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Are any of you having trouble with your kids and technology? Any issues over the holidays?
“Yeah, I didn’t think so. Everyone seems to have that one figured out. No problems whatsoever.”
And no, I haven’t been living in a hippy van for the past decade. I know how big of an issue it is for so many parents.
One of the biggest questions being asked by even the least observant parents is “What am I supposed to do about my kids and their technology?”
Even the ones who don’t yet realize it’s a huuuuuuuge issue, experience prophetic-like intuitions that something is wrong with their kids, and that it may have something to do with a screen.
Of course, we know that the screens aren’t the problem . . . the mind is. But the nagging questions reveal that our generation is facing huge problems with the consequences of using technology the wrong way.
Now — fair warning — today’s show is not going to accomplish the following:
But I will introduce you to an amazing Gospel-centered parenting podcast that is doing an absolutely fantastic job teaching Christian dads and moms how to parent their children in truth so that they use their tech to the honor and glory of God.
The podcast is called “Gospel Tech” and the hosts are Nathan and Anna Sutherland. I hope to have them on the show soon . . . in fact, if I’m being totally transparent, I hope they will become Truth.Love.Parent.’s go-to tech experts.” They are doing such a fantastic job.
But, speaking of tech, I hope you use yours to interact with TLP in every way possible. You can follow TLP on social media, you can follow me on social media, you can subscribe to the Truth.Love.Parent. and The Celebration of God podcasts. And you can check out TruthLoveParent.com. Our website is always in a state of flux adding new things, updating, and trying to make it the source of all things biblical parenting.
So I hope you’ll check that out. And — while you’re there — you can download today’s free episode notes and read the transcript of the show.
But now let us turn our minds to the theological roots of our technology so that we can better understand ourselves and our kids.
Do you know what technology is? I mean, do you really?
Though most people imagine smartphones and computers with which you can talk and 3D gaming systems, technology has been around ever since the creation of man.
According to Merriam-Webster, technology is “the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area; a capability given by the practical application of knowledge.”
Technically, the first use of technology was the first use of language. But since there’s some disagreement over whether language can rightfully be considered technology, I’ll move on.
Even in their sinless state, if Adam and Eve used anything other than their physical bodies to remove a fruit from the upper branches of a tree, groom a lion’s mane, or float in a lake . . . they were using technology.
After the Fall, the first use of technology was the creation of clothes. After that we read that an angel used a sword to protect the Garden from Adam and Eve’s reentry. It may have been mere anthropomorphism, but this verse and many others lead me to believe that even the spiritual realm utilizes technology.
No doubt the Genesis family used implements to farm. We don’t know how Cain killed Able, but if he used anything other than his bare hands, he was utilizing technology.
Therefore, we must think accurately about technology. It’s not some new invention in the past hundred years, it goes back farther than the industrial age, it could even be argued that God’s creation of the cosmos was the first invention of technology because the cosmos and everything in it was the application of God’s infinite knowledge and wisdom to bring Him more glory.
However, in order to simplify our discussion, technology will refer to our tools. Wether it be something we hold in our hands, ride, or inhabit, everything that man has invented that was not present immediately after God created the world is technology.
Now that we understand that your kitchen sink is just as much technology as your smart car and that your children’s teething rings are just as much technology as your phone, we need to discover the “why” of technology.
Why do we have it? Why do we have shoes and ships and sealing wax, carriages and rings?
Well, let’s apply an age-old adage to the reference of technology in the Bible.
In Genesis 3:7, right after eating the forbidden fruit we read, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”
Not only did they invent clothes for the purpose of covering themselves, it’s likely that they had to invent other implements to make the clothes. The word “sew” implies that other materials or tools were used to keep the first fashion from . . you know . . . falling apart.
But what’s the why behind their technology?
The age old adage is that “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Many people have put their own twist on this saying, but it goes at least as far back as Plato who said, “Our need will be the real creator.”
Why did Adam and Eve make tools for sewing? Well, they needed clothes. Why did they need clothes? They realized they were naked and their sin caused them shame.
Presumably, had Adam and Eve never sinned — and their children never sinned and so on — no one would have ever worn clothes. Likely no one would have ever imagined something as strange as clothes because they were completely unnecessary.
Now, there’s another layer to the idea of necessity. We all need things, but most of us are just fine not having the things we truly need. For example, your kids need to be good students to the honor and glory of God. Many tools are available to help them learn more efficiently, and yet — despite that very important need — most children are happy ignoring the tools and pursuing anything and everything other than learning.
So, I’m going to suggest that necessity is not the mother of invention. “Desire is the mother of invention.”
But now all of you who listened to our Merest Christianity series which uncovered why your kids do what they do — you all know that we desire what we desire because we believe the object to be desirable.
Therefore, like everything else in a human life, we can most accurately say that “Belief is the mother of invention.”
