A Guide to Online Sin
What is sin?
We live in an age where many people think Google is the closest thing humans have ever known to a God and googling has become the new prayer. Google has great capacity to do good but also the capacity to lead us astray. So what is sin and how can we sin online?
The real church (rather than the church of Google) defines sin as "seeking of our own will instead of the will of God...distorting our relationship with God, with other people and all creation."
What are the ten commandments?
The ten commandments were the laws given to Moses and the people of Israel. They teach us two things; our duty to God and our duty to other people. So how can we break God's commandments online?
Ten Commandments And Ten Ways To Break Them
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me
The Church of Google's claim that Google is the closest human kind have ever known to a God is a clear example of how we can put other things in the place where God should be. The 55,600,000 who type 'Help Me God' into their search engines each month are consciously or unconsciously buying into this myth and we are all guilty of absent mindedly googling when we would be better seeking answers in a time of quiet reflection.
2. Thou shalt not bow down to graven images
The point about the graven images commandment is that we should not give the respect and reverence due to God to anything that was created. If we accept the idea of a God we believe he existed before anything else existed. Google is very recent indeed and most definitely a man made creation. Respecting the power and reach of Google is one thing; ascribing it divine characteristics is quite another.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
I'll give the Church of Google a rest for a moment but did you know you can follow the almighty on Twitter now ? It's a big joke to tweet as God almighty evidently; 'I'm into creating universes, smiting people, writing holy books and listening to prayers.'
Now I don't think God is harmed by this sort of behaviour because, if there is one, he is surely bigger than that; but it harms us as human beings if our aspirations to spirituality are shut off and all we can see is the world of google and twitter. There's actually more to us than that. We buy into this myth and we are shutting off a big part of who we are meant to be. Triviliasing things that are important is not funny.
4. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy
Again, Jesus is on record as saying that the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the sabbath isn't about God getting petty with us. It's about taking time out some time. We all hate dull Sundays and I'm definitely guilty of breaking the sabbath if it means the odd shopping trip or sporting fixture. But some of you (and I'm too old to fall into this group) are never off line. Do you ever get time for quiet reflection and understanding who you are? Do you ever turn your phone off? If you don't you need to get a life. There's an interesting person trying to burst out of you if you ever got to know them? Spend some time together.
5. Honour thy father and thy mother
We are not much into obedience these days and questioning things that have always been done that way is good. But we need to respect the past and the history that got us here too. They say events are played out twice. The first time as tragedy the second time as farce. Chucking out the past and how we got here is a mistake. You may not have heard of it but there is a place on-line that you can get ordained. It doesn't matter what you believe, the mantra is religious freedom. You can promote whatever cock and bull belief you like.
6. Thou shalt not kill
And neither should you promote lies and prejudice about other people or promote the hatred that leads to war but you can do all of that on the net and recruit suicide bombers or tell people how they can make bombs. You can use the net to promote conflict and death whether that's what you intend to do or not.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery
Where do I begin? According to Jesus anyone who looks on a woman to lust after her is committing adultery in his heart. Well, I don't need to tell there is a lot of scope for lusting on the internet. If looking isn't enough e mail and texting are perfect for clandestine relationships and there are even sites that promote opportunities for married people to link up and plan to have affairs.
8. Thou shalt not steal
At the simplest level there is plagiarism. There are not many new ideas out there and we all find ourselves spinning ideas somebody else came up with (don't we?). But the internet is also a great place for scams and rip offs; a place to tread carefully.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour
I've mentioned people tweeting as God almighty. You can also take on the person of whoever you choose and publically mis-represent them. The twittersphere is rampant with such behaviour. You can publish all sorts of lies and there is little opportunity for come back. Freedom of expression I think they call it but another name would be character assassination.
10 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's
The coveting commandment is easy to ridicule, what with not many of us having oxen any more and maidservants being difficult to come by. Capitalist society is pretty much built on coveting what other people have got and being dissatisfied with our lot. We all want everything, we want it now and we don't want to work for it. We venerate celebrities, whatever their real achievements and the most searched for keywords are about getting rich or making money online. We are pretty much into coveting.
So that's it a quick guide to sin on the internet. May we browse safely and not be led into temptation.