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A Pastoral Letter Regarding the Modern Media
Synodical Committee Regarding Modern Media
Dear Members and Friends,
The Synodical Committee Regarding Modern Media has felt a need and concern to write a pastoral letter regarding the use and misuse of Modern Media devices such as computers and mobile devices by our members and within our families. We all know that we live in difficult and perilous times. It is becoming more and more evident what the Apostle Peter has written, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Oh, how we need God’s restraining and preserving grace day by day. We cannot stand for one moment against the attacks of the devil and our own wicked heart.
World conformity is rapidly increasing in our circles, and also the common impressions under God’s Word are rapidly decreasing. We must seek for the root cause of these things in our own wicked heart and sinful life, and the devil always wants to use many of these new inventions to achieve his wicked ends.
In our circles we have always warned against owning and watching television because of its destructive influences and the waste of time. However, the developments have not stopped with television. Research has shown that at least 95% of our families have a computer and most of our families have access to the Internet. We will not deny that the Internet, as a medium, definitely has its benefits; yet, we can all agree that the dangers of the Internet are at least as great as its benefits, for the Internet has enabled us to have access to sinful content more than any other media developed before it. Much of this content is soul-destroying and God-dishonoring.
There is more. One of the greatest dangers in the use of the computer and the Internet is the tremendous amount of time that is wasted by searching the World Wide Web. The time which we have been given is precious time and is the time of grace given unto us to seek the Lord while He may be found. It is time which we could have used for the reading of God’s Word and books based upon God’s Word. For many people the Internet has become an addiction. We often hear the complaint that our people, young and old, do not read good books anymore or that they have difficulties with listening to sermons. One of the greatest causes is that we live in a visual world and gather our information more by viewing than by reading. In our days, with all the devices available, we are affecting our ability to read and to learn. Satan has used modern technology, including the Internet, to create a superficial Christianity in which he can easily disconnect our people, young and old, from church. Is it also true in your life that you are still a member but inwardly you have already said “farewell” to the service of the Lord?
What does God’s Word say about these things? In Paradise, man was created good and after God’s image with the purpose to live to the honor and glory of God our Maker. “And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31a). However, we have willfully and willingly fallen away from God and fallen under the influence of the Prince of Darkness whom we obey in all kinds of wickedness. Yea, we have brought ourselves into a threefold death. By nature we are inclined to all wickedness. Solomon says, “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Ecclesiastes 7:29).
Still, the Lord is so patient with us and calls us to true repentance. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11). The Apostle Paul warns us seriously in 1 Corinthians 5:6&7, “Knowye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened” The Lord also calls us to be holy, for He is holy. “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
Based upon God’s Word and the staggering statistics, we all feel the need for protection against these dangers. A common comment is, “We do not need a filter, for we can handle the devices ourselves.” This is a lie, for Satan has such a strong hold on our wicked heart, and we are inclined to all evil. Another comment which is frequently heard is, “We have a filter at home, so that should be enough.” This is only partially true because today we are able to connect our devices to the Internet at many places outside of the home at so-called hotspots. That means, it is easy to bypass the filters we have at home. Such home computer filters do not provide protection for mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets.
Perhaps you ask, “What can we do?” We need to continue to warn that the Internet should be used only when it is necessary. We should also realize that everything done on the Internet is public and permanent. Even all things done secretly are public and permanent. It cannot be removed from the Internet. Moreover, we should realize that whatsoever we do in secret is seen by God: “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13).
As much as we realize protection is limited, we need a good filter for our computers and mobile devices. We also need to be vigilant regarding usage of all the computer devices available today by all family members. Possibly you will say, “We do not know anything about filters for mobile devices.” However, there are good filters available that are able to filter our computers and mobile devices, simultaneously and wherever we go. Several trials have been conducted by committees, school boards, and consistories. We hope to discuss what is available as a first line of defense for us and our children. This information will be made available in a booklet entitled “A Line of Defense against—www...Why Were Worried,” provided by your consistory. Our goal is to provide specific recommendations that each family can implement with minimal support.
When was the city of Mansoul taken? When the gates were opened. That is still the case and always the way Satan works. The gates of Mansoul are open to all kinds of sins. If we also have open gates to the world in our houses, Satan has an excellent opportunity to take Mansoul and let it be defiled with all kinds of sins. If we have the open Internet available on our (mobile) devices, then we open our hearts willingly to all that the world offers. It is not without reason that each Internet address begins with www.world-wide-web. Is not protection essential? Would you let your child roam alone in the streets of a big city?
Above all things we must say that the best filter is the fear of the Lord in exercise! When David did not have this fear of the Lord in exercise, he walked in idleness upon the roof of his palace, and we all know what the terrible consequences were. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of his neighbor, he had his neighbor murdered, and he brought the disfavor of the Lord upon himself. This lasted until the Lord brought him in the valley of humiliation as a guilty sinner after Nathan came unto him and said, “Thou art the man.”
We need God’s restraining and preserving grace each day, for we cannot stand one moment against the attacks of the devil and our wicked heart. We ought to watch and pray that we enter not into temptation, for the flesh is so weak. And, “who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” (Proverbs 20:9). Let us, therefore, be found praying that God’s saving grace may be given unto us.
May it be noticed in the life of God’s children that they have a tender life bound at the throne of grace. Our hope and prayer is that we may still be protected from the many dangers that are around each and every one of us and that we may all receive this one thing needful for time and eternity. In that way it will be true:
The righteous man shall flourish well,
And in the house of God shall dwell;
He shall be like a goodly tree,
And all his life shall fruitful be.
The Synodical Committee Regarding Modern Media wishes the Lord’s indispensable blessing upon our consistories, schools, congregations, and members. May we all be given to realize that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth” (2 Chronicles 16:9a). Also, that, “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). May we all receive by heart-renewing grace that “filter,” which is the fear of the Lord.
Synodical Committee Regarding Modern Media,
Rev. P. van Ruitenburg
Elder L. Teunissen
Rev. E. Hakvoort
Marcel Den Dekker
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