By / Dec 28

When we hear about being more disciplined with our social media diet or crafting better habits with our devices like our smartphones or tablets, we are often bombarded with helpful tips and tricks about time limits, device-free dinners, digital sabbaths, or even using internet filters. There are a plethora of apps and tools available today, but these tools usually fail to address the real problem lying behind the screens. We fall prey to the temptation to believe that “more technology is needed to meet the emergencies which technology has produced,” as Canadian philosopher George Grant noted in his well-known work, Technology and Justice

While most of these tips or tricks can be incredibly helpful in limiting our usage of social media and may even reveal some of the ways that technology is shaping us, it is a mistake to think that merely cutting something out of your life will help with long-term change and help in developing lasting healthy habits with technology.

A better habit  

In the popular 2020 Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, we meet a family struggling with many of the very things our families deal with in terms of our addictions to our devices and social media. The mother in this fictional family heard about a way to limit screen time and purchased a new lock box for the entire family to use at dinners. At one point, the daughter breaks open the box to get her device back, and the son makes a deal to stop using his phone for a period of time, which ultimately (and predictably) fails. The filmmakers use this illustration to show how addictive these devices can really be, but I think it shows a much broader point than they may have originally intended in the film.

One of the most obvious—yet least implemented—elements of curbing our digital dependence is not just putting down our phones but actually picking up new and better habits. To curb or break a bad habit, you cannot just stop doing something. You must start doing something else. You may experience short-term success by cutting down your screen time, limiting your interactions online, or even deleting a particular app. But to truly have your mind renewed and refreshed by the power of the Holy Spirit, you have to replace it with something else (Rom. 12:1-2). 

Paul, in the letter to the Church at Ephesus, highlights this general idea of putting off the old way of living and putting on the new self as he spoke about the radical transformation that the gospel makes in our lives. He calls these believers “to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires . . . and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth” (Eph. 4:22,24, CSB).

While it is clear in context that Paul is not directly speaking about reshaping our digital habits, this concept nevertheless reveals something about human nature and is helpful as we think about navigating our dependence on these devices and the ways that technology is discipling us every day. Simply “taking off” our old ways of using technology like locking up our phones, setting time limits, or blocking certain features is only a half measure. You may experience temporary victories, but it will likely not last very long. The desire to check your feed and the FOMO (fear of missing out) will probably cause you to give in or at least cut back on certain aspects of your ambitious plan of change.

What’s your new habit? 

What if we embraced this idea of “taking off” certain things as well as “putting on” new habits and disciplines in light of our digital age? For some of us, this might mean starting a new habit at dinner of sharing stories with one another or even praying through all of those Christmas cards to remind you of family and friends that may not come to mind immediately during prayer time. It could mean committing to read a few pages in a new book each day, journaling, starting a new workout routine, or even writing a letter to a friend. 

The goal here is to do something that you would enjoy or that is life giving to you in lieu of the digital distractions and addictions you are trying to curb. You will form new (and better) habits and will experience the joy and fulfillment of doing a different activity. Just putting down your phone doesn’t change your fixation with it. Instead, we must seek to redirect our passions, longings, and habits—by God’s grace—to something greater if we are to really turn away from our old habits and have our minds and hearts renewed in a digital age. 

Human nature reminds us that we are creatures of habit and have created certain liturgies or ways of living. To alter those, we must actively seek to craft new habits and liturgies rather than passively seek to avoid certain things. As we start a new year, eager to follow Jesus well in our digital age, we need to remind ourselves that our bad habits or patterns were not formed overnight. Likewise, new ones will take time to establish. But by putting off the old and putting on the new habits, we might come to see how the Spirit renews and refreshes us to pursue wisdom for the days ahead.

By / Sep 9

In this episode, Lindsay talks with Jason Thacker about his new book, Following Jesus in a Digital Age, and how Christians can approach technology. They also discuss the biblical definition of marriage and how that is being undermined by the Respect for Marriage Act. 

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  • Dobbs Resource Page | The release of the Dobbs decision marks a true turning point in the pro-life movement, a moment that Christians, advocates and many others have worked toward tirelessly for 50 years. Let us rejoice that we live in a nation where past injustices can still be corrected, as we also roll our sleeves up to save preborn lives, serve vulnerable mothers, and support families in our communities. To get more resources on this case, visit
  • Sexual Ethics Resource Page | Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of entertainment and messages that challenge the Bible’s teachings on sexual ethics? It often feels like we’re walking through uncharted terrority. But no matter what we face in our ever-shifting culture, God’s design for human sexuality has never changed. The ERLC’s new sexual ethics resource page is full of helpful articles, videos, and explainers that will equip you to navigate these important issues with truth and grace. Get these free resources at
By / Sep 1

Life in the digital age for those who enjoy its fruit is easier in some ways, and more convenient than it’s ever been. Nearly everything we can imagine—information, goods and services, and social connection—can be delivered to us almost instantly with the click of a button. But the digital age, and the ease and convenience that it affords us, are shaping us into spiritually barren people who are more inclined toward “discontentment, fragility, and foolishness.” It is conforming us into its own digital image. 

How are we to resist being conformed to the image of another? In his book, Analog Christian: Cultivating Contentment, Resilience, and Wisdom in the Digital Age, Jay Kim seeks to address this very question. Kim serves as the lead pastor at WestGate Church in Silicon Valley, and he’s the author of Analog Church, a book that “explore[s] the ways the digital age and its values affect the life of the church.” That Kim and his church are situated in Silicon Valley, the capital city of the digital age, makes him a respected voice uniquely capable of providing aid for Christians seeking to live faithfully in the digital age.

For those who “care about our spiritual lives and [our] walk with Jesus,” Analog Christian is “a resource and guide to help us become aware of changes we need to make.” Moreover, it is one that helps us become aware of the changes the digital age is enacting upon us and an instruction manual for how we can resist those changes. In this book, Kim offers readers a glimpse into what it might look like for the people of God to be dosed with the Spirit’s “very specific antidotes we most desperately need for the undoing we’re experiencing in the digital age.”

