The first three general principles have already been explained in the Comment Policy. Essentially, these principles capture these two scriptures:
In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets.
—Matthew 7:12 (NET)
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
—Colossians 3:17 (NLT)
Here are those three principles again:
- Practice the Golden Rule. Treat others the way that you wish to be treated. This rule also applies to arguments and ideas: Treat other peoples’ ideas the way that you would like yours to be treated.
- Stick to the arguments. Theological hatred (odium theologicum) will not be tolerated. Attacking other individuals personally is unacceptable in discussions and debates.
- Avoid filthy language. This includes profanity and sexual language (including innuendo).
The next several general rules for the live chat server are inspired by Romans 12-15:13. (I highly recommend that everybody read this section of Scripture and keep it in mind.) There Paul begins:
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Being conformed to this world means taking on its practices. Following from this idea and from Rule #3 above, I suggest the following:
- Avoid filthy content. Do not use sexually suggestive names, messages, or links. Linking to a sexually explicit content will result in an immediate, permanent ban.
Paul then goes on to describe how people should behave with (1) humility and (2) love.
For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith. . . . Do not be conceited.
—Romans 12:3, 16b (NET)
- Practice humility. Paul gives an excellent definition of humility in verse 3. To be humble is to have a proper view of oneself. This principle has several corollaries:
(a) Don’t pretend to be smarter than you are. This statement is self-explanatory. But it also means that everyone should avoid deliberately using another person’s ideas and passing them of as one’s own. That is plagiarism, by definition.
(b) Be tentative in your opinions. Nobody knows everything. Few know a lot about a single thing. Even fewer know a lot about many things. Be aware of your limitations of knowledge.
- Be honest with others. This is a part of Rule #5 and Rule #1. Really, all malicious deception should be avoided. This also means that sources should be cited (within reason) when you are offering arguments for your beliefs.
- Seek peace and love. Being a part of a community means that we have to learn to “live peaceably with all people” (Romans 12:18, NET). If you seek peace and love in all of your discussions, your ideas will be more readily received.
- Obey the law. Paul goes on to say in Romans 13:1 to “be subject to the governing authorities” (NET). Obey the laws of your country as you engage in online communication. For our purposes, this primary means to avoid sharing copywritten material without permission.
- Use common sense. This implies three things: (1) If it feels wrong, it probably is. (2) If it is annoying, it will probably get you kicked or banned. (3) Get help when it is needed, from where it is needed. Don’t contact server administrators for technical help. Discord has plenty of resources for that.