Comment in Moderation: My Policies

Counting its previous iteration on a different platform, I have been running this blog for over ten years. It has always been my policy to moderate every comment before allowing it to appear in the comments section that follows each article. This policy has upset some people, so I decided to write this post to explain my blog’s guidelines regarding comments and the reasoning behind them.

In short, I will be more likely to approve your comment if you follow these three principles:

  • Keep it civil toward me and others.
  • Be respectful of my time.
  • Stay on point.

The Moderation Queue

After someone leaves a comment, it immediately enters moderation. I receive an email with the content of the comment and the name and email address of the person who commented. The following email is also sent to the person who left the comment:

You recently followed one of my posts or left a comment on one of them. This means you will receive an email when new comments are posted.

If you left a comment, please understand that no comment will be posted on the site until it is approved by a moderator. This may take a few weeks, so please be patient. With rare exceptions, only civil comments that contribute to the discussion will be approved. Cursing, name-calling, and other personal attacks will not be tolerated. For more details about my policy on comments, please see

To activate, click confirm below. If you believe this is an error, ignore this message and we’ll never bother you again.

The second paragraph in the blockquote was added on October 6, 2020. I assumed the message already included details about the comment being in moderation, but when I discovered that it didn’t, I added it to avoid any further misunderstanding.

If the commenter looks for their comment on the page, they should be able to see it immediately along with the words “Your comment is awaiting moderation” underneath their name and the date and time at which they left the comment. That should be an indication that the comment has not been deleted. I believe this goes away once the person leaves the page and returns, so that might be the reason some people think that I deleted the comment.

I try my best to moderate the comments in a timely manner, but there have been times when I need to reply to dozens of them and I simply do not have time to get to all of them immediately. For example, shortly after the Ark Encounter opened, I wrote a blog post about the privilege of taking a group of over 20 atheist and/or agnostic protesters on a tour of the Ark on opening day. That post went viral, and I received scores of comments in a couple of days. One skeptic was angry that I did not respond to him as fast as he wanted (less than 24 hours), so he spread lies about me on Facebook and on his website. Sadly, some Christians have behaved in a similar fashion.

Why Do I Moderate Comments?

There are several reasons that I moderate comments. First, it gives me an opportunity to filter out those that are inappropriate for the blog. For example, I have a spam filter set up on my blog that blocks dozens, sometimes hundreds, of spam messages per day. How many times do you check comments on news pages or blogs that are loaded with “Earn $40k per month working from home…” or something similar? Well, if any of these get past the spam filter, I can delete them and you won’t see any of these on my page. In fact, as I finished this paragraph, I received an email with a spam comment about gambling that had made it past the filter. Also, there have been some people who leave comments filled with cursing and other inappropriate language. Some skeptics have commented with extremely vile things about Jesus that no one should have to read.

Second, there are times when well-intentioned believers leave comments loaded with extremely shoddy theology. I usually don’t block those who disagree with me, but I often wait to approve these comments until I’ve had an opportunity to respond so that my readers will see at least two perspectives on that particular topic. And given the nature of some of my topics (Sons of God, Nephilim, etc.) there are plenty of comments that are quite bizarre. I am not interested in propagating wild speculations, so some of these comments simply do not make it through.

Third, there are times when I do not believe a given discussion is edifying for believers. The Bible has much to say about how believers should treat one another. Ephesians 4:15–16 instructs us to speak the truth in love, and it tells us that one of the reasons for that is for the growth and edification of the church in love. Galatians 6:10 tells us to do good to all people, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Dear Christian brothers and sisters, we are commanded to treat one another with love and respect, but most of us fall short of this at some point. This is what prompted me to write this post. In the past week, someone left multiple comments before I had an opportunity to respond. The person misrepresented what I had written, mocked me, accused me of blasphemy, called me Satan, and much more. I have now responded to a couple of the comments, but I do not intend to approve or reply to any others, unless the person behaves in a manner that will edify the church. If you are going to automatically assume the worst about me, then there is no point in trying to have a conversation. 2 Timothy 2:23–24 states that we are not to be quarrelsome but should teach and correct with kindness and patience. Bickering amongst each other causes strife in the body of Christ and gives unbelievers a poor representation of Christ. Conversely, civil and respectful discussion of our differences can set a great example to others and lead to greater understanding.