Cultivating good fruit

The act of gardening may not be the imagery you expect to encounter when opening a book about life in our digital society, but Analog Christian is, at its root, precisely a book about gardening; about cultivating the soil of our spiritual lives so that we can bear the fruit that is now native to us who are indwelled by the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22–23). It is this fruit in all its variety that the Spirit seeks to produce in us, yet it is this fruit that the digital age is actively choking out of us. 

In the book of Galatians, the apostle Paul uses the analogy of fruit-bearing to describe what a life lived “by” and “in step with the Spirit” looks like (v. 25), undoubtedly mimicking the language that Jesus himself uses in John 15 to describe what happens when we abide in him. For “where the Spirit is,” wrote Willian Tyndale, “there it is always summer,” for there “there are always good fruits, that is to say, good works.” But, if we are honest, our spiritual lives often feel more like a barren wasteland than they do the “always summer” reality that Tyndale describes. So in this cultural moment, when we are so enamored by the digital ecosystem we inhabit, Kim calls his readers to pick up our gardening tools and go to work cultivating the ground where the Spirit has made his home—the human heart.

Like gardening, the work required to cultivate our hearts is a slow process. “It will not happen overnight,” Kim reminds us. It involves softening the ground, weeding away what doesn’t belong, and enduring the conditions of life that we encounter over days, weeks, and years. And it requires a prayerful dependence on the Holy Spirit, who will take our efforts and, by his grace, produce the fruit in us that the Scriptures say is his. Only then will we bear fruit. Only then can we “thrive” in the digital age, “like trees planted by streams of water” (Psa. 1:3).

What we are up against

“The fruit of the Spirit does not require neat, clean environments to grow,” Kim says. “It is in fact dirt, the humble and messy stuff of life, where fruit comes alive.” And while our digital age promises to create neat and clean environments, building neat and clean facades out of our Instagram feeds and Facebook pages, what’s being swept under the rug or simply ignored at our own peril is that the bulk of today’s technologies are producing a society devoid of virtue and individual lives devoid of flourishing. Our digital masters are dehumanizing us, forming us into digital shells of ourselves. But it’s precisely here, Kim argues, in the “messy stuff of life,” where the Spirit can do his work of fruit-bearing and reform us into the image of the icon of humanity, Jesus Christ. 

But the pathway to Christlikeness is not a byway around the slow, hard difficulties and inconveniences of life, which the digital age promises to remove. And it’s certainly not to forsake the journey altogether and take up residence in the digital ether where the process of fruit-bearing is traded away for the “easy everywhere” that Andy Crouch describes in his book, The Tech-Wise Family. No, Christlikeness is a hard-won, Spirit-wrought process of walking with God into “the humble and messy stuff of life,” getting dirt under our fingernails and, by his grace, bearing the fruit of love in a culture of despair, the fruit of patience in an environment conditioned for impatience, and the fruit of gentleness in an age of outrage.

At a time when we are “immersed in unreality,” Kim is arguing for—pleading for—Christians to “go analog,” to pursue “the true spiritual life not [by] escap[ing] from reality but [by] an absolute commitment to it.” As Dan Kimball writes in the foreword to the book, Analog Christian “is not an anti-technology rant or anti-digital world rant.” It is “a thoughtful, biblical look at how technology forms us spiritually—both the good and the bad.” So, you will not find an explicit admonition to run for the nondigital hills. What you will find, again, is “a resource and guide to help [you] become aware of changes [you] may need to make.” Analog Christian is a counterargument against the subliminal polemic of our day that is pulling us deeper into the digital facade and its attending barrenness.

Do you find yourself increasingly inclined toward discontentment, fragility, or even foolishness? Has the digital age produced in you poisonous “fruits” like despair, contempt, hostility, or reckless indulgence? These are not signs of life; they are signs that this digital age is enacting its will upon us, deforming us into the bits and bytes of its own digital image. Begin again the “lifelong journey of watering” and “tilling the soil” of your heart, keeping in step with the Spirit, and abiding in Christ the vine, apart from whom we can bear none of the Spirit’s fruit. Let Jay Kim in Analog Christian be a shepherding voice that leads you back to the Chief Shepherd of your soul. 

By / Aug 31

We live in an unprecedented age of information, more than we can even begin to comprehend, right at our fingertips. The internet was once seen as an instrument that allowed the average person access to near limitless information, instead of limiting these things to certain elite groups, as was the practice in past generations. But as we know all too well today, one of the unintended downsides of this widespread availability of information is the breakdown of trust throughout society in what we hear or read. This shift is especially prevalent in our growing inability to discern what is true in a world that seems to be given over to misinformation and reinterpretations of reality often to gain status or prestige.  

Technology has a profound effect on us as human beings and shapes not only how we view ourselves but also the world around us. One of the most devastating effects of technology on society has been the breakdown, if not a full-on crisis, of what is considered true.1For more on the rise of cancel culture from a non-Christian perspective, see chapter 7 of Jonathan Rauch, The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 2021). This is especially widespread on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, where terms like fake news, misinformation, conspiracy theories, and post-truth have become part of our everyday vocabulary.2For a more in-depth look at the the technical and political factors involved in this debate, see my expanded chapter on misinformation and conspiracy theories in Jason Thacker, ed., The Digital Public Square: Christian Ethics in a Technological Society (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2023). On this side of the often-utopian promises of technology, we now see how universal access to information and power actually helped to usher in a host of unexpected complex ethical questions—questions that many are unprepared to answer. Parents, philosophers, and tech-company founders alike seem to respond the same way as they wrestle with the ethical aftermath—if only we could have seen these things coming

French sociologist and theologian, Jacques Ellul, captures our blindness well when he wrote that “man can never foresee the totality of consequences of a given technical action.”3Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964), 105. Even our best intentions for these innovations can overlook the devastating unintended effects, especially when deployed at a massive scale throughout our society—especially a society that has sought to rid itself of a transcendent (or supernatural) understanding of truth and reality. We often pursue individuality at the expense of truth, and nowhere is that clearer than on social media.  

Post-truth problems

Filling the headlines of major media outlets and saturating our social media timelines, the influence of fake news, misinformation, propaganda, disinformation, and conspiracy theories grows each day. Where do we hear about these things most, though? In what context do you hear the term “fake news” thrown around? If your social feeds are anything like mine, your answer is probably, “When my political party takes issue with the opposing political party on a certain issue.” And that should upset us, shouldn’t it? That “fake news” or “fake facts” would be wielded as a weapon against our political opponents simply because they take a different position than us on a particular matter? Simply because they said something we don’t like or agree with? Simply because the information presented—even if it’s actually true—feels inconvenient or challenging? Shouldn’t it sadden believers that throughout our culture and even in our churches, it seems truth has become simply what we want it to be rather than some objective and knowable reality outside of us?  

