I’ve been dealing with various ailments and distractions lately, not to mention trying to get my Sermon on the Mount posts up on time, and so I haven’t paid sufficient attention to the tone and content of the comments.
I owe an apology to any number of commenters who’ve been sinfully insulted and belittled. By way of penance, I’m going to be more diligent in moderating the comments, even if it means skipping a few days of posting. And I really enjoy posting, and really hate playing moderator. So this it truly penance.
Here’s how it’s going to be —
1. I’m taking most who’ve been on moderation off. It’s time for a fresh start. If your comment doesn’t post, it’ll be because of the software, not me. Multiple links and overly long comments get suspended by the software until I have time to fish them out. Sometimes I have no idea why the software holds up a comment. It’s quite outside my control, but I will always rescue it — unless I delete it.
2. I’ve lost my sense of humor about the tone of many of our comments. Insulting or belittling comments will be deleted — probably in their entirety because, during the work day, I can only delete comments all or none. And I’m no longer willing to let insults sit there for hours until I can get home, eat supper, and find time. So if I find a comment offensive in part, it’s gone via the iPhone app.
3. The baptism discussion is over for now — unless you have something new to say. Repeat comments will be deleted without warning or notice. After over 300 comments, it’ll be hard to be original — and I’ll be hard to convince. I think we need a break from that topic, and so there’s going to be a break from that topic. In fact, the Sermon on the Mount is exactly what we need to be talking about — both for the sake of us to come here to chat and for the sake of the Churches of Christ in general.
4. One of the inherent problems with deleting offensive comments is that we all have different thresholds for what offends us. It’s hard to be consistent. I’m not going to debate this stuff, but I welcome input from those who disagree with my decisions. Just don’t argue with me. I do the best I can do with the time and health I have, and moderating is unpleasant, time consuming, and distracting. But I know that I can’t read through your eyes. If I’m not being sufficiently sensitive to rudeness, tell me. I’m a lawyer, have four sons, am an elder, and grew up in the country. Some things don’t offend me that probably should.
4. For guidance on what tends to get a comment edited or deleted, this is from the Site Rules page, newly updated —
* Christians will be held to higher standards than non-Christians. I expect believers to be familiar with the New Testament’s instructions on how we treat others, especially fellow Christians.
There is evidently a segment that feels there’s a implied exception for when we have very strong feelings on the subject. The fact is that the requirement to be gentle, kind, loving, and slow to anger applies especially when we’re upset or feel indignant. No one here is Jesus or enjoys apostolic inspiration. Therefore, everyone has to begin with a spirit of humility –
(2Ti 2:24-26 NIV) 24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
And, yes, I realize that in the Churches of Christ there’s a long history of violating this command in our publications, bulletins, and sermons. That just means we need to repent.
* No judging motives. No personal invective. No personal insults.
* No ad hominem arguments.
* No fighting words. Call your opponent a “liar” or otherwise question his integrity, and the comment will be deleted and you might be moderated. Avoid harsh language.
* Do not put words in your opponent’s mouth. You may not mischaracterize what the other person has said.
* Blasphemy is not allowed. It’s okay to ask why a good God would do something that we find morally troubling. It’s not okay to accuse God of being evil. God judges us. We don’t judge God. Seeking to understand God is righteous. Asking hard questions is holy. Judging God is foolish and not allowed.
* No, I’m not going to open a thread on whether the scriptures are inspired. It’s not open for debate. There are lots of forums on the internet where the topic will be welcomed — but not this one.
* Stick to the subject. If you desperately want to discuss a topic, ask politely and maybe it’ll happen. Goading, lecturing, and condescending will only get you blocked.
* Use your real email address. If I try to contact you via the email you posted and it bounces, I’ll blacklist your IP address. The email address requirement isn’t there to be sold to spammers. It’s so I can talk to you privately. Lie to me about your email address, and it’s an instant blacklist.
Violators will be blacklisted — that is, the software will block your comments. If I moderate your comments, the way to get unmoderated is to email me privately and ask to be de-moderated (or else just show me that you can comply with the rules by doing so). And belligerent, rude, goading, or insulting emails will only get you blocked from my email reader, too (and I won’t respond). The way out of the blacklist is repentance, not a continuation of the behavior that got you there in the first place.