Love Thy (Online) Neighbor

How far should we go when responding to questions or criticism?

We’ve all had our moments – when someone attacks us with a comment of such sheer stupidity that you just can’t let it slide. So rather than be outright mean, we just answer in a condescending, snarky way that nails them – and at the same time puts them in their place. (And firmly establishes our intellectual superiority.)

I could name a few very intelligent Christians who do it regularly. It could be those who are so sure of their theology, they just can’t let any of those heretics get by. It’s also a regular tool for Christians who are trying WAY too hard to appear liberal and broadminded – and are happy to put those of of us who are just too narrow in our place. And it certainly happens on a wide range of topics from politics, to culture, to theology, to movie reviews.

They can often be very funny, but is that really the way Christians should respond?

Like I said, I’m as guilty as anybody, but in almost every case, I immediately feel badly about it. I may feel great for a moment, but the minute I hit “Send,” conviction starts creeping in.

And I hate seeing people I know end up on the losing end of the stick when they simply brought up an honest question to someone they admired – only to get slammed for it.

Looking over a number of those posts recently, I just wonder what the rest of the world thinks. When our answers to each other (and to non-believers) are so condescending – even hostile – I can’t help but wonder if outsiders look at us and see no difference between us and the world.

I’m not making a point here, I’m just thinking out loud. And in that process, thinking that I could do a much better job of responding to questions and even criticism with a little more grace.

After all, there’s a difference between answers that make people think, and answers that humiliate.

And I’ve never met anyone who accepted Christ because he or she was embarrassed into the decision.

Read more from Phil Cooke »

This article originally appeared on and is reposted here by permission.

Phil Cooke
Phil Cooke

Phil Cooke is a filmmaker, media consultant and founder of Cooke Media Group in Los Angeles, California. His latest book is Ideas on a Deadline: How to Be Creative When the Clock is Ticking. Find out more at