Despite the fact that Jesus said that the oneness of the church is the proof of who he is (John 17:20-21), the American church is more fractured than ever. We are fighting one another and dismissing one another more rudely and stridently than I can remember in my lifetime. Perhaps we have always done it, but I only now see it because of social media. I don’t know.
How we speak to and treat each other when discussing issues that divide us? There are ways to disagree that are less likely to divide. And if those responding to our posts would do the same, the issues should not cause division but understanding for those who really listen.
So in that spirit, here are my rules for social media:
- An end to labeling as liberal or conservative. Many of us try to judge issues according to God’s character and God’s kingdom rather than see them as one or the other. Neither people nor issues always fit a particular label.
- No name-calling, which is bullying to silence or submission. We as followers of Jesus should never speak that way to or of others as people made in the image of God. All name-calling posts would be automatically deleted even if they come from the highest places.
- No suggestions that a person is being attacked when their actions or ideas are questioned respectfully and reasonably. Anyone should be able to request clarification and reassessment of actions and policies of those who lead us (government, business, or church) without being dismissed or called disloyal.
- Any comment not on point is disallowed. Good reasoning is required.
- A block on a second negative comment from the same person on the same topic. With one go at it, we would have to choose carefully what to say and then drop it—even if the person who posted it answers us. (Think—do I care about this person or am I just trying to win?)
- A social media ban on those who never read reasoned opinions or facts on both sides of an issue.
How do we live out our faith? With love, respect, understanding, and careful choice of words so that we don’t shut down the unifying quality of listening. We are unified in Christ. Let’s act like it even when we disagree. Let’s go for understanding when we can’t come to agreement.
What rules would you add?