“If Lucy found her teenagers plopped on the couch with some iThing (also bought with their own money) she asked for the hundredth time: “Is this contributing to truth, beauty, and justice? Is this contributing to your self-improvement? If not, put the …thing away. Now.” I thought it might be interesting to begin with some words of an unchurched mother instead of with a text. Later on mother Lucy explained to her guest, “The Internet has been a major disservice to the culture, because we are humans and we can’t control our impulses that don’t help us be better people, but they help us to be lazier, dumber, fatter. We need an edge, we need to be hungry. Then we’re healthier and smarter, and behave better.”1
The Internet: Who can do without it? How do you keep in touch? How do you send information (and selfies) quickly and cheaply? The Internet is there to serve us, is it not? Who says that I am its slave? Hold it, my iPhone just tinged, must be another email, have to check it, could be something I just have to know, I’ll just be a minute…
Sorry it took so long. There was such a cute game advertised that I just had to look at it. What do you mean that proves it? Proves what? I could have just deleted it, sure. I am a free human. Every time I pick up my gadget, it is because I want to, not because I have to… I am perfectly able to leave it alone. See?
But here is a confession of the author of the book I just quoted: “C. S. Lewis wrote of temptation, ‘No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.’ What a prig! In my two decades as a bachelor I’d considered temptation a fuddy-duddy myth. I partook in whatever I wanted: drink, drugs, daydreams. When I witnessed friends become drunks or problem gamblers, I was mystified. Because to me the amount I drank and gambled and caroused seemed just about right. But now I saw that the reason temptation had never bedevilled me was that I’d never had reason to fight it. ‘Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is,’ wrote Lewis. ‘A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later.’”2
And if you do not know what it would have been like an hour later, then try to go through a whole day holding out against that temptation, whether it be beer or pot or texting. Why do you think so many people keep texting while driving? Then the urge or the push from within becomes so strong that you realize that you really are not a free person any more. Whether it is texting or Facebook or games, many people find that they are no longer free people. D.A. Carson writes, ”For Jesus,… the ultimate bondage is not enslavement to a political or economic system, but vicious slavery to moral failure, to rebellion against the God who has made us.”3
We may think it a little over the top to think of giving in to the Internet as rebelling against the LORD God. But think again of Lucy: Am I going on the Internet for something contributing to truth, beauty, and justice. Is it for my self-improvement? Could I not use my time more constructively? Now I am already getting itchy, saying that it is too pious to talk about going on the Internet as rebelling against the LORD God. For my thin skin already shows and the reason that I am getting upset is “shameful self-centeredness,” saying to myself, that there is nothing wrong with what I are doing, and that I have every right to do what I am doing. But the more I do it, the more I like what I am doing, the more I tell myself that it is alright to do this, I have had a rough day, I deserve this break, and so I am more and more sucked into this whole Internet world and atmosphere. And when I try to stay away from it for even twelve hours it is more than I can handle. Just play a game to relax, which turns out to be two (or three or who knows how many). Check out new videos on YouTube, although some of them are less than appropriate, for sure. And before I know it the Internet has become so much part of my daily life that I do not have the strength to break free from it. That means that my Internet connection now really has become sin. For as a Christian believer I am to have only one Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ. But now there is this other master, the Internet, with which I am continually involved. “Characteristic and continuous involvement in sin not only shows that one is a slave to sin, but also that this sinful behaviour actively enslaves. Such a person finds it impossible to break away from that slavery to sin by even the most determined unaided human effort.”4
It is good to listen here once again to the paraphrase of Romans 12:1–2 by J. B. Phillips: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves toward the goal of true maturity.” For that is the great danger these days. Except for SermonAudio and some Christian websites, the Internet is basically the world. And much of the stuff we expose ourselves to does not present to us the Lord Jesus Christ, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. “Conformity to this world involves being continually moulded by this present evil age with its standards of values. Pressures to this conformity are constantly present, powerful, and often seemingly attractive.”5
Perhaps you are not convinced of the danger of becoming enslaved to the Internet. But if there are no dangers, why as of 2015 were there fifteen hundred clinics opened in China to treat people with Internet addiction? Why are more people killed these days on Canadian roads because of texting behind the wheel than die because of drunk driving? “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). Or as The Message puts it, “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand. Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”
To read more on our series called, “Help!” you can also click the tag “Help!” below.
Sundeen, Mark. The Unsettlers. In Search of the Good Life in Today’s America (kindle locations 1378-1382) Penguin Publ. Group. Kindle Edition. ↩
Sundeen, Mark. The Unsettlers: Kindle Edition. Loc. 406 ↩
D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Pillar New Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 350. Quoted in Eldon Woodcock PH. D.. Hell: An Exhaustive Look at a Burning Issue (Kindle Locations 5719-24). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition. ↩
Eldon Woodcock PhD. Hell: An Exhaustive Look at a Burning Issue (Kindle Locations 7009-7011). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition. ↩