Ethics and Social Media

(Posted February 27th 2018 @ 11:45 AM by: Melody Reever)

Ethics and Social Media

She sits at her desk with the power to destroy in her hand. As emotions swirl inside her mind, she is faced with these questions: Should I type what I’m feeling? If I type it, do I send it or delete it? The difference between ethical and unethical behavior is much like the difference between hitting the send button or the delete button.

Ethics is a building block that each of us must have at the core of our belief system. What do we mean by “ethics,” and how does it translate in the world of social media?

The word ethics comes from the Greek word ethikos, which at the root means “moral character.” When one behaves ethically, there is not a contradiction between what one believes and how one behaves.

One of the greatest dangers to the church is what is known as “emotive ethics.” This is an ethic that focuses on personal feeling more than an absolute truth. In fact, with emotive ethics, there is no absolute truth. Actions are determined by personal feelings, and one’s ethics change as much as his emotions change. When we are angered by a situation, is it OK to lash out on social media? Do we allow our emotions to dictate our ethics, or do we allow God’s Word to shape our ethics? Where is our moral accountably? Because emotive ethics are based on feelings, people do what they want because their personal feelings are temporarily divorced from absolute truth. Let’s look at absolute truth that should inform our ethics.

Ethics will always lead to godly edification and will avoid division in the body of Christ. We are called to walk in the light. We must walk without hiding anything. Biblically speaking, light is the symbol of holiness and righteousness. To walk in holiness is to live an ethical life that is beyond our feelings. We will get hurt, wounded, injured, and disillusioned in life; unethical behavior cannot retaliate or we will lose our witness and credibility as Christians. A rule of thumb at this point: self-restraint is more important than self-expression. We have all heard the cliché, “If you are going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk.” Ethics are concerned with the walk more than the talk. John told the early church to “walk in the light as he [Jesus] is in the light” (I John 1:7). In other words, our ethical behavior is to be measured by Jesus Christ, not our culture.  

Knowing truth means nothing if it is not manifested in our daily life by the way we treat one another, whether that is face to face, on social media, or in the privacy of our living rooms. The principle of edification is willing to restrain oneself to bless others. Paul coined words that are relevant for social media behavior: “Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:2-6).

Let’s summarize so we can walk it out.

  1. What is written or declared must be to the benefit and building up of others or it should not be posted.
  2. The temptation to defend ourselves will never be stronger than on social media. Mortify the deeds of the flesh and follow the example of Jesus who pleased not Himself.
  3. Never allow any divisive communication to come from you that will divide the body of Christ or lower the estimation people have of others.
  4. Do not allow the Jekyll/Hyde syndrome to take over your nature on social media. With one mind and one mouth bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ and others.

Truth must inform our ethics daily. So, should I hit send or delete?

Veta McLaughlin and husband, Carl, pastor Calvary Pentecostal Church in Euless, Texas. They have three children: Jonmichael, Blake, and Jenna.

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