Would you walk up to your friend, criticize their political or religious beliefs, and insult their morals and/or intelligence? How about insulting their friends or their spouse? You wouldn’t have many friends, at least for long!

Xxxx shared Being Liberal‘s photo.

(M) This is great. Make sure to do it (and share it), if you want an anti-gay politician’s head to explode.

Yet, people seem to be doing this all the time in blog comments, on Facebook, and through other social media. They post cartoons or remarks that are just plain nasty—and largely based on untrue stereotypes.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve blocked some of my friends’ posts, and I skip reading comments on some of my favorite blogs. Sadly, I then also miss any good stuff they post.

With 2012 being an election year, more and more of us are airing our political opinions. It’s fine to have an opinion, but can’t we be a bit more sensitive about this? Just because we’re friends (Facebook or otherwise) doesn’t mean I’m going to agree with you. State what you believe, but don’t insult me because I believe otherwise.

There’s something about sitting at a computer, or typing on an iPhone, that seems to circumvent social restraint. That’s not our imaginations—studies show that hiding behind a keyboard reduces our inhibitions. That’s great if you need to help someone express repressed emotions, such as in a counseling situation. It’s not so great if your friends are on the receiving end of your vindictiveness.

Xxxx shared “Republicans Are Idiots And Arguing With Them Is A Waste Of Time!” by Addictinginfo.org‘s photo.
haha dumb ass!

When the Apostle James wrote his verses about taming the tongue (see James 3:8), all he had to contend with was face-to-face meetings. No phones, no email, no texting, no internet. These days, we need more help than ever to speak the truth in love, and even more help when it comes to our opinions.

Jesus knew we’d have trouble with this. In Matthew 5:22 he states, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Yikes—that sounds like He really means it!

I realize that we aren’t to hold unbelievers to God’s standards. When I see obscene, insulting comments that are obviously written by non-Christians, I feel sad that they have so much hate bottled up inside of them, or such low self-esteem that they must build their own egos by tearing others down.

Comments after a news article reporting on the emotions of those who had just learned their homes had completely burned in the Waldo Canyon fire:

Xxxx4 at 10:37 AM June 29, 2012
Note to Xxxx3:   I stepped on you on my front lawn this morning.  But, no worries, I went to the curb and scraped you off the bottom of my shoe…
Xxxx3 at 8:46 AM June 29, 2012
I remember how proud these hillbillies were when they got rid of their fire fighters and lowered their taxes. No taxes, no services and now no homes. No sympathy for these idiots.

But some of these comments are coming from people who say they love God. When I see people defending my faith, my God, by retaliating in the same tone, I feel sick. We’re called to be different. We’re supposed to be kind. Consider Proverbs 15:1—“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Maybe we need a post-it note stuck to our computer screens—“Pray before you post!”

How do you deal with online flame wars?

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