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Anonymity is not a sin.

By Scott Tibbs, May 17, 2007

David Bayly again criticizes people who hide behind pseudonyms to make personal attacks or engage in other despicable behavior.

To expand on my comment on the blog, I wonder what David would say to someone who uses a pseudonym out of a justified fear that someone will go after him in real life. Taking precautions to protect one's identity is not just about the person posting, but also about his family. I simply do not agree that taking measures to protect yourself from demon-influenced people is evidence of a lack of faith.

I attach my name to what I post, but I fully understand why some people do not. Some of my critics have gone after me personally offline for things I have said online. These despicable attacks go far beyond a simple nasty e-mail message. Furthermore, it is not as simple as avoiding certain forums or blog comment sections when what enrages people is on your personal blog.

Yes, anonymity and sin are closely tied to each other, on the Internet and elsewhere. The most prominent example I can think of is pornography. Every time a technology is invented to allow people to access pornographic material in secrecy, the so-called "adult" industry has jumped on it. From the VCR and DVD players to the explosion of pornography on the Internet, shame loves the shadows.

However, the presence of anonymity does not necessarily mean that there is sin behind what the masked man is doing.

Yes, I understand that David is posting a general principle in his post. In general, anonymity is a problem because it creates an opportunity for people say and do things that they would normally never do. Many people who write despicable things would never think of doing so if their real names were attached to those comments.

Therefore, anonymity must be approached with wisdom and discernment. It is critical for a Christian to think about what he is saying and whether he would be ashamed if his pastor or grandmother read what he is writing.

Part of the responsibility for a civil comment section lies with the forum or blog administrator. I allow users on Multi-Level Political Debate, to post under a pseudonym, but I also have a set of rules that posters must follow in order to participate. Whether someone is posting from behind a "mask" or using his full name, it is my responsibility as Administrator to keep things from getting out of hand.

I think David's blanket condemnation of anonymity ignores the very real and very legitimate reasons many do not want to use their real names. Anonymity in and of itself is not a sin, and Christians must be very careful not to condemn anything as sinful that is not condemned as sin by the Word of God.

Finally, I would point out that two of the nastiest, most vile, most despicable individuals I have ever encountered have used their real names online.