If I believe I need something — whether I do or not — and since I’m created in the image of the infinitely creative God, I am going to apply my knowledge in a particular area in order to help me be capable of achieving my belief.
Adam and Eve believed they needed to cover their nakedness. So they desired to cover their nakedness. So they did something about it.
That is technology, and that’s why you are surrounded by it right now. You believe that you need it. And your kids are the same.
Why do we have diapers? Well, somewhere along the line people were sick and tired of the mess. They wanted to hold their child without risk. They believed that covering the hinny would contain the problem. And why have diapers been refined and changed throughout the years? Well, because people believe that less of a mess is best.
Okay, so why are we talking about all of this? Why am I suggesting that technology is the second most difficult parenting challenge you will ever face?
Well, hopefully we have enough information now to connect the pieces.
Let’s work backward.
I am a fifteen year old boy who gets my hands on a phone so that I can look at pornography. Why? Because I believe I need it. Why? Because it’s a question of satisfaction.
That’s right. Do you remember our last episode where we learned that matters of security — which include safety and satisfaction — are the most basic temptations you and your kids will ever face.
If you didn’t listen to that episode, you need to because this series is like a pyramid. The initial concepts bear the weight of everything else to come. They’re all connected. If you don’t understand the intrinsic human temptation to security, you’re not going to understand the real nature of any of the parenting challenges you’re going to face.
But back to satisfaction.
What is going to make you happy — God’s plan or your own?
If I believe that I will be only be satisfied if I have a lot of money, and I believe it will be better to take that money versus working for it . . . I am going to invent new ways of breaking into vaults.
If I believe that mankind will never be satisfied and safe without God’s Word in their hands, I will invent a printing press.
If I believe that I will never be safe as long as this so-called “God” is left unchallenged, my friends and I will build a tower so that we can be on the same plane as God.
If I believe there’s no greater satisfaction to be had than training families to glorify God so they can be spiritually safe . . . I’ll create a non-profit that produces free biblical parenting resources.
How your family creates and uses technology is intrinsically tied to the fact that they are trying to possess more security for themselves — whether that’s in the form of safety or satisfaction.
And, as we discussed last time, that is not inherently bad. We should be satisfied in Christ. We should seek to be spiritually safe by submitting to God’s perfect plan for our lives.
So, the crux of the matter again comes down to whether or not I’m going to trust God’s plan or make up my own.
Let’s continue parsing different scenarios because I think we need to adapt our thinking to this reality.
Why do my children interact with their devices? They believe the device will provide them access to what they need to be happy and comfortable and prepared. That may include research for their papers, or it may involve scrolling through hours of memes in order to be culturally up to date.
But just remember, neither of those are inherently sinful. They can go both ways. One child may research long into the night because they have a self-possessed need to be the best in everything. However, a youth pastor may regularly scroll through memes to better understand the culture in which his teens are growing up.
Unless the activity is obviously sinful — as determined by God — we must try to determine the motivation. Too many parents think they have “good kids” simply because the children aren’t doing and saying the things that parents consider sinful. No one’s pregnant, no one’s dead, grades are good, we’re all set!
But if the child is doing those superficially “good” things for the approval of man, they’re being foolish. Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” And Galatians 1:10 reads, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.”
If the child is doing those “good” things just to keep mom and dad off their back until they graduate and can do whatever they want, they’re being manipulative and self-centered. And since their future plan involves doing all the things their parents didn’t let them do, they’re planning to be foolish and sinful and rebellious.
If the child is doing those “good” things for no other reason than that’s what they know, they’re not pleasing the Lord. Romans 14:23 teaches us that “whatever is not from faith is sin.”
I have worked with so many parents who thought they had parented well only for their child to leave the house and stop attending church, stop reading the Bible, stop caring about God, and start living a wicked lifestyle. And the parents couldn’t figure out why.
And the answer is so difficult to share because it has to do with the fact that their parenting was superficial. Of course, I’m not saying that their parenting determined their child’s trajectory. Children with the worst parents can still choose to love God. Obviously, the child is sinning because they believe it’s best to sin.
But — the point is — the parent’s confusion and amazement over their child’s sin is directly tied to the fact that their skin-deep parenting didn’t realize that their child’s motivation for their seemingly good behavior was not Christ honoring. It never had been.
In fact, many children exhibit an apparent love for the Lord and passion for all things churchy, but they too “fall off the wagon.” Of course, when that happens, the reality is that they were never on the wagon in the first place.
The biggest parenting challenge you will ever face is not teaching your child to do the right things. It’s teaching your children to do the right things . . . for the right reasons.
If you’d like to learn more about that, I strongly recommend you listen to our “Teach Your Children to Obey” series.
Now, let’s get back to technology.
If I reject God’s authority, I’m in charge of my safety and satisfaction. Therefore, I’m going to invent more and more ways to gain more and more safety and satisfaction. The more technology I have, the more in control and powerful I feel. The more powerful I feel, the easier it is to think of myself as being the god of my own life . . . which — of course — further substantiates the idea that I don’t need God’s plan.
