The Theology Of Social Media


Social media is quickly becoming the preferred medium for communication in today’s society. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have made their way into the modern vernacular and have been widely accepted as ways to connect with the world. Social media has created a multitude of methods to bring about a connection not seen before in the history of humanity. However, this desire to build a connection can form unhealthy practices and habits when using social media to feed your insecurities. 

Social media and the mechanics of it, plays into some of the fundamental needs a person has; their desire to be heard, to be noticed, and to be loved, or to put it simply, a desire for an intimate relationship. This desire is acknowledged various times in the Bible for example when God meets Abraham (Gen 18), God sends Jesus to Earth (Jn 3:16), Paul longs to meet the Thessalonians again (1 Thes 2:17). When analysing the text a pattern appears, showing that true intimacy is developed through a physical face-to-face relationship. Whether it was angels, prophets of the Old Testament or letters, a strong intimate relationship is primarily established through a face-to-face interaction. Other means of communication serve as a complementary but not substitutional purpose for building relationships. Intimacy is more than a transfer of information, but is based on a mutual relationship marked by closeness, trust and affection (Ps 73:28, Jam 4:8).

Where does this leave us? Social media, like most things, can be used for good and evil, but it remains neutral. It is simply the latest part in the development of communication and is as neutral as letter writing, text messaging or phone calls. 1 Tim 6:10 says that our relationship with money determines if it is good or evil, similarly we should examine our relationship with social media. We need to start asking the more confronting questions. 

  • Q: Am I seeking attention or building relationships? Social media gives us the ability to get the attention we think we need, but leaves us void of the intimate relationships we desire. 
  • Have I replaced personal connections with public announcements?
  • Are the things I post a reflection of who I really am or a projection of who I am pretending to be?
  • Q: Am I being a fool with my posts? Pro 18:2 ‘Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions’. 

It is important to recognise that social media is not the enemy, it is a tool that God has given us to influence the world, but we do need to be wise in how we use it. Reflecting on our relationship with social media with the help of the Holy Spirit will bring clarity on this topic. The truth is, if we need to take a break away from certain platforms and re-establish our relationships with God and people, then this is what we need to do. If we need to leverage the reach of social media and have a larger online presence, lets bring glory to God as we go about it. Let God reveal to us what our next steps should be.

James SchleusenerComment