I understand it’s not a very positive title. I also understand that social media can be used for good purposes. Many Free Presbyterian ministers and churches are very active in their social media presence. Just because people abuse the internet and social media doesn’t make it inherently evil.
The popular usage of the World Wide Web can be traced back about 25 years. That means that, for many of you, your parents were still in college or getting married before they could send a paperless message! The changes have been so rapid, and much sin finds expression on the internet, which gets shared on the various social media platforms. Some feel that Christians should avoid any social media activity. Certainly, if someone cannot engage with a clear conscience, they should stay clear “…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). However, social media platforms are essentially forums for communication. Like all communication, they can be platforms for good or evil. What I’d like to do is consider some of the problems we should avoid so that we are not guilty of “anti-social” media.
Social Media and the peril of sinful waste.
Apple has a lot to answer for in making cellular devices increasingly appealing and user friendly. (Even an android user must admit that!) Social media addiction is a real and modern phenomenon. We now have Apple’s Screen Time app to prove our addiction for ourselves! Many have been shocked to see how many hours per day they spend swiping through Facebook. Addiction is a danger that Paul was aware of when he stated, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Life is very brief. We must number our days and give an account of the time we have used. “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). Be aware of the danger of wasting time and be prepared to act when you fall into the addictive snare of social media. Let’s be honest that it’s not a good sign when the first thing we reach for in the morning is our cell phone.
Social media and the propagation of sensual wickedness.
Many Christians use social media to share Bible verses, hymns, sermons, etc. These are easily spread across the world and edify many. But the devil is aware of the power of the internet and there is much shared in type, picture, or video that violates the Word of God. Violence and immorality, to name but two, are promoted by slick visual presentations that can be accessed by a couple of taps. The Psalmist in Psalm 101 testifies of his desire to walk within his house with a perfect heart. Part of that walk involves a determination expressed in verse 3: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” The modern-day application is obvious. The child of God can be drawn into a cell phone screen and many wicked things are before his/her eyes. The trouble many find themselves in is that they are delighting in the wicked and no one needs to know about it. The privacy of modern devices is a snare that allows for much sin without discovery. If that is you, or if you are under temptation, remember that the will of God is that we would be “…wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil” (Romans 16:19). Take a no-compromise approach and pluck out your eye if necessary. “For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29).
Social Media and the promotion of self(ie) worth
Social media anxiety occurs as young people, and the not so young, post pictures of themselves and then wait for the “likes.” If the likes don’t come in quickly enough, it may be time to delete the picture. What we really want is for people to say how good we look. It may often be harmless to share pictures and achievements, but the prudent man sees the evil of the danger of sinful self-promotion and hides himself (Proverbs 22:3).
Social Media and the pain of words
Social media are means of communication. They have become a platform for “fake news”, gossip, and cyber bullying. Sadly, Christians have not been immune from these verbal sins. Just because we type words doesn’t mean the words are not governed by the biblical principles of speech. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice…” (Ephesians 4:29-31). Our speech and our typing must be governed by truth, humility, wisdom, and love.
Is your social media use positive or negative? See the good, but don’t be blind to the dangers and where necessary, repent, go to Christ in faith and ask for forgiveness. For some it would be best to be anti-social and stay away from social media altogether.
Dr. Stephen Pollock is minister of Malvern FPC, Malvern, Pennsylvania