I’ve noticed that trying to have a civil conversation online is getting harder and harder these days, even about the smallest of issues. Have you noticed this too? One idea or opinion expressed, and it’s like a fire erupts out of nowhere. We can blame our modern pursuit of defining truth on our own terms for this, as doing so creates an online atmosphere where “communication [with one another] is thwarted, and the possibility of rational discourse disappears,” as one ethicist put it.4D. Stephen Long, Truth Telling in a Post-Truth World (Nashville: General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, UMC, 2019), 8. It becomes increasingly difficult to navigate the pressing ethical issues of technology—like the rise of misinformation and conspiracy theories—since we no longer have a common starting point for these debates in society or even a similar grasp on reality. Without agreeing on the foundational level about what’s morally good and bad, truth naturally becomes a political weapon, used to denigrate or “cancel” those who might hold to a different worldview or belief about how the world works.5For more on the rise of cancel culture from a non-Christian perspective, see chapter 7 of Jonathan Rauch, The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 2021). Though if you survey the top resources on the rise of conspiracy theories, misinformation, and fake news, you will quickly find many are extremely partisan in nature, intentionally blaming one side of the political spectrum for rejecting reality or believing in fairy-tale fantasies in order to maintain some semblance of cultural power or influence.  

While the problems we face today in our post-truth society are exacerbated by technologies like the internet, social media, and even the rise of deepfakes—altered videos through artificial intelligence—the root of the problem is not the technology itself. Many of these pressing issues find their root cause in the philosophical and scientific movements of the last few hundred years, where there was a near total rejection of a transcendent reality, especially when it comes to moral norms. While many who write on these issues seek to blame “them” for the rise of our post-truth society and the chaos that naturally flows out of such a society, this kind of blame-shifting only makes the problem worse, driving the wedge deeper between opposing conversation partners. The result? Both sides increasingly fuel the breakdown not only of civil discourse but also of our shared pursuit of truth as a society.

Excerpted with permission from Following Jesus in a Digital Age by Jason Thacker. Copyright 2022, B&H Publishing. 

  • 1
    For more on the rise of cancel culture from a non-Christian perspective, see chapter 7 of Jonathan Rauch, The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 2021)
  • 2
    For a more in-depth look at the the technical and political factors involved in this debate, see my expanded chapter on misinformation and conspiracy theories in Jason Thacker, ed., The Digital Public Square: Christian Ethics in a Technological Society (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2023).
  • 3
    Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964), 105.
  • 4
    D. Stephen Long, Truth Telling in a Post-Truth World (Nashville: General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, UMC, 2019), 8.
  • 5
    For more on the rise of cancel culture from a non-Christian perspective, see chapter 7 of Jonathan Rauch, The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 2021). 
By / Aug 30

Pornography is unrealistic. It’s a statement many might view as common because it’s been said so frequently. But the raw data on pornography use in the United States reveals new ways that this is true. Each year, Pornhub, the world’s largest pornography site, puts out a report. This “Year in Review” includes details of which countries watch pornography the most (United States), which holiday sees the most drastic drop in visiting the site (New Year’s Eve), and which day is the most likely for people to log in (between 1-2 a.m. on Sunday morning). 

This past year, the data revealed that once again pornography is not meant to give us reality, but to feed us an illusion. The most searched for terms of 2021 in the U.S. included a form of Japanese pornographic anime known for its unrealistic depictions of body parts and the term “lesbian.” Think about that for a moment. Men are the most likely candidates to view pornography, and they have opted overwhelmingly for sexual acts that are impossible for them to ever actually participate in. 

What pornography reveals about people 

So, if it is not the real thing that people are after, what does this reveal? We do not desire real sex between two people, bringing with it all the vulnerability and responsibility that it entails, but a sea of sexual licentiousness, where individuals can seek their own pleasure through the use of another individual (real or imagined). If the pill gave us sex without pregnancy, then the widespread adoption of internet pornography has given us sexuality without people. 

In a culture awash in sexuality (but not true sex) as this, the novelty and strangeness of the act becomes more enticing than actual intercourse. This is similar to the conversation between two characters in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World where one encourages his friend to go to the “Feelies” (a movie experience where viewers can “feel” the movie), with these words: “I hear the new one at the Alhambra is first-rate. There’s a love scene on a bearskin rug; they say it’s marvelous. Every hair of the bear reproduced. The most amazing tactual effects.” 

When describing a sexual scene, the most alluring part of it is that you can “feel” the bearskin rug, not that there is bare skin shown on the screen. In the same way, when sexuality is so freely available, it is the other stuff that draws our attention. No longer is it enough to see the “bland” pornography, we now must gravitate toward that which is impossible: cartoons where the laws of physics and biology don’t constrain; scenarios that could never involve us. The allure of the strange and novel is what is exciting, not the beauty of a sexual union between partners who know each other (and only each other) intimately in the bond of marriage between a man and a woman. 

Technology and the use of pornography

Technology is not entirely to blame. Pornography use existed long before smartphones and the internet. But it is impossible to dismiss the ways that technology is reshaping our minds and sense of the physical world. Ironically, this particular moment has the striking fact that sexual content is more available online, even as rates of teen sexual activity are declining. 

According to sociologist Jean Twenge, iGen (or Gen Z) is less likely to have engaged in physical sexual activity than their predecessors. However, before we celebrate, the teens and young adults are no less likely to have engaged in sexual activity, it is just mediated through digital devices: sending nude photos or engaging in illicit texting with significant others. If sex is only about the individual’s physical pleasure, then one can receive that with a smartphone and Snapchat, physical presence not required. 

This is the contradiction of our time: a culture so flooded in sexuality and committed to pleasure, yet so starved for true sex and physical intimacy. The destroying of the barriers around sexuality did not actually bring us together, but in fact drove us further apart. Whereas a healthy view of sex involves two people in the context of marriage vulnerable before one another, pornography mediated through a screen requires nothing of an individual. The focus is bent inward, only on the person and what he or she might desire.The other person ceases to be human, becoming only a tool for sexual gratification. 

