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The Word on the Week

Smart Phones?

We now have smart phones but dumb users! Even Millennials believe that photos sent to friends will not find their way onto the internet. For the older generations who relied on the privacy of the phone ‘it’s welcome to the new world of big data’.
The smart phone offers endless possibilities of networking with friends, colleagues and experts in their field. You can tap into the wisdom of the ages. Or it can be used to send jokes, cartoons, trivia and sexually explicit photos of yourself. Since 2012 when the word sexting was coined the latter practice has presented itself to anyone with a camera built into a phone which has internet access.
Because of the embarrassment of having damaging photos available on social media and the fact that your page is open to scrutiny by a potential employer, a more recent development has been designed to get around this problem.
A couple of students at Stanford designed a “disappearing-message app useful for sending nude photos to lovers and lewd doodles to friends”. That was four years ago. Their product, it makes the photo or video disappear in 10 seconds (or less), is now handling 10 million daily users in the UK alone. Their global daily video count runs to an astonishing 10 billion.
Of course only a fraction of these will be used for the inventor’s original purpose. A major revision this year added stickers, easier access to audio and video conferencing, the ability to leave audio or video “notes”. These features are designed to allow users to easily shift between text, audio, and video chat as required.
Of course, even with this app, all the photos do not disappear. The app can be modified or the photo captured by a screenshot. There is a law against circulating photos of minors and also those without the consent of the photographer. When it occurs the psychological damage can be very destructive. Reputations can be lost and the sense of betrayal makes it difficult to trust others in the future.
The Bible recognised the problem from the beginning! It was God who clothed the first humans when, through disobedience they realised their nakedness in His presence. Today’s unclothing marks the ongoing disobedience when it occurs outside the marriage bond. In fact the removal of clothing is one of the clearest indication of our rebellion against God. All the pagan religions exalt the human body or parts of it (Romans Chapter 1 verse 23).
God has provided a covering in Christ’s atonement for us sinners who dabble with the smart phone in not so smart ways and end up in a mess – without hope but for the mercy of God. There is forgiveness for the one who repents and by God’s grace receives the Holy Spirit whose gifts are of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians Chapter 5 verses 22-23). It is the latter gift which is least in evidence today. St Paul writing to the church in Galatia in his day adds “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Put Christ in charge of your smart phone!