Despite the title of the article, this is not a treatise on modesty. It stems, rather, from a peculiar habit of a little boy, now a grown-up, with whom I am acquainted. Once out of the bath, he would run around sans vêtements. Yet, if the commotion that he caused made you look his way, he would shout, “Don’t look at me, I’m naked.” It seems that he wanted the freedom to be naked outside of the confines of a more private place (e.g., the bath) but did not like the scrutiny that his behavior would naturally cause. This is not unlike the reaction of some female protesters in Maine in early 2010 desiring Maine to alter her laws so that women can go topless in public venues just like men. When men began taking pictures of them, they were appalled. I suppose they thought that men would overcome their natural inclinations to look at an unclad woman because of the alleged righteousness of her cause.
The point is this. If you do something openly, expect to attract attention to yourself and your actions. This brings me to such social media outlets as Twitter and Facebook. These are public venues. Thus, others see the activities and can even relate them to those not utilizing these very popular web sites. I’ve heard of youth ministers whose exposure in a blog or on Facebook have cost them their jobs. This is because someone brought his deeds to the attention of the eldership. Can he rightly express anger at a supposed violation of his privacy when he has been conducting himself in an unchristian manner in a place where everyone can see him?
How about other Christians not employed by a local congregation of the Lord’s Church? Have you seen any of them use language inappropriate for a Christian or post questionable photographs of themselves or others? I know that I have. I can’t imagine what it must be like for those of you on Facebook with over a thousand “friends.” (We preachers tend to pick up many “friends” on Twitter and Facebook.) A young woman, attending a sister congregation in the same region as the one in which I currently work, posted as her status on Facebook about a year ago that people (and I can only assume that she meant the preacher) were spying on members of the congregation she attended via Facebook and publically preaching against their actions. In reality, this statement reflects only her guilty conscience regarding her realization that her deeds were, in fact, exposed for all to see. It is not unlike Adam and Eve hiding in Eden once they realized that they were naked and heard the sound of God walking through their garden paradise. When God asked them why they were hiding, they said that it was because they were naked (cf. Genesis 3:8ff). Their sin made them uncomfortable and unable to stand before their Creator. Thus, the aforementioned young lady expressed “righteous indignation” (though it was unrighteous indignation) for a perceived wrong perpetrated against her by those whom she had made into voyeurs. Yet, they were only taking note of that which she had done publically.
Michael Hite, one of the deacons at the Bear Valley church of Christ in Denver, Colorado, and administrator of http://ministrytechonline.com, once likened Facebook to a congregation to which you and I are able to preach every day.* If, for example, you have 500 “friends,” then you have a “congregation” of 500! That would mean that, potentially, 500 people are observing your every post. How are you going to use your influence? It can just as easily be for good as it is evil.
An inextricable entanglement within the technology that first blossomed in the early 1990s seems to have occurred amongst the youngest Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and the up-and-coming Millennials (though it is not very surprising now to find even “grandma” or “grandpa” on Facebook). In other words, there is no going back to the semi-private world of typewriters, corded telephones, and “snail” mail. I imagine that as God permits time to continue that the world in which we live will become more and more interactive with digital media. If the Orwellian vision of 1984 should ever become a reality, we may even find ourselves in a world in which our every move is observable by others. As disturbing as that prospect may seem to us, it is not inconceivable; especially given our current environment of closed-circuit cameras and “reality” television.
Let us all remember God’s sobering reminder:
But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23 NASB)
*= This nugget of wisdom was taken from Neal Pollard’s lecture at the 2010 Faulkner University Lectureship entitled, “The Christian and Facebook.”
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.