Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Technology and the Christian Man - Some Questions

I plan to do some writing about technology and the Christian man. I have a feeling that we don’t always connect our status as followers of Jesus with the responsibility to buy and use technology for the glory of God. So I thought it might be good to get your thoughts. I’m going to pose some questions for thought and discussion. I’m not asking just for yes and no answers. I would like some thoughtful feedback as to how we should use and interact with the new technologies as Christians. I’m looking for pros and cons from your point of view. What kind of precautions do you take to make sure your Christian life and testimony stay strong?
If you want to answer anonymously through blog comments, that would be fine. I just need to hear from you – especially the younger guys and the heavy technology (cell phone, ipod, ipad, Facebook) users.
Before I begin, let me say one more thing for those readers who don’t know me. I’m in my mid-sixties, retired from a technology job, an avid technology user, and use Facebook and Twitter regularly as well as maintain this blog. So with that in mind here are my questions:
1. Do you think some people may struggle with covetousness or jealousy because of reading what their Facebook friends have or do? If so, is that just a fact of life that we would have anyway, or do you think it is increased by the Facebook experience? Are there ways we should guard what we say in order to help our brothers or sisters in this area?
2. As I look at the cost of data plans for cell phones, what kind of planning do you think is advisable related to personal budgeting and allocation of resources? Do we need to examine what benefit we gain from having data plans with us 24/7 rather than just checking email and FB when we’re at a computer? I guess I’m asking what process of thought do we need to go through biblically when we are making a decision to spend $600 a year to have voice/data/web at all times?
3. When using Facebook, or just browsing the Internet, how do you handle the fact that you are sometimes exposed to pictures and text that may tempt you morally?
4. Do you think Facebook and other social media provide a good opportunity for witness and discipleship? And if so, how do you use it for those purposes?
5. Some people say that cell phone use has become addictive to some people. Do you find that true among the people you know or in yourself? If so, how can we as Christians take steps to avoid that addiction while still using the technology profitably?
6. What precautions do you take or do you think it’s wise to take to minimize your personal access to pornography.
7. Do you think the use of technology (I’m including TV, Internet, Ipods – all of it) has affected the time the average Christian spends reading – either the Bible or other books? I ask this because there is some evidence educationally that computer use and TV viewing do not build vocabulary as well as reading does and therefore people read less.
8. Because people can communicate by cell phone or computer at all times of the day or night, do you think parents should restrict the use of either one after certain times of day? Do you get the feeling they actually make those restrictions?
9. Do you use technology to do your reading and study of the Bible? If so, how is that working out for you?
10. Should spouses voluntarily share email accounts or Facebook accounts to minimize contacts that the other doesn’t know about so that all communication is in the open? Why or why not?
Those are my questions. I am really interested in hearing from as many people as possible, so take some time to take one or two questions, think them through and then let me know what you think.


jeff.b said...

1.No I don't think people covet others post or items they post.
Yes we should guard what we say, so we don't offend others. It's just like milk and meat with Christians.

2. I check my E-mail & FB mostly on my cell phone. My data plan is 10$ monthly unlimited.I think its great, I can set my phone up to deliver E-mail every 1/2 hour or 4 hours, what ever I set. Its very convenient.

3. Temptations are every where. You have to be disciplined and try to walk with God. Most of my friends are Christians or family. If I have repeat offenders on FB I hide there post. We take God every where with us. Does God like to go where we take him.

4. I think FB is a good place to witness. You can leave scripture. It's a good place to help others with Christian and scriptural advise when people leave post with issues that need encouragement. I have a lot of Christians and preachers, and pastors on FB. This lady Carrisa only leaves versus.

5. Iam addicted to my cellular device, I left my cell phone turned off for one month, it was terrible. It's just so convenient having it right there on our hip. If I leave home with out it I go back.

6. Knowing the viruses that are out there that can affect your computer or cell, its stupid to even think of looking. Again taking God with you.....

7. Definitely time has been affected by technology. If we didn't have tv's, laptops, cell phones, dvd's, vcr's. There would definitely be more time for reading our bibles or other devotional materials. Is technology the devils tool. Is our knowledge being used in the wrong way.

