EXCHANGING GOLD FOR DROSS?
It was way back in the early part of this decade when a Pastor in the church I attended, emphatically 'prophesied' during the Sunday sermon, "They'll bring every kind of filth-pipe it into your bed rooms…"
It is 2008 now, and according to news reports, the country's internet population has grown 700% since 2000. And there is still plenty of room. Let us look at the numbers...
Of the more than 1.1 billion people who live in India, only 40 million (some reports peg it at 60 million, which marks a 1100% increase over 2000) are online-only 3.5% of the total population. In mature Asian internet markets such as Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, there is a saturation rate of about 68%. Even if India reaches only 50% saturation over the next several years, this will mean more than 500 million new internet customers. We have the Government's National Internet Backbone project coupled with a host of private players ardently vying for this market. The 'pipes' are everywhere.
Power Of Choice
In one sense, the wires are neutral. And they offer staggering options-for business, information and entertainment. Even if we only consider the media resources, the variety ranges from enrichingly spiritual to extremely carnal. It is this power of choice which can, in a sense, be called the culprit. One is reminded of the adage-'With great power comes greater responsibility.'
How can a young man keep his way pure? The Psalmist asks and replies, "By living according to Your Word." He goes on to say, "I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands" (Psa. 119: 9, 10). 'Living' seems to be an outcome of 'seeking.' But this is easier said than done. A carnal flesh to start with, surrounded by circumstances which are less than ideal to a pursuit of holiness-the stress and strain of eking out a living in the all-consuming race that is today's dog-eat-dog career place, constant titillation by mass media even under the garb of news, the very purposeful bombardment of the senses by purveyors of everything from garments to chewing gums - and erosion sets in.
One Click Leads To Another
Late into the night after sending that last e-mail-why not watch a few video clips for a distracting respite? Obviously one never starts with those offending propriety. A few clips later; maybe an impulse to click on the 'most viewed' button - just to check out what the world is watching. And the fall begins.
A non-scientific poll in the US found that 70% of Christians admitted to struggling with porn in their daily lives. Church officials are not immune either. According to Craig Gross, founder of an on-line help-site for Christians, some 76% of pastors he surveyed said they too had a problem.
According to Internet Filter Review, approximately 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography every second. In India we may not have statistics to support, and perhaps our cultural reticence may keep us from admitting to a survey. But I guess man's fall is a universal condition.
Sin Causes Loss
The theologian/preacher John Piper has a message on 'A Generation Passionate for the Holiness of God.' Along with trying to define, as best as he can, to a college audience a 'Holy God,' he expounds on how a glimpse of God's holiness can bring freedom by making us realise that sin is not primarily destroying of the self, but the dishonouring of a Holy God, and that it causes a loss of pleasure as against the popular notion of giving pleasure.
Sin causes a loss because consequently one becomes blinded to the glory of God, an appreciation of which, Piper expounds, is the source and cause of all true pleasure. (Almost as a reminder of the neutrality of the medium, it is available for viewing on Google videos.)
There is also a very natural loss for a Christian, reminiscent of the Israelites' fall at Ai because of sin in the camp. The loss of communion and affirmation takes away the very vitality that seeps 'life' into the Christian-his ability to walk in the favour and protection of God.
The battle is tough as it is, and for the men among us, constitutionally tougher. But like we do in most of life's situations, including mundane daily commerce, one should consider the value of the exchange.
Quoting John Piper, "We are made to feast on the holiness of God-made accessible, tolerable and enjoyable in the Lord Jesus." Anything that costs us this enjoyment is not worth it.
Let us do all we can practically do - be it installing filtering or accountability software (that sends a list of sites visited to a selected list which could include a Pastor, Counsellor or brother in the Lord), getting godly counsel, joining support groups where prayer and help are available, or whatever else it may take. But let our generation not exchange the glory of God for the soul-numbing pull of sin made accessible on the internet.