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Does Your Child’s Cell Phone Preach Another Gospel

February 12, 2009

Here’s an interesting (=convicting) article by Russell Moore:

http://www.russellmoore.com/index.php/2009/02/09/does-your-childs-cell-phone-preach-another-gospel/

Cell phones, Facebook, and text messaging have been on my mind a lot the last several months, mostly because I spend a lot of time with youth (=16-22) who have little self-control or discernment with their use of the things. Particularly concerning to me is the use of texting during times that ought to be given to fellowship (i.e., Bible studies, worship services).

I’m sure you’ve seen them, the texters who think themselves so slick: holding the phone almost out of sight by the hip, or under the table, stealing glances at it here and there, responding and typing without looking at the keys. Meanwhile, their eyes are slightly glazed and face slightly blank as you talk or ask questions (because no one can multi-task in the sense of devoting their thoughtful attention simultaneously to 2 thoughts). Their train of thought doesn’t get too far down the tracks b/c it has constant and trivial detours.

Parents: Help your kids in this area! They need to learn self-control. They need to learn to engage their minds prolonged on a subject, especially to engage the Word of God and the people that it might have a spiritual, transforming effect in them! Shut their phone off for them if they don’t know when or how to use it.

Texters: You don’t need it! Are you addicted to it? Try fasting from it and devoting yourself to the seeking of God for a concentrated time. At the very least put it away when you need to be wholly engaged with those God has put in your presence for the moment, both for you to learn and to be a benefit to them. It’s time for you to learn to minister the Word to other’s hearts rather than texting endlessly trivial foolish rivers of your own words. You’re an instrument for His use; make yourself a useful one.

Manners: And if your parents haven’t taught you, it’s rude! Basic manners in the company of others means you give them you’re time and attention (including and most importantly the Person Christ).
Here’s a couple guidelines: a) if you can’t turn your texting off when you’re with others, at least refrain from responding until you leave that person(s)’ company. b) turn your texting off in other’s company. c) during church worship services and Bible studies, turn your phone off.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2009 5:33 pm

    Interesting article. I am torn.I agree with the annoyance of the situation. From experience and various situations I can see that setting limits and making rules is easy. Enforcing them is not too terribly difficult either. Dealing with the heart issue is impossible apart from God.The temptation I fear in this process of limits and intense monitoring is an authoritarian approach by which the parent’s Faith is forced on the child as opposed to the child taking on their own Faith. This could be part of the cause for the statistics of so many youth leaving their “faith” in high school and/or college.There are dozens of teens at Faith that would never dream of being rude with texting like that. That, I believe, is largely due to their parent’s investment and lifelong discipleship along with the spirit of God that resides in them.As a children’s pastor I see the necessity of a close relationship between parents and their children, at all stages of life. Instead of focusing on rules, it might be there is a need for a renewed focus on the relationship between parent and teen.Rules are important but I believe in the context of love and relationship. Without a close two way relationship I don’t clearly see how these rules can be effective in moving students towards God.In some situations you would simply be replacing the sin of indulgence with one of contempt for the rule maker. Does that move the child closer to God? Or does it put them in a position to be more open to God? I am not 100% convinced my thoughts are right on here, I just see some potential pitfalls of a legalistic approach to the issue of cell phones.Perhaps a simple request from teachers in worship times and youth times to turn off their phones would aid in giving them the space to draw closer to God.

  2. February 16, 2009 7:30 pm

    You raise some great points. We always want to shepherd hearts toward Christ. So how do we lay down standards (which I think are necessary)?Craig Cabinass has some very helpful instruction in the recent book edited by C. J. Mahaney, “Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World”. He states [regarding standards for watching our media intake]: “Do we risk legalism by establishing personal viewing standards? Absolutely! But the risk doesn’t lie in having standards; it lies in our motivation. Legalism is a heart condition that can easily affect our media viewing (or lack of viewing) just as it can color any other activity . . . The solution is not necessarily lowering our standards. It IS necessarily raising our understanding of and response to the glorious grace of God.”So with texting / cell phone usage, shepherding hearts means asking the “why” questions. Why do you text? Do you want to be known? Liked? Why do you text when God’s Word and its application is being discussed? Why do it when your teacher, pastor, friend, or parent is trying to communicate God’s revelation to you and your duties to Him? What is motivating you?And, when the fruit on the tree is bad, we call it bad! But we love each other too much as Christians to leave each other with only a rebuke (though rebuke we must), it’s a loving rebuke, and comes with positive instruction and encouragement (Rom 15:14).

  3. February 16, 2009 7:49 pm

    Good clarification. I especially appreciate your last paragraph.

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