IN A "DOT-COM" WORLD [PART 1]
By Rolan Monje, July 2003
The Internet is a tremendous tool and exciting facet
of today's information superhighway. More than ever
cyberspace is used to tell the truth about God. It's
great that many of the "dot-coms" today
help us know more about God and the Bible. But we
must also stay aware of the traps set by the enemy
to ensnare God's people.
As an electrical engineer I am fascinated by and have
always upheld electronic innovation. At the same time,
being a minister, I have grown to be more watchful
of Satan's schemes and subtle efforts to destroy my
life and those of others in God's flock.
I believe that the call for Christians is to be wise.
Without become overprotective or paranoid, I would
like to share some thoughts in line with God's warnings
to the wise. I believe that I've become wiser because
of my many, many mistakes. But I can also avoid future
mistakes with the Bible's help. The Bible has always
taught spiritual wisdom; many biblical principles
can apply to our use of cyberspace. I am confident
that together we can come up with strategies to overcome
the temptations and walk above reproach.
PHP 4:8 (NASB) 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, let your mind dwell on these things.
Col 4:6 (NEB) Let your conversation be always gracious,
and never insipid; study how best to talk with each
person you meet.
Rom 16:19 (NIV) Everyone has heard about your obedience,
so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be
wise about what is good, and innocent about what is
· Dangers of the Internet
Is there good and positive material on the web? Definitely!
But there is also a great deal of destructive material
that can have a terrible impact on you, your friends,
your marriage, and your relationship with God. We
must remember that everyday, as many as 13 million
users are on the web at any time of the day. That's
a lot of people! Sadly, many of those people online
have terrible motives. Here are some Web concerns
that I'm sure many of you are aware of already:
· Suggestion and initiation
Sadly, the information superhighway has been thoroughly
abused. The Internet teaches everything from breeding
orchids to making bombs. Cyber-evidence shows that
man's sinful nature gets the better of him. In fact,
because of the amount of weapons and drugs being advertised
and sold of the Internet, several nations have put
up agencies to track down and apprehend these criminals.
Beyond this, there is much more untoward activity
that is suggested and talked about, even if it does
not actually happen.
· Hate and harassment
The Internet has been used to defame, abuse, harass,
stalk, threaten or otherwise violate the legal rights
(such as rights of privacy and publicity) of others.
"Hate pages" abound, which are meant to
destroy a person or company's credibility. Not uncommon
are "cybersmears" that attempt to destroy
products or services of certain firms. I know of a
foreign evangelist who became the subject of these
"hate" pages: A man was studying the Bible
to become a Christian. When the evangelist challenged
him to give up his immorality, the man walked away
and created a web site "warning" people
about the evangelist and saying all kinds of lies
about the church. There is no telling as to the amount
of destructive and "inappropriate material"
on the Web which directly or indirectly relate racism,
violence, suicide and terrorism. Disciples should
make spiritual judgments about everything that they
· Internet pornography
It has been estimated that over 60% of all material
on the Internet are suggestive or pornographic. Sadly,
even the exploitation of children is becoming rampant.
Multiple destructive sites are added daily. Even harmless
mail accounts can be infected with sudden "pop-ups".
Also, society is becoming more and more daring with
pornographic material. Pornography is like masturbation.
For men, it can lead to selfishness, other forms of
addiction, unhealthy or unreal expectations, and even
weirdness. It can never really satisfy and can never
give fulfillment like a Christian marriage. Pornography
enslaves but ends in frustration and emptiness. Research
shows that many serial killers start off as soft porno
addicts. Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid
these traps. The disciple should surely stay away
from these sites.
The Internet has become a main venue for plagiarism.
Since in cyberspace property rights and boundaries
are somewhat obscured, this kind of abuse becomes
easier. There are several laws and proper channels
for posting and transmitting protected data. Nowadays
however, it has become common to post material that
infringes patents, trademarks, or other proprietary
rights. Many students will find it a lot "easier
to do research" using the Web, but this should
be coupled with conscientious notation and acknowledgment.
