Living in a digital age, we are faced with the reality that we have tough competition. That the internet is competing for our attention, our affection, for our questions, and our devotion.
Today we will talk about this competition and what it provides; especially in the area of sexual integrity.
Whether it’s a struggle with pornography, or looking for hookups. So often, we are turning to our devices for things that are really, really good. And our devices offer pretty tough competition.
So let me just give you five examples of Exposing the Online God.
- The Internet provides all the things your looking for
- The internet never shames you
- The Internet never makes you feel like an outsider
- The Internet rewards curiosity.
- The Internet is always available
But does it really, are these statements true? Join us today as we expose the online god and reveal what it actually does for us and to us.
Discover the truth of what we are really looking for and how to find it.
Treading Boldly through a Pornographic World: A Field Guide for Parents
- The tough competition of the internet.
- The internet never shames you.
- Why the internet is always available.
- The internet never shames but it always shames.
- Has the internet ever invited you to look deeper?
- The internet is always available to you.
- Jesus has everything you’re looking for.
- God rewards curiosity and always available.
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Several weeks ago, I was meeting with a group of parents, we were doing a trading boldly conference based on the book that I co authored with Daniel Weiss. And I was talking to him about the reality that it’s tough to be a parent because they have tough competition in the internet, their kids are gonna be prone towards seeking out answers and connections and all sorts of other things online. And that’s just tough competition for a parent. And as I was thinking about, I was thinking, it’s really true for all of us, I mean, all of us, whether parents, or not parents, whether married or single, whether young or old. Living in a digital age, we are faced all the time with the temptation to the tough competition, that the internet is for our attention, for our affection, for our questions, for our devotion. And I know that’s true for me. A little bit of an embarrassing story. I was kind of debating whether or not shows, I’m going to share it. This happened me twice in the last five years, twice and last five years. As I’ve done this, so, so embarrassing. Many of you know like, if if you want to talk to an iPhone, you can just say, Hey, Siri, and then ask it a question. And twice in the last several years. I’ve found myself going to prayer and starting prayer by saying, hey Siri, not because I seriously went off my phone perfect. I’m not talking to you. Not because I wanted to talk to Siri. But I think it was I think it’s been telling about how much I’ve been acclimated to relying on my phone for so much. That even when I’m trying to pray, my something in my brain is just kind of learned like, well, this, this is where you go for, you know, whatever, XYZ sobering, right? Please don’t think less of me, I’m not happy with that about about my experience. But in any case, I wanted to talk to you today about this, because I think especially in the area of sexual integrity, whether it’s struggle with pornography, or looking for hookups or whatever. So often, we are turning to our devices for things that are really, really good. And our devices offer pretty tough competition. So let me just give you five examples. Kind of phrasing it this way the internet provides you with things that you need, like, you know, there there ways the internet provides all that we’re looking for. I mean, you know, you search any word, and it comes up very rarely will you search a question, or a topic, or search for an image and not be able to find it online if you search long and hard enough. And sometimes you don’t need that search long and hard at all. That’s number one. Number two, the internet never shamed you. So in the area of sexuality, there’s so many of us have experienced sexual shame in one way or another. And or feel ashamed about our sexual conduct in one way or another. Many of us have, have tried to go for help and been sexually shamed or have shared something with somebody in set been sexually shame. Some of us have experienced sexual shame in our relationships, in our most intimate relationships, who’ve experienced shame. And that’s all very, very difficult. But the internet never shames the internet never makes you feel like an outsider. Right? I mean, I think about here about the number of people I’ve worked with and walked with who have a maybe a fetish, or something unique about their specific sexual desire. And they don’t feel like an outsider online. So you know, maybe you struggle with a certain fetish, a foot fetish. And you might hear people at your church talking about other sexual issues, but never that one. Or maybe even you struggle with something as common as same sex attractions, and feel or feel some gender dysphoria. And you hear people in your church talking about other matters, other struggles, but never those struggles. And so you feel like an outsider with the Internet. You never feel like that. I mean, they’re, you know, this is where people gather, and when people post stuff, and it’s easy enough to find. So you don’t feel like an outsider. The Internet rewards curiosity. And so for many of us when we were kids, or if we’re raising questions in the church about doctrine, or