SBC Voices has an unusual niche in the Baptist blogging world. We have become something of a social media forum. No other Baptist blog has the lively comment streams that we do. That is one of our strengths. It is also our biggest challenge. I think we publish some good articles here, but a lot of the conversation lacks grace.
I’ll be honest, I am amazed at the words some Christians think are justified in discussing issues.
Blog discussions are tricky. Since there is a sense of anonymity, we tend to say things in ways we might not in person. And because we can’t read tone of voice, misunderstandings abound. The simple fact is that every one of us who logs on here drags this beast we call the sinful flesh with us.
I am often very uncomfortable with the comment streams on this blog. What is more, I have been thinking and praying and mulling over the question: Is this blog (especially its comments) bringing glory to Christ or doing more harm than good.
Recently, I had conversations with some friends who chided me about the need to exert more control over the comment streams here.
- Part of me says no – we have a unique place in the Baptist blog world. We are comment-driven, discussion oriented place. Baptist blogging needs a little more open, less controlled place for wide open discussion.
- Part of me says maybe we need to look at what we are doing. If our conversation is filled with insults, arrogance, divisiveness and derogation, can it also be honoring God?
The Bible speaks to these issues.
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
If those are the things we are to think about, ought they not also be the things we talk about? Ought they not alos mark the way we talk?
Does our conversation match the standard of Ephesians 4:29? “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
I am supposed to speak in such a way that my words build up and produced grace in those who hear.
Ephesians 4:15-16 sets the standard for Christian conversation and also defines the fruit. “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
By speaking the truth in love, we grow up into Christ and the entire body grows and is built up in love.
Let me boil it down to the bone. You can go to scripture and argue Calvinism. You can also argue against it. What you cannot argue is that God wants those who have been born into his kingdom to relate to one another in love, to edify and to build one another up.
I am amazed some who style themselves theologically adept are able to winnow those verses out of the New Testament. Take this challenge. Open your Bible to a random page in the Pauline Epistles. Read the page. I’d wager there is a significant teaching on Christian unity on that page. Paul said more about humility, unity, love and kindness than he did about almost any other topic.
So, I see a problem but am not sure what the solution is. Here are some options.
I only see about 4 commenting options for this blog or any other.
1) No comment
Some blogs do not even allow for comments. That is not who we are. This blog is as much (or more) about the conversation as it is the post.
2) Free commenting.
There is my preferred path, for one reason – it is easier. But, it depends on the commenters exhibiting self-control and honoring one another with their words. My experience is that this too often doesn’t happen. I preach three times every Sunday and spend little time looking at comments. Week after week I open up the blog after Sunday night service just to see what is happening and I find a Christ-dishonoring free-for-all going on.
If my kids had talked like some of the regulars here do, I’d have sent them to their rooms (and probably used “the discipline that shall not be named”).
As far as I am concerned, free commenting just doesn’t work because too many people do not properly guard their words.
3) Moderate ALL comments
Several blogs do this. All comments go into moderation and the administrator has to approve each one.
No way are we going there. I’ve got a few people’s comments in moderation – usually because of repeated thread-hijacking (something that really annoys me). When someone repeatedly tries to steer the conversation away from the topic of the post into their own direction, they go into moderation.
But moderation takes time. I have to look at each comment, read it over and decide if it should go up or not. I just don’t have the time to do that.
4) Pick and Choose
That’s what we do here. Every once in a while I see a comment that goes over the line and I delete it. Deleting and moderation are simply done at my judgment (or that of others with moderating authority).
I try not to edit based on viewpoint, but on behavior. Extreme personal insult. Hijacking. Of course, how I moderate depends on my moods and is never 100% objective.
Here’s my problem: I don’t think that what I am doing is really working and I don’t see a solution that accomplishes the three key goals here:
- To keep our comments wide-open. It’s who we are.
- To prevent us from straying into conversation that is contrary to biblical standards, and
- To keep me from having to quit my job to manage comments full time.
I see a problem but I don’t really see an easy solution. Anyone have a suggestion?