Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Internet anonymity (part 6)

Part one, part two, part three, part four, part five.

Following on from part five, where I showed that the Bible teaches that we ought to fear God and his judgment and correspondingly lose our fear of man (which I suggest is behind a good deal of Internet anonymity), here now are some verses showing that the Bible encourages courage. Courage is not just a noble virtue to be admired in other people. It is also a Christian virtue which the Holy Spirit works in those who he is making more like the Lord Jesus Christ - who gave all his teaching openly despite being hated for it (John 18:20). It is something to pray for and strive for. God actually wants us to speak the truth openly and without shame amongst our fellow men. There are many people in the world who are wicked and unashamed. Why should they speak openly whilst others are afraid to let their names be known?
Proverbs 28:1 - "The wicked flee when no man pursues: but the righteous are bold as a lion."
That's how it should be, and often is: with a good conscience, you can act boldly and openly; with a bad conscience, you're afraid even when nobody else is around. Which of these two is the anonymous Internet poster behaving most like?
Philemon 1:14 - "And many of the brethren in the Lord, growing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."
Paul was in prison - but spoke boldly. This encouraged others in Rome who had previously been silent to do the same. What are you going to encourage other Christians to do by your example?
1 Thessalonians 2:1-4 - "For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: but even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as you know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, who tries our hearts."
Paul commended the gospel, and his own sincerity, by being bold even in the face of real persecution. At Philippi he was flogged and put in jail with open sores. That's a little bit worse than some angry ranter sending you a rude e-mail - or even five rude emails! Paul testified that the words he were speaking were sufficiently important and true that he was willing to publicly own them, whatever bad consequences came his way. Therefore, I find it hard to buy into the argument that by hiding our identities, we can commend our witness by drawing attention away from anything else. To Paul, his straightforward boldness was an important part of his witness that he appealed to - he had nothing to hide.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thought you may like to know; you've convinced me to put my real name on the "about" section of my wordpress site.

Also, a courtesy point. I've linked to you from the sidebar.