Thoughtful Pastor: Facebook fights and prayers for the dead

February 1st, 2016

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: I’m torn between being reactive and being Christian and taking the ‘high road’.

My predicament. Last night as I reviewed my Facebook news feed, I saw a friend’s post and immediately felt compelled to post something nasty back. My friend said he should unfriend “my leftist liberal fb friends!” Further comments followed such as “they are afraid to confront me about it! LOL.” A few of his friends agreed, validating his suggestion to unfriend those that are liberal or on the left.

My first reaction was of utter disgust followed by: “Wow, these ‘friends’ I grew up with, how can they be so blind? Is this now what we are basing friendships on? Political sides?”

Personally, I consider myself neither left or right, conservative or liberal. Most importantly, being conservative or liberal does not define and/or confirm my Christianity.

So what should I do?

  1. Just let it go and be silent. 
  2. Quietly unfriend him. 
  3. Delete my Facebook account. 
  4. Brief response quoting Christian values/scriptures. 
  5. First reaction. 
  6. Better response than above.

Yeah, Facebook is a hotbed of political cartoons, memes, put-downs, “gotcha” quotes, and remarkable intolerance for those who disagree on anything.

I used to describe Facebook as today’s equivalent of the neighborly fence where in days of yore we would chat a bit, check in with one another about family concerns and then get back to our routines. Now, it is a platform to see who can out-shout or fatally wound the other.

And it's going to get worse until next November. Sigh.

One thing I know from painful experience: Never get into a Facebook argument, especially over politics or religion or, even worse, politics AND religion. Never. Ever. Do. This.

How valuable is the friendship to you? Do you feel any significant sense of loss at never being in conversation with him again?

If no, consider quietly unfriending him. Life is too short and emotional energy too precious to waste it on stuff like this.

If yes, if you believe you have a reason to maintain the friendship, then calmly state your position. Explain that your Christianity is not defined by your political stances. Offer to remain friends and ask for dialogue about the nature of your friendship.

If he persists in labeling, name-calling, and other derogatory comments, simply unfriend him with no further comment.

Use social media the way you want to. Life has enough problems without letting someone who persists in dishonoring us drain our souls. 

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: What does the bible say about praying for those who are deceased? We lost our 30-year-old son in 2014 and I find myself still praying for him. Is that weird? My mom still prays for him and his wife and daughter. Would love to hear your thoughts.

I am so sorry about the loss of your son — how incredibly painful. I can understand that he stays so much in your mind and prayers.

The only thing I can find in the Bible that might speak about praying for the dead is an obscure reference in 2 Timothy. The author, identified as Paul, asks for mercy for the household of Onesiphorus. Apparently Onesiphorus had offered refreshment to Paul during the time of Paul’s Roman imprisonment. There is some slight indication that Onesiphorus had already died at the time the letter was penned, but there is no scholarly agreement on that point.

Despite the paucity of scriptural support, some faith traditions, particularly Roman Catholic, do indeed provide prayers for the dead as they make their way through purgatory. The Mormons regularly perform proxy baptisms for the dead as well.

Christy Thomas

Personally, I think that you and your mother should continue the practice as long as you need to. I love the Scripture that reads, “In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, because he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will.” (Romans 8:26-27, CEB).

How comforting that the Spirit does my praying for me! I often find myself at a loss for words when in deep distress. To know that we are carried by something greater than we can think or imagine gives peace in a way nothing else can.

So pray. Pray for your son. You might add prayers for others who are facing their own unbearable losses. Pray for the brokenhearted, the wounded, the oppressed, the despairing. It could be that your loss here will open the door to a ministry of prayer you had never considered before.

No matter what, continue to pray until you have the freedom to release him. You, and only you, will know when that day has come.

Email questions to A version of this column appeared in the Friday January 29, 2016 print and online editions of The Denton Record Chronicle. Christy blogs at

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