1. Sin does not live inside of technology or things. Computers do not make us sin. Cars do not make us sin. Sin is always what we do with things and how we corrupt them. Someone who gets rid of their TV is not getting rid of sin. They are putting one particular area of temptation out of reach. This is not bad. It will prevent sinning. But it is not a permanent answer. If a man lacks self-control with his computer, he does not gain self-control by getting rid of the computer. But he does close a gate where his lack of self-control tended to take him off the right road. The important thing to remember is the computer was not the problem. The man is. A righteous man will recognize those situations where he is tempted and avoid them. But a righteous man will also know that the sin and temptation are in his own heart not in the machine.
2. Though sin does not live inside of machines, etc. technology does have direction. It shapes our lives in particular ways. The biggest problem Christians have is we don’t think about how technology shapes our lives. We just keep buying things and using things without a care for how they are changing the way we think and live. Technology rules over us instead of us ruling over it. We fail to be faithful kings and priests with our technology.
a. Example: How has our world changed by the automobile? We used to rarely travel outside of our community. People could live their entire lives and never leave their city or town. Teens would not be able to travel to other cities. We could not drive 45 minutes to a church that we liked better. We could not move across the country in a couple of days. Much of what we bought, especially food, was bought locally because there was not any way to ship it. Now I can get food from all over the world. The automobile has completely reshaped our lives. How does this reshaping hurt the Christian life? How does it help? We need to ask these types of questions. Unfortunately we rarely do.
b. Example 2: What happens when we substitute a teacher on video for a teacher in the classroom? How does this reshape the learning experience? Is it good or bad? How should we as Christians approach video technology like this?
3. With all technology something is gained and something is lost. Figure out what it is. Should what was lost be kept? Is the gain worth it? Should we actually desire what the new technology is giving us?
a. Example: For hundreds of years men and women farmed. Some farmed for their family. Others farmed for their community. But farming, or something like it, was essential to the life of most people. Now, due primarily to technology, farming represents a very small percentage of our population. That, by itself, is not bad. But something was lost when we made the transition from plowing to typing. Should what was lost with farming be kept? I think the answer is yes. We need ask these types of questions.
4. Here are some current dangers with technology, especially the internet, cell phones, etc.
a. We think we are connected with other people, but it is only an illusion. We are only connected with their picture or voice.
b. Our lack of self-control with technology leads to laziness and squandering of time.
c. Everything has got to be fast. There is not time to slow down and go deep. We don’t stop and think about our lives and where they are going. We just go, go, go.
d. Those who sell technology try to cultivate in our hearts a deep desire to “keep up/be cool.” The Bible calls this greed or covetousness. There is nothing wrong with having an up to date phone or computer. But to long for and covet the latest thing is usually a sin. The eyes are never satisfied. (Proverbs 27:20) The advertisers know this.
e. We are too mentally scattered to be effective. This is closely related to “c” above. Instead of sitting down and spending a couple of hours focusing on one thing, we leap from thing to thing. We go to a friend’s house, but answer the cell phone several times while we are there. We are at the movies, but we are texting during it. We are working on a project in our cubicle, but we keep thinking about whether or not there is a new email. Our minds are fragmented. Focus has been lost.
How many of us have thought, if only I had been able to walk with Jesus to see his risen body, then I wouldn’t have to trust in anything but my own eyes. Dr. Leithart effectively counters this argument in his commentary on I John.
“We often think fondly of how wonderful it would have been to be alive in Palestine when Jesus was around. We would not have to believe on the testimony of anyone else. We could have seen all those miracles with our own eyes. We would not have to hear about people handling Jesus; we could have touched him with our own hands. We could have sat with him at a meal. But being there was not a guarantee of being a disciple. Many saw the miracles and either denied them, or found some alternative explanation for them, or hated Jesus for stirring the pot. Many people touched Jesus only to lay hands on him to arrest and kill him. Had we been there,we might well have been in the crowd clamoring to lynch him.” (Peter Leithart, Behind the Veil, p. 42)