I am quickly becoming passionate about careful technology use. I believe that Christians need to be methodical about how they use technology because of its harms, but also because of its benefits. With its addictive nature, it can be harmful to the faithful walk of a Christian. If we’re intentional in our use, it can encourage brothers and sisters and bring outsiders to Christ.
Besides applying the principles I was taught growing up, I’ve done some soul-searching over the past couple of years about how I use technology. I’ve been trying to nail down how, when, and why I should use it based on Biblical principles and sometimes emotional preference. For me this includes movies, TV shows, social media, “web surfing” (do they still call it that?? I don’t even know.), and whatever else modern technology entails. I’ve spent the majority of my time being frustrated with technology and media because I was only seeing the harms.
Technology sometimes seems myterious to me, like it’s another world. Because of that it can also seem like there are no consequences.
And that’s not the case.
That verse should be scary, but it should also be encouraging! We’ll answer for everything, but that everything does not have to be bad if we are diligent in Christ Jesus. Our deeds done in the body are all of our deeds, both on the internet and in the “real world.” I’m growing in this and learning how to be better so that I will answer well; I’m not perfect. However, I’d like to share some things that have been helping me in my journey.
Since I wrote this post three years ago, I have streamlined my view of technology. In the post I focused on the pros and cons, and I barely scratched the surface of my thoughts. I still agree with myself, but I wanted to lay out something more practical.
Guiding Verses and Questions
It’s important to look at technology through a Biblical lens, just like anything else that’s of the world. Before we pick it up, I think that we should examine ourselves. I usually have some verses in the back of my mind and questions I ask myself. I’m not going to address each of these, but they might be helpful in your own studies.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)
- Does this glorify God?
- Is this helping me transform and renew my mind in the will of God? Or will it be harmful to me?
- Is this a waste of time?
- Should a Christian be thinking on the things that I’m bringing into my mind?
- Am I sharing or bragging?
- Am I glorifying God with my action?
- Am I spending God’s time wisely?
- Will this make me more like Jesus?
- Would using this form of/taking part in this technology cause a fellow follower to stumble? Or would it edify them instead?
- Am I entertained by what God hates? (a good one from Real Christianity** podcast episode “Setting Biblical Boundaries on Movies, Media, and Music”)
- Is this deadening my joy? (Real Christianity podcast)
As Christians, we are to be completely filled with doing God’s will. It is to be our top priority and purpose. If everything else doesn’t align with that, then we have some changes to make. This is why my husband and I are so passionate about the media we bring into our home and the way we spend our time using it.
With technology’s promise of instant gratification, we have to be very careful about what we type, search, click, and post. Here are some ideas:
Prioritize Spiritual Wellness
My recent mantra on this: Bible most, entertainment least. I don’t want to look back at my day and realized I’ve spent more hours saturating myself with things of the world than with things of God. There is nothing wrong with using technology if its content doesn’t go against God’s will or hinder your spiritual growth. I think that one way to make sure that we’re using it wisely is to put spiritual health first. Read your Bible before picking up your phone to scroll. Don’t let yourself watch TV until you’ve read, studied, and prayed. If you listen to podcasts, choose a Bible-focused podcast or sermon to listen to for most of your day and save entertainment for last. You could even listen to the Bible through an app. I’m not suggesting a checklist, but I am suggesting stimulating your mind with godly things and choosing those first.
Use Filters and Choose Media Carefully
Movies and shows are outside things you bring into your home, even if you don’t have physical copies. If you wouldn’t want a physical person coming into your home and doing or saying the things you’re allowing to be on your screens, then you probably don’t want a “simulated” version of that there either. TV can trick us into thinking that “it’s just acting,” “I’m not actually doing that,” or “it’s not causing me to stumble right now so it’s ok.” Friends, that’s not true. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we could have the freedom to passively partake in sin. When we become Christians, we renounce the things of the world and replace them with godly things. If the actions and speech you’re seeing and hearing is doing a complete 180 from glorifying God, I encourage you to turn it off. Even filtering resources can’t take away ungodly plots and subplots or normalized sin, but those are available to use with careful judgment.
I’m also talking about music and podcasts. I don’t want the podcasts and music I listen to to go against God’s Word. If there’s filthy language or they’re singing/discussing something that Christians shouldn’t have any part in, then I assess that situation and turn it off or change the episode. Ephesians 5:3-4 says not even to let these things be named among you. We should have no part in ungodliness, including within the realm of technology.