In some instances, the person is only a means for my economic profit. In the early days of the COVID pandemic, when many people were laid off from their jobs and confined to their homes in lockdowns, some turned to the internet and camshows (online shows where viewers pay to watch individuals engage in sexual acts) as a means of closing the economic gap. One popular site reported over 60,000 new “producers” in the first two weeks of March. Another promised to let out-of-work McDonalds workers keep 90% of their profits (a profit margin not given to most other “performers”). 

The disastrous effects of pornography use

Whether for individual sexual fulfillment or economic exploitation, what is required is not a person but an object. A tool. An image on the screen. To use another person in this way mars their status as one who has been made in the image of God, but it also sears our own consciences. Only a deformed conscience can treat another individual as an object rather than a person. And the prolonged practice of doing so brings unimaginable relational and personal destruction because we focus only on our own gratification. And, scientifically, that repeated use has a damaging effect on our lives. 

Sociologist Samuel Perry, who has studied pornography use among conservative Christians, found that those who engage in repeated use were more likely to back away from their faith. The turn inward toward self-pleasure is not compatible with the command to self-denial (Mark 8:34). These Christians did not hold contradictory beliefs in their head—“I believe pornography use is bad” and “There is nothing wrong with my use of pornography”—but rather opted to downplay the former belief that sex outside of marriage is detrimental. This trajectory reveals one of the most troubling aspects of our culture. Not that we would only engage in illicit sexual behavior, but we can come to believe that it is good for us. 

As Christians, we must understand the reality of pornography and state clearly the dangers it poses, both to those who produce and consume it. We must condemn its predatory, exploitative, and criminal activity. And we must call the world back to a view of sexuality built on physical, committed, and mutual intimacy in the context of God-designed marriage rather than personal self-gratification. 

By / Aug 23

 NASHVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 23, 2022— What does faith have to do with pressing issues of life in a digital world? Jason Thacker addresses this question in his latest book, Following Jesus in a Digital Age releasing Aug. 30 from B&H Publishing Group.          

Thacker, who serves as the director of the Research Institute at The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and as chair of research in technology ethics, wrote Following Jesus in a Digital Age to challenge Christians to consider how technology shapes their faith and how to navigate the most difficult aspects of digital culture—including the rise of misinformation, conspiracy theories, social media, digital privacy and social polarization.             

“The ERLC has for the last several years been at the forefront of thinking critically and biblically about emerging technologies and the influence they are having on our culture,” said Brent Leatherwood, acting president of the ERLC. “This is due, in no small part, to the work of Jason Thacker, one of the leading thinkers focusing on the crossroads of ethics and technology. In fact, this very book springs forth from the very research Jason is spearheading on issues of the digital public square. It is a helpful resource that promises wisdom and insight for any individual, small group, or church that seeks to honor God as they navigate the digital age.” 

According to Hootsuite’s Global State of Digital 2022 report, the average person spends about two and a half hours a day on social media and nearly seven hours a day using the internet.  

Following Jesus in a Digital Age is designed to help readers understand the deeply formative nature of technology.  

“This book reminds all of us that technology is subtly, yet drastically altering how we perceive the world around us, including issues of the nature of truth, responsibility and identity in our digital age,” Thacker said. “Amid the confusion and seeming cultural chaos of our day, Christians can engage these pressing issues of technology and ethics from a place of hope rooted in God’s unfailing Word and how He calls us to live with wisdom in our increasingly digital culture.” 

In September 2021, the ERLC launched the Digital Public Square, a long-term research project convening top Christian thinkers to explore the intersection of Christian ethics, technology and today’s digital public square. 

In addition to Thacker’s Following Jesus in Digital Age book, leaders of the Digital Public Square project plan to release assets over a two-year period to equip Christians on why ethics of technology matter to human flourishing and our public discourse.  

Upcoming Digital Public Square project assets include:

  • Weekly podcast with top leaders across society called, The Digital Public Square focused on theology, ethics and philosophy in the public square;
  • Corresponding Bible study with Lifeway Adults on similar topics to Following Jesus in a Digital Age;
  • Edited collection of academic essays with B&H Academic entitled, The Digital Public Square: Christian Ethics in a Technological Society;
  • Guidebook for students and teenagers about social media set for release in January 2023 by Christian Focus.

The project will culminate with an in-depth report on the state of the digital public square and a set of guiding ethical principles for digital governance and the public square in the coming year. To learn more about the Digital Public Square project, visit

By / Jul 15

In the weeks following the historic Dobbs decision, a good bit of misinformation has been propagated concerning what many pro-life laws across the nation actually do in protecting the life of the preborn and caring for vulnerable women in crisis. Along with this misinformation about the devastation of ectopic pregnancies and lamentable instances where the physical life of the mother is at risk, there has also been a torrent of speculative musings about the dystopian society we will now inhabit in a post-Roe context. As the ripple effects of this life-saving court decision continue to be felt throughout our society and as many states are enacting new laws concerning the practice of abortion, one aspect of the debate might surprise some who have followed the pro-life movement over the last 49 years.

Since the Dobbs ruling, opinion pieces, Twitter threads, and a host of comments from privacy scholars have raised the alarm and generated wildly speculative notions about the dangers to personal data privacy in a country without Roe. Even the White House Director of Gender Policy Jen Klein has urged caution on the grounds of data privacy for millions of Americans, though the actual details of her comments and other reporting on the matter often do not coincide with the clickbait headlines.

From alarmist calls for women to delete their menstrual cycle tracking apps to demands that technology and social media companies like Google delete and/or stop tracking sensitive location data like abortion clinic visits, there has been a deluge of fear-inducing information. This speculation is primarily about how troves of data collected in a digital society might be used by some in potential lawsuits or criminal filings against women seeking an abortion depending on their state. While much of this is uncharted territory and there are some legitimate questions that need to be asked by all citizens including state lawmakers, it must be noted that many if not all of the calls to immediate action are built on hypothetical situations and strained correlations to prior cases. Many if not all of the states enacting pro-life laws are rightfully seeking to prosecute those who prescribe the abortion medications or who perform abortions, not women in crisis who have long been preyed upon by the abortion industry and been led astray by the lies of the sexual revolution.

