Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Think and Act 10.7.15 – Facebook, Feelings, and Gun Control

gun

If you clicked on this post looking for my position on gun control, I’m about to disappoint you. But you won’t be disappointed if you keep reading.

My topic comes from a Facebook post by a friend, a mother, a sister in Jesus, who cried out via a statistic that she wished guns weren’t doing the damage they did.

Harmless, right? Well, as you might imagine, some commenters took the opportunity to reduce the content of the post to arguments regarding the gun control debate.

My friend admirably held her own, pointed out that sadness and fear motivated her post, and directly challenged some of her commenters as people who would publicly comment on Facebook in ways they most likely wouldn’t interact with her in person.

Now listen, I have no intention to write a blog article defending my friend or shaming her commenters. Each interacted in a public forum. The point of this transcends personal allegiance. My plea begs for all of us to engage in the tough task of discernment and empathy.

Hopefully a couple summary comments will challenge:

1. On the specific topic, please put yourself in the shoes of someone affected by gun violence.

It’s easy to quote statistics. I understand those statistics and I’m all for freedom. But I’m all for empathy too. If you know people who have been directly or indirectly affected by gun violence, is it too much to ask to think about the effect this has on people before you defend your political position?

Words fail to capture the pain of traumatic loss. Someone working through those emotions deserves space.

2. Regarding Facebook etiquette in general: consider personal connection.

Please realize that hotly debated issues in an online forum plus inadequate personal history and trust equals an atmosphere ripe for hurt and misunderstanding.

I understand Facebook is a public forum and posts by nature invite public comment. Those comments and discussions can prove helpful, but also hurtful.

 

Do certain people invite debate in a healthy way? Find them. Debate with them.

Is it clear someone doesn’t post much or is posting out of emotion? Maybe you should re-consider.

Would you never say in person what you’re about to type in response? Hmmmm……

3. To think is to work.

Generalizing is way easier than thinking. Processing, discerning, asking tough questions, and even pausing before responding take much more intentionality. Thinking requires work. When we value people and especially the way we as believers conduct ourselves in light of the gospel, that thinking proves necessary.

Think. How should believers engage tough topics online? When should we reserve debate for personal interaction? What level of thickness of skin should believers develop before posting about controversial topics?

Act. Discern. Think. (Yes, acting involves thinking.) Empathize. Do the difficult work to engage a person before you attempt to wreck a political ideology. And, by all means, don’t let political ideology construct unnecessary barriers for opportunities to proclaim or advance the gospel.

 

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