In our social media culture, memes are a great way to make a joke and, many times, are a way to make a point. Consider the two memes above. (In the header image) They’re short, fit easily on your feed, and make a pretty clear point.

Each meme is attempting to start from the Christian perspective  and attack the opposing political party. Each one is claiming the truth of Christ while pointing out how their opponents are wrong. (Which is not necessarily a bad thing)

The problem with both of these memes, however, is that they contain the same logical fallacy, known as the false dichotomy. In other words, the meme makes it seem as if the poster must be right because there is only one other option, their opposition, and that second option is wrong. No third option is even considered. Both memes seem to express a deep point, but really, both of them are just illogical.

As Christians, we must be careful to avoid the danger of what I’ll call “meme theology” for a couple of reasons.

  1. Our theology and our worldview attempt to express the deepest, richest, and most complicated parts of reality. When we try to boil down these truth’s into the size of an image or a tweet, we either get stuck in a fallacy, like the memes above, or water down something deep and meaningful into something trite and weak.
  2. Memes like those above are not an effective way to love our neighbor. While some memes are just mean to be funny (here’s looking at you Babylon Bee) many are meant to be biting and hurtful, attempting to prove how stupid and foolish our opponents are. James 3 warns us of what the human tongue (ie our words) can do:

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life,[a] and set on fire by hell.[b] 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers,[c] these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

We see from clear warning from James to be mindful of what we say and what we communicate. James points out that many times we curse or humiliate others with our communication then turn around and bless God. How hypocritical is this?

I’m not saying we should never post a meme. Rather, if we want to love our neighbor and express the great and wonderful truth’s of the Christian faith, we must be incredibly mindful of what we choose to post. Instead of trying to boil down deeply important truths into a short image, why not reach out to someone you disagree with and have a conversation instead?

Additional Resources:

Conversations, Nuance, and Humility

Winsome Conviction