A Friendly Note to the Christian Facebook Police

Posted on January 15, 2016

fb police

Recently on Facebook I have noticed a few folks suggest one can judge other Christians’ priorities based on the content they post on Facebook. The assertions go somewhat like this:

  • Should we be speaking about the Gospel or politics on Facebook?
  • It is hard to tell what some people’s real focus is on – politics or the Gospel?
  • Are we political pundits or pastors?
  • What do you love more: the Second Amendment or the Gospel?
  • Christians shouldn’t be speaking about guns, politics, and the like on Facebook…we should be speaking about eternal things.

Respectfully, I would like to briefly address these assertions and the apparent attempt to police the Facebook pages of other believers. In sum, one’s content posted on Facebook is not necessarily an indicator of their priorities, focuses, or Christian maturity.

A few questions for consideration:

I would have to ask what is the standard to determine whether one is posting enough Christian content on Facebook?

Is Facebook a form of church fellowship where one must primarily or only speak about spiritual things?

If one’s Facebook page is loaded with one topic or another that doesn’t have anything relatively to do with Christianity, does that mean his life is unbalanced?

If one’s Facebook page is full of hunting content, sports content, food and recipes, animals, farming, fishing, pictures of friends and family, guns and associated content, politics, or world news, yet there is no Christian content, does that mean one necessarily lacks in spiritual priorities?

Does one think if another’s Facebook only contains food and recipes, does that mean all she speaks about in life is food and recipes?

How about guns, or politics, or sports, or one’s small business? Does that mean his life is consumed by any of these things necessarily?

Who determines that Facebook should be used to post one thing or another?

Must it be full of Christian content only or are Christians allowed to speak about politics on Facebook?

Do pastors or seminary students dare to speak about such things?

What is the standard?

For full disclosure, my Facebook feed may very well be the target of some of the statuses that I have observed. It may not be. I’m ok either way, and I’m not upset with these friends who have possibly made these assertions. And if they read this, and I hope they do, I hope these brothers consider this a friendly response to their questions and concerns. Whatever the case, I don’t mind using my page as an example of what they may or may not be referring to.

I would like to think my Facebook page is pretty diverse and one would find a plethora of different topics ranging from theology, music, politics, world events, cultural issues, pictures of my family, adventures into the Great Outdoors, and the mundane things of life. I am sure on any given day or even consecutive days, my Facebook page would reflect just a few topics or maybe even one topic, but does that mean the whole of my life is consumed with that one single topic? For example, if you looked at the last three days of my Facebook page and all you saw was Christian content, would you then think all I speak about in life is Christian content? Conversely, if in the past three days, all you saw were politically-themed content, would you think all I spoke about in the last three days was politics? If all I posted were food recipes over the last three days, would you think I’m a glutton and have an idolatrous fixation on food? Or would you have to make a judgement on my heart because of a few things you saw me post on social media in order to make a judgement regarding my priorities?

We need to be careful not to assume we know the entirety of someone’s life strictly based on what they post or do not post on Facebook. Granted, if there are blatantly immoral things posted on Facebook, that would give one pause to consider the spiritual maturity or even perhaps the condition of someone’s heart. But when it comes to neutral things, or rather common things, there really is not a standard to go by. People have the freedom to use their Facebook anyway they choose so long as they are not sinning in doing so.

paThat one’s Facebook posts do not measure up to another person’s standard of Facebook criteria, does not mean the Christian is in some kind of violation of Christian ethics. What is more concerning for me, is the spirit or character or nature or tone or passive-aggressiveness of our Facebook posts and comments. Admittedly, this is something I have to guard against, – ensuring that I am not speaking in a manner that is contrary to Christian conduct, that I would not bring reproach upon the name of Christ. This is sometimes a difficult thing to do on social media, nevertheless, it is something we should all strive for.

So I am less concerned about what people post than I am about the nature of one’s posts. As an example, I am less concerned by one’s criticism of President Barack Obama and his policies than I am with how they criticize Obama. Indeed, it is good to criticize anything that is opposed to Scripture, but there is a way we should criticize that doesn’t cause ourselves to oppose Scripture, such as violating Titus 3:2, which says “to speak evil of no one…and to show perfect courtesy to all people,” including Obama.

Finally, one last thing about politics. I do find it strange that one can somehow post about their favorite foods + Christian content, or their favorite sports team + Christian content, or their favorite musicians + Christian content. But, for some reason, posting Christian content + politics is some kind of violation of mixing church and state. Politics is somehow off limits, like in the kind of way one isn’t supposed to talk about religion or politics in social gatherings (and who made that up anyway?). Christians should obviously speak about religious matters, and we certainly do have something to say about politics and culture from our Christian worldview. So I heartily beg to differ (and digress).

That said, on the one hand, one can enjoy political matters just as much as another can enjoy following their favorite NCAA football team. Myself, for instance – I don’t follow sports anywhere near the way I used to. My interest now, and has been for years, is geopolitical events, and it’s kind of tied into my vocation. I personally think geopolitical events is a bit more important than the World Series, but to each his own (genuinely). On the other hand, one can (and I think there may be a level of should) find it important to follow political matters as they have bearing on our culture, our community, and our world. Politics and local and global affairs impact our world, and I think it’s critical to think through these things and how to respond through and from a biblical perspective.

So, contrary to my friends who may think otherwise, I think it’s valuable, yes even for a pastor or seminary student, to have a keen sense of current events, and yes even to speak about it on social media, as we have a responsibility to help others think through the same issues biblically. It seems to be a fundamentalist virtue to shun the world completely and create a Christian bubble, but I think such a position is untenable with a balanced view of Scripture and its application in our still fallen world. I don’t think Paul had discussing politics in mind when he said in Colossians 3:2 to “set your mind on things that are above.” I’m not saying pastors or seminary students must talk politics on their social media, but I think it’s an error to suggest no pastor or seminary student or layperson (or Al Mohler) should discuss these things on social media.

In closing (and hopefully obviously), I am not suggesting one shouldn’t post Christian content. By all means, post Christian content, proclaim the Word of God, preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and expose the works of darkness. Use your Facebook to post about your favorite cats or Star Wars movie or quirky hobby, or don’t. Post your family pictures and your recipes. Post your interests. It doesn’t really matter. It’s Facebook. But please, do not try to police Facebook for Christian content as if you have the standard to do so. It’s not helpful, it doesn’t build up, and it’s not really in keeping with Romans 14:4.