about is this a senator’s Adson? We might get looked at oddly, we might get pushed off, we might get a cliche answer. We might find find that we’re even scolded for our curiosity. But the internet won’t scold you for your curiosity. It’ll never say like, why are you asking that? Right? Or why do you want to know or you just need to believe like, the internet will give you answers. I mean, it’ll it’ll you’re curious online. It’ll offer you lots and lots and lots and lots of answers. And then lastly, number five, the internet is always available. Do you have a friend Do you have anybody in your life who’s always available? I mean, I’ve been married for over 20 years and my wife is certainly not always available. She’s very available, but not always available. I have great friends. Are they always available? No, they’re not And now with all that said, this is why the internet’s tough competition, why it is so alluring in our age to turn online with some of our deepest, most fundamental needs. But also I want to walk back through the list. And I want actually say that none of what I just said is true. None of what I just said is true. All right, so let’s just start at the end, okay? Or at the beginning, the internet, I said, has everything you’re looking for. But it doesn’t does it? For example, it doesn’t have flash, right? You as a human being our body and spirit you are, you are a body and you long for physical touch for other bodies to to behold to be with you. Even in proximity of you. There is something in you innate in you that is always always always looking for in flesh mint, if I can put it that way. And so if you’re struggling with sexual sin online, it’s never enough just to see it online, is it? You want to hear something? You want to feel something? You want to be with somebody? That’s why internet pornography never satisfies this? Why? Why sex chatlines never satisfied. You long for more than that. And you and you have a spirit too, and he doesn’t have a spirit. And so you long for a deeper connection than just physical you longing for something that’s, that’s actually holistic. And the internet does not have that for you. I said the internet never shames. But that’s not true either, is it? If you think about it, shame on a camera who said this might have been Dr. Kirk Thompson. But one image of shame is shame is what makes you hide your face. Right. And that’s an expression maybe maybe maybe the most kind of gut level, expression of shame is to hide your face to hide yourself. And the internet is exactly I mean, in some ways, we we go to the internet out of shame. Because we don’t want to face someone we don’t want to look another human being in the face with our shame. And so we run the internet. So we I say it never shames but but really it it always shames in that way. It produces shame. When we go there for illicit activity. It multiplies our shame. So to say that it never shames is kind of a it’s not true. It might feel like it never shamed but but have you looked online done things online that you that you can honestly say actually, no, I felt very ashamed. And that goes the next one. When I said it never makes you feel like an outsider. You know, so So you go to these online communities maybe or find people who struggle the same things that you do. But the very fact you have to go online for that? Doesn’t that add a level of shame to it, because it’s not there and flashed with you. The Internet always makes you feel on the outside, it leaves you feeling on the outside. Because of this. Because the internet as much as it might in the moment feel like you are inside you’re not you’re separated from the virtual world because you are not virtual, and if that makes sense to you. But that’s a very real reality. And I think that’ll make more sense in a couple minutes. Next, I said it rewards curiosity. But the truth is that the internet actually stunts curiosity. It stuns curiosity, it doesn’t expand your mind to learn more and more and more. And to get more curious. It actually works on algorithms that direct your attention specific places, and the longer you spend online, the more that your brain is funneled to think and to pursue that which the internet puts in front of you. And now with artificial intelligence, the the computer programmers, internet programmers are able to mete out the specific amounts of, of kind of pain and pleasure reward in what you’re looking for. So it doesn’t reward curiosity, it stunts curiosity. Think about this. Has the internet ever invited you to look deeper? Has it ever come to you and said, Hey, I noticed that you’re asking questions like this? Have you ever even considered what it is that you’re really looking for? I see that you’re searching for images of people in this profession or doing these activities. Have you ever thought to wonder why? Those are the kinds of questions that are really worthwhile
