Christian Thuggery, in my opinion, is something that needs to stop immediately. I’m not talking about Al Capone, or Tupac, or Biggie Smalls, or even the Amish Mafia. I’m not talking about Christians that beat people up and steal their lunch money in the name of Christ. No, I’m talking about Keyboard Warriors and Internet Trolls. I researched the word “thug” for this blog and I learned something interesting. The word is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning “he covers up, he hides,” and was originally used by the British in the 19th Century to describe thieves and murderers that would pretend to be friendly to travelers, only to kill and rob them at their earliest convenience. How apropos I thought. Ultimately what does an Internet Warrior do? He or she hides behind the virtual mask that is their computer, many times with a made up name and likeness, and types away as if they are the final authority on all things, with complete disregard for others’ thoughts or feelings. How many times has someone pretended to be friendly to you on Facebook only to try and sneak in their hidden agenda at precisely the right moment? Or how about your friends that seemingly bask in the glow of Facebook drama? One minute they are as loving as they come, and the next minute Mr. Hyde rears his ugly head only to virtually slash and burn you in the blink of an eye. As I was preparing to write this, I found the idea of trying to explain this to someone, say 100 years ago, quite hilarious! Can you imagine describing an Internet Troll to Charles Spurgeon? He would have thought you to be mad. To be transparent, it sounds and feels nonsensical to me to even be having this discussion. The truth of the matter is that we live in a day and age of tremendous technological advancement, where Social Media rules everything. On one hand, the things we are able to do and see are truly magnificent. On the other hand, however, a lot of it has lead to laziness, insincerity, and straight cowardice. I’ll be honest, I expect this sort of behavior from unbelievers. I expect my atheist friends to leave what I call “drive-by comments.” I expect them to start a nasty debate and then bounce when they’re pressed to account for morality. I expect them to be rude, vile, hateful, and to leave comments they would never say to my face. I do NOT expect this from Christians, however. In fact, I expect the opposite. I expect Brothers and Sisters in Christ to be kind, loving, gracious, and leave comments they would say to my face. Christian Internet Thuggery is a sin, and needs to stop. It needs to be put to death. Following are my reason why:
- Do all to the glory of God
Plain and simple right? 1 Corinthians 10:31 states, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.“ If you are not doing all things to the glory of God then, quite simply, you are in sin. This includes Social Media. If you are not typing to the Glory of God, you are in sin. What does Christ tell the Pharisees is the Greatest Commandment in Matthew 22:37? He says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Again, this includes Social Media. If you are not Tweeting to the love of God with your entire being, then you are in sin. What is the first question of the Westminster Catechism? It is, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” While commenting, dialoguing, or debating on Facebook, if you are doing anything less than glorifying God and enjoying Him, you are not fulfilling the purpose of your creation, and therefore, are in sin!
- Live Out the Golden Rule
Everyone and their mother knows this, right? Treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated. Unfortunately, for some strange reason, whenever people enter Internet Warrior mode, this rule is quickly tossed right out the window. Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 10:32-33. Remember, this comes directly after Paul commands the believers in Corinth, “do all to the glory of God.” He continues on to say, “Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” If you don’t care whether or not a comment you are leaving may offend someone because of your virtual behavior, you are in sin. If you leave a drive-by comment seeking your own advantage, you are in sin. If you are not virtually “living” your life through social media in a way that is concerned with leading the lost to Christ, you are in sin. Now, let’s revisit Matthew 22. After Christ shares what the Greatest Commandment is in verse 37, He then follows up in verse 39 by saying, ” And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There’s your Golden Rule. If you are not loving your neighbor as yourself via Social Media, you are in sin. A solid rule to live by, is never leave a comment you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. Don’t be a “tough guy”and hide behind that keyboard.
- Honor Your Elders
Let me be blunt here. As a pastor and minister of the Gospel, I am appalled by the number of times believers have “come at me” on Facebook. Let’s see what 1 Peter 5:5 says regarding this issue. To the exiled Believers he says, “”Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”” I realize that the context of this verse is in reference to an individual’s Shepherd at their church, but I do believe we can apply this to other Pastors as well, especially in the context of Social Media. The bottom line and point I want to stress here, is that if you are not clothing yourself in humility toward one another on Facebook, you are in sin. If you are publicly disrespecting a Pastor or Minister of the Gospel via Social Media, you are in sin. Now, I acknowledge that there will be instances when pastors are in sin and they need to be publicly called to repentance. You should always hit them up privately first. Bringing accusations against a Pastor is a serious thing, and something that should always be considered with extreme caution, clarity, love, and grace. I’ll reiterate this, you should make a personal rule to never leave a comment for a Pastor that you wouldn’t say to their face. Don’t be a coward. I’ll admit, when I was first discipled in 2000-2001, I was extremely zealous for truth, but I was also an enormous butt head about it! Even then, I wouldn’t have ever dreamed about approaching Pastors the way I’ve been approached on Facebook. Frankly, it saddens me to see this lack of respect for those God has put in place to teach believers and grow the Kingdom.
So, I’ll be the first to say that I am in no way, shape, or form perfect at this. I’m sure I fail at this all the time. But I am constantly trying to live these principles out through Social Media. I truly believe that Christians are failing one another and failing the Unbeliever by the way we act on Facebook and Twitter. We sin against one another when we treat each other with disrespect. We push unbelievers away from the Gospel when we disrespect them. And we also make ourselves look stupid and petty when we foolishly, publicly bicker amongst one another on the internet. Please join with me Believers. Help put this to death. Social Media can be an amazing tool for the Gospel. Let’s make sure we’re using it that way. Christ’s Kingdom will conquer, but we do it no favors when we sinfully partake in Christian Internet Thuggery.