by Dorcas Daboni, 07/11/2017
While my parents were on vacation recently they visited a church on Sabbath for worship. This church was in a popular tourist destination, so one would suppose a good portion of the attendees were visitors. The pastor asked everyone to lift their Bibles at the beginning of his sermon. My mother, lifted up her smartphone. The pastor followed up by saying it was a shame that so many people would come to church without their Bibles and that some would even dare to put up their phones. Cellphones and technology altogether were a tool of the devil, he continued, and were ways to distract us from God, so they should not be brought to church. My mother was uncomfortable the remainder of service, as she felt a spotlight had been pointed at her. Cellphones and technology altogether were a tool of the devil, the pastor said, and distracted us from God.
Cellphones and technology altogether were a tool of the devil, the pastor said, and distracted us from God.
When my parents returned from their trip, my mother recounted this story to me. I asked, “What do think about what the pastor said?” I remember when we were growing up my mom was always adamant about us bringing our Bibles to church and she even keeps one in her car, so I was surprised to hear that this time she had left it at home. She said that even though she likes to read a physical Bible every day, she felt having her Bible on her phone has helped her read it even more, and has made it easier to carry God’s Word around. “I wish more Adventists realized that technology doesn’t necessarily replace spirituality,” said said, “but can be very helpful for a Christian walk.”
Though my mother is not a young adult, her experience is one that many young adults can identify with, including me. I too have felt shamed for using a phone as opposed to a paper Bible. Growing up in a world of technology, it seems rather parochial to be told that technology is “the devil’s tool.” Some Adventists would say that technology has made millennials (or, as they say, “the young people”) selfish, shallow and indulgent. Growing up in a world of technology, it seems rather parochial to be told that technology is “the devil’s tool.”
Growing up in a world of technology, it seems rather parochial to be told that technology is “the devil’s tool.”
I was reminded of a comment made by Ellen G. White about bicycles, something that was considered top-notch technology in her day; “When Satan is defeated in one line, he will be all ready with other schemes and plans which will appear attractive and needful, and which will absorb money and thought, and encourage selfishness, so that he can overcome those who are so easily led into a false and selfish indulgence.” Testimonies to the Church.Vol. 8, pg. 52).
This sounds little different than what the pastor in the church my parents visited felt about mobile phones. But when we take a closer look at what Ellen White said, we realize her issue is not with the technology itself, but rather with the idolization of technology. Only a page earlier she said “A bewitching influence seemed to be passing as a wave over our people there, and I saw that this would be followed by other temptations. Satan works with intensity of purpose to induce our people to invest their time and money in gratifying supposed wants. This is a species of idolatry (8T 51).”
What that pastor was saying about technology taking people away from God can be true. But what my mom was saying about it helping her Christian walk was also true. So who is right? Both are. Technology is like a knife. It makes cutting lettuce and chicken easier, but used by someone else, it can also make committing murder easier as well. It depends if you are interested in making Sabbath dinner or in killing another human being. Technology can be used to bring glory to God and lead people to Christ, or it can be worshipped as an idol and lead people to be lost.
So to help with those who want to enjoy technology and use it to grow spiritually, but aren’t sure how to keep it in check so it doesn’t take over, here are some tips that have helped me:
- Put your phone on airplane mode or do not disturb when you are in church. This helps minimize the temptation to respond to text or to receive anything that can distract you from the blessing God has in store for you. Plus, it’s annoying and distracting to others when your phone rings during a prayer, song or sermon.
- Set daily alarms to remind you to pray during the day. In the note section, you can add a prayer request or a specific subject you would like to pray about.
- Subscribe to the Bible app or follow Bible quote groups on social media. So every time you see your feeds, it will inspire you to stay in a prayerful spirit throughout the day.
- Share these Bible quotes on your wall and with your friends and followers. This is a good way to witness and takes little to no effort.
- Take a picture of a Bible verse and make it your screen saver for the week. This will help you meditate on this verse and even memorize it.
- When you come across an interesting verse, look it up in various versions. It helps to have a better understanding of what that verse is trying to say.
I like using a physical Bible for morning and evening devotions. But this doesn’t mean that a book is the only way to read Scripture. Our cellphones, tablets, and laptops can all help us draw closer to God, and to draw more members to our churches.
Technology can be an amazing blessing, but we cannot explore the full extent of that blessing if we are too busy waging war against it.
Dorcas Daboni is nurse and a student. She is passionate about serving youth and young adults, and also empowering communities to make better health decisions. She writes from Wintersville, OH.