Fourth, many of my posts have been around for several years and a few have garnered hundreds of comments. I’ve thought about closing the comments for these because so many of them coming in now simply repeat what has already been said. If you decide to comment, and you simply repeat the same argument(s) that I have already responded to multiple times in the comments section, then there is a chance I won’t approve it. Please take some time to read through some of the comments to see if someone has already made the same point or asked the same question. There is no need for you and me to “reinvent the wheel” by having the same discussion that is already in the comments.

Reading through the comments might also keep you from making the same mistakes as others. I cannot count the number of times readers accuse me of saying something that is not stated in the post. Ironically, there are times when they attack me because they think I didn’t say what they think I should have, and yet the words are right there in the post. So, please read the post carefully, peruse the comments, and don’t automatically assume the worst about someone who might happen to disagree with you.

Finally, this might seem obvious, but it needs to be stated. This is my blog, and I am not obligated to approve any comments. There are some people who seem to think that freedom of speech means that I need to approve everything they write on my blog. In fact, one person told me this in a comment that (perhaps it goes without saying) was not approved. Others seem to think that they should be able to turn my page into their own forum for advertising their personal product, ideas, or website. This is why I nearly always edit out links to products or other websites in the comments. Some leave multiple comments that are nearly as long or longer than my posts, and then they get upset if I don’t approve and/or respond to them within 12 hours. I’m sorry, but this is my blog—not yours. I have built up a certain audience over the years, and you do not have the right to come onto my page and constantly push your ideas. You can always start your own blog.

Do I Allow People to Disagree with Me?

I am open to discussions, and I’m willing to debate with those who disagree with me. But it needs to happen in a civil manner. If you just call me names and attack me personally, then it’s very likely your comment(s) will not be approved. Also, the people who are respectful of my time are more likely to be approved. This means that they discuss things at a pace I am able to keep up with. I operate this blog on my own time, and due to my many writing projects, I haven’t had a lot of free time lately. That’s why this is only the fourth post of the year. Yeah, it’s pretty pathetic, I know. I’d like to write at least one post every two weeks. Some people seem to think that I am required to give them my full attention when they write in. I’m sorry, but I am only one person (with a family, a full-time job, and a ministry on the side), and I cannot possibly keep up with multiple people who each demand hours of my time.

Read through the comments of some of my posts, and you’ll see that I’ve allowed comments from plenty of people who have disagreed with me. And in nearly every case, it’s because they have been civil and respectful of my time. Occasionally, I have approved nasty comments so that people can catch a glimpse of the things sent my way.

Also, there have been a few times where I have had to be pretty firm in my response(s) to people because they continued to violate some of the points I made earlier. One person repeatedly left very long comments after being asked not to do that. He kept making the same accusations over and over while refusing to respond to any of the points I made.  Because of this, I informed him that I would not be approving any more comments from him. What did he do? He sent in a long comment the next day repeating the same exact things.

Comment in Moderation

You may have noticed the double meaning of this title. When you leave a comment on my blog, your comment will automatically go into the moderation queue. Also, if you want me to reply in a timely manner, then please comment in moderation. That is, don’t overdo it and make huge demands on my time. There have been some cases when I would be quite interested in carrying on a discussion, but the other person demands more than I can give, by writing too much and too often.

And to believers in Jesus Christ who would like to comment, please follow the guidelines set forth in this post so that our discussion will edify the church and glorify our Savior.

Christians, Coronavirus, Masks, and Governing Authorities

I took this picture just before the first time I wore a mask to enter a store. This cool looking mask was made by my daughter.

Unless you’ve lived under the proverbial rock over the past few months, you’ve probably heard all sorts of responses concerning the mask debate in relation to COVID-19. Masks have become yet another issue added to the long list of topics that Americans (and others) divide over.

  • “I’ll never wear a mask.”
  • “Masks don’t prevent the spread of the virus and are harmful to the wearer over time.”
  • “Wear a mask. What’s the big deal? It’s just a simple way you can protect yourself and others.”
  • “You want people to die. That’s why you aren’t wearing a mask.”

