..social media is not the place to engage over social issues.
Over time my social media philosophy has been shaped by the state of our society as well as the application of biblical principles.
Proverbs 25:9 Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another:
Ouch, Facebook! Debates used to be held in actual, physical forums, but now our main forum for debate is the comment section of your best friend’s second cousin’s political Facebook status. While we’ll soon see that we shouldn’t set out to debate, if we have a cause that we believe needs to be brought up, God tells us to go directly to that person. And that means face to face, people. Do you think King Solomon WhatsApped his neighbor?
Isaiah 58:4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
That is why most people post: to cause strife and debate. They only care to broadcast their opinions and vilify others for theirs. All they want is to make their voice be heard on high to all those casually scrolling on their smartphone. Here is a great thumbnail sketch of our Neo-Roman society:
Romans 1:28-29 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate , deceit, malignity; whisperers, All these qualities and more are present in our society, which causes me to feel like Paul.
2 Corinthians 12:20 For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates , envyings, wraths, strifes , backbitings , whisperings, swellings, tumults:
Consequently, I do not desire to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. in that way, or be drawn into vain debate or be entrapped by these divisive qualities. I present the following as a personal outlook for myself as well as a proposition for all those Christians who may consistently find themselves in contention on social media platforms. Though there are exceptions to prove the rule, my thesis is as follows: social media is not the place to engage over social issues.
I take my social media philosophy from Jude 9: even Michael the Archangel did not get into a debate with the Devil! He let the Lord deal with him.
I have considered greatly a philosophy of social media that protects the testimony of the pastor, leader, ministry head and in fact be empowered to utilize it as a tool for the gospel.
Philosophy of Social Media
We are called to teach those who oppose themselves
1. Use social media for bragging on the Lord and showing what God is doing.
2. Use social media for biblical commentary and teaching (e.g. Mark Trotter).
3. Use social media for communication and coordination of activities and events (like the Russians did, only in our case to develop unity, not division).
4. Use social media with two overarching words in mind: edify and evangelize.
I am not interested in giving half my audience an excuse to turn away from me, even if I happen to be right.
2 Timothy 2:24-25 And the servant of the Lord must not strive ; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves ; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
We are called to teach those who oppose themselves, but we’re not called to do it with virtual picket signs and pitchforks. We’re called to do it gently, patiently, and with meekness. After all, it’s God that will lead them to repentance and the acknowledgment of the truth, not your rhetorical skills.
Having said that, there are some few and far between social issues I have been known to make the rare exception for on my feed. But, if I do engage in social issues on social media, I believe the best course is to outmaneuver the argument and bring the discussion down to the bottom line, instead of flailing about in emotion and opinion. An example of that idea is this blog and how it addresses topical issues to drive people to basic biblical principles (sans the comments section). Articles get shared around on social media with the intention of creating clarity and unity around the bible and while it might provoke some to disagreement it never invites it.
Yet even at that, I am careful to think five or six times before I post anything even questionably societal in nature for this reason. Here is how it will typically go on Twitter, for example, if you engage with dis-unifiers:
twit: Hitler ate live kittens for lunch daily
me: Really? Source?
twit: Sorry I insulted ur bf Hitler
me: Hitler committed many real atrocities. 💩 like this actually helps ppl who deny those atrocities.
twit: LOL, Führer fan in my menchies @alan is all "Hitler was an angel bc he loved kittens" [5,000 RTs]
Here’s the breakdown of how I use my social media usage:
- Facebook I use more for promotional purposes regarding Harvest or the Living Faith Fellowship.
- Twitter I use for humor and keeping up with popular culture.
- Instagram I use to tell my story visually; pics are usually pushed out to Facebook and Twitter, except for some grandkid pictures.
Say you accidentally find yourself in the center of a divisive dialog; next time you’re getting ready to light a fire under someone’s tuckus for coming at you in your comment section, treat that interaction the same way you would a live one. Or, at least, the way you should treat that interaction. Live by Ephesians 4:29-32 and you should generally be able to avoid the wrath of Facebook and its trolls.
Bonus: Here are some people I look to as models for how to use these various platforms.
H.B. Charles Jr.: @hbcharlesjr (Twitter)
Billy Wood: @1baptistpastor (Twitter)
Tony Godfrey: @tkgodfrey99 (Twitter)
MBT College and Young Adults: @caya_kc (Insta)
Friends of Internationals KC: @foikc (Insta)