The Bible actually has a lot to say about a Christian’s Facebook comments. Or, to be more specific, about your comments on anything. (It’s not just your mama who told you to “watch your tongue”!)
Words matter. They matter in person and they matter online—especially for Christ-followers who are called to a higher standard than the vitriol that shows up in Facebook comments.
Watch Your Tongue!
The Bible is clear that the hardest thing for us to manage or control is that little thing in our mouths—the tongue. James 3:6 says that “the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
Consider indeed the great fires that are set on a Facebook thread when people lob emotional and incendiary words at one another. A friend of mine has said that the Internet is “The Wild, Wild West” when it comes to “anything goes” in comment threads. Would Christ-followers say in person the things they write in comments? Would they call names and throw insults in person like they do on Facebook? It makes one wonder.
Rules for Civility
Bill Hybels addressed the problem of incivility in our larger culture at the 2017 Global Leadership Summit. Half of Hybel’s top-10 key rules for civility were:
1. Set the example of how to differ with others without demonizing them.
2. Model how to have spirited conversations without “drawing blood.”
3. Set the example of being courteous in word and deed.
4. Apologize immediately when wrong instead of denying or doubling down.
5. Form opinions carefully and stay open-minded if better information comes along.
Those are great rules for Facebook comments. Long before Bill Hybels spoke about this issue, though, God spoke out clearly with these guidelines for civility. And today these are more pertinent than ever in “The Wild, Wild West of Facebook.”
The Bible’s Rules for Facebook Comments
1. Control Your Emotions.
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20 Use the same rule you use when sending an email: Don’t send it while you’re emotional. Give it time before you send the email or post the comment. Calm your emotions then decide if you want to post that comment.
2. Control Your Reaction.
No matter how insane—or wrong—you think the other posters are, answer calmly—and gently. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Our goal as Christ-followers is to bring peace—not arguments!
3. Control Your Goal.
What are you trying to achieve? Win an argument or advance the Kingdom of God with healthy dialogue? 1 Thessalonians 4:11 says to, “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you.” The King James Version actually goes beyond “make it your ambition” and says “study to be quiet.” This is so antithetical to our culture right now. But, Christian, we are called to be different from our culture!
4. Control Your Focus.
Let go of all the negative talk. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
What do you think? How do you bring peace to Facebook conversations—instead of an argument?