Cyberspace the Best Place and Cruelest Place on Earth

Christian churches often discuss from the pulpit and in study groups, the fact that fellow Christians can harm each other through direct hurtful remarks, gossip and being cold-shouldered to a fellow congregate. What you don’t hear discussed in church often are warnings about how very hurtful things can be online, such as cyber bullying and bigotry toward Christians. While being hurt in church can be very serious to the person on the receiving end of bad behaviors, it is my belief that things can be just as hurtful that are perpetrated toward Christians online.
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Pornography is the vilest thing online that exists, especially when it features children. Online porn has given huge increase to the numbers of men and women, who have become addicted to it – much to the delight of porn producers, the first people who would deny this fact. If you don’t believe that statement, read a few of the endless pages of statistics regarding online porn addiction, found…online. Does something like this make the internet evil as a whole? How can that be the case when the entirety of The Holy Bible is posted on many websites and when every reputable Christian ministry posts their articles and videos online, by the ‘100s of 1000s’, if not more? No the web is one of the greatest and one of the worst places that exits in the world and I have likely given the two greatest opposites one can give regarding the www. Still, if I may, I will elaborate a bit further regarding the evil side of online activity in general. I involved myself in some online dogfights/debates a few times in the past at a Christian forum, which people sometimes consider as their online church.
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It was a subdivision of the general religious forums. “Christianity” (the pro side) was being relentlessly slandered by the con side – mostly just to get a rise out of them and to enjoy their offended replies. It was after all a “Christian forum” for discussion on the Bible, Jesus Christ, Biblical eschatology, and so forth. The site’s own terms of agreement for members forbade this type activity but these were not upheld (Maybe some of the site admin was anti-Christian?). So, how did any of these so-called debates end? Well, every single one of them first grew into larger fights, with most of those who entered the fray being of the anti-Christ position (opposite to the side I was on). The protestors on my side who were against this forum invasion, kept their dignity purposefully, because they knew the opposition wanted them to become the same type undignified attack-debaters that they were. In other words they wanted, and did see honorable people become dishonorable in some cases.

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Those who didn’t, still hit walls/stalemates with the debates and this did nothing but make the opposition feel stronger and to push the envelope of indecency just a little further with each battle. The only way I can really explain what I have just said, is to give an example following. Several years ago, I was a member at a content website. I wrote articles mostly on health but I also had a few on the site that were business and others on short Christian Bible studies. I read on their forums very infrequently, mainly because it was mostly degraded type stuff being posted against Christians. And yet, as stated previously it was a Christian discussion forum. I saw where Atheists and Christians were debating heatedly (to put it lightly). The main question from the Christian side, was as to why Atheists were constantly coming in and ‘sabotaging their discussions’ with extremely vile posts. This included those posting pictures of a gay Jesus fooling around with his disciples, pictures implying Jesus was a child molester, launching direct attacks, including every expletive imaginable at Christian forum members.
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At one point an African American Christian lady on the forum made a very nice and convincing plea to me via a private message, asking that I help them to debate the anti-religion people (they were in most cases against “all religions”). I decided to go ahead and join the discussion for the sake of Christianity, with as many strong points for my side as I knew how to make. The opposition I saw from this, was expected by me but when I saw that our protest against the ant-religion people, was only emboldening them further to make horrendously vile statements against believers and to blaspheme God further, I decided to leave the forum but to also take all my articles off the connected website. The decision on the article removal was also due to a man who was writing extremely vile and blasphemous anti-Christian articles for public view. Did site moderation ever kick-in properly? Yes to some extent but only in removing the worst of the anti-Christ articles after they remained on the site for several years. Very little was done to moderate the offensive forum posting, meant for Christian members of the website. This is the proverbial “inch”, that will continue to be “taken a mile”. When the very websites themselves, are not going to prevent the vile stuff or will only do so under extreme circumstances (to keep from offending customers), any debates of the type I have described, will come to a dead-end as far as diminishing the vileness of the rhetoric.
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I realize that sounds negative but you almost have to use an indirect path to bewilder an enemy, when they have powerful backing. I have very strong debate skills but…. when I know my energies/strengths are being zapped by an enemy, while they tilt their heads back and laugh at the hamster on the wheel, I will not humor them. It’s at points like these that after I have done what I can within my own strength – led by The Holy Spirit, I let God take over completely and fight my battles for me from there. I can place absolute faith in the fact that he will do exactly that! This type of talk doesn’t scare non-believers, in fact they laugh at these type statements but they have a surprise awaiting them because they will literally see God’s defense of me and of his people in general, in action during this life and beyond. What’s my point to all this. Well as corny as it might sound, it’s like the old Beatles song says, titled: “We Can Work It Out”. Within the lyrics they sing “life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting my friends”. I saw Christians — due to the multiple user-names held by some of the dishonest forum members, to actually start suspecting each other of being enemies in disguise, etc… It bred confusion, which the Bible says “Satan is the author of” (2 Corinthians 14:33). So these are the reasons, I am so reluctant to enter into debates of any kind online because it not only breeds confusion but it also results in endless gossip and seriously hurt feelings, plus it places perpetrators in danger of reaping the same or worse. (Galatians 6:7). It was important for me to express these things. I feel more of an ethical stance can be maintained on all levels and on every front, when it comes to trying to make a difference in very real problems such as vile forum debates on reputable websites.
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I believe an actual difference can be made; sometimes a big difference. God will not defend raunchy debating but he will defend debates; even heated ones that are launched honestly, rather than with the intent to hurt and/or to get revenge against people who begin debate attacks. Of course the attack type debaters would call this a “holier than thou” attitude but this is not the case at all, regardless of such an opinion. I truly believe what I have just expressed, with absolute conviction. That which seems to not be working (proper moderation), may be working better than one thinks. Websites should not give up on maintaining an upper hand of dignity for as long as they possibly can. It may soon become increasingly-impossible to do if moderation continues to be lacking. Censorship vs moderation – both in balance do not intrude on freedom of speech or expression (example: literally threatening someone online, NO – heated but non-threatening debate, YES).
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