Now, I referenced the Tower of Babel earlier; let’s talk a little more about that.
In Genesis 10 we read about the descendants of those who came off the Ark. Among them were the descendants of Ham. Now, Ham made some poor choices and his family suffered because of it. I can’t categorically say that he was a poor parent, but there are some indicators that was the case.
Either way, his oldest son, Cush, gave birth to Nimrod, and he was the one who established a city called Babel. Now, there are a ton of problems with Babel/Babylon from Genesis through Revelation, but we’re going to focus on Genesis 11 because there’s where the tower comes in.
The chapter opens telling us that the whole earth was unified with one language. And Nimrod and his people travel to Shinar and decide they’ve found a good place for a city. Enter the technology. Verse three tells us they said, “'Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.’ And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.” So, they’re either creating the tools necessary for this or they’re using what they already know, but they get so good at it that they decide to build a whole city and — specifically — a tower whose top will reach into heaven so that they can make a name for themselves. And they had this fear that they would otherwise be scattered over the face of the earth.
Well, thankfully the Lord unpacks their inner motivation a bit more in the following verses. According to God, this was a problem. He said “nothing they purpose to do will be impossible for them.”
Now, I believe it’s clear that the people of Babel were trying to gain security, safety, and satisfaction by utilizing their technology — to the extent that they would reach up to God.
Of course, God wasn’t concerned that they would reach Him or overthrow Him or anything, but He tells us that a group of people dead set on using their technology to achieve their own satisfaction will accomplish it.
So, let’s get practical.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a teething ring or a laptop, a car or a guitar, your children will only ever utilize the technology in order to gain satisfaction.
And that satisfaction is either going to be rooted in their own perceptions of security and comfort or their trust that obeying God is more satisfying than anything they could dream up.
This means that technology is definitely going to be a problem in your home.
We’re all sinners. We all — far too often — choose to sacrifice our technology on the alter to self for our own pleasure. Unless your family members are perfect, toys and skateboards and game systems and beds and notebooks and cars and Christmas trees and computers and phones are going to be used to usurp God.
Sure, your seven year old isn’t going to proclaim that he’s going to build a tower that will reach to heaven where he can rival God for authority of his life . . . but if he’s playing with those blocks simply because he enjoys it . . . with no thought whatsoever to God’s will for his life . . . then, yeah, in that moment, for that time, he’s displacing God.
“Aaron, are you saying that playing with blocks is a sin?”
Of course not. No more than building a skyscraper is one.
It’s all about motivation.
Am I looking to God for my security? Am I trusting Him and walking in His will for my life having faith that I am as safe as He wants me to be? Or, am I really not thinking about or caring about what His will is? Am I just living for self trying to use my possessions to heap for myself all the security and safety I can get.
And — if you don’t believe me about the blocks — just wait. If he gets mad that his sibling knocked it over, if he doesn’t want to share, if he throws them when he can’t make his tower as perfectly as he imagined, if he complains when you tell him it’s time to clean up . . . you know for whom he was living. And it wasn’t God.
Now, when it comes to the technology we normally consider when someone says technology — computers in the form of phones, TV’s, game systems, and the like . . . we Christians have a really bad habit of swinging to extremes.
Some of us are no more concerned about how our daughters use their phones than we are about how their brother uses his blocks.
But others who have no concerns about the blocks — even though the child is potentially just worshipping himself with them — those same people are petrified of the technology.
My friends, the technology — whether blocks or computers — are not the problem.
The problem is that we’re not addressing our children’s understanding of safety and security. We’re not rooting that in Scripture and a relationship with God, and we’re not teaching our kids how our technology can grow out of that relationship with Christ.
Our kids are running around using tech for their own pleasure, and we’re running around trying to police how they use that tech for our own pleasure.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter if a child is accessing pornography or being selfish with his matchbox cars . . . God is not pleased. The child is not living for Christ. He’s participating in idolatry.
Now, this series is designed to give us a broad overview of the main parenting challenges you’re going to face this year. We’re not diving into all of the ways to fix the problems. Of course, the same solution is going to be presented in every show . . . your child must submit to God’s definition of security.
But if you’d like to learn more about how to develop a Family Tech Framework for your family, I encourage you to start listening to Gospel Tech. Start from the beginning, and listen to them all. They’re so good because they take the practical use of technology and they inextricably tie it to the Gospel.
And that’s what we’ve been talking about today.
Please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets, and tell your friends about this series.
If you need help for your unique family situation, please contact us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com or call us at (828) 423-0894.
I hope you’ll join us next time as we open God’s Word to discover how to parent our children for life and godliness.
To that end, I’ll be talking with Arthur C. Woods about the fact that “Your Children Don’t Understand the Gospel.”
I’ll see you on Saturday.
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