Some responses from either side can sound rather reasonable and others are clearly over the top and irrational. There is enough video evidence to show that people can easily get carried away. Perhaps you’ve also watched an overly zealous individual ranting at unmasked adults or children about their alleged desire to kill others.

I’m not an expert on infectious diseases or constitutional law, so I’m not giving out health or legal advice. I will simply state that I’m not opposed to private businesses requiring masks or not requiring masks at their establishments. Beyond that, I’m not getting into the politics of this issue in this post. So if you’re thinking about leaving a comment about how everyone needs to wear masks or why the government is being tyrannical by requiring masks, please don’t bother. That is not the point here. I’m a Christian who has long been deeply concerned about how the Bible is frequently misused to support one side or the other on contentious issues (see my ongoing series on Commonly Misused Bible Verses), and that will be my focus here.

Obey Your Governing Authorities

One of the responses to the mask issue that I keep seeing on social media or hearing from others is that Christians are commanded to obey their governing authorities. Thus, if you’re a Christian living in a state under a mask mandate, then you’re told that you need to obey it or risk damaging your Christian testimony. And for good measure, you might be accused of not loving your fellow man.

To be sure, Christians are commanded to obey their governing authorities. Let’s look at a few passages that provide this instruction.

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. (Romans 13:1–2)

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. (Titus 3:1–2)

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. (1 Peter 2:13–14)

These passages seem to be quite clear. Both Paul and Peter, two of the leading apostles, instructed their readers to obey governing authorities. Paul goes as far as saying that those who resist these authorities are resisting an ordinance of God and bringing judgment on themselves. Could this be any clearer? Well, yes, actually it could be. If you think this settles the matter on whether Christians must always follow their governing authorities, you need to read some more about the men who wrote these verses.

Is there ever a time when it’s right for a Christian to refuse to comply with certain governing authorities? Must we always follow whatever our government commands? There are at least two important issues to consider before you cite one of the above verses as proof that Christians are obligated to follow a mask mandate.

First, the men who wrote these verses did not always comply with their governing authorities. These actions were not hypocritical, because in these various situations they had an obligation to follow a higher law. Most Christians would agree with the idea that we should follow the laws of the land unless they directly conflict with one of God’s commands. For example, if your governing authority tells you that you are not permitted to tell others about the gospel of Jesus Christ, Christians generally agree that in such extreme situations, we must obey God rather than man.

Peter’s Example

That was how Peter and John responded to their governing authorities when they were given this order.

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”
But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:27–29)

Notice, Peter and the other apostles (Paul was not an apostle yet) told their governing authorities that they would not refrain from telling the people about Jesus because the Lord had commanded them to preach the gospel. Thus, if they were to obey these men, then they would be guilty of disobeying God. In fact, Peter and John had previously informed the “rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas…” (Acts 4:5–6) that they needed to follow God’s commands instead of the council’s orders.

So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18–20)

Peter, John, and the other apostles certainly believed there was a higher law than the one set forth by the council, and so they refused to obey the council’s order and continued to teach in the name of Jesus. They were also willing to face the consequences for their “civil disobedience,” which in this case involved being arrested, imprisoned, and beaten (Acts 5:18, 40).

Paul’s Example

After being beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, Paul and Silas were miraculously freed from prison when the Lord caused an earthquake to open the prison’s doors. After Paul led the Philippian jailer to Christ that night, the civil authorities sought to send him and Silas away privately and sent officers to convey that message. So Paul and Silas were told by governing authorities that they needed to leave the city quietly, but Paul refused to do so. Instead, here is what happened next:

But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.” And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed. (Acts 16:37–40)

Paul could have quietly obeyed the orders sent to him from the town’s rulers, but he knew his rights as a Roman citizen had been violated the previous day and he insisted that the town’s leaders recognize those rights before he left on his own terms. He went to Lydia’s house to encourage the believers there, and then he departed from the town.

A similar event occurred in Jerusalem as a mob sought to kill Paul near the temple (Acts 21:30–31). He was rescued by a Roman commander who brought him to the barracks and ordered that he be scourged. Paul once again appealed to his Roman citizenship, asking if it was lawful to scourge a Roman citizen who had not been found guilty of a crime. Upon ascertaining that Paul was indeed a citizen, the commander relented.

