1 Corinthians 10:14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
What do you idolize? It’s a heavy question that has heavy implications. Idolizing has negative connotations, and yet is something we sometimes embrace, even without realizing it. We ask one another “who do you idolize,” but not “what do you idolize?” It’s easy to realize we idolize another person because we can relate much easier to them, but the same cannot be said about objects.
To fully understand idolatry, we must understand what worship is, since idolatry is the worshipping of an object. Worship is somewhat open-ended, however Webster Dictionarydefined it as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”
This act can be applied to technology, especially in the modern age. I believe that few people can truthfully say that they do not adore or feel deep respect for the technology in our pockets. When Steve Jobs strutted across the stage with the hottest new tech, people were in awe and wonder at the idea of having the entire internet inside your pocket. He was seen as the herald of the new technology age and the iPhone was seen as the best thing since sliced bread.
The iPhone following is very cultish, make no mistake. People are willing to sell their house and kidneys to get their hands on the newest technology. Nobody does this casually, unless they believe they are doing it for their own benefit. The idea that people put aside organs or a place to live over a piece of technology that will be obsolete within a year screams idolatry, and a very cultish personality at that.
Consider the average American’s living room. The chairs and couches are all perfectly aligned so that the person sitting in them can perfectly see what’s most important: the television. Don’t believe me? Check your own living room and see what your couches and chairs are facing. I’ll bet not each other. We enjoy the electric box that entertains us and gives us joy, and in return it only asks for our time. It seems like something out of Hitchcock or The Twilight Zone, and even more realistically, Black Mirror.
How often do you catch yourself reaching for your phone in a moment of boredom or to try and get out of an unpleasant conversation? Why do we value the temporary entertainment of a phone over a personal relationship with another person? Have we as a society lost focus of what we should be focusing our attention on?
We have become focused on ourselves instead of others, and by extension, God. Church online is easy and all, but it cannot replace what going to church is about: meeting with a community of people who share the same interest in God and religion. We have allowed technology to do stuff for us, we are beginning to drift away from the idea that we have to maintain our relationship with God in a way that AI and machine learning simply cannot do.
Christianity is a relationship that goes both ways. Technology can do a lot, but it cannot establish a relationship with God on our behalf.