Personal privacy and moral autonomy

The connections between personal privacy and abortion are deeply intertwined in our modern moral order, given how our abortion-on-demand culture was built upon the discovered “right to privacy” in the “penumbras” of the Bill of Rights, infamously articulated by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas in the Supreme Court’s 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision.

In this 1965 decision, the right to privacy was applied specifically to the right of married couples to obtain contraceptives. However, this “implied constitutional right to privacy” soon became the foundation for a number of subsequent Supreme Court decisions such as Roe and later Lawrence v. Texas, where the court established the right to privacy as an inherent element of self-determination and complete moral autonomy, devoid of any reference to religion or faith lived under God.

In delivering the Lawrence opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy stated “liberty protects the person from unwarranted government intrusions into a dwelling or other private places.” He went further to argue that liberty presumes that the state should not have a dominant presence in the homes of Americans, as well as an “autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct.” While many Christians may agree with Justice Kennedy on the concept of liberty where the state does not have unlimited authority, we must recognize that the modern notions of autonomy and self-determination are directly contrary to the biblical ethic rooted in the dignity of all, including the preborn. This supposed right to self-determination is deeply woven into the modern right to privacy, abortion culture, and throughout contemporary culture.

But by design of the Founders, the Bill of Rights established a framework that recognizes certain pre-political rights which the state is bound to recognize and uphold, including the right to life. This runs contrary to many of the current debates over abortion and privacy—debates that are often framed in light of our society’s ideas of moral autonomy and self-determination. This shift in the nature and foundation of rights represents a stark break from the transcendent framework they were originally rooted in so that now the individual has the right to define their own realities, no matter the cost to the moral order including our neighbors or even the life of a child in the womb.

Misleading hypotheticals and the right to privacy

In light of this modern notion of a right to privacy, the continued calls for state and federal privacy legislation in our post-Roe world, and the growing concerns over data privacy, how should Christians think about these issues—especially in light of the pressing questions of digital privacy and our concern for upholding the dignity of both the preborn and their mothers?

First, we must seek to deal in facts, not simple hypotheticals designed to instill fear. Not only did the Dobbs decision rightfully return the question of abortion to the states (where it resided prior to Roe) and rule that states have a compelling interest in protecting their citizens, including the youngest among us, it is clear that much of what we already know about these state laws is that they seek the criminalization of abortion providers, not women. While it is incumbent on lawmakers to think through the myriad ramifications of these laws on questions regarding digital privacy and data collection, it should be noted that the use of this type of data in criminal cases against women is exceedingly rare.

In recent years, there have been at least two known cases of personal data being used under a court order in an abortion-related cases. In 2013, an Indiana woman was arrested on grounds of feticide after seeking medical attention at a local hospital for “profuse bleeding after delivering a 1½-pound baby boy in a bathroom and putting his body in a dumpster behind her family’s restaurant.” In this case, text messages to a friend about abortion pills were used by prosecutors in the conviction of the woman even though the 2015 conviction was later overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

A second case involved a Mississippi woman indicted on a second-degree murder charge in January 2018 after giving birth at home to a baby boy who was later transported to a local hospital with cardiac arrest. He subsequently died at the hospital. The defendant confessed to medical professionals that she learned she was pregnant the month before at an annual OB-GYN appointment but failed to make any follow-up appointments for prenatal care or an ultrasound. 

She told investigators that she didn’t want any more children, couldn’t afford any more, and that she “simply couldn’t deal with being pregnant again.” She was at least 35 weeks pregnant when it was revealed that she illegally procured the abortion medication misoprostol through online searches. After taking the medication without the approval of doctors and well past the approved usage, her husband called for paramedics after finding her and their son in the bathroom. Medical examiners determined through an autopsy that the baby boy was born alive and died due to asphyxiation.

Both of these cases indicate that online data was used by prosecutors in what would more rightly be called disturbing instances of infanticide. These particular cases and criminal proceedings should remind us of the vital advocacy of pro-life organizations for the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection legislation. The proposed protections would see those who are born after a failed abortion receive all the medical care necessary for them to survive. 

The vast majority of states enacting pro-life legislation post-Roe are seeking to outlaw abortion or tighten the window in which abortions are legal. Most of the legislation that has been proposed does not seek to criminalize abortion-vulnerable women but rather those who perform abortions or prescribe these medications which are increasingly dangerous to the life of the mother as well as to the life of the innocent child being aborted.

Second, we must understand that the right to privacy, which should be a central concern for the Christian church in a digital society, must not be framed as at odds with a rich conception of human dignity that values all human life, including the most vulnerable among us. A central facet of the pro-life movement and its 49+ years of advocacy is that vulnerable mothers should not be criminalized. Instead, those who provide abortions—whether through medical procedures or prescription drugs—should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, has repeatedly affirmed the value of preborn life and the priority of caring for vulnerable women in crisis through over 20 resolutions over the course of 40 years, including this past summer during the anticipation of the Dobbs decision.

A Christian understanding of privacy is that of a penultimate right that supports other pre-political rights, including the fundamental right to life rooted in how God has made us as human beings in his very image (Gen. 1:26-28). The imago Dei is the backbone of a robust Christian ethic which recognizes the dignity of all people including the preborn, their mothers, and their families. Human dignity is central to our conception of the moral order and our social ethic. While Christians should rightfully stand against the manipulative and abusive use and collection of personal data in our digital society, we need to remember that a biblical vision of privacy runs contrary to modern notions of privacy built upon moral autonomy and self-determination rather than a full conception of human dignity rooted in God’s design.

Privacy is an instrumental good that should serve the overall common good of both individuals and communities. In order for this to happen, it must be framed in light of our true nature as created beings who are under the authority of an omniscient and omnipotent God. Now more than ever we must not shrink back in fear but seek to retrieve a biblical understanding of personal privacy, which accords with the dignity of every individual and cares for the most vulnerable among us.

By / Mar 22

If you were among the thousands of viewers to scan the bouncing QR code during one of the Super Bowl commercials last month, then perhaps you are $15 richer than you were before. Richer in cryptocurrency, that is. Anyone who signed up for a new Coinbase account was given $15 in currency. The surge of traffic caused the promo website to collapse. The Coinbase ad was but one of several different Super Bowl ad spots for crypto, leaving no doubt as to its ascendance to the status of cultural mainstream.