8. Yes, I believe restrictions should be given to our children. Lindy and I have been practicing safe driving techniques, no texting or talking on cell phones while driving. That way our kids wont be driving like this either.

9. I have a KJV of the bible on my phone. It's a great tool, I can copy, cut, & paste from my celll to FB. Its very quick at finding verses. I LIKE IT!

10. No, trust. Your spouse should be your friend on FB. You can look at there profile anytime you want.

11. P.S I think spell check on the computer and cell phone is great.

Anonymous said...

Good thoughtful questions. I am going to veer off a little, and cmment on some of the discussion that I had with our young adult Sunday School class yesterday. Two young men spoke about the fact that they feel a desperate need to be connected, and find that their phones and connectivity are vital to their very existence. Where we older more "mature" Christians may scoff at this foolishness, I find that I tend to turn to technology first to answer qusestions, to fill time, for recreation, or to feel part of things, rather than to seek fellwoship with other Christians or to spend free time with God. Technology has become if not a god, at least an idol that comforts, teases, and distracts us, not alwasy to our best and highest use. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience chide these younger men for their power usage of of all the social networks and internet usage, when I myself am distracted much more than I realize. I am going to have to examine my own life a bit more.

Anonymous said...

1. I struggle with covetousness more due to the easy car and equipment shopping I can do. Now I don't have to wait for trader magazines or catalogues. One of my brothers has the same problem.
2. Most people don't have budgets or keep records. I don't think they could formulate a response as to the profitability of connection plans.
-- Isn't $600/year low? We pay $80/month for DSL and phone and $20/month averaged for simple tracphones. One of our children’s web enabled phones runs about $70/month. So I think we are lower end of range at ~$2,000/year for the functionality we get.
3. Get out of there as soon as possible. Don't go back.

4. Not on Facebook yet, but, no, they don't. It's like yelling to each other across a river. I may say that because I'm inept at motivating godly change face-to-face, let alone through other media.
5. No, it's only addictive as any sin. I'm not sure how it's different than deceptively conditioning someone to a certain chemical you sell. The New York Times article pointed out that there is a chemical response to some types of interruptions. This means the sin is as alluring as any.
6. DNS level filters, firewalls and privacy blockers in browsers. Caution in search terms and link clicking.
7. Yes. Reading for the children not going as well as we’d like.
8. Yes, but I can't enforce them. Silent vibration notices make it easy to deceive.
9. Sometimes I listen to and read God's Word on the Internet. It's fun to get study helps quickly, but for devotional reading the sites I use are too cluttered and distracting. Jesus said pray in your closet for several reasons, before there was an internet.
10. Yes. Each spouse should be as open as possible. Ideally, each spouse is perceptive enough to ask questions and communicate if their jealousy is aroused. Some of our friends only 'friend' others of the same sex. It becomes much more difficult if one spouse has broken the trust in the past.
-- My wife and I couldn't keep up if we checked each other's email
-- An acquaintance’s husband left her for another woman re-introduced by Facebook.
-- "The adulteress will hunt for the precious life."
-- hunting adulteress part 2. Facebook got my dad's web phone contact lists through a sync setting he found later, a few layers down. He's pretty computer savvy. Most people don't know that information is taken.
Additional comments:
-- We try to practice open doors at home. We try to practice open computers by facing all screens towards others and open areas.

Anonymous said...

1) I think some people struggle and it is increased by Facebook. I think it is always important to be careful what you post.

2) I think that data plans and having all the bells and whistles is a lot of fun. However, do we really need it and could the money be better spent elsewhere? Take time to stop and smell the roses. Your email or voicemail will be waiting when you get home!

3) I try to ignore and go on.

4) I think it benefits discipleship more. A large number of people and follow your blogs and posts.

5) The whole world is addicted to their cellphones! We can avoid the problem by having phones that only make and receive calls!

6) Have a few sites that you limit yourself to

7) It does indeed take our time away from reading.

8) Kids should not have cell phones, period. Maybe one for an emergency call, but that’s it. Also, computer use should be limited and closely monitored.

9) Not yet, but may be interested in learning how in the future

10) I think it should be up to the each couple. As long as communication is open to begin with, I don’t think it is a problem to have separate accounts

Anonymous said...

