How many political e-mail forwards have you received in the last two weeks? If you’re like most of us, at least a few. E-rumors and cyber-allegations are constantly swirling from one Inbox to another. The tales continue to get taller as the closeted skeletons grow to mythical proportions.
And what fuels the growth of this digital “grapevine”? People–young and old, Democrats and Republicans, Christians and non-Christians alike–who use each contact in their Address Books to fertilize the spread of the character assassination.
Very few (if any) of the recent political forwards that have made their way to my Inbox are completely true. Most often they are full of spoken or written words taken completely out of context and twisted to further an agenda. Some have been outright lies. Odds are, you know exactly the kind of slander I’m talking about, so rather than give further mileage to the rumors, I’ll avoid listing examples here.
But I would like to encourage you to be careful. Realize that the vast amount of forwarded fodder is false. Recognize that you can help to curb its spread by avoiding the temptation to keep passing it around. If you do decide that the forwarded material is worthy of the attention of others, could I encourage the asking of three questions:
- Is it true? Not sure? Surf on over to Snopes.com and check it out for yourself.
- Does it meet the Philippians 4:8 test? Honorable. Just. Pure. Lovely. Commendable. Excellent. Worthy of praise. May I suggest that talk of “clueless conservatives” and “stupid liberals” (and those are the mild epithets) falls short of the Spirit’s expectation?
- Does it harmonize with the “golden rule” (Matthew 7:12)? Does forwarding this material coincide with the Spirit of Christ? As a Christian, I’ve been instructed to put away “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk” from my mouth. “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:8-10). By carelessly punching the forward button, am I helping to spread lies about a fellow image-bearer? How would I feel if I were the subject of the slander? How would I like random statements I had written or spoken pulled completely out of context and spread to millions with the singular goal of smearing my name?
Believe me. I’ve been there. I’ve had to learn these lessons the hard way (usually more than once). I’ve made the mistakes. I’ve regretted what I’ve passed along. But I want to do better. Maybe we can do better together. Perhaps we can set the right kind of shining example in a very dark world.
Above all, let’s remember where our true allegiance lies. We may vehemently disagree with a public figure’s politics or actions, but we must still be careful about our attitudes. Before we are Americans, we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Beyond the talk of donkeys and elephants, let’s march in step with the Lamb of God.
Long live King Jesus!