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Intersection of Life and Faith

How Do We Maintain Personal Authenticity in the Online World?

Tim Challies

The following is a transcribed Video Q&A, so the text may not read like an edited article would. Scroll to the bottom to view this video in its entirety. 

"Privacy is a growing issue, and there's kind of two sides to it. There's the privacy that we expect to have that companies may not be granting us. Your cell phone company knows where you are right now, and they know where you’ve been every moment for the last, well, as long as you’ve had that phone and that contract. There's privacy in that way. There's also privacy in what I tell about myself to the world. My main concern, at least right now, is what we're telling about ourselves. The Internet seems to bring out the strange combination of exhibitionism and voyeurism where I love to tell everybody what I'm doing and then I love everybody to see what I'm doing, and I want to see what other people are doing.

Privacy, it seems to me, the main issue in privacy right now is how much am I willing to reveal about myself to the world, and I think Christians, as with everyone else, we're revealing way too much about ourselves. We're giving things away that should be private information. Just be very, very careful what you're saying about yourself, how you're saying it, what you're revealing of yourself. The world doesn’t need to know a lot of this stuff. The Internet allows us all to be anonymous. It's one of the great benefits; it's one of the great risks. We like to be anonymous when we're doing our banking. We can go on, we can have privacy, we can do our banking online. Nobody has to know. We also like to be anonymous when we're looking at pornography. Nobody has to know. We can do it secretly and do it quietly.

Christians have to be very, very guarded and think about it, reflect on it, when you come to those moments where you don’t want people to know what you're doing. Think about it. Make it significant when you're hiding, when you're looking for anonymity online, and you may well find when you're seeking that anonymity, when you're trying to hide, you're doing it against your conscience. You're doing it because you're doing something sinful.

This will be one of the big things growing in the years to come. More and more browsers now, just about every browser now gives you the ability to completely erase any history of want you're doing. God knows what you're doing. God's got your history. God knows what you're doing moment by moment, and so don’t live as if I have to guard against what my wife sees. Live as if God is watching what I'm doing. God knows my heart. God sees what I'm doing. Be very careful when it comes to being anonymous. It's very easy to use anonymity against God rather than for Him."

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