I am writing a multipart series on civility in online interactions.

Part 1: “Hate the sin, not the sinner

By default, ideas should be separated from the person. Personal beliefs are—at best—tangential to arguments. Attacking ideas means that no one is required to be involved in a discussion, even if the idea originated with them. The dignity of each person as a child of God is thus fully maintained by only attacking ideas. However, most people do not do this, but instead prefer Ad Hominem attacks, leading to personal conflict.

Part 2: “When to Get Personal” (Coming…)

There are two situations when ideas do not need to be separated from the person. The first is when giving advice and guidance. This normally requires the existing fellowship of a familial or friendly bond. It is not appropriate for confrontational situations. The second is when you are confronting a fellow Christian brother with his sin, and requires following the Matthew 18 Protocol. This will almost always be confrontational.

Part 3: “Social Conventions” (Coming…)

Social conventions are ideas that are forcibly applied to a person by social mandate.