The Internet And Virtue

According to the internet, approximately 99% of all articles dealing with celibacy are related to the Catholic church and/or homosexuality. Meanwhile, protestants are grappling with gays in the Boy Scouts, support for Chick-fil-A, and preachers gone astray. Think about that. The headline issue of the day for Catholics is gay priests. The headline issue for Baptists is gay Boy Scouts. And the store managers are arguing about what to do with the teenager who stole the candy bar while somebody walks out the front door with the cash registers. One mark for Chick-fil-A. One mark against the Boy Scouts. One extra cookie for the internet.

Southern Baptists very rarely mention anything about human sexuality and virtue from the pulpit. Actually, all their churches are autonomous and are not required to follow any resolutions handed down from the SBC. In my 52 years in the Baptist church, I think I’ve heard two sermons on sexual ethics. They readily join the internet discussion, however, on gay rights and same sex marriage. However, such a reactionary approach will not carry their values to the next generation. There is nothing permanent about relative morality, allowing the scandal of the day to define standards, especially when it becomes a 24-hour news cycle on the internet.

More importantly, many churches today allow the scandal of the day to define their language – especially through the internet. Terms like adultery and fornication are long gone. And celibacy has gone the way of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. The only way they know how to communicate their positions on social issues is by responding to controversy, like gays in the Boy Scouts. Most Baptist church goers only find out about the SBC’s stand on important issues through cable TV, internet, and other media. And they tend to use their annual convention as a photo op for ethics reform. This year it was Boy Scouts. Next year it may be genetic cloning. They do not proactively communicate their values with language on their web site or elsewhere that includes celibacy, virginity, premarital sex, purity, loyalty, fidelity, loyalty, commitment, etc. As mentioned in a previous post, the SBC’s new ethics director (Russell Moore) has even recommended “premarital sex” be dropped from all conversation. Terms such as adultery and fornication, he says, need to be brought back. What a mind blowing idea. I’m sure that will happen overnight.

I’ve recently read several blogs dealing with virtue and Christian singleness. I guess the internet provides a degree of anonymity, allowing for such topics to be discussed. Not surprisingly, most are by young Catholic single ladies. One wrote she was waiting on a Catholic gentleman because only Catholic men wait until marriage before having sex. Really? If a virtuous Protestant single reaches a certain age and is still waiting, are they obligated to join the Catholic church to converse with other like minded people? Has the internet given churches a reason to continue to discriminate on the basis of age and gender? In my opinion, it has – especially social media. Churches feel more comfortable narrowing their local outreach because they feel the internet “will take care of everybody else.” Thus, more churches are focusing on international ministries – while neglecting their own community. Many Baptist churches now put more money in Annie Armstrong than they do their own youth programs. In their minds, teenagers don’t live across the street – they live on the internet. Is an address becoming a thing of the past?

I’ve often heard it said that what was right is now wrong and what was wrong is now right. It seems that the English language is full of examples. For instance, 30 years ago the word “virginity” was talked about with respect and dignity. Now it has been relegated to a vulgar word in locker room talk. Do an internet search on the word. Does anything look positive. Does anything look remotely Christian? For language to take a dramatic change like this in a short period of takes a gigantuous social phenomenon. What has allowed our language to be degraded and dumbed down in the last 50 years? What has allowed vulgarities to creep into our conversation? I think one of the largest contributors is the internet. It has allowed everybody to have a bully pulpit, so to speak. The internet today is slowly becoming another pornographic tool; ad-driven, porn sponsored, and money motivated. Everybody has jumped on board with a voice to be heard, an agenda to pursue. The child molester gets as much exposure as Mother Theresa. Every opinion is regarded as equal value, every idea a font size. Can the reality of your life be narrowed down to a point on a computer screen surrounded by pornographic images, the latest mattress sale, and male enhancement pills?

We need to consider the internet’s fleeting nature when defending Christian virtue and remember that a computer can never take the place of human reason. It will never be able to tell our children how far is too far, bring them to church on Sunday mornings, or teach them right from wrong.

I don’t allow cookies.

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