Not long after starting to write for Sabbath School Net just over four years ago, I was asked to help moderate comments on the blog posts. This has been an eye-opening experience for me. With comments from all parts of the world, I have encountered ideas from Scripture that I never would have thought of myself or heard by just going to my local Adventist church. Many of your names are familiar to me now, and when I see your comment in the queue, it is like seeing a familiar friend.
It it evident that for some who live in remote areas or are unable to attend Sabbath School, Sabbath School Net has become their actual Sabbath School class, and we try our best to make it just that. And just like a real Sabbath School class benefits from following rules of courteous interactions, which we sometimes call etiquette, so does Sabbath School Net. We even have comment guidelines to help you in this matter.
You may notice that we request full names when people fail to give them. In a real Sabbath School class, we use our real names, and with the thousands of people visiting our blog, the chance of others having the same first name is high. That’s why we ask for your last names as well.1 And we don’t accept names such as “child of God” or other “handles” that are not real names. Consider what you would think if someone visited your Sabbath School class in your church, but gave only some made-up name, rather than their real name. It would make you wonder about their motives, wouldn’t it? From experience we also know that people tend to be much more responsible in their commenting when they use their real names. This is why we ask you to supply your real first and last name.2
We do thank you all for commenting and joining our class discussions! And we especially want to thank the great majority of you for following the directions in the comment section by providing your real full name. We, as moderators and writers for Sabbath School Net, share our real full names with you, and we appreciate the same respect in return.
Courtesy also demands that we respect the opinions of others in a conversation, whether in face-to-face conversations or online. I will never forget the Sabbath School in which a teacher asked a question, and a man gave his answer. The teacher then asked the rest of the class what they thought. Then the man who originally answered then declared sternly, “I just told you the answer!” The teacher agreed but said he wanted to get everyone else’s ideas too.
Nobody likes a “know-it-all” in their class. Sabbath school time is more helpful when everyone listens and tries to understand each other, instead of one person trying to “school” everybody else. Nobody appreciates people who think they have all the truth and are the “next prophet.” And we will never learn and grow if we think our interpretation is the only one there is.3 Yes there are absolute truths in the Bible, but none of us are absolutely right about our understanding of biblical truth. Let’s be humble and share our understanding about Bible topics, without insisting that our understanding is the only right understanding.4
Continuing to argue for one’s own point of view is one way to dominate a discussion, but there are others as well. I remember an elderly lady in my class once who had lost her husband a couple years prior. She would go on and on talking about her late husband, getting us way off track with the lesson. I patiently listened, realizing she was still grieving. But then I realized something else. This lady was not the only person in my class who had lost a loved one in recent years. I did the math. If I gave each member the same amount of time in each class to talk about their lost loves, we would still be sitting in class while everyone else would already be finished with potluck! After allowing several opportunities for her to vent, I knew I had to keep the class on track with the topic that people had come to discuss. I could not allow one person to dominate the conversation. Doing so was not only rude to the others, but it did not result in balance.
A Sabbath School discussion provides an opportunity to share various views of the same truths. After having personal Bible studies with people, I am always happy when they come to church and meet other members who can mentor them as well, with different ideas than just mine. If my Bible study students only hear me talk, they will be more inclined to become like me instead of like Jesus. What a tragic mistake that would be! The church is the body of Christ, and to become like Christ we need to hear from His body and not just one person. So when commenting, please respect the comments of others. With this in mind please be clear but also as brief as possible. I also try to make my blog posts brief. Keep in mind that comments should not be longer than the actual post on which you are commenting. Just like we don’t appreciate one person dominating the entire class time, we also don’t appreciate it when one person dominates the comment section of a Sabbath School post by repeatedly arguing for the same view.
Again, thank you for being a part of our online Sabbath School family. Thank you for your comments, and for remembering our guide lines and being thoughtful and considerate when commenting, so that we can all enjoy and benefit from studying God’s Word together.
- Note that we ask for real first and last names at the top of our comment form. If you won’t show us the courtesy of complying with our specific request, please don’t expect to have your comments published. ↩
- If you have a legitimate reason to use a pseudonym, please let us know. We then expect you to use the same pseudonym each time you post here, and we would also expect that you use the same pseudonym when you post in other Adventist discussion groups, so that readers can identify you as a real person. ↩
- This kind of attitude sometimes shows up in comments that proclaim that opinions don’t matter, only the Bible matters, and the proceeding with a personal biblical interpretation. It is evident that such people think that they have the only correct interpretation of the Bible. ↩
- The attitude of “only my understanding is correct” shows up when the same person continues to present his/her views on the same topic, and that also results in that person dominating the topic. ↩