I have been part of churches where the pastors take shepherding seriously on social media.

The point is not to micromanage anyone’s social media but rather to help church members that they represent Christ (and, by extension, the church they belong to). 

We know through experience that it is easy to lash out at someone when you do not have to face them personally.

Social media is a lousy medium for substance. Airing out a conflict is about the most foolish thing a Christian can do. A person persistent in airing their gripes and complaints against others soon gains a reputation that is hard to shake.

A dictionary definition of something foolish is showing a lack of sense, ill-considered, or lacking forethought, caution, or wisdom. A Christian social media user should avoid what is foolish, ill-considered, lacking forethought, wisdom, common sense, or caution simply because we represent Christ (2 Cor. 5:20a) in what and how we communicate.

The Book of Proverbs gives great counsel on what a wise use of social media could be and what to avoid. Here are a few examples.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Pro. 12:18, ESV)

Words without thought, reactionary words, and harmful words posted are akin to being stabbed with a sword and separating friends, while the postings of the wise are aimed at healing a relationship.

Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret, lest he who hears you bring shame upon you, and your ill repute have no end. (Proverbs 25:9-10 ESV)

For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. (Proverbs 26:20 ESV)

Proverbs 25:9-10 and 26:20 are warnings against gossip. Perhaps a good biblical definition of gossip would be to spread rumors or secrets, speak about someone maliciously behind their back, or repeat something about someone else you have no right to repeat.

Perhaps nothing in the church is more divisive than gossip. It gets people talking without facts or knowing the whole story, and it gets people wondering about the character of others, whether they are named or not. 

Christians should desire to promote peace and not be one to air strife or whisper against others, which always makes matters worse and divides brothers and sisters.

Another helpful proverb is 17:14:

The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out. (Proverbs 17:14 ESV)

If we couple Proverbs 12:18 with 17:14, we’ll see that Christians should avoid quarreling on social media, a medium not well suited for problem-solving. I like the water analogy of Proverbs 17:14. If you’ve even had a water problem (burst pipe or basement flooding) in your home, then you know how difficult it is to control water on the loose or the cleanup required after the damage is done.

Solomon says quite simply, “Just stop” or “just quit” because it’s hard to contain or control once strife gets rolling. Perhaps another viable way to put it is to simply shut up if you don’t have anything helpful to say!

Wisdom and skill are required because emotions are often involved, so the first step is to take a step back and ask yourself, “Is my response contributing to the strife,” or does my response seek peacemaking? A little self-control before posting can go a long way to solving a problem.

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:20 ESV)

The spoken word can often be given in haste, emotionally driven, and, therefore, reactionary rather than thoughtful. The same is true on social media. Knee-jerk reactions are never helpful, and when chronic, the poster or speaker gains the reputation of the fool, which in Scripture means “one who lives their life apart from God and his wisdom.” 

And finally, this:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. (Proverbs 18:21 ESV)

The Proverb means we have the power of destruction in our words, spoken or written, and if used destructively, they produce a kind of death, usually a relationship. But we also have the power of life in our words, spoken or written, which means speaking or writing in such a way that gives life or, at the very least, does not harm the gospel or our gospel witness.

As for the person who cited the Constitution, claiming free speech, they left the church, transferring their anger to the senior pastor and me.

Pastor Bruce Roeder

Biblical Counselor, Training Program Instructor

Milwaukee, WI. He has an M.A. in Biblical Counseling and is certified with the ACBC (Level 2) and IABC. He is married to his wife Elizabeth of 49 years. They have one son, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and three great grandkids. 

If this article has been a blessing to you and you would like to help Reigning Grace Counseling Center reach others with the sufficiency of Scripture in counseling, please give any amount at https://rgcconline.org/donation-page/