You are no stranger to social media usage. You blog your thoughts on the latest music single, you tweet your reactions to award shows in real time, you create videos of yourselves and friends goofing around, and you even share pictures from your summer vacation with friends half way around the world. This ability to share your thoughts and experiences has opened up new doors of opportunity and made the world smaller. You can create your own platforms to express your voice and opinions, market your own media content, and even connect with people you’d never be able to meet!
Unfortunately, there is a downside: we are sharing too much information. Nowadays, everyone is on Facebook: classmates, neighbors, youth ministers, teachers, principals, college admissions officers, employers, and even parents! Sure, you may not add them as a friend, but did you know that people can still have access to your page (even if you have strict privacy settings)?
Did you know that university admission counselors log on to Facebook to gather information about interested students?
Did you know that potential employers log on to Facebook to gather information about people interested in working for them?
Did you know that Facebook gives your information to outside agencies?
Nothing you do on Facebook can truly be private. As a matter of fact, nothing you do online is personal anymore.
Because of this, we need to be aware of the type of information we are sharing. Let’s say that if you could ensure privacy, would you post inappropriate pictures and information?
Have you considered that God sees all?
Our online lives should resemble Christ because as Christians, we are supposed to lead lives that honor God and display the light of Christ (Matthew 5:13–16). While we are all human and everyone make mistakes (Romans 3:23), we should be cautious not to broadcast our shortcomings and sin to the rest of the world.
Here are steps to ensure your online and real life don’t contradict God’s Word:
1) Ask yourself, “Does this honor God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, KJV)
As Christians we should not commit actions that are displeasing to God. Unfortunately, it can be very easy not to consider whether or not a facebook post will honor God. The next time you get ready to change your status, post a picture, or make a comment, ask yourself, “Will this be pleasing to God?”
2) Love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:38–40)
When a certain man asked Jesus about the greatest commandments, He stated that two commandments were most important. One was that we love our neighbor. Using social media platforms to spread rumors, post mean things about someone, or to taunt someone is never acceptable for Christians. Make sure your real and virtual interactions display brotherly love.
3) Don’t sow bad seeds into your future (Galatians 6:6–8)
Sometimes posting too much information online can be detrimental to your own health. Imagine the consequences if your supervisor sees a recent status update, but you are supposed to be working. How would you feel if your full tuition scholarship to a college was revoked because of questionable pictures that were posted of you at an admitted students’ event? The Bible is clear that we reap what we sow, so don’t mess up your future by making bad choices today.
Keep these 3 points in mind and you’ll be on your way to a healthy real and virtual life.
There are two things you cannot be in the traditional Black church: a gay male and a pregnant teen. Let me cut straight to the point to avoid off-topic debates — although, according to God’s Word, these two individuals have sinned, our decision to rank their sins as the highest on our list of unforgivables is misinformed and potentially destructive.
Yes, I know this scripture: “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable” (Lev. 18:22, NIV).
Or this: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4:3-5, NIV).
But I also know this one: “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8, NIV).
The fundamental error in the way we approach sexual sin in the church is that we often fail to allow God to be the judge and redeemer and instead expect for the guilty parties to grovel before us for forgiveness. GO AHEAD, READ THAT TWICE.
God forbid that the gay community thinks they can get married and be like us. And for Pete’s sake, don’t these horny teens realize they’re ruining their lives and bringing another life into the world to share in their misery? But how many models of solid marriage and physical self-control do we see from our religious and civic leaders? As Wil LaVeist stated in his article, “Gay Marriage Paranoia,” conformity to the world should be a bigger concern to Christians than attempting to impose our values on it. It’s important to preach righteousness from the pulpit, but it’s just blowing smoke if you cannot present a proper example of holy living.
What’s more, so many churches present paradoxes that confuse the younger generations. They condemn homosexuality from the pulpit but employ obviously gay worship leaders and attend conferences featuring celebrity preachers who have been embroiled in sinful scandals. Two things are happening here. On one hand, a pastor feels a responsibility to condemn the sin, but on the other hand they have a heart to restore the lost. Unfortunately, they often clumsily handle this in the pulpit and are more likely to push away someone that could benefit from their sensitivity to the issue.
Others are less pure in their motives. Many people feel like a person cannot be pardoned until they have fully received the punishment for their sin. They feel they have a responsibility to rebuke the guilty party until that person feels absolutely worthless. When is the last time God verbally assaulted you? Think about it, that last time you did that ugly thing that you’re thankful no one else knows about, God forgave you the same as the time your issues became a public spectacle.
When Jesus confronted the adulterous woman regarding her transgression, he simply said, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:1-11). He knew that true repentance would be determined not by how much sorrow that woman exhibited over her failure, but by how she chose to live her life from then on.
Perhaps we could learn something from Jesus’ response.
Is there caution tape around your church? On Sunday morning, does it feel more like a courthouse where people are tried and sentenced than a hospital where the Great Physician can work His miracles?
Let’s try this in our churches. Let’s create a space where people can be honest and learn from their mistakes. A place where they can confess their sins and heal without fear of condemnation.
If we find ourselves judging someone or feeling self-righteous because we beat up some poor,misguided transgressor with Scripture, let’s remember that it’s God’s job to judge and convict. And let’s also remember the sins that person didn’t see in us, and join them in rejoicing over the gift of God’s forgiveness.