“We are living through the largest unregulated social experiment of all time—a generation of youth who have been exposed to extreme content online, and we are facing serious socio-technological implications” (Psychologist Michael Seto).
As a child, I lived in a Pentecostal, holiness culture – it was a way of life. My world, for the most part, was structured in and among family, friends, and ministers who were committed to the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and believed that from it alone, came the doctrine of Jesus Christ as “God manifest in the flesh.” One Lord, one faith, one baptism, and clear teaching advocating a righteous, moral lifestyle were the foundational principles of our life.
As Christians, however, my family was not unaware, dismissive or cultish in our lifestyle. My folks interacted with our community. My father worked in politics some; my brothers were soldiers, tradesmen, businessmen, and my older sister owned a local restaurant. My twin sisters were devoted Christians; and undoubtedly, the most popular teens in their high school. Later in life, they owned a gift shop.
Our Pentecostal world was not “the world,” nor was it “of the world.” We did witness other belief systems, disturbing customs and strange moral codes. I visited my friends’ churches and quickly learned much was different from what I had been taught. There were challenges that attacked my faith and early on I learned we were not alone in this world. But walking into those old storefront churches and experiencing the anointing that fell on the preachers and the members, the moving of the Holy Spirit, the worship and praises expressed in drunken joy, and the “honest realness” of it all, kept me saved.
As a pastor and overseer of two schools comprising of nearly 600 students in our buildings every weekday, I partner with a magnificent group of parents, helpers, teachers, leaders, ministers and consultants – none of which are unaware of the message in Mr. Seto’s remarks. I believe we are getting an early glimpse of an unequaled, unparalleled revolution that human civilization has never imagined. Our youth are in real danger. It cannot be ignored.
We should be troubled by immature preaching that centers on extreme juvenilization. Programs that recompose and/or “Christianize” cartoons and Hollywood heroes so as to entertain rather than train should be disturbing. The church, pastors and parents must pray for creative, anointed, focused training that will confront the cyber world that is overtaking our children’s minds, morals and souls.
For us moderns, the cyber world is our great challenge, and its consequences are serious, very serious. Recently, Thomas L. Friedman described it as a “digital river.” And he predicted, as well as others, “these digital flows keep accelerating, it boggles the mind to think about how interdependent we will be in another decade. Something big is going on.” Of course, we all grant that there are positive aspects, but the wise know well that the cyber world also threatens the world as we now know it.
Here’s what I’m most concerned about. Although I reflected on my own childhood earlier, I never faced what our children our facing today. Nor have any of you. For an example, there is a cyber intrusion into the very core of our children’s learning process (there is much research on how computers are altering minds). And, Friedman’s “digital river” is floating with scum, hatred, violence, anti-Christian values, not to mention shocking amounts of pornography.
I bought an old book in London by Lloyd Scott (1925). He theorizes about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. It’s likely, he says, that Judas had compared Jesus with the glamour and rituals of Ancient Jerusalem. Toward the end, Jesus was losing followers, his “impracticable morality” was more and more being rejected. Judas may have been comparing it all, and longing for the past. He states (edited), “What chance did Jesus have against the queenly city of Jerusalem, this giant rock that drew millions of pilgrims at the feast? Not even a ghostly chance! … the great lamps of the ancient rituals burned in gold. Judas felt he has wasted the three fevered years, like one who has been carried as a captive beyond the seas, and now comes back to an old harbor . . . the Jerusalem of his fathers, the perpetual city of his soul, to be at rest again.”
The old preacher may have had it right. What chance did Jesus have? Could this virtual cyber world so capture the minds of our children that they ignore or reject reality and choose to live in a completely new conceptual location? The rituals of old Jerusalem pulled on Judas and others back to an old world of ordinances, sacrifices, types and shadows, a virtual world. The world and its fantastical dream of a virtual reality that promises to satisfy the souls of men is – and has always been a trap. We have a grave decision to make. Shall we say . . . oh well, so it goes and allow this next generation to succumb to Satan’s swansong? Or . . . do we pick up our Holy Ghost experience and fight back, claiming no weapon formed against us shall prosper? There is no choice.