Tech-related obsessions and addictions are clearly on the rise — and they can lead to a host of problems, both psychologically and socially. This presents a great responsibility to parents of today’s teens, many of whom feel as if they’re ill-equipped to speak into the realm of technology. However, we know from Scripture that there’s essentially nothing new under the sun, and the kinds of struggles today’s teens face are far from unique (Ephesians 1:9, 1 Corinthians 10:13).
Temptation can still be categorized into what we’ll call “the big 3” — fleshly, visual, and prideful desires (1 John 2:16). While there is some debate about what kinds of behaviors fall into those categories (see this article), it seems that technology makes it easier to indulge in all of them without anyone (well, any human, anyway) knowing.
The Lust of the Flesh
Our fleshly desires are so dominant that we often pray with them in mind (James 4:3). Basically, they relate to the material part of us, as opposed to the spiritual. Of course, we don’t want to go full-swing into asceticism, thinking all physical pleasures are sinful. But we must balance fulfilling fleshly desires with submitting to God’s clear instructions regarding the purpose for our bodies and relationships.
When we realize our own natural sinful tendencies, we realize that we’re greedy people, by nature — all of us. “Deeds of the flesh” include all sorts of things, but 4 of the 14 specific categories listed in Galatians 5:19-21 relate to sexual desires.
Nameless Fleshly Fantasies
For those growing up in a society in which we can easily have it all, exactly as we order it and right away, an elevated sense of greed and unrealistic expectations can crop up faster than you can text “smh.” One of the most obvious technology-fueled behaviors related to fleshly desires is pornography, which, at its root, is not only immoral but self-focused: “Pornography shows us a world where relationships mean nothing and immediate sexual gratification means everything. Therefore, the adolescent viewer’s brain is being wired to expect that sex and relationships are separate from one another.”
Of course, there are other problems related to pornography (a few also cited in this article), but the relationship implications are startling, especially for young people whose belief systems and thinking patterns are being established: “The adolescent brain is being shaped around a sexual experience that is isolating, visceral, and completely void of any love or compassion.”
When teens feed their fleshly lusts, they’re much more likely to indulge their fleshly desires, only to find out that their fleshly desires bring no long-term satisfaction, anyway. We need to teach them to deny and “put to death” their fleshly desires, whether sexual or otherwise (Colossians 3:5).
Sensuality with Names and Faces
Of course, online sensual temptations don’t stop with the nameless, impersonal images of pornography. Suggestive Facebook photos and innuendo-ridden texts (sometimes called “sexting”) often surface, even among teens who would not wear or say such lust-worthy things in person. Relationships can easily escalate to a sexual level when such natural desires are fueled via online interactions.
Continue with Part 2.