Is the Internet Evil?
I know people might read the title of this post and think I’ve decided to take a break from my usual hope-centered posts, but I haven’t; this post is also about hope.
A few years ago I was watching a show about ancient Rome on the History Channel. One of the most fascinating segments was on the incredible highway system the Romans had built throughout their empire. These Roman Roads were built to exact specifications to handle cart and foot traffic. This intricate network of roads facilitated trade and commerce as well as making it much easier for people to travel.
After several commercials, the show resumed and the subject was crime along these roads. Along with the increase of legitimate business – shops selling meat, produce and manufactured goods etc – came an increase in criminal activities. Prostitution, sex/slave trafficking, gambling, robbery, scams, murder and every other crime and temptation that was known at that time was available along these roads.
Suddenly I had a revelation; The Internet is our generation’s Roman Road!
Because many of us grew up seeing depictions of the Apostles dressed in shimmering white robes with halos around their heads, we tend to think they lived above or somehow outside of the filth of Roman society. But we know that Paul, Peter, John and millions of other Christians living throughout the Roman Empire used these crime-ridden and temptation-filled streets to travel and spread the “Good News.” These men and women faced dangers and temptations every day; many of these early Christians were once among those robbing or tempting travelers along these dusty roads just like many Christians today once participated in the dark side of the Internet. Even the setting for one of Jesus’ most well-known parables, “The Good Samaritan,” (Luke 10:30-37) took place along one of these dangerous Roman Roads.
I copied the following quote from an article (about the evils of the Internet) that I read online; “Because the Internet is as broad as the human psyche, it naturally encompasses all of the darkest manifestations of evil imaginable…”
I agree with this quote, but whether it’s a road system, television, radio or the Internet, the thing that facilitates or depicts both good and bad behavior, cannot itself be good or bad; it’s what we do with a medium that’s good or bad. So, even though there’s a lot of evil on the Internet, the Internet is merely a vehicle for what’s in the hearts of man.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, for the last 3 years I have been volunteering as an “Internet missionary” with a non-denominational Christian ministry called Global Media Outreach. Via the Internet and Cell phones, GMO reaches people with the Good News of Christ who cannot be reached in traditional ways. On a regular basis I receive emails and texts from people living in nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia, countries where it’s illegal to practice the Christian faith. In most cases these people find a GMO site through viewing one of our online ads or from doing an Internet search containing words such as God, Jesus, religion or Christian etc. Last week GMO emailed all of the volunteers a summary for 2012; over 195 million people were reached last year and over 26 million people made commitments or re-commitments to follow Christ.
Recently I read that the two most searched subjects on the Internet are those dealing with pornography and those dealing with matters of faith. As a Christian, this makes perfect sense to me – “…the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another…” (Galatians 5:17).
The “soldiers” (thoughts and spiritual influences…) of this war that’s going on inside of all of us are always searching to gain more territory. And, like the Roman highway system of two-thousand years ago, the Internet offers numerous opportunities for doing this. While pedophiles, sex-traffickers, pornographers, terrorists, scammers and other “soldiers of the flesh” are exploiting this modern-day Roman Road, Christians don’t seem to be capitalizing on this like I think we could and should be. Sitting on the sidelines and cursing the darkness is not an option for the “soldiers of the Spirit.” We must be engaged in this battle for the sake of the Gospel and to support and protect legitimate business and innocent people regardless of their race, religion or nation of origin. I get furious every time I hear about a marriage being destroyed because of Internet pornography or someone losing thousands of dollars through some online scam, and I believe we can do more to battle these tragedies.
To some extent, I am probably preaching to the choir here because many of those who read my blog are other Christian bloggers that are already engaged as soldiers in this war. And, as I mentioned, through GMO, this blog and in other ways, I too have been engaged in this battle. But I’m going to recommit and be more determined this year than ever before, and I hope many others will join me.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)