Christians, Politics, and Social Media (Part 1)

I read a great article recently from Scott Slayton entitled: "Seven Questions to Ask Before Posting about Politics on Social Media." I will share many of his thoughts in this series along with my own perspective blended in. This is a topic that many Christians need to examine closely. After doing so, you may decide you need to adjust your online behavior.

I believe social media, like so many technologies and advancements, can be used as a great tool either for good or evil. Other than Facebook, my social media usage has been minimal. I've been on Facebook since 2012 and it seems that political discussions have come to dominate the landscape more and more as time progresses. No matter what happens politically someone is pleased and someone is upset, and there is a host of opinions shared for both sides. As people share their views, debates are engaged in. This can be a good thing when reason and courtesy prevail. However, in many cases it isn't light that is generated in these discussions--just a lot of heat!

For Christians, how we engage in political discussions on social media can be especially tricky. It is certainly the case that our faith touches every aspect of life; thus, politics is not unimportant. However, politics should not be the main focus of a believer. When we stand before Christ in judgment, the ultimate concern won't be about the position we held on national security issues, health care, or a thousand other political issues.

I have witnessed firsthand that politics can be extremely divisive and I know that the Lord hates those who sow seeds of discord (cf. Prov. 6:16-19). Statements we utter in conversation or post online will influence the way people view us. On one hand it may not bother you if others reject your political leanings or think you to be misinformed, but there is a danger here. If we are known to be both a Christian and a frequent proclaimer of political ideas, this is likely to negatively affect how unbelievers view Jesus and the gospel. How so? They may come to associate our political leanings with Christianity itself, and then be biased against any hearing of the good news because they reject our political ideas. So, my initial point is a general warning against posting on politics at all because of the potential for unnecessary discord and damaged influence. This world is not our home, and our citizenship is in the kingdom of heaven. Our dialogue and social media activity ought to reflect this priority. I don't want my Facebook posts to hinder in any way my efforts at evangelizing the lost.

But, with the above in mind, if you decide to post on politics anyway, make sure you do it infrequently and circumspectly. If the majority of your posts are about politics, that's a problem. Remember the wisdom Paul expressed in I Corinthians 9:19,22 - "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more...I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." Is your social media activity that of a servant who is trying to win people to Christ or to your political ideology? Furthermore, if you post something or reply to a post in the heat of the moment, more harm than good is likely to follow. This is true in any context, political or otherwise. Those who are wise will spend time in careful thought before they post anything about politics on Facebook.

We will continue this series in our next lesson.