As a Christian who maintains a regular blog and teaches teenagers, I shuddered a bit when I read Kevin Denee’s article, Blogs – and God's Youth. It reminded me a great deal of the old-school tracts that assert the inherent evil of movie going, dancing, and drinking. I do not question that Denee is well meaning; however, I find his tone condescending and his argument flawed.
Denee concludes that, “Because of the obvious dangers; the clear biblical principles that apply; the fact that it gives one a voice; that it is almost always idle words; that teens often do not think before they do; that it is acting out of boredom and it is filled with appearances of evil – blogging is simply not to be done in the Church.”
He adds, "Let me emphasize that no one — including adults — should have a blog or a personal website (unless it is for legitimate business purposes)."
Denee bases this assertion on his examination of eight dangers of blogging.
The Obvious Dangers
He begins his argument by addressing obvious dangers to blogging – sexual predators, lack of parental oversight, and indecent content. (Note: Denee treats weblogs and social networking pages synonymously.) Denee notes that many teens make themselves more susceptible to sexual predators by providing personal information on their sites.
He's right, but posting personal information on a site demonstrates someone's foolishness, not an element of evil inherent in blogging. As for the other two dangers, certainly anyone that has so much as an email account is all too aware of the glut of sexual content on the Internet.
A good firewall mitigates some of the problem and parents actually paying attention to what their kids are doing would help even more. The fault of a parent is not a sign of evil in the medium.
An Era Grows a "Voice"
I don't agree with Denee's interpretation of the seven churches mentioned at the beginning of Revelation, but the crux of his argument on this matter is that blogging "makes the blogger feel good or makes him feel as if his opinion counts – when it is mostly mindless blather!"
He goes on to assert that teen blogging does not have the capacity to positively affect society because it is puerile. I'm sure Denee would agree that since God is the Creator and He created humans in His image, people have a desire to create – literature, music, art, architecture, photography, carpentry, etc.
To suggest a teen's emotional musings are entirely void of substance is akin to telling a toddler his crayon drawing is rubbish. I'm not suggesting all written expression has technical or aesthetic merit; I've graded my share of horrendous compositions in my seven years of teaching. Furthermore, I'm not suggesting an expression of one's feelings serves as valid argument. However, writing, just as playing an instrument, playing a sport, or learning any activity, requires practice.
It's possible that a teen who begins writing hackneyed narratives might evolve into a writer of great substance at some point. Even if a teen never hones his or her writing skills, it doesn't mean their desire for expression is any less valid. Ultimately, Denee fails to prove how "having a voice" is sinful. Bad writing isn't sinful – well, maybe if you harm someone by forcing him to read it.
Openess and Privacy
According to Denee, "Propriety, decorum, and decency are not elements considered on blogs." Having read plenty of decent blogs and maintaining such a blog myself, I beg to differ with his sweeping assertion.
Denee posits that maintaining a blog is self-promotion and vanity. I must concede that when I write an article, I hope it's well received and people think I'm a good writer. Sometimes I do get a bit full of myself if I feel I've written a particularly good piece. However, pride is something people struggle with in numerous aspects of life.
In any of my pursuits, I try to carry myself with humility and to live to Paul's calling in Colossians 3:17: "Whatever you do in word or deed, do it as service to the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Denee states, "Blogs can be summed up as people talking about almost anything, but really nothing." He then cites Christ's words in Matthew 12:36: "But I say unto you, that every idle word men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof on the day of judgement."
Contrary to what Denee goes on to suggest, Christ isn't warning against rambling about your favorite food or a love interest. In the preceding verses, Christ rebukes the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and explains that a good man will bear good fruit but an evil man won't. In other words, someone's actions are a reflection of what is in his heart. Therefore, in this context "idle" is best defined as "ineffectual" or "fruitless," not "trite."
If someone espouses a faith in God but doesn't live that faith, he will be subject to judgment. In fairness to Denee, plenty of teens (and adults for that matter) blog about things of little depth. However, this shallowness demonstrates the vacuousness, pleasure-seeking mentality that increasingly pervades our culture. It isn't confined to blogging. Furthermore, he ignores the fact that there is no shortage of bloggers who poignantly articulate their thoughts on faith and other significant matters.
A friend of mine from college is battling cancer. His wife maintains a blog to provide updates on his treatments, to share their struggles and joys, and to request prayers. The thoughts expressed in her blogs are moving testaments of their faith. As for teens, several of my students (past and present) post blogs that display remarkable depth. I doubt they're the only teens in America who do so.
Think Before You Do
Denee argues that since teens are often capricious, blogging can be dangerous. Yes, teens are often capricious, but so are many adults. Yes, it's unwise to act solely on emotion. However, people are less likely to act rashly when they express themselves in writing rather than speaking.
Nonetheless, people will at times write or post something with little, if any thought for the consequences. Acting without thinking is often foolish and sometimes sinful, but it does not suggest an inherent evil in blogging. It suggests the fallen nature of man.
Denee suggests that blogging is not an effective use of a Christian's time. While I agree that sitting in front of a computer for hours on end isn't an effective use of one's time, maintaining a blog doesn't necessitate hours of time – not to mention my point that a blog can be used to glorify God.
Furthermore, we are bombarded with things that distract us from doing God's work – television, entertainment, work, and even sometimes family. The sin lies in making such things our priority, not in the things themselves.
Appearances of Evil
Denee cites I Thessalonians 5:22, "Abstain from all appearances of evil." He then explains ways in which a blogger can give the appearance of evil. One way is posting photos or other material that could cause the viewer or reader to question one's character. This is a valid point to some extent. I've confronted a few of my students over the years about objectionable things they've posted that conflict with their espousal of faith.
Again, the wrong lies in the use of the medium, not the medium itself. Denee also warns that a viewer may interpret a questionable pop-up ad as the work of the blogger himself. Anyone who has used the Internet for longer than thirty seconds should be aware of pop-up ads, so I don't see how his argument carries any weight.
Ultimately, Denee's article reeks of legalism. Throughout the gospels Christ makes it clear that He calls us not to man-made restrictions and observances, but to Himself.Powered by Sidelines