Thus far we have examined three questions that Christians should ask themselves before posting about politics on social media:
1. Do I have the correct facts?
2. Does this need to be said?
3. Am I saying this in a way that represents Christ well?
Let's continue now with our next question:
4. Why do I need to be the person to say this?
Let's assume that what you want to communicate about politics on social media should be said. Now you ought to contemplate whether or not you are the right person to say it. Do you have an insight into this issue that you haven't seen somewhere else, or are you merely repeating an argument you read in another place? Do you have a role or responsibility where people are looking to you for guidance? Does the issue relate to you in any direct way? Why should you be the person to say what you are about to say?
5. How could I be misunderstood?
In Scott Slayton's article, he shared a personal lesson on this point from last summer. He wrote:
"I learned my lesson this past August on Facebook. I posted about what I believed to be Donald Trump's lack of commitment to pro-life issues and said that it was a terrible mistake to nominate him. Almost immediately, my friends and family perceived that my concerns about Trump were an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. The lesson I learned from this was that there was nothing to be gained by questioning the decision to nominate Trump, which at that point was in the past. The Presidential contest was primarily between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I failed to think through how people would interpret my concerns about one candidate as an endorsement of the other. My post brought no light or grace to the situation and only brought confusion."
Friends, we must slow down and really think before posting. Are we communicating clearly? Could this be easily misunderstood?
6. What are my motives for saying this?
Is my ultimate motive for saying or posting something genuine Biblical love as described in I Corinthians 13? Or do I desire to post my view because of love for self or the love of putting others in their place? Christians must always endeavor to live by I Corinthians 10:31-33 - "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved." That's powerful, isn't it? Can you honestly say that you want to post something political for the glory of God and for the good of others? If so, great. If not, don't. Motives matter. It is possible to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. Our motives must be pure and they will dictate what we say, how we say it, and how we will respond to those who disagree with us. If our motive is to vent because we are angry, we will speak harshly, rashly, immediately, and end up eviscerating those who disagree with us. On the other hand, if our motives are pure, we will speak graciously, kindly, thoughtfully, and respond patiently to those who disagree, realizing we might be mistaken and in need of further enlightenment ourselves.
7. Can I wait until tomorrow to say this?
When Abraham Lincoln got angry with someone, he would fire off what he called a "hot letter." He would set aside the letter until his emotions cooled off. Then, he would read the letter with a cool head. He left many letters unsigned and unsent. While Abraham Lincoln wrote letters instead of Facebook posts, his practice provides a worthy example for us today. If your post deals with a particularly sensitive topic, can it wait until tomorrow? If it can wait a day, save it as a draft in a word processing program and revisit it tomorrow. You may find that you read it with fresh eyes and see that you shouldn't post it. Or you may see that it would be helpful to people and proceed to share it.
So, Christians, if you feel compelled to post about politics on social media, do it infrequently and circumspectly and you'll generally receive the benefit of the doubt (which is what we want and should extend to others as well in any aspect of communication). Let's always remember that we are Christians first. We represent King Jesus and His church. When we speak, it should reflect the priorities and character of our Lord and His kingdom. This truth means that we need to take extra care to consider the words we speak in person and online. We will deny ourselves and remain silent about matters that are likely to hurt our influence or cause an unnecessary division between us and those who desperately need the gospel.