Paul later used his rights during a trial to appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:11). We see at least three different times in Acts when Paul appealed to his rights as a Roman citizen to prevent local magistrates from carrying out illegal orders.

Two Sides of the Modern Mandate Debate

You might be wondering how Paul’s example ties in with the mask mandate. In some cases, it may not be applicable, but in others it is directly applicable. Again, I’m not a legal scholar, but I do know that the U.S. Constitution is a higher authority than local rulers when it comes to the laws of the United States. Thus, if the Constitution guarantees certain rights, then local authorities do not have the power to override those rights. Furthermore, if mandates from lesser authorities contradict the rulings of higher authorities within that jurisdiction, then those mandates are not binding.

Before you jump to conclusions, I’m not claiming that the U.S. Constitution tells us whether we must wear masks or that we can never be made to wear them. That isn’t my point. There are certain states where governors have overstepped the authority given to them by the people of their state. For example, when the coronavirus shutdowns started across the nation, Wisconsin’s governor, Tony Evers, issued a “safer at home” order in the middle of March, and eventually he attempted to extend that mandate until May 26. The problem was that Wisconsin laws only permitted the governor to issue such emergency declarations for a maximum of 60 days. Thus, assuming for the sake of argument that it was legal for him to issue such a shutdown in the first place, the legal basis for Evers’ mandate expired on May 13.

Let’s assume that the Wisconsin Supreme Court had not stepped in and overruled Evers. Would Christians have the right to disobey their governor beginning on May 13? Some believers surely would cite Romans 13, claiming that we need to obey our governing authorities. The problem in this particular case is that the higher authority, the law in Wisconsin, was crystal clear that Evers had no authority to extend such a declaration beyond May 13. Thus, Christians in Wisconsin who defied the governor once the 60 days had passed would actually be following their governing authorities. Similar cases can be found in other states. When governors issue orders that are contrary to the laws that they are supposed to uphold, then Christians and non-Christians alike have every right to stand against unjust mandates. To follow Paul’s example, they are appealing to higher authorities and their rights as citizens.

I have seen numerous people telling others that they need to obey the law and wear the mask, but in many of these cases, there is no law requiring masks. These are often temporary mandates issued by certain authorities, and they were never passed by the state’s legislature. Thus, they are not laws. However, the legislatures in some states have given their governors the authority to enact such policies. So, unless those orders do not conflict with higher laws, such as the Constitution, then Christians (and others) in those states would be obligated to comply with the mandates.

Let’s try to summarize this. Just because a local authority issues a mandate, it does not necessarily mean that all people are instantly obligated to follow it, regardless of whether you think the policy is good. In this nation, we have different levels of authorities, from municipalities all the way up to federal. For the most part, local authorities have the right to enact laws for the people in their jurisdiction, unless those laws contradict the guaranteed rights under a higher law.

Appeal to Christians

Jesus taught His followers to love one another, love your neighbor, and love your enemies. That pretty much covers everyone. These principles must guide us as we attempt to discern how to properly respond to mask mandates and other changes that seem to attack the freedoms we cherish. One side will claim that wearing a mask is a form of loving your neighbor because you are trying to prevent the spread of the disease and are potentially saving lives. But on the other hand, there are certain health risks associated with frequently wearing masks, especially for some individuals. So, in these cases, to truly love these neighbors would mean not requiring them to wear masks. Additionally, mental health issues, drug overdoses, and suicides have reportedly skyrocketed during the shutdowns.

So, those who favor the shutdowns in order to love and protect our neighbors from the coronavirus are not always being very loving when it comes to those who have suffered greatly as a result of the shutdowns and mandates. In other words, issues like these are often quite complex, and if someone happens to disagree with you, it isn’t necessarily because they don’t care about people. It’s possible that they care deeply about people and have very good reasons for holding an opposing view. In fact, they might hold a position that is more in line with Scripture and with science.

Keep in mind that there are complex legal dilemmas at play in some cases. In other cases, the laws are rather clear. In all cases, Christians should seek to understand where people are coming from, show love and kindness to those who disagree, and refrain from misusing the Bible by quoting biblical passages that may irrelevant to the current situation.