This Week’s Decisions about How I’ll Use the Internet

By Mark A. Taylor

Among the many (too many!) Internet posts I’ve skimmed in the last week, a few have led me to some decisions about my own behavior on the worried World Wide Web. The Internet is good for much; I’m not saying we should learn to live without it. But I’m concerned about the way we Christians sometimes decide to use it.

What I’ve decided:

1. We can’t relate to each other via the Internet alone. If my opinion about another Christian isn’t based on an out-of-web relationship, then I’ll think twice about discussing him or her on the web, especially if my post would be a critique. I’m guessing a second thought will usually lead me to avoid such posts altogether.

Sept2_MT_JN2. If I have something intimate or disturbing to share about myself, I won’t be posting it on the Internet. I’ll tell my family and close friends. I may even e-mail the news to a long list of associates who care and need to know. But I won’t be putting it out there for anyone who knows my name to read, share, discuss, and criticize.

3. If I decide to renege on the above decision, I won’t be surprised by rejection from those who don’t know me; I won’t be hurt by rebuke from those who don’t understand my situation.

More people skim the Internet than use it for careful research about a situation that baffles them. I’d expect those close to me to do that work. I wouldn’t assume that the casual web browser would invest the same energy.

4. But, as a casual web browser myself, I’m going to exercise some restraint. When I read something about another Christian that angers or frightens or confuses me, I’ll write him or her directly. Or give him a call. If I don’t know the person well enough to contact him or her directly, what right do I have to write about him, by name, on Facebook?

You can make a case, I guess, for saying that a person who “goes public” should expect public reaction. (This is why I don’t intend to seek celebrity status with revelations about myself.) But when the person is a Christian brother, we owe him a careful response and a concerned inquiry.

Even if his action is a blatant sin, we’re to “restore that person gently” with care to keep ourselves from sinning in the process (Galatians 6:1).

I’ve seen too much sin on the Internet lately. And it comes from the keystrokes of Christians who believe their Internet access gives them the right to make personal attacks.

I intend to work at avoiding the same error.

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8 Comments

  1. Marshall Hayden
    September 2, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Excellent!

  2. John Murphy
    September 2, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Mark, I appreciate your comments, but at the same time see them as inappropriate to the current situation. It’s not just a brother struggling with sin. Lord knows we are all dealing with sin in our lives. But one must never embrace the sin, or celebrate the sin. That as I see it was the far greater offense.

  3. Ron Lewis
    September 2, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    Well said Mark, well said.

  4. Dennis Bratton
    September 3, 2014 at 5:14 am

    Mark, as always, a thoughtful article. The phrase that puzzled me begins, “Even if his action is a blatant sin…”, the call is for gentle restoration. If it truly reaches the level of blatant sin, does it not also call for straight forward, honest response or even rebuttal? Blatant sin indicates a public, personal declaration to ignore a biblical value in favor of a situational ethic. A candid discussion will most likely be personal in that circumstance. Once a public choice is made to blatantly embrace and present as acceptable a controversial position, isn’t it unfair to dismiss contrary opinions as nothing more than personal attacks or sin against a brother? Certainly there should be civility along with candor and clarity in any pursuit of truth.

  5. Guthrie Veech
    September 3, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Excellent thoughts

  6. September 3, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Excellent advice. Perhaps, like the old sermon illustration suggests for the preacher who kept preaching the same sermon, you should keep publishing this until some change occurs.

  7. September 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Excellent advice. Thank you. Needs to be shared and repeated.

  8. Buddy Harris
    September 5, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    “we owe him a careful response and a concerned inquiry” I think we owe this to everyone — not just a Christian brother!

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