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Archive for June 30th, 2014

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Its important to apply our Christian worldview in evaluating how we and others use technology.  While the Bible does not talk about facebook, twitter, IPAD and fast internet, the Bible does talk about the human condition and human condition has not changed: we are still sinners in need of God’s grace.

I saw this earlier this afternoon from Yahoo news of a Study that People Hate Happy Couples on Facebook.  Here’s excerpt from the piece:

On Facebook, the divide between happy couples and everyone else is more complicated than you may have thought.

People who post often about their fulfilling, committed relationships are the least liked on Facebook, according to a survey conducted for a new book titled The Science of Relationships.

In the study, researchers created fake Facebook profiles that included profile pictures with partners, public “in a relationship” statuses, and posts with varying levels of detail about how much they loved or lusted after their significant others. Other profiles offered no sign of a relationship at all.

Then 100 participants were asked to judge the fictional Facebook profiles — first on how committed the people seemed to be to their significant others and second how much they liked the people depicted in the profiles. Though participants overwhelmingly agreed that those who were very vocal about their relationships on Facebook were likely satisfied and committed, it was that same group of people — the relationship oversharers — who were the least liked.

As one of the authors of the study, Haverford Col/5*lege social psychologist Dr. Benjamin Le, put it: “When it comes to relationship disclosure on Facebook, there can be too much of a good thing.”

So, next time you feel the need to congratulate yourself on a 15-year anniversary, or post a relfie (yes, that’s short for “relationship selfie”; I know), consider the consequences. You may be unconditionally loved by your partner, but the digital masses might not share those tender feelings.

I think we can learn some lessons from the above.  I want to approach this issue biblically, theologically and pastorally.

First, we shouldn’t be surprised when people in relationship are happy.  Think of Song of Solomon in the Bible.

Secondly, there’s nothing wrong in of itself of being joyful in a relationship.  This is especially true of Christians equally yoke in a relationship and walking in the Lord.  I do think Christians in relationships that follow God’s principle will seem “happy” (joy in the Lord to be exact).

Thirdly, I think a couple’s “relationship” to their facebook account often reveal a couple’s heart motivation; there is nothing wrong in of itself declaring they are in a relationship or signs of affections between couples.  One should also be concern of the opposite extreme in which a married couple’s facebook does not indicate that they are married or in love with each other at all.  We must ask: what is a couple’s heart motivation in their statuses, pictures and updates?  Sometimes one can have an unhealthy need for attention: their joy, identity and essentially their functional god is their relationship or the guy or girl they are with.  In this situation, the Christian world view calls this idolatry and whatever is one’s functional god (besides the God of the Bible) is sin against God; it will also eventually disappoint the idolater since only the living God can truly satisfy us.

Fourthly, the line between the second point and the third point can be tricky.   The line in the sand might not be clear but that doesn’t mean one can’t spot obvious symptoms: the couples only post about the relationship, they posts things that are well, TMI (too much information), etc.  It is wise to practice routine spiritual introspection of one’s social media’s activity.  This also calls for charity and graciousness among those who have concerns.

Fifthly, I’m surprised at how the Yahoo article addressed ONLY those who are happy in a relationship.  (Who the “you” in the last paragraph is, is very telling).   I think there’s a big elephant in the room that the author forgotten: there’s people out there hating on the couple.  Biblically, what are we to make of people hating happy couples?  Can this hate be jealously?  After all, the people here don’t know who these couples are, but just from appearances they already hate them.  Is this hatred for something these people have?  If this is the case, this jealously is a sin.  It is a sin called coveteousness.  Note one of the Ten Commandments prohibit coveteousness:

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17)

It’s not that facebook itself is sinful; it’s the heart that is.  Stumbling upon a happy couple on one’s facebook feed reveal what’s already in the heart: a desire to have something one doesn’t have.  It’s not just the desire to have something someone else have that’s a sin–after all, it is commendable when we see an example of moral virtue in someone and we work on emulating them in our own lives.  A desire becomes covetousness when we want to have what others have and are willing to sin in our desire to have it (hate, gossip, slander, etc) or we want to have what we are prohibited to have (say, lust over one of the couples).

It’s probably shameful and embarrassing to admit that one is jealous and being covetous.   But the Bible says its important to confess our sins and to confess it to God:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

This cleansing of our righteousness is possible because Jesus Christ died for our sins.  Repent from your sins and trust (have faith) in Him as your Lord and Savior for the forgiveness of your sins.

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It is a sobering question that many Christians dread to hear someone ask: How could a loving God condemn those who have had no opportunity to respond to Christ?  Any Christian who has seriously pondered about his or her faith will sooner or later ask this very question.  How does one reconcile the proclamation made in the Bible that God is love and square that with the reality that there are people who will not go to heaven that might not have had an opportunity to respond?  I think a helpful way to navigate through this difficult issue is to think clearly of the relationship of various doctrines in the Bible pertaining to this issue.

If we are going to reconcile God’s love with people condemned by God we have to begin with why people are condemned in the first place: Sin.  Sin is any violation of God’s laws.  Since God is the Creator, He has the prerogative to require of his creation and specifically Creatures what He wants from them just like a potter can shape a pot the way the potter sees fit.  However as moral creatures humanity as a whole has chosen the path of sin.  Everyone has sinned; the Apostle Paul makes that clear in his epistle to the Roman church said “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Unfortunately the consequences of sin are grave, we read of the condemnation in the first half of Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death,”

It might sound strange but I think it is important to realize that God is a loving God even when he shows judgment against sinners.  He never punishes people beyond what they deserve.  Part of God being a loving God means that He will never falsely accuse people and punish them for things they did not do.  We would not say a court judge is good if he was arbitrarily punishing those before him for things they didn’t do.  Likewise, as paradoxical as it might sound, God’s love even for those who are condemned ensure no injustice would ever occur in His own judgment against sinners.  This of course means that God will judge us according to what we do know and rejected instead of what we are truly ignorant of.  Robert McQuilkin’s comment is helpful for us here:

Judgment is against a person in proportion to his rejection of moral light.  All have sinned; no one is innocent.  Therefore, all stand condemned.  But not all have the same measure of condemnation, for not all have sinned against equal amounts of light” (McQuilkin, 173).

I think it is also helpful to think of the relationship of God’s general revelation of Himself outside of Scripture that is accessible to all.  Paul told the Athenians in Acts 17:27 what the purpose of God’s general revelation in nature and history is: “that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”  It is so that we can respond to it by reaching out to God.  There is in some sense in which General revelation is a “bridge” to special revelation which content is the Bible, Jesus and salvation.  But Romans 1 reveal that as fallen human beings, our sinful inclination is to suppress the truth of God that is revealed all around us, rather than travel the road to further truth: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).  Note Romans 1:20 mentioned that we ought to know God even to the extent of His divine nature and power.  It suggests that humanity’s ignorance of God is a culpable ignorance in the same way that we ought to know the speed limit of the road we are driving.  Unfortunately because man suppresses the truth of General revelation this doesn’t help man come to know Jesus as Savior (apart from the Grace of God).

In closing I think it’s important to think more clearly concerning the relation of Jesus as Savior (which is a clear and concrete example of God’s love) versus mankind getting into sin and thus standing condemned.  We must not think that the problem lies with God providing salvation.  Salvation is due to His mercy and grace in the first place.  The problem is with man’s sin.  If I could use the traffic violation analogy from above, we cannot be focused on why some did not have the opportunity for traffic school when it is our traffic violations that makes us stand condemned before the traffic court in the first place.

 

Mentioned: McQuilkin, Robertson. 2009. Lost. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds., 170-17

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