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Most websites that encourage serious dialogue provide a standard of expectations on how visitors and members should interact with one another. These standards are usually pretty similar in content. For example, participants are told to be respectful of each other's viewpoints, to seek first to understand, and to avoid making personal attacks.

While I think some community conversation codes can become condescending and/or exhaustingly detailed, I don't think it's a bad idea to consider what standards we expect of ourselves and others who interact with us on a website.

My community guidelines are drawn from Scripture. Here are a few of them, in no particular order:

  1. "Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." Ephesians 4:29

  2. "Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly." 1 Timothy 4:7

  3. "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25.

  4. "You must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way." 1 Peter 3:15-16a.

The point of these verses should be obvious. In our conversations with one another we should communicate in such a way that we are trying to build each other up and show love. Even when we disagree, the goal is not to prove the other person wrong, but instead to offer a different perspective in a way that can win over the other person and demonstrate our concern for them.

We don't need to pretend that no differences exist between us, nor should we try to surround ourselves only with those who share our viewpoints. Paul the Apostle suggests that differences may even be positive (see 1 Corinthians 11:19). The key is how we acknowledge and address these differences of opinion. As the author and moderator of this website, it is my goal to encourage participants to remember and uphold these biblical principles.

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