My wife and I have been watching the drama unfold around former Representative Weiner and his foibles in the use of the Internet. Last week the Dallas Morning News' faith blog asked us, In what ways does the Internet force us to rethink ethical standards?
Here is the blog link:
Here was my reply:
"The Internet does not so much force a rethink on ethical standards as on its application. Sin is still sin. Lust is still lust. There are just more ways to engage in it, heightening the temptation to go there. Greed is still greed. But identity theft can take place in ways not previously possible.
Because so much of the internet is thought to take place in anonymity (but not as much as people think), people see their behavior on the net as private. But being ethical means being ethical when no one is believed to be watching. That shows real character.
Of course, God knows what we do, so we are always accountable, even if we fool ourselves into thinking we are not. That false impression is what makes the internet an ethical challenge."
Now the aftermath of all of this has also been interesting. Albert Mohler has caught a great deal of flack (Including on the CNN faith blog) flack for simply suggesting that what Weiner needed to consider was a genuine spiritual solution, coming to Christ. What else would a Christian theologian say? The reason Mohler faced reaction is that Weiner was Jewish. The suggestion was seen as an insult to Jews. But Jesus and Paul and Peter were Jewish. Asking a Jewish person to consider Christ is asking them to consider who their Messiah is and to seek the enablement that God gives by His grace through Jesus. Organizations like Chosen People Ministries or Jews for Jesus reach out and ask Jews to consider Christ regularly. So clearly this complaint against Mohler is off target. There should be no offense in asking someone to consider a spiritual solution to a human failing. It is a helpful invitation for one to consider. One can say yes or no to it. There is no need to overreact.
Representative Weiner, upon resigning, called it a distraction and a mistake. His explanation is reflective of how many face their failings. They fail to see it for what is. This was not merely a mistake. It was a betrayal of his wedding vows and what the Bible calls sin (so would Judaism, by the way, just check the Ten Commandments).
One of the failings in our culture today is that we often do not face up to sin. The failure to do so and to see a spiritual problem in it is part of the reason we continue to fail and our culture drifts. The more secular we become about human failing that reflects sin, the less likely we are to heal what ails us or to seek help in the right kinds of places. We all need the remedy God offers. We all sin. Weiner is not alone in this need. (Just read Romans 3:9-18). We need to be honest about sin. God was so honest and serious about it He showed that it was worth the death of His Son to offer a way out in terms of forgiveness and the Spirit that give new life to those who turn to God for help. As long as we see these issues merely as mistakes, we will not try and come to God for help. If we learn to see them as sin, then maybe we will seek the spiritual remedy the failing really needs and not criticize those who say that is where the best long term help can be found.