About a year ago, I finally gave in and joined Facebook to see my friends’ family and vacation pictures, reconnect with old friends, and satisfy my curiosity. I almost regretted the decision upon seeing so many strong political posts unwilling to consider any other position.

My time on Facebook has convinced me that social media has significantly contributed to the divisiveness in our country. For some reason, even Christians feel empowered to blast strong opinions online that they firmly believe are the only righteous viewpoint, without seeming to consider whether there may be godly people who think differently.  All their Facebook friends who agree, give them a “like”; anyone who disagrees, scrolls past the post without comment. Armed now with dozens of likes, they are more certain than ever that their opinion is the only reasonable one and double down in their next post. I wonder if they would have the boldness to say the same things, in the same way, in a situation where others may challenge them with good counter-arguments.

So I am taking a deep breath and offering some advice on what we should consider before posting political opinions on social media:

Be Kind. Serving the same Savior does not always result in the same political opinions. It should, however, impact the way we express those opinions. The Lord tells us to be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32), love one another (John 13:34-35), and bear with one another (Colossians 3:13). Even if we think someone’s political position is sin, we must be careful to follow biblical principles of discipline (Matthew 18:15-17), beginning with telling our brother his sin in private, not publicly on Facebook. We are to restore gently lest we also sin (Galatians 6:1) and be sure we have removed the log from our own eye (Matthew 7:1-5).

 Be Fair.  “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). Have you really studied all angles of this matter? Or do you use only media outlets that support your political inclinations? Since Facebook is not a good way to let people examine your case, you will likely continue to think your posts are right. Instead, try making your argument at a dinner party with people who may disagree. You will likely find it much more difficult, but hopefully educational too. Although, you may want to warn your host before trying this!

Be Respectful.  I have cringed at times when I see a Christian Facebook-friend publicly admonish comments by a leader in the church (meaning the universal church, not GRC).  Not only do the same principles of gently restoring a brother apply to church leaders, but the Bible tells us that elders are worthy of double honor (1 Timothy 5:17). That is not to say that church leaders are always right and never need rebuke, but be careful in doing so. Ask if you are the right person to do the admonishing and whether Facebook is the best method. Never forget that Facebook is a public forum; our posts are seen by non-Christians and people we do not even know. Would it not be better to handle this grievance within the church, instead of before the world (1 Corinthians 6:1-2)? If Christians are criticizing each other in one-way public communications, how can we even minister together? How is the church any better than Congress in this scenario?

I would love to hear your thoughts about this. So let’s talk. I just ask that we talk in person, not on Facebook!

Donna Crouch has been member of GRC since 2007 and is the leader of the Women’s Ministry.