The digital revolution of the last three decades has had a tremendous impact on modern finance. Technology has fundamentally reshaped how human beings think and act in myriad ways. Our whole social world is now technologically mediated. Work, communication, leisure, citizenship, and many other elements of human life have been cast in new molds. That is because we share a reciprocal relationship with technology — it forms us as we form it. This tectonic shift in social self-understanding has also upended long-standing assumptions about currency and investment.

Two narrower features of modern financial innovation that have risen into common practice are day trading and cryptocurrency. The two are distinct but often related phenomena. Many norms of day trading apply also to crypto, and of course, crypto can be day traded. How are Christians to understand these innovations? What should guide Christian conduct in commerce? 

In response to these questions we need first to clarify what both day trading and crypto involve. We need, in other words, a sketch of reality, which will help us better understand the shape of our moral responsibility as people called to lead wise and simple lives in devotion to Christ Jesus (1 Thess 4:11; Rom. 12:18; Matt 10:16).

The moral parameters of investing

The capitalist insight that money can beget money is quite established. Someone invests in a startup and the company is profitable. She sells shares at more than five times their value and invests in two new startups. These too enjoy profits, and the enrichment cycle continues. Otherwise, all things being equal, investments profit because of the inherent growth in capital markets.

We need to think carefully about what counts as investment. At its heart, investment is placing value in something else of value. It needn’t even be strictly financial. I might say that I’m “investing” in my kids by taking them hiking in the mountains, by which I mean I’m affording them something of value because they’re inherently valuable. Or a teacher may invest in her students by staying after class to tutor. Or a volunteer might invest in his community by helping with litter collection at a local park. For all such examples the controlling idea is contributing something of value to something else possessing a value exceeding the thing contributed.

The idea of investment imposes real moral constraints. It matters what exactly we put our resources toward. The assisted living facility differs from the local restaurant, which differs from Disney, which differs from Penthouse magazine. Justifying investment in evil or corrupt entities is a sign of moral bankruptcy. We should invest only in what deserves investment. 

Typically we also consider duration a key determinant of investment. Conventional wisdom among experienced financial advisors is to invest in worthwhile companies and allow valuations to appreciate gradually. Let money stay put, and over time it will weather market volatility. Buying stock and selling within a short period of time, either within several days or on the same day, doesn’t constitute investment in the strict sense of the term. 

What are day trading and cryptocurrency?

Day trading is a speculative trading practice in which a trader purchases a security — a financial instrument representing value — and sells it on the same day. A trader buys anticipating some market eventuality that will create profit off the sale. Profit is dictated entirely by whether the eventuality occurs. It is an informed gamble that often requires taking a large position in the market in order to achieve profits warranting the risk. As such it is a practice of specialty investors and firms.

Around 50-70% of day trades are not conducted by human beings as a result of human decision but by algorithms trading upwards of 1,000 transactions a minute.1For an accessible explainer of algorithmic trading, I recommend Radiolab’s podcast episode, “Speed.” Trades occur in explosive bursts as algorithms test the market and manipulate advantageous conditions for transactions. Some algorithms are designed simply to counter other algorithms. The primary explanation for algorithmic domination of day trading appears to be the seasoned platitude — “fastest always wins.” Transactional speed becomes self-justifying, and the integral feature of investment, duration, is jettisoned.

Construing the meaning of “investment” so as to encompass any allocation of capital that promises a return is mistaken. It is mistaken for several obvious reasons; not least its consequentialist presumption of the ends justifying the means, which makes even crass gambling commendable. The simple prospect of a return is not itself enough to justify allocation of capital. Nor should one misapply “stewardship” in an effort to redeem the practice. To steward a resource, including capital, involves respecting the goods internal to that resource and the just allocation of that resource. 

Cryptocurrency emerged as a digital response to perceived weaknesses in modern monetary theory and as a strategy for securing transactions. Many countries, like the United States, have a “fiat” currency (i.e., currency issued by a government but not backed by another commodity) printed and backed by the government. Cryptocurrencies, as the name suggests, are encrypted virtual currencies, and there are many different kinds. Because crypto is decentralized, no formal authority enforces trust or regulates transactions. So, for example, although it doesn’t have the backing of a central bank on its deposits, neither is it subject to the bank’s runs or crises. Still, despite incredible growth, the large majority of consumers do not yet view it as the easiest or most reliable form of transaction. 

Ethics of investing in new digital currencies

The anonymity of cryptocurrency has naturally attracted criminal laundering and ransomware enterprises. Just how anonymous crypto transactions truly are is a matter of debate, as there is evidence that many leave a digital trail. Why must the transaction be secretive? Perhaps there are narrow parameters in which anonymity is warranted, but how can one be above reproach when anonymity becomes standard practice? Does it not matter who my partner in exchange is to me, or they to me? Scripture stipulates that it does.

The question of investment in cryptocurrency is relevant but somewhat tangential. The same principles articulated above to day trading apply equally here. Perhaps there is a narrow warrant in crypto holdings in expectation of inflationary periods. But we need also to inquire of the worth and purpose of the object receiving investment? What is that object — in this case crypto — doing for the tangible prosperity of people and the strengthening of society? Or to put the question directly: in what does crypto invest? If the answer to that question carries ambiguity, then investment is better directed elsewhere. 

All of this only scratches the surface of moral complexity in modern commerce. Day trading and crypto are financial innovations we still struggle entirely to grasp. Still, the guide for Christian conduct is not new and furnishes the norms and wisdom needed to judge and act as responsible agents. Christians are called to lead temperate, peaceable lives, to put our resources toward goods to which God invites us. As citizens of his kingdom we invest in his kingdom as trustees of the promise to make all things new (Matt. 25:20-23; Rev. 21:5).  