When I say accountability, I don’t necessarily mean someone you have to report to at the end of each week with a detailed list of the ways you used technology — unless you need that. What I really mean is find good friends and godly family help you and influence you. Do not underestimate the power of a positive friendship. I’ve found some friends (and a husband) who I know will tell me when I’m doing something that might not be a good idea. These people will not only tell me this, but also practice the same methods in their lives. Because of their influence, I have accountability in my own life. If I feel like I can’t tell my godly friends about some kind of media I’ve been using, then I might need to rethink my actions and consult the Bible. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” If that’s true, then how much more so can good company restore good morals!
On the other hand, if you have found a friend who encourages you to use your technology to God’s glory, thank Him for that friend! And then thank your friend. These are the kinds of relationships that will sharpen us in the Word and lead us closer to God, not farther away. I also encourage you to work on becoming that friend if you haven’t yet. Not only do we need to have these life-giving friends, but we need to be them so that we can fulfill the command to encourage.
Use iPhone’s Downtime Feature
This is my new favorite thing on the iPhone. It allows you to set a time limit to your phone usage. It’s great for setting personal boundaries if you have trouble breaking away from your phone. But, if you want to stop yourself from using your phone for entertainment (or mind-numbing) purposes during the work day, you can set it to limit time between 9-5, or the hours you prefer, and it will gray out the apps you don’t allow; if you click on them, it will tell you that you’ve reached your limit on that app. You will have the option to ignore for 15 minutes or ignore for the day, but it makes it that much more difficult to get into the app in the first place. I especially like this feature because it helps me avoid laziness and excuses like, “I could use a break” after doing work for five minutes. Instead, if I do sit down and start clicking, it gives me the “Time Limit” pop-up and gives me time to assess if I really need that break. I’ll at least think before I click.
Aside from Downtime, you can also access a setting that lets you block websites or apps on your phone. If you need your phone, but don’t want to be tempted to use a particular site, go ahead and enable that.
Focus on Real People
No technology comes without real people behind it. If we can focus on the fact that what we’re sharing or liking is going to be posted for a whole lot of real people then we’ll probably be more careful about what we’re doing. We’ll become more selfless. It encourages me to remember this because I know that I could be using my time to discourage and cause someone to stumble or I could be lifting them up and sharing Truth (whether explicitly or by example). I could be choosing my entertainment choices wisely and encouraging others in the fact that it is possible to be fully set apart.
Those people you’re watching on TV? The author of that article? And the influencer you’re following on Instagram? Yeah, they’re real too. They’re all souls. If you focus on that, it could be harder to watch them sin and be entertained by it. The whole world needs Jesus, and just because we aren’t seeing each person face-to-face doesn’t make that any less true.
For example, if I’m on Instagram and I like a post, I try to make sure that what they’re saying and how they’re saying it aligns with my beliefs, the person in the photo isn’t dressed in a way that might cause someone to stumble, and they’re not hurting someone else. That might seem extreme, but other people can see what you like and be affected by it (and the person can be encouraged to continue in their sin), and I want to please God in that.
View it as a Tool
Movies and TV shows are created for entertainment. But I think that all technology can be used as a tool. It’s either a passive tool to show others that you’re careful about what you choose to fill your mind with or an active tool to bear fruit. We must remember that we’re sojourners, pilgrims on this earth, if we bear the name of Christ. Whatever we do is to be under Christ’s authority and to God’s glory. Jesus came to earth to complete a mission and He didn’t even speak without being in obedience to God. It’s humbling to think about our Savior being in complete submission to God — even I, one who has zero authority, don’t hesitate to run to the world sometimes. That said, I think that technology (especially social media) should be first a tool, then entertainment, just like spiritual wellness.
First, I want to make sure I’m using my platforms, outlets, and media sources for Biblical reasons, or at least not against Biblical teaching. Next, I should make sure I’m being obedient in what I’m saying, searching, or seeing. Then, I need to think about how I might affect others. And maybe then I can use it for entertainment. Personally, I like to even use my outlets (like this one) for active encouragement from God’s Word. It both holds me accountable and exposes others to Truth.
It can also be a tool to build yourself up. Follow like-minded accounts or pages, and unfollow or mute the ones that might cause you to stumble. You could even watch and listen to something that’s educational or Biblical to engage your mind. Interact with the people who are trying to encourage you or pray with you, and let those relationships grow.
Every single aspect of the Christian life should be filled with questioning and double-checking the things we’re allowing in. It should also be filled with building up our brothers and sisters and bringing outsiders to the Truth. I believe this topic needs to be discussed more among friends and churches because of how deeply it permeates the members. We have to be aware of every single action so that we’ll be prepared to answer for that.
If we’re careful in the other branches of our lives, then we need to treat this just the same — a tool to shine our lights and a part of our lives, not our whole life. I encourage you to search your heart as I continue to search mine and decide if your technology use is fitting in your bodily temple.