This is the second in a short series on blogging and Christian ethics. A number of issues seem apparent when it comes to this issue, and it warrants addressing. Today's focus is on commentary between readers.
Let's be honest. Bloggers want to see a lot of comments to their posts because it means more readership. Generally, innocuous posts receive little response and controversial topics receive more comments. My concern is not with this aspect; my concern is with the tone of the comments.
I concede the fact that there is no guaranteeing that all comments come from Christians, but there should be a certain amount of Christian ethics involved in the response given by those who adhere to the Christian faith. It is not unusual to read responses from Christians that one would be surprised to hear in face to face discourse. Often there is childish, playground level, name-calling involved. Christian? Hardly.
Another unfortunate, yet common, form of response is distortion. One commenter states his or her case, and another blows it out of proportion simply with the intent to win an argument. "So what you're saying is...blah, blah, blah" when clearly that was never the intent of the first writer. Misrepresentation hardly seems to be an ethical way for Christians to respond.
Then there's avoidance. One commentator makes a valid point, and the person from the opposing view ignores it and brings up a different issue. Again, it reads like a kid's playground. "Oh yeah, well Billy did..." This does not appear to be the dialog of intelligent Christian discourse.
Another aspect, profanity. Words that would never be spoken with other believers is not uncommon on blogs. Sometimes abbreviations are used, but the intent is still there. Is it acceptable for Christians to abbreviate profanity if it is not acceptable to speak it? WTF is that about?
Ultimately, it seems to me that Paul's exhortation to speak the truth in love should also guide the discourse in written form. If we write in in a letter, post it on a blog, or speak it in a conversation, our goal should remain the same: truth and love.