Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sexting and the Vacuum

Sexting: the use of text messaging to send sexually suggestive texts and/or pictures to others. It is now being practiced more and more commonly by junior high and high school students (See: MTV Study on Digital AbuseThe "Sexting" CrazeU.S. judge rules for teen girls in "sexting" caseHype, Buzzwords, and Permanence of "Sexting"SextingSexting: Just a modern version of spin-the-bottle?; or watch these two videos: 1 and 2.)  And it is one way among many that young people are using to find the attention, affirmation, and affection they long for.

Sexting has painful consequences: the distribution of child pornography by minors, selfish and abusive and threatening relationships, blackmail, a complete twisting and distortion of honor and shame, right and wrong, what a healthy relationship based on love looks like (see my three part "Love" series: 12, and 3).

Now, many have concluded this is deviant behavior that ought not continue, but no one has a basis to say why.  "It's wrong because it's against the law," some say, "And look at all those negative consequences," others state, but why is it a law in the first place?  Why are these consequences negative?  Why are these costs considered 'too high'?  Without God (the Trinitarian God of the Bible) there is no basis for a satisfactory answer.  "Without God all is permissible." (Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment).  The Apostle Paul seems to endorse such a conclusion regarding the absence of objective meaning and morality apart from God when he says, "If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die'" (1 Cor. 15:32).

Temporary (fleeting) physical pleasure and temporary (fleeting) attention, affirmation, and affection often outweigh, in our own minds and hearts, the consequences.  We are all looking for someone to say we are good enough, strong enough, beautiful enough, and etcetera, but it never fulfills: “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus” (Blaise Pascal).

We search and we search for some person or some thing or some list of do's and don'ts  to give us the attention, affirmation, and affection we need.  But we're all broken people, and nothing and no one and no list of do's and don'ts is capable of closing and filling the "God shaped vacuum in [our] hearts."  Our sin tore us away from God and His all satisfying attention, affirmation, and affection.

And so God sent His Son: "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit...For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father" (1 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 2:18).  The good news is God had a plan, and this plan was to send His Son, Jesus, who lived a perfectly obedient life and fulfilled our need for a perfect sacrifice for our sins.  He, Jesus, paid the debt of our sins on the cross, and He died, and three days later He rose from the dead, and His perfect life of obedience, His willing death, and His resurrection achieved for us forgiveness of sins and justification as He took our sins on the cross and gave us His righteousness, and ultimately, He brings us to God who loves us and gives Himself to us as a free gift of grace we receive by faith.

Therefore, when we seek the attention, affirmation, and affection we were created to have, God says, "Come home. Return to me and be healed. Turn away from your searching, your life of sin and shame; leave your broken cisterns and receive from me living water - my salvation - receive Me."[1] May today be the day of your salvation, and if you already believe in Christ and have received Him, may this reminder stir you up to love and good deeds, to remember and believe and truth the Father who with joy sent His Son for you, who's Son, with joy, went to the cross to bring you home to His Father who receives you with joy. Hallelujah! Praise His name. Amen.

[1] Maybe you are still wondering, "Why isn't forgiveness or a new life or heaven ultimately the good news? Why is God Himself the good news?" Good question. Here is one of the best responses:
"God is the one Being in all the universe for whom seeking his own praise is the ultimately loving act. For him self-exaltation is the highest virtue. When he does all things "for the praise of his glory" as Ephesians 1 says, he preserves for us and offers to us the only thing in all the world which can satisfy our longings. God is for us, and therefore has been, is now, and always will be, for himself. Praise the Lord! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" (John Piper).