The internet has made it possible to do things that would have been a pipe dream not long ago. Gaining knowledge and connecting with people from around the world is easier than ever before. This has been a wonderful development for education and business. Take me, for example. The internet enables me to follow sports and the news, chat with friends near and far, learn foreign languages, read recipes, consume research–all without getting out of bed. However, the internet also has a dark side that everyone reading this knows all too well.
I remember a pastor from my college days put it like this, “Everyone now has a Playboy magazine underneath their bed.” What he meant was that people with smart phones and internet access are never more than seconds away from sexual temptation. In sum, people of all ages face more temptation in the area of purity than ever before, and the time it takes to give in to that temptation is also shorter than ever before.
Make no mistake, our generation is no morally worse than any other generation. The only difference is the opportunity that we have access to due to the double-edged sword that is technologic advancement. Just as it takes less effort to do certain things with the internet, it takes more effort to avoid sexual temptation.
Playing the blame game and making excuses is a pointless thing to do because we will still live the consequences for all of our choices, no matter how easy or difficult they were to make. I was wrestling with this topic recently when this scripture came to mind.
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.Matthew 5:29-30 (ESV)
Almost all theologians agree that Jesus was using hyperbole. That means he was exaggerating and didn’t expect people to literally poke their eyeballs out and cut their hands off. But this passage is very telling because it illustrates just how serious we are supposed to take the call to avoid evil. The internet may be important, but we need our eyes and hands far more than we do our smartphones! There are steps we can take to limit temptation on the internet (for example, click here and here). But at the end of the day, it starts with a decision not to compromise–and to develop our character, i.e., who we are on the inside.
Christ overcame when he was tempted by the devil, and he would have overcame a thousand times out of a thousand because there was no evil in him.
There is an expression in English, “You can take a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.” If the horse doesn’t want to drink because it has made up its mind that it won’t drink for whatever reason, it doesn’t matter how much water you surround it with. And it should be the same with us and the temptations we face, no matter how cheap and easy they are in the 21st century.
At first, it may be difficult, and we need to practice discipline. Over time, it gets easier, as our character develops and our desires change.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.Matthew 6:13 (ESV)
We take care about the music and movies and food that we consume, and we should take care about the things we let into our spirits because the unseen impact it has on us, both for better and worse, is great.