· Child abduction,
molestation, and sexual exploitation
Some of the saddest stories I've heard have to do
with children. I was shocked to hear of children being
taken away or suddenly disappearing after several
'innocent' interactions on the Net. Whole families
have been torn apart by pornography and sexual exploitation.
Our society needs to be more and more cautious as
technology 'takes over' in many of our homes and schools.
· Unmoderated chat rooms
Of course there's nothing inherently wrong with chatting,
but the Christian should beware of meeting strangers
on the Internet and striking up a cyberspace relationship
with them. Like many forms of communication, chat
rooms are often misused to conduct anonymous conversations.
Quite often these talks are done with illicit intent.
Unmoderated Internet chat rooms are potential venues
for explicit sexual exchanges, joking about physical
violence and assaults, aggression, and disturbing
exchange involving racial prejudice. Besides, many
have complained about the unwanted distribution of
their personal information.
· Gossip, Urban Legends,
and Chain letters
People can be very gullible. I know I have. Oftentimes,
the Internet poses information that will sway your
thinking so quickly, undermining even your deepest
beliefs. As always, one should check information that
is posted online, especially if it causes one to change
views about a person or institution. Many documents
with the theme "Did you know that
have to be double-checked. Dubious also are e-mails
with "Very Important" or "urgent"
in the message line, or one that closes, "send
this to everyone in your address book." Chain
letters that solicit money are illegal by both state
and federal laws. Besides, these usually end up just
clogging the Web. For instance: If you send a chain
letter to 5 people and they each send it to 5 people
and so on, by the 10th level of forwarding there would
of been almost 10 million (unnecessary) e-congesting
The Internet has been used time and again for various
frauds. People have used the Web to impersonate persons
or entities. Internet consumerism has so developed
such that almost everything is being sold online.
Some of these markets are legal and some are illegal.
Certain e-businesses have also been found non-existent
or insolvent after deceiving many people.
· Viruses and other
One incident that made the Philippines famous (or
infamous) was that of the "I Love You" virus.
That was one virus that virtually circled the globe
and victimized many people. You have to update your
Viruscan regularly because it seems there's a new
virus every week! The Internet has been the deliberate
cesspool of viruses and programs that may damage the
operation of another's computer. Issues such as bandwidth
theft and cyberterrorism (a.k.a. hacking) are fast
becoming national concerns. These issues have wide
legal implications. It's crazy what some people can
think of doing.
· When good things turn out
When you think about it, you may ask yourself "How
could such a good innovation be used for so much evil?".
Well, God is sovereign over all things. But the Internet
is one proof that man, left alone to practice free
will, can do so much damage to himself and to the
world around him. So to answer the question, let's
look at an example of something "good" that
turned "bad". We recall that Moses' bronze
snake in Numbers 21 was formed for good reasons. Those
bitten by snakes could look at the bronze snake on
the pole and survive the virulent poison.
NU 21:6-9 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among
them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.
The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned
when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray
that the LORD will take the snakes away from us."
So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses,
"Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone
who is bitten can look at it and live." So Moses
made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then
when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the
bronze snake, he lived.
This show of deliverance was even mentioned by Jesus
in John 3:14-15. The snake on the pole was a foreshadow
of him dying at Calvary. The bronze snake was intended
for something good! Human weakness shows up again
after several centuries - the snake became a symbol
of idolatry in 2 Kings 18, during the time of Hezekiah.
2 Ki 8:3-4
[Hezekiah] did what was right in
the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had
done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred
stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into
pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to
that time the Israelites had been burning incense
to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)
The bronze snake started out as a cure but ended
up as a curse. Why? Certainly not because of God,
but because of man. In the same way, the Web can have
an initial benefit as well as later backlash. Many
good things in our lives can turn out to have negative
effects when sin gets in the way. Can you think of
other examples or warnings in the Bible?
[End of part 1; Part 2 will deal with biblical &