A sexually explicit video of a high school girl in La Porte, Indiana was posted this past week on Facebook Live and other social media. Authorities suspect the underage girl was coerced into making the video in response to a “sextortion” threat.
This is but the latest shocking example of social media’s role in coarsening our culture. It no longer is enough for the unredeemed to commit unspeakable acts; they also feel compelled – demonically so – to memorialize their grave sins against God on Facebook Live, YouTube, Periscope, LiveMe.com and other such online platforms.
That includes Derek Medina, a 33-year-old Miami man sentenced in February to life in prison after fatally shooting his wife Jennifer eight times and posting the image of her blood-soaked, bullet-ridden body on Facebook.
There also was 12-year-old Katelyn Nicole Davis, the Cedartown, Georgia girl who this past December livestreamed her suicide for all to see on LiveMe.com.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg bears no blame for either the sextortion of the LaPorte high schooler or the murder of the Miami wife. Cheetah Mobile CEO Sheng Fu, whose company created Live.me, did not cause young Katelyn to hang herself from a tree.
Social media are neutral. With Godly motivation, they can be used for purposes of good – like mass media that emerged over the past six centuries.
Indeed, the Gutenberg Bible in the mid-1400s became the world’s first mass-produced book, making the word of God accessible to the common man and woman.
The world’s first commercial telegraph line debuted in 1844 when Samuel Morse messaged “What hath God wrought?” from the U.S. Capital building in Washington, D.C. to the B&O railroad’s Mount Clare station in Baltimore.
And Christian broadcast owes its origin to the earliest days of radio, when in 1923 S. Parkes Cadman became the first “radio pastor,” eventually reaching five million listeners nationwide on his Sunday afternoon broadcast on NBC radio.
Of course, what the Lord means for good – mass communication – our adversary, the devil, means for evil. So it is that he uses social media today to ensnare all those whom he may devour.
The demonic influence of social media – witnessed in such places as La Porte, Miami and Cedartown – bring to mind the observation in 1908 by the Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton that “original sin…is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.”
Concurring with Chesterton, the evangelical author and radio show host Eric Metaxas mused last year that “original sin, or human fallenness, includes the capacity for cruelty and injustice toward our fallen men” and that, “for many of us, this capacity hovers just below the surface.”
A large part of what restrains our sins, Metaxas posited, are “institutions like the Church, our families, government, and our communities,” the operation of which are undermined today by the “anonymity of social media.”
Indeed, he lamented, “Friends and family cannot hold you accountable if they don’t know what you’re doing.” Moreover, “Shame has no meaning to someone hiding behind a user name.”
And that’s why those of us who are Christ followers must be wary of social media, which can inure us to the works of the devil – sexual deviancy, murder, suicide and other such abominations – delivered to our laptops, tablets and smartphones.
That is why Apostle Paul warns us to “put on the whole armor of God, that (we) may be able to withstand the wiles of the devil.” That includes, above all, “taking the shield of faith with which (we) will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”