Biblical Ethics for Electronic Blogging

Laptop 1Several months ago a friend and colleague of mine, at my request, offered a few suggested topics for Perspectives articles. Today’s topic is one of his suggestions.

Suggestions like this are not made in a vacuum but on the basis of personal experience. I’m quite certain that such is the case with my friend and his recommendation.

Electronic blogging, practically defined, is anything a person writes or posts on the internet on a regular or irregular basis. Some consider my Perspectives articles blogs, which is OK with me.

The problem arises when a blogger (the author of the blog) violates the will of God, especially the eighth commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16) Newer versions say: “You shall not testify falsely against your neighbor.” In both cases the meaning is the same and sets a biblical, ethical standard for any kind of communication.

The Catechism’s explanation to this commandment says: “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.” An older version uses slightly different words, adding the injunction to “put the best construction on everything.”

There are blogs written by people who claim to be Christian, even some who belong to our own Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, including pastors on the LCMS clergy roster, that fall far short of this standard. Self-justification for judgmental and caustic characterizations is based on insistence that their interpretation of the topic at hand is the only correct and orthodox one and that anyone who disagrees with their way of looking at the matter is dead wrong.

There’s nothing wrong with expressing respectful and even strong disagreement with someone else’s understanding of what the Bible says (or doesn’t say) about a particular matter of faith and life. The problem is that some bloggers don’t stop there but continue with ad hominem personal attacks against the one(s) with whom they disagree. Some get downright nasty and vulgar!

Bloggers fall far short of putting the best construction on everything when they do just the opposite of what the eighth commandment commands. Jumping to and writing judgmental conclusions about the person with whom they disagree, they often betray, slander and hurt the other person’s reputation rather than defending and speaking well of him or her.

The Bible says: “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect …” (1 Peter 3:15) That’s a biblical ethic for any kind of communication, including electronic blogging!


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