Elder Ballard encouraged us to use the Internet as a way to spread the gospel. Many of us have started blogs that share our testimony of Jesus Christ and our feelings about the Atonement, and it’s wonderful to see so many active and faithful Latter-day Saints taking this call seriously and using the tools they’ve been given to share their beliefs.
At the same time, many of those who have chosen to leave the Church or perhaps were never members are also using the Internet to share their feelings of negativity about the Church.
The Internet is open to all, and anyone who wishes to start a website or a blog is free to do so. You can cover all ranges of topics on your site, and you have the freedom of speech to say whatever it is you want to say. This means that while you have the right to share your testimony, others have the right to say whatever negative things they want about the Church, Joseph Smith, and even our Savior Himself. Sometimes their expressions are mildly put, and sometimes they are quite vehement.
It’s important that we not enter into debates with those whose beliefs are so contradictory to our own. Often, these persons have made up their minds very decidedly and to try to explain things to them will only lead to a full-on argument that will foster contention and anger. If we are using our blogs or websites as missionary tools, we should understand how crucial it is to create an atmosphere where the Holy Ghost can reach our readers. We can’t convert anyone. It’s only through the testifying power of the Holy Ghost that anyone can come to a belief in Jesus Christ, and if we allow or promote contention on our sites, we’re behaving counterproductively. The Holy Ghost cannot be present where contention is allowed.
I would recommend using the moderation feature on your blog. If you get a comment from someone whose aim is to argue and contend, feel free to delete that comment rather than posting it. If you receive a comment from someone who seems genuinely interested in discussing an area of the gospel they don’t understand, that’s a different scenario altogether.
You may find yourself wanting to answer one of the more vocal commenters on your blog. I urge you to pray before you do so. Ask the Lord to guide you in how to respond. We are to be defenders of our faith, but sometimes we need to know we’ve done all we can and to just walk away. Ask the Lord to help you determine if this comment should get a reply, or if it would lead to greater contention. If a person is absolutely convinced of their stand and they approach you with an attitude of contention, chances are quite good they aren’t willing to listen to your answer, anyway.
The Internet is a tremendous tool and we can use it to help spread word of the restored gospel. But let’s make sure that we are using it in the most positive, joyful way possible and that we set an example of courteous stewardship of our sites.
Tristi Pinkston is a full-time blogger at Families.com. Click here to read more of her articles.