I’m increasingly convinced that hand-held wireless devices are the most dangerous gateways to sexual sin for many teenagers and young-to-middle-age professionals. Marijuana is often referred to as the gateway drug (leading to other more harsh forms of substance abuse); I would argue that pornography is a gateway to more harmful sexual sins. Never before has this gateway been more accessible than now, through these portable devices.
I must point out that internet-accessible phones are not the only hand-held devices in view here. PDA’s, Play Station Portables (psp), iPod Touch, and several other small electronics are able to join wireless networks to access internet content at high-speeds. Popularity and portability of these devices make them unusually prevalent temptations, especially due to the increasing availability of high-speed internet access and the perceived anonymity that accompanies portable devices.
Think about it. Free wireless, high-speed internet is everywhere. Public libraries, hotels, coffee shops, residential houses, and fast-food restaurants are just a few “hotspots”. Imagine telling a drug addict “You can get high just by going to a McDonalds. All you need is this special pipe to inhale the fumes.”
With a laptop, all you need is a wireless hot spot. With a wireless phone (iPhones, blackberries, sidekicks, etc.) you don’t even need that! You have a device to take with you anywhere you have cell service.
Christians know that anonymity doesn’t truly exist in our universe ruled by an omniscient God. But we must recognize that perceived anonymity is deadly. When we’re alone and left to be our own lord, we can find justification for anything. Whether it’s viewing a website or eating fruit, we often cling to the words of the serpent “did God really say…?”. Perceived anonymity in the area of sexual sin comprises an especially toxic poison.
What could possibly feel more secure and anonymous than using a portable electronic device, pulling frequencies from the air for private consumption? Hand-held devices can be taken almost anywhere, so the temptation is constantly present.
More troubling is the fact that young people are particularly susceptible to perceived anonymity. A recent report reveals a shocking number of teenagers are trading nude photos via mobile text messaging services. Of course, what teens perceive as private can become more public than they ever imagined; photos can end up online or in predatory hands in a matter of seconds.
What Should We Do?
Should you get rid of your iPhone or wireless PDA? Should you forbid your children from owning a PSP? What should you do to guard yourself against these temptations? How can we protect our kids from these snares?
I can offer a couple thoughts, but would really like to hear from you. First, it’s a matter of knowing your own limits. If you can’t handle the temptation, then don’t try. Throw your Blackberry into a river (unless it’s company owned of course). Donate your iPhone to Will it Blend. Jesus said it’s better to enter His Kingdom with one eye than to have the whole body cast into Hell. If it’s true of an eye, I’m sure it’s true of your iPhone too.
Personally, I think 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 should be memorized by everyone with internet access. Reading or reciting Scripture out loud is a particularly effective weapon:
“Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything. “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”—but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:12-20; NIV)
If you’re like me and particularly protective of our children, good. They’re often the most neglected in this area for several reasons. We often pass them off as “just kids making mistakes”. Some of us are simply ignorant to the dangers they face in areas we never saw coming — but it’s time to wake up. Enormous portions of Scripture are devoted to teaching children wisdom. See Proverbs 7 for an entire chapter of a father teaching his son to flee the dangers of sexual sin. We cannot necessarily stop the influx of wireless signals available, or wireless devices ready to download any videos or images they’re directed to. But we can teach our children wisdom. We can be involved enough to limit their access and redirect their focus.
What are your thoughts? How can we protect ourselves? Our kids? Our congregations?