The SBC is soon considering a resolution on “Christlike Communication and the Use of Social Media.” Seemingly an innocent reminder to more like Jesus in our communications, the resolution isn’t as innocuous as it seems.
Dr. Robert Gagnon explains the problems with the resolution on his Facebook page as follows…
Here is a truly dangerous resolution released out of committee and going to the floor of the Southern Baptist Convention, a resolution that would likely lead to the selective, politically-correct punishing of persons who on social media disagree with improper behavior by Southern Baptist leaders in power (the head of the ERLC, leaders of Southern Baptist seminaries, the current head of the SBC, etc.).
I have seen how selectively such “civility” standards operate in left-wing religious institutions: i.e., as a means of squashing dissent from those in power. The same can happen in the Southern Baptist denomination. Those in power often do their badmouthing of others behind the scenes, orally and in private, because they don’t need public channels to effect change. This resolution would do nothing to stop that sort of behavior and thus would exempt the powerful and punish the powerless.
In Southern Baptist circles, critics of Paige Patterson often engaged in brutal attacks of his character and misrepresentation on social media. They would experience no repercussions for doing that. However, those who called into question such brutal attacks and criticized instead the dishonoring actions of the Executive Committee of the Board of Southwestern Seminary would likely find themselves in hot water.
Having nothing to fear would be Southern Baptist leaders who viciously attacked Christians who supported Donald Trump or Roy Moore over the alternatives of pro-abortion, anti-religious-liberty, pro-LGBTQ-coercion Hillary Clinton or Doug Jones, respectively, calling such Christians “hypocrites” and “moral relativists” but who then minimized or overlooked MLK’s legacy of extraordinary sexual immorality while elevating him to high honor. Those having something to fear would be anyone who criticized those committing such double standards.
These kinds of abuses can occur even when the powers that be have the best of intentions.
“RESOLUTION 7 – ON CHRISTLIKE COMMUNICATION AND THE USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA
ON SELECTIVE PUNISHMENT, FOR ALLEGED SOCIAL MEDIA INCIVILITY, OF THOSE WHO CRITICIZE SBC LEADERS IN POWER, AKA GETTING OUR ENEMIES]
“RESOLVED, That we guard our tongues, using caution and wisdom in our media and social media, and refrain from remarks that tear down others made in the image of God, including refraining from gossip and slander (Psalm 141:3; Proverbs 6:16–19; 17:27–28; 21:23; James 3:10–12); and be it finally RESOLVED, That even in the midst of differences, disagreements, and conflicts, we will engage one another with respect and winsomeness, speaking truth in Christlike love while pursuing unity (Ephesians 4:15).”
Sounds nice but in practice it invariably leads to serious and selective abuse in implementation. One person sees a set of remarks as “telling the truth” or “social justice righteousness” while another side sees it as “tearing down others made in the image of the God” or “gossip and slander.” The ultimate determination depends on who holds the power, not objective and fair standards.
[Update: This resolution passed without opposition]