Facebook Etiquette For Christians

facebookI’ve been a Facebook user since 2006.  Since that time, I would consider myself a moderate user (my children would choose the term “creeper”).  Whatever term best identifies me, I’ve been around long enough to be “put off,” “disappointed,” “embarrassed,” and “shocked” by some of the things I’ve read and seen.  Therefore, I’m going to share a few “Etiquette Tips” for Christian Facebook users.  Now, I’m no “Emily Post” (for those of you who don’t know who Emily Post is, Wiki her), but I do think the following suggestions would go a long way in making Facebook a more productive experience.  So here’s my “Top Ten List.”

  1. Don’t criticize the church or your brethren.  Remember, the world is looking on!  When King David learned of Saul’s death, he instructed Israel to “tell it not in Gath…lest they rejoice” (2 Samuel 1:20).  Gath was a Philistine city, the home of Goliath.  David didn’t want the sad news of Saul’s death to be used as an opportunity for his enemies to rejoice.  Can you identify problems and imperfections in your local congregation?  Of course you can, because the church consists of imperfect people.  But may I suggest that when you are able to identify weaknesses and failures among your brethren, “Tell it not on Facebook.”  After all, Jesus has a better way of dealing with it, doesn’t he? (Matthew 18:15-17).
  2. Don’t constantly whine.  Or would it be more biblical to say “murmur and complain” (Philippians 2:14)?  Now, I know there are times when you want to share the events of your life with others, and sometimes those events are burdensome.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  In fact, one of the redeeming qualities of Facebook is that it can be a forum to encourage, edify, and bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:1).  I’m not talking about one who uses Facebook for those purposes.  I’m talking about the constant complainer.  The one who seems to be unable to count his blessings, but sure can count his/her problems.  Listen, if you’re a Christian, regardless of what your problems are, your blessings infinitely exceed your trials.
  3. Don’t take cryptic “pot shots” at some unnamed person who, when they read your post, will know you’re talking about them.  If you have something to say to an individual, go to that individual and don’t take your problem public (Matthew 5:23-24).  By going public, you only pique the curiosity of others and potentially and unnecessarily pull them into something that is none of their business.
  4. Think before you post.  Innuendo’s and off-color comments should never be posted (Ephesians 4:29).
  5. Don’t post inappropriate pictures.  Pictures showing you breaking the law, abusing alcohol, wearing immodest clothing, etc. damage your influence and do not glorify Christ.  Better yet, do not engage in these activities in the first place.
  6. Do some self-evaluation.  Look at your profile.  What do you have to say about yourself.  If you proudly identify yourself as a Christian and the Bible as one of your favorite books, then please make sure the rest of what you like is consistent with that profession.  Saying you’re a Christian and love the Bible, while in the next breath identifying as your favorites some of the most salacious books, movies, and performers cause others to blaspheme God (Romans 2:24).
  7. Don’t use Facebook as an escape from reality.  If you’re unhappy about your marriage, get off Facebook and work on your marriage!  I know of too many stories where Facebook became the medium for adultery and broken homes.  You know why you’re “friending” people.  You know why you’re talking with them more and more.  Stop deceiving yourself, and flee from that which can flame inappropriate desires and actions (2 Timothy 2:22).
  8. Be kind (Ephesians 4:32).  I’ve sometimes witnessed a person express some biblical error or misunderstanding only to be met with harsh and judgmental words.  The fact that one may be in error doesn’t imply sinister motives.  I’m convinced that the impersonal nature of the Internet emboldens people to act “bigger,” and “tougher” than they really are.  I once had a dog that when she was in the safety of her cage sounded as though she would eat a person alive.  But let her out of the cage, and she became as meek and cowardly as can be.  I’m convinced that some of the harsh, hateful, judgmental words that I have seen typed would never be spoken if they were face to face with their offender.  Paul instructs us to preach with all “longsuffering” (2 Timothy 4:2).  That’s true of what we preach as well as what we type.
  9.  Don’t gossip.  The rules of the tongue apply to the keyboard as well.  Give care that what you say is true as well as helpful.  If James were to write James 3:6 today, it might read as follows, “And the keyboard is a fire, a world of iniquity…”.  Lying, gossiping, stating as truth what we do not know to be true, etc. are as wrong on Facebook as they are when speaking to another face to face.
  10. And finally, use it for good (1 Corinthians 9:22).  Speak of your faith often, encourage others, point people to Jesus, take advantage of opportunities to speak for Jesus, and let people see that there is an undeniable family resemblance between you and your heavenly Father.

