Foundational Principles for the SharperIron Comment Policy
- “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37 NKJV). “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
If you don’t honestly believe that it glorifies God, don’t post it. Post “so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed” (1 Tim. 6:1).
- “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39).
A Christian poster understands the responsibility of not giving unbelievers cause to reject our God. What we do at SI reflects on our God and on our faith. When you post, consider that what you write will be visible to many and for a long time.
1 Whether to Post
Readers may consider posting if they agree with our Doctrinal Statement, plan to participate in conversations they start, and recognize the danger of dialoging with fools. “It is honorable for a man to stop striving, Since any fool can start a quarrel” (Prov. 20:3). “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart” (Prov. 18:2). “If a wise man contends with a foolish man, whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace” (Prov. 29:9). Knowing when to walk away is vital. It isn’t necessary to have the last word.
2 Why We Post
“As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Prov. 27:17). We should aim to “sharpen” others, not insult them for the dullness we think we see in them. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29). Post to build, not to tear down. There is a time to demolish wrong doctrine or illogical thinking. Yet if demolition is our ultimate (or even primary) goal, we have failed to heed our Lord’s commands. Our goal must be to build up one another.
3 What We Post
Believers should speak truthfully and ethically. “‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25). “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (Rom. 13:1-2).
4 How We Post
A public forum is generally not the proper place for personal rebuke. When rebuke is necessary, we must do so carefully. We should rebuke a false gospel sharply but other errors with gentleness, always bearing in mind that perceived error is frequently not actual error. SI is not the church and does not possess the privileges or responsibilities God has given to that unique body. However, to the degree our purposes and activities overlap with those of the church, the same princples apply.
We must speak “the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), be “kind” (Eph. 4:32), and see that our speech is “always … with grace, seasoned with salt, that [we] may know how [we] ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6). Hard-fought threads involving intense discussions are not out of bounds at SI. But any “battles” should be thoughtful debates focused on ideas, not on people. The spirit of the participants is a key factor influencing the success and usefulness of hard-fought threads. The best threads are those in which participants have a strong desire for truth and a keen sense of respect for others.
Spirit-controlled forum participants also avoid thinking evil of other posters. The nonverbal cues that help us understand one another in person are missing online. We should be careful not to insult, and we should be slow to believe we have been insulted.
5 Administrative Principles
“Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
Respectful members will adhere to the mission of the site. Respectful members agree that their conduct here is subject to the scrutiny of the Moderators and Administrators. Your opinions and suggestions are welcome. Respectful members stay on topic. Topics have sub-topics and logically related or supporting topics. In general, the ones with the right to determine what is off-topic are the thread originators, those involved in the thread, and forum Moderators. Respectful members also understand that the forum does not exist for marketing purposes.
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Col. 3:12-13).
Admit errors. If you have violated one of the policies, acknowledge the error and apologize to any involved who were mistreated or harmed. When sin is involved, follow the spirit of Matthew 18. When your brother falls, speak the truth to him in love, confronting him about his offense privately and in a spirit of meekness. If a public comment requires moderation, alert a Moderator immediately (or flag the post for Moderator Attention).
Forgive. When a brother takes the necessary steps for restitution, forgive him. Forgiveness demands choosing not to bring up the transgression again.