I think Facebook is a strong tool for both mentoring/being mentored by other Christians and for witnessing to unsaved friends. A weaker/newer Christian can be encouraged seeing how straightforward and unashamed a stronger Christian is on his FB posts.
The witnessing aspect is beneficial, in part, because it is not quite so "do or die' as face to face conversation can be. If you present the gospel to someone individually/personally and they are not receptive to it, it makes it all the harder to bring it up a second time. On Facebook, however, an unsaved friend can, over time, see your witness/testimony and respond or not, as he pleases.
There is the other side of both of these coins, of course: you can be a poor mentor if your testimony is not pure and you can destroy any chance of witnessing to unsaved friends if they see a different "you" on FB. Like anything else new in his life, the Christian must discern how he can use a new tool to further God's kingdom and search for any pitfalls it may present.

Anonymous said...

1. I do think that some people may struggle with covetousness or jealousy because of seeing what their friends are doing or have via Facebook. I think that things like pictures of extravagant vacations and trips to unique places that are uploaded onto Facebook are probably one of the biggest causes of jealousy among Facebook friends. I believe that this is a normal reaction in most humans. The “Oh wow, I would have loved to have gone on this trip” can easily lead to jealousy. So while I think this is a normal reaction, it is a reaction enhanced by Facebook because these images and other information about individual are so accessible. We are now able to see pictures and read things about other people’s experiences that we may have never been notified of before the creation of social networking.

2. I think that this topic is very much up to the person that is paying. We are told that we need to be good steward with our money; unfortunately this is about as generic a comment that can be made. For example, good stewardship on behalf of individual A, spending very little of their income on such things, could be poor handling of money for individual B. Much of this decision of what is worth the price is directly related to the personal income of the individual making the decisions. So, that is why these decisions are very much up to the person incurring the expense.

3. I personally try to ignore it to the best of my ability. I also do delete/block individuals that send me such things.

4. I believe that all types of social media to provide good opportunity for witness and discipleship, but most of the time those opportunities go squandered. The most that I do is say that I’m praying for some one if I know they are experiencing a rough patch in their life. I don’t take the liberty to openly share my testimony or actively spread The Word of God through social media. I would rather do these things in person.

5. I believe that I do know some people who we could say are addicted to cell phones. People must text someone back immediately, even if they are in a face to face conversation with someone else (this is really annoying to me personally). We can avoid this addiction by taking time to shut off the computers, TV, phones and just be still. When we do have to have these items powered on, try to use them in moderation. Only look at them every 15-20 min. instead of every 30 seconds.

6. I have multiple web filters that require a password to bypass them when suspicious sites are trying to be accessed. I actually don’t know the passwords to these filters, only someone very near to me does and if I believe I should view what is on the other side of that web filter I have them enter the password. This keeps me accountable and takes away all of the temptation.

7. Yes. We have more things vying for our attention, which means that we do less of the things we did before we had all of those items.

8. Yes I do believe that it is a good idea to restrict time on the phone and/or computer for children. You don’t want them to get too wrapped up in technology. I don’t currently have children, but I would love for my kids to go outside and climb trees and play in the mud with other kids for hours on end rather than sitting in front of a computer. There is a lot that can be learned not at a computer but out and about.
I know that some parents restrict the time on these devices. My parents did. But I also know that there are many parents who don’t restrict the time their children use technology.

9. No. I much prefer the book version. It allows me to highlight and write in the margins.

10. Yes. I believe that communication and openness are some of the most important things to any relationship. By opening up your “cyber life” your spouse can know that everything is out in the open. With that said, I believe that it is up to every couple to decide this for them. However, I would strongly encourage it. It again just eliminates temptation to do something that you maybe shouldn’t do.

Anonymous said...

I read through what you comment combines a few, as I am having jealousy issues with my husband's cell, FB usage, iPad etc. Mostly it is the cell phone usage with access to FB. We have only been married a short time *less than a year* and this is a big issue for me- as it takes away from our time together whether at home, at restaurants, the mall, even at times, at church. Lately I have been praying for patience and understanding....understanding as to why he chooses it over me. We also, btw, have 4 kids with us at any given time. I am going to read through some of the other postings for enlightenment. But, my stance is: these pieces (cell, iPad, FB) can hurt a person or a relationship just by sucking up the TIME it takes away from a loved one.