I’m probably among the few in Italy (and likely most places) who doesn’t own a Smartphone. And people often wonder why, so I explain that for me it’s a matter of ethics. Ethics that extend to my shopping and use of technology. Because I believe that my faith should guide every area of life, including technology.
Hubby and I tend to go against the flow of commercialism and materialism. The insatiable need for bigger, better, and more driving the world today, and which companies are all too happy to fill. They dangle the carrot of new, bigger, and better products, and we consumers, like sheep, chase after them — even if we don’t need them. Sometimes even jumping off the cliff into financial difficulty or digital dependency.
And how about us as believers? Do we just follow along? Or do we have ethics that guide our technology use and purchases?
First, what are ethics?
Ethics are principles or systems of morals that define right conduct. We all have them, even if we don’t realize it. Some people have very lax ethics, thinking “What does it really matter?” Others watch every P and Q. But we all have them to some degree.
The Bible makes it clear that, as Christ’s disciples, Biblical principles should guide every area of our life — and that includes technology.
Secondly, in what way should our ethics affect our technology?
It’s not a question of do’s and don’ts, which could quickly turn into legalism. Rules that state computers and cell phones are OK, but not Smartphones and video game systems.
Yet ethical guidelines can help us wisely choose how and to what extent we should embrace technology. Or any area of life, for that matter!
Questions to ask in evaluating technology:
1. Will it empower me or control me?
“All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of anything,” (1 Corinthians 6:12).
I don’t want things, or an imagined need of them, to control me.
Sadly people do become controlled by technology or an imagined ‘need’ of it, even waiting days in line to get the newest models. All that time for non-essential items. Time they could have spent with family, resting, or enjoying life.
2. Does this purchase meet real needs or market-generated wants?
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God,” (Hebrews 13:16).
I want to value caring for others over amassing non-essential items.
Companies push the constant drive for the latest and best by creating new wants. Real needs are relatively few. Few people have true need of continuous internet connection. Especially at the cost of being disconnected from those nearest and dearest to us. Or at the cost of failing in our Christian responsibilities of caring for our loved ones and reaching out to others.
3. Is it a wise and necessary use of money?
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master,” (Matthew 25:21).
I want to invest in God’s kingdom and seek after true riches.
All we own belongs to the Lord. Our money, our possessions, our time, even our lives. We are mere stewards or caretakers of them. Is my use of technology (and the money used on them) good stewardship? Perhaps it’s time to get back to living as our grandparents did. “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it or replace it!”
4. Does it appropriately use resources?
“For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content,” (1 Timothy 6:7-8).
I want to care for the earth through true contentment.
Aside from the sometimes deplorably unsafe production methods, continual manufacturing of non-essential items greatly depletes natural resources and damages the environment. Earth care is good stewardship of one of God’s greatest gifts: our beautiful earth. Real contentment can help us fulfill God’s mandate to work and keep the earth (Genesis 2:15).
5. Does it help me fulfill my social responsibilities?
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me, (Matthew 25:35-36).
I want to remember that whatever I do, I’m really doing it unto the Lord.
We’re called to care for the poor, the widows, and the orphans. Can we adequately do that while continually spending on things we don’t really need? Shouldn’t our giving at least come close to matching what we spend on non-essential items?
God’s Word may not give explicit instructions for every situation or choice.
But by applying Scripture, we can learn the Scriptural principles necessary to help us live in a way that is pleasing to our Lord, and discover a life of true joy and fulfillment!
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart,”(Psalm 40:8).