in growing and sexual integrity and recovery. But the internet never asked that it doesn’t reward caress, it doesn’t want you to be curious. It just wants you to be there. Right? Just wants to grab your attention not to have you actually be curious about why you’re there and what you’re really looking for. And then lastly, I said the internet is always available. And this is a tough one. I think you all understood what I mean by that login anytime you want night or day and there it is right. But it’s never actually really there. And I want to I think you can understand that based on what I said before it’s not flush. It’s not a human it’s it doesn’t actually provide you with anyone there. The internet is not there. Now you could say well, but when I chatting with other people online, they’re there, they’re really there. But they’re not there, they’re over there, they’re way out there, they’re not really here with you. And because you’re a human person, you actually want someone there with you. The Internet can’t attune to your face. And everybody now knows, like, even if you’re on a zoom call, most of the time, you’re actually not even, like you’re not even seeing a face actually looking at your face, you don’t see eyes looking directly in your eyes. That minimum, there’s a screen between you. But for most of us, there’s also a distance, right that looks like they’re looking at your chin or something like that. They’re not really attuning to your face to your eyes. They’re not seeing your body language and attuning to you now, artificial intelligence tries to. And I think it’ll probably get better at attuning quote unquote, to your emotions, but not for that, not for your sake, but for its sake. Not so that it can meet you where you are out of love to serve you, but rather to meet where you are, to keep your attention so that it can get what it wants out of you to ring you dry. So he’s always available to you, or is it seeking to make you always available to it? One of the core pieces underneath all of this, I think we go back to Genesis one, Genesis two, excuse me, when God has created the human being the man, and he says it is not good for man to be alone. And I think there are ways to the internet as much as it makes us feel like it has everything we’re looking for it never shames us never makes us feel like an outsider towards our curiosity. It’s always available to us. That feels like an N like we have a whiff that we are not alone in the moment. But I think our souls are smart. And deep, deep down inside, part of the reason that we get pulled into the internet. And that we get stuck there is because we’re not finding that we’re not alone there we’re finding ourselves feeling more and more alone. And so we try to medicate that feeling by going further staying on longer. Brother and sister, they won’t encourage you two things, one, to lift your head up off your screens mean you think about a posture of Shame, shame, a posture of covering your face or putting your head down. And we spent so much time on our screens looking down, looking away from other faces, lift your head up and see the faces of brothers and sisters around you take the risk and invite them to meet with you. Keep your phones and devices off the table when you sit together. So that you can truly seek to be together and not let this thing divide and keep you isolated. And then secondly, I want to encourage you that Jesus is actually all these things. He has everything you’re looking for the shares of parallel power prodigal son, where he says the father comes out and says the older brother, everything I have is yours. God is completely willing to share all his goodness, all his light, all his love with you. Everything he has is yours. He never shamed I think here of so many of the interactions of Jesus in the in the gospels, his interaction with Peter in the boat when Peter tells him to depart, Jesus knows exactly what Peter’s done, and he wants him to follow him. I think of the woman at the well. And how Jesus never shamed her. He actually released her from her shame. And then I think of Jesus never making you feel like an outsider. The church universal, actually it at its core is meant that no one would ever be an outsider. Anyone who is in Christ is a new creature. There’s no no Jew or Gentile, slave or free, barbarian, Scythian, we are all one in Christ Jesus, there are no outsiders anymore. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We all enter in through the cross of Christ. Jesus rewards curiosity. Think here of his early disciples, the disciples of John who came after Jesus, and there’s kind of falling behind. And he turns around, he says, what do you what are you looking for? And they asked him a simple question. He says, Come and see. Whatever it is that you’re curious about why you struggle with sexual sin you do. What God thinks about you, what your purpose in life is why you’re here, what all this means. God rewards curiosity doesn’t want to shut it down. He wants you and invite you to proceed invites you to pursue those answers, seek, knock, ask, and these things will be given to you. You’ll be answered, the door will open for you. He rewards curiosity. And finally, he’s always available. He promised us He will never leave us or forsake us. Jesus said, in Matthew 28, I will be with you always even the end of the age. Now. I know that can feel like cliche. And in some ways, emotionally, the internet can feel like it’s immediately more of those things that God is. And part of that is because the internet is willing to addict you willing to enslave you, God will not. And so because God leaves you your choice. Connecting with him in those ways and experiencing him in those ways does take sometimes some desert sometimes of being still sometimes of waiting. He is personal. And so in that way we interact with him. He’s not a vending machine. He’s not online where we just log in and get what we want on the demand but he is much much more fulfilling So Lord help us free us Lord from our internet addictions from our porn addictions and help us depress into real relationships with people that you’ve placed in our lives and also learn with you We ask this in Jesus name amen