The character of a man will always show itself in the characters on the screen. What do your characters say about your character? Jesus said that the overflow of our hearts are the words that we speak. This necessarily holds true in the words that we write, or in the 21st century, the words that we type. Do your characters betray malice and gossip? Does your character show unbecoming hastiness and a lack of graciousness?
Scripture gives us two major guidelines that apply to our words, whether they be in good ol’ fashioned sound waves, or pixels. These two guidelines can help you to be above reproach in your conduct.
Graciousness in all of our communicating of both people and institutions, we are to give the benefit of the doubt. Where there is room for doubt, the Christian is called to love his neighbor as himself by giving that benefit. Graciousness manifest itself in many ways. It shows up by caring for the other persons reputation. Graciousness shows up in a desire to accurately represent others. Erring on the side of gentleness is yet another way graciousness shows itself.
Let’s look at Honest Abe. Many hold, understandably, that he was a tyrant, refusing to let states leave the union, just as the colonies left Britain. It only would seem fair. Yet, we should give the benefit of the doubt, as much as we are so able. In this case, we must ask, ‘What is the role of the presidency?’ If the President is tasked with maintaining unity, then their may be legitimacy to his actions. But whether right or wrong, a blogger ought to strive to understand the decisions as much as possible. At the end of the day, I personally am not convinced that a President has any more veto right than a King when a colony or state wish to leave. But I can understand Lincoln’s decision.
Honesty- This is, actually, the flip-side to graciousness. Not because these two virtues are polar opposites. But because these two concepts help provide a godly tension that must be kept. Many people in the Church have no problem being gracious. They have a problem stretching graciousness to a breaking point, crossing the line into dishonesty.
Take for example, the mother who refuses to believe that her son was acting inappropriately. When confronted by her pastor, she quips, “MY son would NEVER do THAT!” Though this may look like a gracious ‘giving of the benefit of the doubt’, it is, in fact, dishonest. The benefit of the doubt is not given, if there is such little there that it would be imprudent to do so. We should never cover up the facts. Let’s go back to Abraham Lincoln. He actually was a racist man who did not want black people living in America. This is historically uncontested, and should not be twisted to some kind of good. Lincoln did not care about the freedom of the slaves, he only used it as a political expedient in a time of war. He wrote, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery.” This fact cannot be looked over in the name of love, nor is doing so a Christian virtue.
Our character will show itself, not only in the history books, but on the screens we see every day. But not many of us will show up in the history books. This is good, since none of us have that great of a character. We should be grateful if only a few people see our bad character showing up in the characters that appear on their screens.
For Further Discussion:
Pixels are People by Nathan Bingham
NY Times on Lincoln’s Racism