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    For an accessible explainer of algorithmic trading, I recommend Radiolab’s podcast episode, “Speed.”
By / Mar 8

The advance of technology has outpaced our morality. It’s a grim assessment, but it’s hard to argue against. In some ways it’s an inevitability — technology is always more potent with possibilities than we can initially conceive of. Who would have ever thought the advent of television, for instance, would one day lead to the moral dilemmas the television industry has delivered to us? Or, maybe a bit closer to home, who would have thought the iPhone could have ushered in such a temptation toward narcissism? Technology opens new worlds of possibility that we must respond to morally. With respect to much of today’s technology, we are proving ourselves morally ill-equipped to handle it.

With technology advancing at such a dizzying pace, how can we keep up? How can we maintain our moral bearings when the tech world has cracked open so many new frontiers of possibility, so many gray areas, so many moral dilemmas? In short, we must rebuild what we’ve so casually let fall into disrepair: our moral infrastructure.

What is our moral infrastructure?

There are two foundational components of what I’m calling our moral infrastructure. First, for believers and non-believers alike, our God-given conscience serves as a foundation upon which the tracks of our moral-ethical lives are built. Secondly, the Holy Spirit, himself, functions as a kind of moral underpinning in the lives of believers. Or, to extend the metaphor, he is the superintendent who razes our morally hazardous foundations, lays new ones in their place, and anchors them in the sure footing of Christ. The whole of our moral-ethical lives is lived (or not) out of one or both of these two moral components.

But there are other infrastructural components to our moral-ethical lives as well, which we might equate with the roads, guardrails, and road signs built on the foundations mentioned above. These teach us how to behave and guide us in the right direction. While the following is not an exhaustive list, I’ll highlight two crucial components of our moral infrastructure, one fueled by the properly formed conscience and one born of the Spirit.

Cardinal virtues: Prudence (wisdom), justice (righteousness), fortitude (courage), and temperance (self-control) have historically been known as the cardinal virtues. Dating back to the writings of Plato, the cardinal virtues were eventually recognized and adapted by the likes of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and are widely acknowledged, most notably within the Catholic Church, to this day. 

While some may squirm at their arguably Platonic origins (though I would contend that these virtues preceded Plato) and Protestants, in particular, may be uncomfortable with their association with Catholicism, it is indisputable that the cardinal virtues are morally virtuous ways of being. Objectively, wise and just living, for instance, contributes to people’s flourishing, as opposed to foolish and unjust living, which contributes to misfortune and ruin. The cardinal virtues are “naturally revealed,” we might say, to be good. Add to these the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity (love), and what we have is a fundamental component of our moral fabric as human beings.

Fruit of the Spirit: In the life of the Christian, the Spirit of God builds up our moral infrastructure by bearing his fruit in us: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23, CSB). These are the road signs guiding us, saying “This is the way, walk in it” (Isa. 30:21, NASB). And, Paul goes on to say in Galatians, “If we live by the Spirit [build our lives on his moral footing], let us also keep in step with the Spirit [walk with him on the road he’s laid for us]” (v. 25). The Spirit gives us the raw material — the moral-ethical equipment — and the power we need to live lives that go with the grain of the kingdom. 

So, as the tech age leads to ever more frontiers of possibility and yet-to-be-conceived moral-ethical dilemmas, it is imperative that we maintain and, where necessary, rebuild these and other components of our moral infrastructure.

Why does our moral infrastructure need to be “rebuilt?”

Have you logged on to social media lately? Watched the news? While American culture as a whole could easily be critiqued, what’s often most discouraging and confounding is the behavior of many Christians. Technology, as it has repeatedly done throughout our history, has put new tools in our hands that we are noticeably unprepared for morally. 

But, why are we unprepared? Why must we rebuild our moral infrastructure? Because we’ve let it fall into disrepair. What’s becoming clear by our very public misbehavior is that, by our own moral neglect, we’ve seared our consciences, collectively and individually, and we’ve quenched the Holy Spirit. In our interactions with others, we have publicly traded the fruit of the Spirit for “enmities, strife, outbursts of anger, dissensions, and factions,” which Paul calls the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:20). 

Considering our public, moral-ethical behavior in the technological age, I can’t help but think of the famous exchange between G.K. Chesterton and The Times, a London newspaper, which reportedly sent out an inquiry to Chesterton and other authors asking, “What’s wrong with the world today?” “I am,” he said, abruptly. We would do well to join the likes of Chesterton, and confess our own moral neglect.

How do we rebuild it?

The natural follow-up to “why,” is “how” do we rebuild our moral infrastructure? The fruit of the Spirit, after all, is not ours to produce; it is the fruit of the Spirit. The cardinal (and Christian) virtues, as well, are not virtues that we can simply muster up; we are entirely dependent on God to work these virtues into us. So what do we do? Here are three steps we can take to begin this much-needed rebuild. 

1. Posture: In A.D. 410, Saint Augustine wrote a letter replying to a young man named Dioscorus, who, in a previous letter, sent to him (Augustine) “a countless multitude of questions” inquiring about the Christian religion. Near the end of Augustine’s response, he said this: “if you were to ask me, however often you might repeat the question, what are the instructions of the Christian religion, I would be disposed to answer always and only, Humility . . .” 

In the same vein, the beginning, middle, and end of rebuilding our moral infrastructure is humility. Recognizing our need to have our moral-ethical foundations shored up, step one is clear: we are to fall on our faces before God in absolute humility. There is no other place to begin. 

2. Prayer: “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting” (James 1:5–6, CSB). When God’s people are in need of something, James’ instruction is for us to ask God. To pray.

In our tech age, we need wisdom because of the world’s new and unexplored gray areas; we need kindness and gentleness because anger and outrage are so richly rewarded; we need self-control because excess has never been more attainable; we need courage because Christianity in our society has never been less palatable. And how do we get these crucial components of our moral infrastructure? We ask. We receive from the God who gives generously. 

3. Practice: In James’ letter, he tells us to “be doers of the word” (James 1:22). And though Paul uses the language of fruit to describe what the Spirit produces in our lives (Gal. 5:22–23), he contrasts the Spirit’s “fruit” against the “works of the flesh” and warns us “that those who practice such things [works of the flesh] will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21, CSB). In each case, James and Paul — along with the entirety of the biblical witness — are telling us to “put these things into practice” (1 Tim. 4:15, NRSV). 

