Quick question. I hope you will answer. Is it wrong to reply to those on the internet who attack the church? More and more attacks are directed against the church each day, especially online. It saddens me to hear such ugly attacks against the church I love and its true precepts. My wife wonders why I bother to respond. Is it wrong and/or dangerous to bear testimony and denounce attacks in an online setting? Thanks so much.
When pondering your question, here are a few principles I consider:
- Defending the truth is never wrong, but the truth does not always need to be defended.
- There were times when Christ and His chosen servants kept quiet rather than talk uselessly.
- Getting defensive is almost always counterproductive.
- Bearing testimony should be done under direction of the Spirit, lest we cast our most valuable pearls before swine and thus desecrate what should be kept sacred.
With these principles in mind, my answer to your question becomes a wishy-washy-sounding “It depends.” There are times when a spirited defense of the Church may be called for, such as perhaps when someone young and tender in the faith is beset by those teaching lies about the Church. In many other cases, a calm and reasoned response can do a great deal more good, allowing the hearers to feel the truth of the testimony. And in cases where people are interested only in establishing their opinions and have no actual interest in searching truth, the best course is often to keep quiet and leave.
In the April 2014 General Conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:
“Defend your beliefs with courtesy and compassion, but defend them.”
In short, each case must be judged on its own merits. It’s impossible to give a blanket rule about whether we should or should not voice a defense against falsehoods leveled at the Church or its members. This is one reason we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost at baptism, and a good example of why we need to develop the gift of discernment.