescendingly mock, belittle, and assign motives to other people who wear the same name and have taken a stand on some moral and/or political issue. Just to be clear, let me give you a few examples of this:
Example #1: A couple of months ago, the president of my alma mater, Freed Hardeman University, made a public statement that in effort to appear modest and to avoid causing young Christian men to stumble in their walk with God, the school’s cheerleaders would wear pants from now on, as opposed to the mini-skirts they’ve worn for several decades now. You can read about this announcement here.
Immediately after the news was out, my Facebook newsfeed was busy with the status updates of current and former FHU students who were ridiculing, mocking, and belittling this announcement. They made it a point to not only make fun of the school for taking this moral stand, but also the people who posted appreciation for this decision.
Example #2: A few weeks ago, my husband conducted a question and answer session at our congregation. This happens every month—people submit questions prior to the event, and my husband answers them from a Biblical standpoint on those scheduled Q&A services. My husband never writes, or persuades others to write, his own questions. They are always questions that members of the congregation ask. At this particular Q&A night, the question was asked whether it was wise (notice it was worded “is it wise” and not “is it sinful”) for a New Testament Christian to attend Christian rock concerts or to listen to Christian rock music on the radio. He spent a liberal amount of time talking about why we, as members of the church of Christ, do not allow musical instruments to become a part of our worship. Then he carefully picked apart the question. His answer was that, because it would be difficult not to worship when listening to songs of praise paired with instruments, and because it might appear inconsistent to non-Christians who saw us listening to Christian rock while not allowing instruments into our church building, it was probably a good idea for us to avoid listening to those types of songs. What surprised everyone was that after that service, a tenderhearted woman in her 70’s came forward and asked for prayers and forgiveness because she listened to Christian rock on the radio. My husband was very careful in relaying this to the congregation, and just simply said that we should love and appreciate anyone who has the kind of heart that wants nothing more than to do what’s right. He never called this particular issue a sin, mind you, but simply said what he believed was advisable for cautious Christians. Immediately after the service, and for several days after, many of our members went to that conscientious lady and told her she was silly for going forward. They told her she should ignore what my husband said and not worry about her salvation at all. Some of them wrote less than pleasant emails to my husband in anger for the stand he took.
Example #3: A few weeks ago, I spoke at a girls’ youth rally about modesty and purity in the life of a teen girl. The next day, a mother of one of those girls came and told me that her teenage daughter had gone home that same day and cleaned out her closet of any clothing that might cause her brothers in Christ to stumble. The next weekend, I relayed this story to about 200 other teen girls in another city where I was speaking, and was hurt by the girls I saw laughing and making fun of that girl’s choice to be 100% modest. As soon as the event was over, I heard comments like “I bet that girl was like twelve years old…she’ll grow out of that” in reference to her fervor to do the right thing.
I could easily give plenty of other examples, like the scores of “Christians” I saw last week mocking those who chose to take a stand about the current same-sex marriage issue in our Supreme Court.
My point is this: It’s time for an attitude check, folks. Whether or not you agree with the moral stands other Christians take, it’s your job to do whatever it takes to make the Church look as good as possible to others. When you make fun of people of your same faith, you’re only hurting the cause of Christianity.
I understand that sometimes we disagree about the “gray areas,” and that’s perfectly okay—healthy even. But we as Christians must always caution ourselves to make sure we don’t sound haughty, condescending, or rude when we think it’s important enough to verbally disagree. This is especially true when disagreeing with someone on Facebook. For more thoughts on Facebook etiquette, please read this.
When I see another Christian make a stand with which I disagree, I try to remind myself that this person likely did so with a pure heart that wants nothing more than a home with God in heaven. It’s time we get ourselves out of the way so that we can see the big picture here. All that matters is helping others go to heaven. That’s it. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Before showing everyone how smart you are in a spirit of arrogance and spitefulness, ask yourself if you’re helping to accomplish that ultimate goal, or if you are just hurting feelings, assigning motives in the name of being right or just looking cool in order to fit in with your other self-righteous, arrogant friends.
I could talk all day long about this, but honestly, what’s the point when God said it so plainly:
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…” –Matthew 7:12
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”—Colossians 4:6
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” –Ephesians 4:29
“But in your hearts, revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” –I Peter 3:15
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” –I Corinthians 1:10
So some of the words we need to keep in mind before we express ourselves are as follows: Gracious. Seasoned. Wholesome. Helpful. Building others up according to their needs. Beneficial. Gentle. Respectful. United with your brethren in Christ.
See, it’s not about me. It doesn’t really matter whether my opinion is the correct one. What does matter is that I do what God says, I strive to go to heaven, and bring as many people as I possibly can with me. Let’s all keep that in mind before we bring our points of view to the table. I don’t care how out of style the phrase is—we all need to constantly ask before speaking or acting—What would Jesus do?
May your words be sweeter this week than last week, and may you ever be growing stronger in your relationship with God. That’s truly all that matters!