Anonymity?

  In the last several years, one phenomena of the internet that is becoming increasingly prevalent is the “blog of contrary opinion”, if I may coin a phrase here.  As blogging becomes more “dummy friendly”, more and more “dummies” like me have taken advantage of their availabilities to share opinions, post devotional thoughts, discuss newsworthy events, and a host of other uses that people have come up with.

One use however, has become more and more polarizing among people than any, and that is the use of levying charges and accusations against someone anonymously.  Especially in churches where the dynamics are unlike anything in the secular world, people who often feel unheard are turning to the blog as their ally and are finding some degree of success. 

Ideally, within the church dynamic, when disputes and disagreements arise, those within the church would give fair hearing to both sides of the issue, the church body would render it’s final verdict, and both parties would either submit to that verdict, and move forward peacefully, or would part ways quietly and move on to serve the Lord elsewhere. 

Unfortunately we do not live an in an ideal world.  People and churches do not always do the right thing.

What has come about because those disagreements have not been properly dealt with is the anonymous blog.  The unheard person has found a place to be heard.  The party unwilling to hear them has found someone they cannot silence.  Those ingredients put together have meant the making of lawsuits, black eyes on churches, the loss of ministries, broken friendships, and opportunities for men to slander the gospel.

Whether it is the Unwilling who will not give an ear to the Unheard, or it is the Unheard who demands to be heard at all costs, whatever the cause, the anonymous blogs have become the result.

Now I have always respected the right to privacy, and still do.  I believe that a man has his right to privacy, and his right to his own opinion.  While I do not now, nor ever will take issue with the legal or constitutional right for someone to remain anonymous in their writings, I do bring a question to the table about whether or not a Christian has BIBLICAL standing to levy charges against another Christian anonymously.  I am speaking of whether or not one Christian has the Biblical footing to be able to levy a charge, (authentic or fraudulent makes no difference) at another professing Christian, without revealing their own identity.

I find at least two and maybe three passages of scripture that shed light on this issue.

Deuteronomy 17:6-7 – At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.  The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you. 

Psalm 101:5 – “Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: . . .”

1 Timothy 5:19 – “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.”

Historically, in the Deuteronomy passage, the Lord required the accusers to make themselves known by publicly showing themselves to be the accuser, and to be the first person to participate in the execution of the judgment of the guilty.  One had to be willing to publicly place “his own neck out” with his accusation in order to credibly make one.

In Psalms 101, the word “privily” means a “covered” or a “hidden place.”  The word for “slander” just means to “levy charge against” and can be either true or false.  That being said, what is here in this verse of scripture seems to clearly forbid levying charges from a place of being under cover or hidden.

Finally, in 1 Timothy 5, (in my opinion) the spirit of the statement suggests that the witnesses must be willing to make themselves known in order to make the charge and to establish the credibility of the charge.

Just looking at these three passages of scripture it does not seem to me that the Bible gives footing to one believer to anonymously levy charges, (true or false) against another believer.

Now I’m not lawyer enough to deal with whether or not someone has a legal right to levying anonymous charges.  From my deep constitutionally addicted mind I would say yes.  Nevertheless, I have a higher constitution that takes precedent over all others, and that is the Word of God.

Now without “levying charges” against those who have blogged anonymously, I will say that this is the opinion that I believe the scriptures lead to.  In fact I have commented to others before anonymously, and am resolving myself not to do that anymore. 

All of this aside, it is a shame that the state of Baptist churches in America has come to this.  Some want to lay the fault at the feet of pastors.  No doubt some charlatans have done their damage.  Some want to lay the fault at the feet of the sheep.  Without question, some sheep are just goats that are living a religious life in the flesh, with no spiritual life in the faith, and have no real love for the church, the gospel, or the ministry. 

What would make this easier is if all of the charlatans would pastor all of the goats, and leave the real sheep to the real shepherds.  How glorious would that be?  It would certainly be a change worth making.

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