If we would do these things, Facebook would be a better place.  Come to think of it, if we would do these things the world would be a better place.

Do you have any further “etiquette” suggestions?  Share them in the comments section.  Furthermore, if you think these things need to be said, share this on your page for others to read.

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Comments 34

  • There seems also to be a sense where idle, useless, unthoughtful maybe even jocular words will be called before us one day. Mt. 12:36 & 37 and Eph. 5:4

  • A much needed article. Thanks again Steve

  • Great thoughts Steve, this goes for all social media, and face-to-face encounters as well, I find myself doing some of them when blogging. I think more Christians need to read this post, I appreciate it!

  • Wow this is a great post and great suggestions for FB etiquitte.

  • Thanks, Steve, for some excellent thoughts about the proper use of facebook. This social media is an excellent tool for promoting the gospel of Christ and the lifestyle the Lord desires of His disciples. It can also become a tool of the devil when handled improperly. Appreciate your good work.

  • Excellent thoughts for us all to consider.

    Here’s another suggestion:

    Don’t hold your FB friends hostage by telling them they (don’t love God, don’t this . . ., dont’ that.. . ) if they don’t forward or repost or like your current posting.

  • This is great!! Thanks for writing it!

  • Good advice. Facebook can be (and is) used for so much good. It would be great if everyone practiced a few ground rules. I’m sharing this on my page. Thanks!

  • Steve,

    Great article. Here’s one I might add to the list, but some might disagree: if you’re going to pray to God, pray to Him. There’s no need to pray to God via Facebook. It reeks of “praying to be heard/seen of men” to me.

    If you want to ask for prayers, fine. If you want to tell what you need prayers for, that’s your prerogative. But to offer prayers to God on Facebook?

    What’s your thoughts?

  • A kind word turns away wrath… Read that in a very Good Book on my desk.

  • 10 Amens, one for each point.

  • Great article. I would add posts during the time of the year when some good Christians offend. This is during college football season. I have been shocked by what some very devout Christians including ministers have put on facebook or shared in support of their team. I am not talking about support but offensive captions, cartoons or pictures.

  • I have an etiquette question. As a Christian, I try to be very mindful of what I post for the world to see. Some of the things posted by friends are very sweet or funny, and the pictures and sayings themselves clean, but the site they come from has a vulgar name. I have avoided re-posting for that reason. What do you think?

  • Very timely article, Bro Steve. However, I’d add also, for those not on FB, yet love to give their ‘opinions’ of what others post, via their spouse, family, etc., who are on, they need to set up a FB account of their own! (I’m referring to Christians)…

  • These were great! And one other one, please do not use the Lord’s name in vain. For ex: “OMG”. We are to be examples for everyone, christian and non christians. What does this say to non christians when the Lord’s name is used in vain?

  • Great article, great comments. To Bradley: I agree that “praying” on fb seems somewhat peculiar. And to Margaret: the fb version of the old chain letters is just as annoying as the original version. To Randy: I don’t know. I would probably avoid posting from a site with a vulgar name too. My mother isn’t on fb, but I try to remember that all internet usage is public & stored forever somewhere.

  • Excellent! Steve, as usual, you have such a commonsensical approach to something very commonly committed and observed. You have helped me strive to be more circumspect as a Facebook user.

  • You have said some of the same things I keep telling folks myself – especially our youth. Thanks for saying it so eloquently!

  • My husband and I were talking about this one day, and he said “I wonder what people would post on facebook if every Sunday morning we were to project it on a screen for the whole church to see.” That’s a good way to check what you post….many church friends are friends on facebook. It’s just like anything else, it can be used as a tool for good or for bad. 1 Timothy 4:12 says to let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example OF the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. I’ve seen some pretty horrible examples of these things from Christians on facebook.

  • This will be shared as soon as I figure out how to do it.

    I would add under point number 1:
    Eph 6:4 “Father’s do not provoke your children to wrath…”

    So many times parents will interject parental comments that are not encouraging on their children’s post.

    If you need to discipline them, do it at home and have them remove a post

  • Thank you.
    I would amplify one comment about truthfulness: do not vouch for others’ links or posts that make assertions you cannot verify, especially about political and religious figures. Many such posts play on surface credibility and our natural goodwill to get Christians to pass lies along unwittingly. In general, the more you hope it’s true because it fits your general beliefs, the more important it is to source and verify.

  • This is thoughtful and well-meaning, Steve. We surely needed this. Thanks, bro.

  • Great article!

  • This is a good set of rules for Christian, but the rules should apply to anyone using social media. I would add, don’t connect your politics and your religion on Facebook. Over the last election season I saw far to many comments from Christians making false claims about candidates and policies. I also saw some Christians saying negative things about the poor and disenfranchised, some seemed to be suggesting that we shouldn’t help the poor or sick or those in need. It was really sad for me to see these kinds of remakes. If you want Christianity to thrive try showing compassion for your fellow human rather than disdain.

  • Thank you for these Biblically-based ideas. Sometimes people disconnect their physical lives from their online lives and forget they are merely extensions of each other. I have been faced with several opportunities through FB to reach out to atheists and evolutionists to discuss Biblical matters in a calm, rational, gentle way without name calling or heated tones. I don’t know that I convinced them of anything, but FB can be a powerful tool for teaching those we might never meet.

  • I wish ALL my Fb friends could/would read this. Thank you. Praise God for people like you.

  • You forgot a big area! How about blocking people? You would be surprised how many church leaders block people on Twitter/Facebook and sometimes not for any real legitimate reason!

  • I agree with mostly but as a Prophet of the Lord sometimes you have to expose false doctrine or say something about a politician that most people in this polictical correct nation think is not right but I know we should do it with love but read what Paul, Peter, John and the other apostle’s or even Jesus had to say sometimes but you are right, it should be posted with LOVE!

  • I don’t particularly like Facebook, in fact, I just don’t like it at all … except that I can keep up with friends there from whom I would otherwise hear nothing. My sincere desire would be to move all my Facebook brethren over to a truly Christian social media site such as Wayfellow or SaintsMeet.com I know the games and a lot of the features that make Facebook so popular are not there, but if we would support Christian social media, it would grow, and the talent and knowledge needed would come forth from someone who will add those things. I’d love to see the efforts of Wayfellow and SaintsMeet combined into one and work toward filling the needs for social interaction which we see represented on Facebook. I’d much rather be on a site which is much more safe than Facebook!

  • Use the messenger functions to go to a member in private.

  • I agree with some of this, although I have to admit — a lot of it comes across as quite judgmental. (Especially the last part of #6. Let’s leave our personal value judgments out of this, please.)

    I strongly disagree with #1. (I also have to point out the irony that you’re doing that very thing with this post.) I recognize the importance of Matthew 18, but that isn’t even close to the same thing as discussing our differences. Yes, non-Christians may see our discussions, but chances are, if they’re non-Christians, they have their own criticisms of the church. I’d rather be an open book about my problems with it. I’ve found that people tend to take me more seriously as a Christian if I don’t try to whitewash our problems. You know what group does that? Scientology.

    It’s important to recognize that people honor God in different ways. They might not all make you comfortable, but that’s the beauty of diversity. While my tattooed, punk rock Christian friends probably wouldn’t be the best people to reach out to your conservative young families, I’m betting it’s equally true that you wouldn’t do very well reaching out to someone at a gritty dive bar.

  • Adam,
    I appreciate you taking your time to share your thoughts on my article, but I take issue with your “critique.”

    First you said I came off as “quite judgmental” and told me to leave my “personal value judgments” out of this. Adam, then tell me, from whose value judgment’s do you want me to write? Yours? My wife’s? My neighbor’s? If you’re going to read an article from me, your’re going to get my value judgments. For that matter, if you read after anyone, that’s what you’re going to get…their value judgments. If you don’t agree with my judgments, feel free to say so, but don’t expect me to keep my values out of what I write.

    You said I came off quite judgmental in the last part of #6. Well, here’s what I said…” Saying you’re a Christian and love the Bible, while in the next breath identifying as your favorites some of the most salacious books, movies, and performers causes others to blaspheme God (Romans 2:24).” Are you saying that identifying inconsistency at best or hypocrisy at worst is judgmental?

    In response to your “strong disagreement” of my first point about not airing our dirty laundry before the world, I’ll let inspiration answer your objection, “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends” (Prov. 17:9).

    I’m not sure I really understand your objections. There must be more that I’m missing. But I offer the above in light of what you have stated. For your consideration.

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