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Should Christians use social media? Does social media lead to sin?

"Matthew, Dad won't let me get Snapchat!"

My younger brother confronted me with this statement last week when I was at my parents' house.

"And he won't let me have Instagram either!"

I was familiar with the sentiment my brother was expressing. He wasn't really telling me about his problems. Really, he was asking me if I would be willing to take up his cause and ask my Dad if he would change his rules. After all, I have a Snapchat account...and Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and YouTube accounts. So, why couldn't he have one?

I asked him if he thought there were any reasons why Dad had made that decision and he gave me a few answers.

"Maybe he thinks I will use it to do bad things."

"I don't think he wants me to waste time on it."

"He says that I need to be older."

I asked him, "Why do you want Snapchat?"

Before I tell you his answer, let me ask you the same question: Why do you want a social media account? The answer to that question provides a good basis for the answer to the question, "Should Christians have social media accounts?"

You see, as I understand it, social media (Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.) falls into a category of things which Paul calls "permissible" (1 Corinthians 10:23). For something to fall into the "permissible" category it must NOT be any of the following things:

  • Identified in the Bible as a sin.
  • Inherently linked with any immoral behaviour.
  • Necessarily detrimental to your holiness/growth as a Christian.
Let's check social media against that standard.
  • Is the use of social media identified as a sin in the Bible? No!
  • Is it inherently linked with any immoral behaviour? No!
  • Is it necessarily detrimental to your holiness or growth as a Christian? No!

Against the standards that Paul has set, having a social media account falls into the category of "permissible activities." But that isn't the whole story. Paul goes on to warn that even permissible activities may have unintended consequences. Just because something is "permissible" doesn't mean that it builds you up or is good for you as a Christian.

Let's look at those three categories again in a little bit more depth.
  • Is the use of social media identified as a sin in the Bible? No, the Bible never mentions social media. It didn't exist back then. But there are many warnings in the Bible against things like gossip and speaking bad things about other people. (2 Corinthians 12:20). If we use social media to do any of those things, we are using it in a sinful way.
  • Is social media inherently linked with any immoral behaviour? No, but it can be. There are many ways in which people abuse social media to engage in or promote immoral behaviour. If you are tempted to use social media to do anything immoral, then Paul tells you that you should run away from it as fast as you can (1 Corinthians 6:18).
  • Is social media necessarily detrimental to your holiness or growth as a Christian? No, but it can be. Social media, when used incorrectly, can cause you to be exposed to temptations that may lead to sinful thoughts or to participate in sinful activities yourself. For example, if you are spending all your time on social media, you are, at best, wasting time you could be using to serve God, or at worst, feeding an addiction. If you are even prone to accidently expose yourself to content that may cause you to sin, you could hinder your growth as a follower of Christ.

So, I'll ask you again:

Why do you want a social media account?

Think it through. Really examine your heart and motivations. Maybe write out a short paragraph explaining to yourself why you want it. For me, here are some of my reasons to have a Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube account.

  1. I enjoy sharing content with other people. I share both significant events in my life (e.g. my wedding) and things that I enjoy about being a Christian (e.g. a Bible verse that has blown my mind in the last few days).
  2. I enjoy keeping up to date with friends I don't see that often. If I don't think the content one of my friends is sharing is appropriate or is causing me to sin, I simply unfollow them.
  3. I want to share the good news that Jesus saves in every way I can. I tell people when I am speaking at a church event. I share short summaries of the Gospel from time to time.

When I asked my brother the question, "Why do you want Snapchat?" his answer was simple: "All my friends have it."

Was that a good reason? No, not really.

We all have a fear of missing out, but just because everyone else is doing something, that does not necessarily mean it's the right thing for you to do it. As a Christian, you must have good, thoughtful, beneficial reasons for everything you do (1 Corinthians 10:31).

If your parents have told you that you can't have social media accounts, you must respect and obey their house rules (Ephesians 6:1). But if they have given the OK, I encourage you to ask yourself "Why?" before you make any decisions!

TL;DR

Social media (Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.) falls into a category of things which Paul calls "permissible" (1 Corinthians 10:23) because it is not identified in the Bible as a sin, not inherently linked with immoral behaviour, nor necessarily detrimental to your faith. However, as a Christian, you must have thoughtful, beneficial reasons for what you do (1 Corinthians 10:31). If your parents have given the OK, examine your heart and motivations for why you want social media accounts to determine if social media is right for you.

By: M. A. Craig

M. A. Craig loves the outdoors (not great when you live in rainy Northern Ireland). He is a follower of Jesus, husband to Chloe, theologian, writer, and "father" to Lucy the pug.

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