Once my pastor preached a sermon themed on Proverbs 23:7. It really stuck with me because at the time I was beginning to understand the significance of philosophy in forming a person’s world view. The idea was also conveyed that what people say is not always what they really think, but in context the verse conveys the thought that people most often say something nice that hides evil thoughts, rather than saying evil things that cover sincerity. Reading the entire chapter in several different translations tends to broaden the perspective, even cautioning the reader to keep riches in their proper perspective and avoid overindulgent behavior, particularly alcohol. Good advice.
Maybe it’s because there are so many billions of people in the world, or maybe it’s just because technology brings us in touch with each other while keeping our identities concealed. I find myself thinking I would like to be without instant access to the world.
I am trying to discipline myself to ignore user comments on news web sites that allow anyone with a computer to post. I prefer moderated forums where trolls and unsupervised children are screened out, and the visitors have something intelligent to say. I feel as though I am looking into a dark tunnel when I read comments on, for example, CNN. This is particularly true when CNN posts articles related to anything Christian. Skeptics and non-believers jump on like mud on a Swiffer mop. I am considering staying off their site altogether; there is very little news on it anyway and that makes it a distraction. The Arizona Republic is another that I’m thinking of abandoning. I may go back to taking the print version of the paper. It may be a day late, but I can read all the stories without having to hunt, point, click and scroll.
Is it anonymity that makes people say these things? If it is true that your character is defined by who you are when no one is watching, I’m guessing that a lot of people are in big trouble. I used to think it might be worthwhile to dialogue with people in some of these situations, but I’ve changed my mind. The analogy of a sewer comes to mind; that some willingly jump in is appalling, but if they don’t want to come out they are more likely to pull you in if you reach out a hand.
If I put videos on youtube, I would disable the comments. It’s as if people are seeking a venue where they can be at their worst without anyone knowing. As in Proverbs 23, we are sitting at the virtual table and at least a few among us are openly crude, yet we don’t know who they really are. For all our modern technology and supposed advanced knowledge, we are still the same people Solomon wrote about in Proverbs 23, and the advice he gives us is still good.
We really do have choices. When I became a Christian it dawned on me early that I should be the same person alone at home that I am on the piano bench at church. Experience has convinced me that failure to strive for this goal allows many to privately engage in behaviors that are inappropriate for one who professes to know Christ, and to continue to nurture these demons. I have proposed this theory in discussion with friends. Some are convinced that we are puppets in God’s hands and that our effort in overcoming sin is worthless. But if God would help me in my struggle, why would He not help others in theirs?