Since Jesus promised that “every idle word shall be judged” (Matthew 12:36), bloggers need guidelines for holiness in speech. Though these goals can be disastrously missed on occasion, still one should strive. Especially when you are putting words into writing that can be seen all around the world!
So I thought I would share some short rules of etiquette I attempt to observe in blogging.
Remember Gentle Reformation’s purpose. As we have a clear statement of purpose for this blog, I recognize that just one errant post, like a torpedo, could sink the ship. So I work to keep my posts in line with our mission.
Verify before I magnify. Scripture says that everything is to be established on the basis of two or three witnesses. By posting a quote, story, or incident without fully verifying it, rumors and gossip could trace their source to me. May it never be!
Seek counsel and wait before posting on controversial subjects. On occasion we send an article to others at this blog or other friends to get input before posting. As we are to be ones who are “slow to speak” (James 1:19), I know this helps slow me down and take a deep breath before posting. On occasion, I have come to realize that it is better to trash a post than trash a person or a subject.
Promote better bloggers. I’ll resist giving names here, but I have blogging “heroes,” both big and small, who are simply far more brilliant, creative, theologically astute, etc., than I am. Rather than attempting to duplicate them or, worse yet, better them, it is freeing to learn from them and to promote them. That’s a big part of the reason I wanted Gentle Reformation to be a multi-author blog. In Christ I often receive far more joy making known another person’s post than I do writing one of my own. Plus, it’s easier!
Allow my talents to bridle me. Following the previous rule is the idea that my abilities in thinking and writing, given to me by God and limited by Him, are only so much. When I try to be too clever or too astute, I’m only showing that I am not. “I do not deal in matters great, or things for me too high” (Psalm 131:1).
Brevity is a blessing. Short posts and short sentences are best. Enough said, or I will only further prove my point by violating it.
Variety spices up the blog. At least I hope it does. Rather than writing posts that are only devotional, anecdotal, sermon slices, interviews, book reviews, etc., I like to try different approaches.
Be brutal on the grammar. One blogging hazard is not having an editor. So though you may not believe this, I work and work over the grammar before I post. Then I often still find, cringe, and make corrections after I post. Then I often have people point out yet further ones, which I both hate and love. One misstated sentence can take the air out of the spirit of a post. (A Little Secret: If it’s a simple matter, sometimes I correct my fellow GenRef Gents without telling them. I wonder if they do that to me?)
Address an antagonist as if he is sitting across from you. Whether posting on a controversial matter or answering a scathing criticism in the comment section, I like to imagine that I’m looking at their face. The anonymity and the personal distancing the internet creates can make you forget, as blogger Nathan Bingham once stated, that “pixels are people.”
Only answer one time individuals who comment. Though on occasion I might answer more than once, it is rare. Not only do I not have time to enter into a great deal of back-and-forth, but wrangling over words is simply sinful. “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to all…patient when wronged” (II Timothy 2:24). So even if I feel slighted at responses, I do not need to respond to every criticism. Besides, it is okay to give a person commenting the last word and allow readers to think through the issues themselves.
Again, I know I do not always hit these marks. So I thank the Lord who forgives me, and for you who read and do the same.