One of the unsettling truths about asking God for something is that, often, he not only provides us with the thing we’re asking for, but he also puts us in situations where it’s needed. And he expects us to exercise what he’s given us. All of our asking is for nothing if we don’t actually practice the virtues and ethics of the kingdom. After all, “Faith without works” — without the exercise of virtue, without Spirit-born fruit — “is dead” (James 2:26). 

The way forward

As the technological age marches forward, we might assume that we need to discover an equally innovative path forward to ready us for the “brave new world” the tech age promises. That would be a mistake. All the tools we need to rebuild our moral infrastructure lie within our sacred text, the sacred community, and our Triune God. To go forward faithfully, we need only to rediscover the “ancient paths” (Jer. 6:16).

For the people of God, the way forward may seem counterintuitive, for it is both down, to the way of humility, and back, to the cross of Christ, time and time and time again. And it is up, looking lovingly upon God with our whole selves, and around, loving our neighbor as ourselves. This way is “narrow and difficult” (Matt. 7:14), but it “leads to life,” to blessing, to flourishing. Though “few find it,” we have found it, and now we have the joy of showing this dizzied and disoriented world what life with God looks like. But they won’t be allured by Jesus and his kingdom, and we won’t thrive in the tech age, if we let our moral infrastructure crumble away piece by piece.

So may we take seriously God’s command to be a set-apart people. And may this culture that has gone so far astray know us and God’s kingdom by our fruit (Matt. 7:17–18). And through our faithful witness, may they find the ancient path that leads to life.

By / Jan 13

One of the great promises of social media is its implicit pledge to make its users well-known. Friends and followers, likes and retweets all whisper to us that we are being seen and known. And as our digital audience grows, we feel affirmed, important, influential, and maybe even powerful. It can be intoxicating, and social media companies know it. 

Christians often find ourselves in serious pursuit of more online followers and influence. Sometimes, it’s because we are rightly seeking to embrace the call to spread the gospel that’s been entrusted to us. Yet, the very nature of social media means users are encouraged to increase their notoriety. And while this may create a unique opportunity for us to share the gospel, it also presents us with a dangerous temptation that Jesus warns us to avoid — “practicing our righteousness before others to be seen by them” (Matt. 6:1).

So, while God may be calling some believers to use social media platforms for the sake of the gospel, what if the way of faithfulness for most of us is more akin to serving in obscurity? In a culture that seeks notoriety at all costs, one of the most important ambitions that some of us can choose to adopt is to embrace a quiet life, where we serve and share the gospel with those around us and recognize that our God-given desire to be seen and known will only be fully met by Christ himself. 

Practicing our righteousness to be seen by others

Why do we sometimes do the things we do on social media? It’s a basic question that we often fail to ask ourselves. Our feeds can frequently turn into kitschy Christian tropes, self-aggrandizing photos of our religious activity, and faux humility that spotlights just how earnest and spiritual we are. And, why? It’s because social media is one giant marketplace that makes it easy and “normal” for us to show off without even realizing it. 

What’s so addictive about our public displays of righteousness, as Jesus tells us, is that they promise and produce a reward that our flesh loves. Public displays of our piety — like Jesus’ examples in the Sermon on the Mount of praying and fasting or a punchy, well-timed religious quote meant to “own” one of our detractors — undoubtedly gain the applause of our followers through likes and retweets, giving us the dopamine hit that we’ve grown so addicted to. 

In giving ourselves over to this use of social media, we have contented ourselves with and even preferred the reward that comes not from the Father but from our crowd of followers. “Truly,” Jesus says to us, “they have received their reward” (Matt. 6:2). 

Gain followers, lose your soul

One of the interesting things about social media is that, regardless of which platform is being used, it has become our culture’s most prominent stage for acting out its most prized virtue: self-expression. It’s where we go to express ourselves and rally others to our cause. But following Jesus is not chiefly about expressing ourselves, as much as our culture may recoil at the thought. Instead it’s about denying ourselves (Matt. 16:24). It’s not about adding to some ever-growing list of followers, but about following Jesus with a cross on our back. 

Jesus assures us that he will return one day “with his angels in the glory of his Father,” and when he does, he says, “he will repay each person according to what he has done” (Matt. 16:27). At his coming, will we be those who have “gained the world” of social media, having forfeited our souls in the process, or will we be those who value self-denial above self-expression? 

Your Father who sees in secret

Social media, though it can certainly be used for good, is often the trumpet blast that Jesus condemns in his sermon (Matt. 6:2), the loud invitation for onlookers to clap their hands with “likes” and shout their approval with “retweets” at the righteousness that we have publicized for them. But Jesus tells us, “Beware.” And not because our desire for reward is inherently bad, but because we’re settling for a lesser reward! 

We do not have to practice our righteousness before others to be seen and rewarded. Our Father sees our acts of faithfulness, and he will reward us. He sees when we give and pray and fast in secret (Matt. 6:2, 6, 17). And he sees when we read his Word without posting a photo on Instagram, when we share a meal with a brother or sister without tagging them and announcing it on Facebook, and when we refrain from disparaging an image-bearer on Twitter. Even if no one else ever sees these “acts of righteousness,” our Father sees in secret, and he will reward us.

Lead a quiet life

Paul’s words to the Thessalonians are worthy of our consideration in a culture that has made an idol of celebrity and self-expression: “aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs” (1 Thess. 4:11). Our society rewards those who are loud and bombastic; those who are pugnacious, insolent, and “omnicompetent”; and those who parade their righteousness around for all to see. But God calls us to embrace something different — a life of self-denial; a life of unheralded, unseen acts of faithfulness; and a life content with obscurity

As St. Augustine and others have said, all of life is lived coram Deo, before the face of God. Therefore, we don’t have to fear that our effort to follow in the way of Jesus will go unnoticed, even if our peers never acknowledge it. And we don’t have to worry that the cups of cold water we give in Jesus’ name (Matt.10:42) or our hidden day-to-day faithfulness will go unrecognized, even when there are no “likes” or “favorites” to reward us. We can be content with praying behind closed doors (Matt. 6:6), giving anonymously (Matt. 6:3), serving and sharing the gospel with those around us, and quelling the impulse to practice our righteousness before our audience of social media followers because we are waiting for a better reward. 

May we be countercultural — happy to live a quiet life, hungering and thirsting for the righteousness that doesn’t need to be performed before others, and finding our joy and satisfaction in the approval of God alone.