Most of us have hands that are dirty with online sins somewhere. We have at some point gone too far on social media; our criticisms of others descending into personal attacks. The combination of a keyboard and distance make righteous warriors of us. So we need to be careful to reject the sense of self-righteousness so easily adopted in times of competing recriminations. The internet mob is an unforgiving lot. There is no atonement which will satisfy it. The guilty must be purged from our sight. No forgiveness will ever be offered. But the problem is that we are all guilty.
By now many of you have heard of the Genevan Commons Facebook group. The Genevan Commons (GC) group was apparently formed several years ago to provide a forum for discussion of Reformed theology. All well and good. But more recently some of the group members began attacking Aimee Byrd, Rachel Miller, and us (Carl and Todd). At times the banter degenerated into sinful mocking and slander. Unbecoming to say the least.
For two years or more we have been trashed in blogs, social media, and on the GC site. We have been cast as crypto-feminists out to undermine the church with our liberal dogma. Of course anyone who knows us understands just how ridiculous such a charge is. However, in just one day last week, numerous people who are not privy to internal Alliance discussions and have not bothered to ask us what we know of what has happened at the podcast, have felt able to opine online about us. Strange to tell, we have now apparently abandoned our radical feminism and become knuckle dragging misogynists. But this is the sort of nuance and careful analysis one gets on social media. We have never responded to the earlier or the later accusations, deeming their value to be obvious to any thoughtful reader, and mindful of the need for Christians to turn the other cheek and of the importance of not dignifying some speech by even acknowledging its existence.
Ed Stetzer, writing for Christianity Today, refers to a blog post by Aimee Byrd which linked to multiple screenshots of ungodly banter and coarse joking on the GC site. To make matters worse, much of the behavior captured in those screenshots is the words of pastors and elders. There is no good excuse for the behavior evident there. Those who contributed to the cruel mockery ought to repent and be encouraged to do so by their brothers.
But there is a grave problem with Stetzer’s article and the post to which it links. The problem is that both pieces slander many godly men through guilt by association. It is a prime example of what is known as “doxing.” One online dictionary defines doxing as “to search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.” These posts have doxed many men who are not guilty of the sinful banter of the few.
It is important that one understands how Facebook discussion groups work. Specifically, the GC site originally began as a group discussion of Reformed theology. There were over 1,000 members. Out of that body of members a comparatively small number of men participated in the coarse joking and mockery. The great majority of members are innocent of that behavior. Many members have left the group in recent years because of the obsession that some of the membership have had with Aimee Byrd, Carl and Todd. Some of the members never or rarely even visited the site.
Read more on this topic: “An Open Letter From Concerned Ministers And Elders In The OPC”