Digi Ethics – When is it wrong to post on a blog?

I’ve been thinking recently about the morality and ethics of writing blog posts. It happens in the physical world as well as in the digital world that when a hot topic arises, we take an opinion on it or make a judgement. Some of us are vocal about it, and some of us are more reserved. I’m the more vocal type. When I first started blogging, there was no stopping me, I’d be straight on the blog to write up in a very passionate way about my opinion on the topic that was current, or I’d be writing a response to another blog.

Sometimes, we completely disagree with something being discussed. Sometimes it can make us angry. I like a good ol’ rant, as do many others, but sometimes there seems to be something very unattractive about ranting. But what is it? And is it right that ranting is unattractive, or are we missing something within our understanding of having an opinion and/or making our opinions known through blogging or social media.

From my faith perspective, I’m told that a few things in the Bible:

  1. That I can be angry but I mustn’t sin – Ephesians 4:26-27 “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity”
  2. That there is a place for judging others – John 7:24 “Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.”
  3. That if I do judge, I will be judged too – Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Having said these things, the Bible teaches to forgive, to have mercy, to bear with one another in love, and a whole load of other things.

So, where does one draw the line?

It’s hard, in the digital world, to really put across what you’re trying to say. We only have text in front of us (unless we’re on Skype or something). People have to try and read tone of voice and body language simply from the words that they can see on a computer screen. Comments sections of blogs are cool, but even if someone clarifies things, it can hinder understanding. Is it ever right to comment and make a judgement on someone you’ve never personally met* (yet heard their opinion on something through digital media and then write about it? *I know you could argue that you’ve met them digitally…

Maybe, in stead of talking about one word “judgement”, maybe we should talk about another… “condemnation“.

I remember someone in my family saying to me “We can make judgement, but never to condemnation”. At the time, I didn’t really know what to think about this, because I was always taught to not judge others.

But actually, it sounds worse than it actually is… “to judge others”. Condemning others, on the flip side of the coin, is something completely different.

From a Biblical point of view, I guess we can make two distinctions between judging and condemning…
Judging – To evaluate the words/actions of someone or a situation based on what is known about God’s moral and ethical standard for the world through the Bible.

Condemning – To write someone off, look down upon them, and harbour self-righteousness because someone or a situation doesn’t meet the moral and ethical standards that God requires us to have.

So for me, I think I’m working out that it’s all about motive and how we go about working out our own faith and keeping ourselves in check. I’m trying to live up to James 1:19 “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry”. Listen to what exactly? Well for me, it’s firstly to listen to God when he prods my conscience, or pulls my heart strings, or reminds me to look at the bigger picture. Only after doing this and acting on it may I be sober enough to make Godly judgements on things which is shaped by love and grace rather than the poison of condemnation.

Do you agree? If not, why not? Do you think we’ve misconstrued the meaning of “judgement”? If you’re a blogger or writer or in the public square and you have opinions, how do you air them? How do you keep in check? Can you have a rant and not sin? What if it means pulling an individual up on a particular issue?

Use the comments to contribute!

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about