While social media bullies continue their endless crusades in recklessly making life as miserable as possible for those whom they vow to harass, one Georgia pastor steps to the plate and knocks it out of the park.
The following short piece by Vadalia First Baptist Church pastor and former Georgia Baptist Convention president, Bucky Kennedy, was recently published in The Christian Index 1 As the Index notes, Pastor Kennedy reflects on the death of Braxton Caner on July 29. The 15-year-old Texas high school football star was the son of Brewton-Parker College President Ergun Caner and his wife, Jill.
Braxton Caner was a young man who had once read that if you listed your goals you had a better than 90% chance of meeting them, versus less than 50% if you didn’t. Braxton had academic, athletic, and spiritual goals that he wrote down and pursued. At the age of 15 Braxton took his own life. It is believed that cyber-bullying may have been the cause.
Social media is now a part of the world culture and it can be used for good or evil; to build up or tear down. As Christians we are called to live distinctively different from the world and this should be evident in what we post or tweet. It is with this in mind and because Braxton believed in goal setting and list making that I introduce to you:
Braxton’s List for Social Media Conduct
1. If you can’t post something nice ... ask yourself if you should post at all?
2. Don’t let momentary anger become a permanent post.
3. Remember, the people you want to attack has a family that feels their hurt.
4. Public people can have personal problems that the public doesn’t know. They may be closer to the edge than you know because you don’t know them. Stop before they drop.
5. God says “Vengeance is Mine” so it’s best to let God do best what He knows best to do.
6. Christians never have the right to be unkind, not even once. Mean posts about an individual multiple times is harassment.
7. Post above reproach. If in doubt, don’t. Be a building block and not a stumbling stone.
8. There are two sides to every story and the Internet is not the best place to tell the difference between the two or the best place to settle the difference between the two.
9. It’s better not to post and let people think you’re a fool than to post and remove all doubt.
10. Nobody wins on the Internet but lives and families can be lost because of it.
11. Satan is the accuser of the brethren, he doesn’t need our help.
12. Praying for our enemies accomplishes more than posting about them. Remember, because we pray for them doesn’t give us the right to post mean and hurtful things about them.
13. Believers are best dealt with by the local church, determining their salvation is the role of the Holy Spirit and not social media. If you don’t like how the local church handled the situation see #5.
Braxton’s life was short lived but it can be long remembered if we engage in cyber-building and stop cyber-bullying.
Less than two weeks ago, Dr. Ergun and Jill Caner laid their precious fifteen year old Braxton to rest. Attending the memorial was both excruciating and liberating. Families frequently grieve perhaps more excessively when the one passing on is a young child.
LifeWay's president, Thom Rainer, offers caution to Christian leaders in their use (or abuse) of social media platforms. He lists seven warnings which are relevant not only to leaders but anyone employing social media like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Among the seven warnings are: