The Rev. Dr. Christopher J. Benek
"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
As featured in The Christian Post
As technology continues to increasingly develop it exposes human intention while eliminating our privacy. The result of this accelerating trend is that the confidentiality that we currently maintain as persons will continue to erode. As such, we should begin to prepare ourselves for the biggest reveal of all: The day when technology exposes the thoughts of our mind.
In the Bible, Jesus tells us that there are intentions in our hearts that aren’t good for us. Among these motives are fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, and folly. In other passages (Matthew 5:21-26, Matthew 5:27-30) he warns persons about the consequences of being angry at, or lusting after others, comparing and/or equating those mental actions with murder and adultery.
To many, such spiritual formation of the heart and mind away from evil may seem meaningless but I think that our experience with, and observation of, developing technologies is proving otherwise. Presently, we are witnessing technology’s increasing ability to expose secrets about people. Access to analytics about people’s interests, physical locations and activities are on the rise. Additionally, we monitor many of our motions and our physiological functions, like heart rate and body temperature. A whole market of wearable technology has emerged to provide us instant access to data that, in the past, we generally received during hospital visits.
It thus seems fair to speculate that these advancements are going to, one day in the future, move beyond our external actions and basic medical functions and begin to increasingly access our thoughts and feelings. While this may sound a bit like science fiction, scientists are actually, right now, working diligently to try and discover ways to know what people are thinking and feeling by means of emerging technology. And, while the progress in such areas has been somewhat slow compared to the pace of other budding technologies, advancements are steadily being made.
Currently, we already witness some of the ways that technology is exposing the evils of the human heart/mind. The hacking of the Ashley Madison site has exposed millions of persons who succumbed to the temptations of adulterous lust. Social media posts have a way of generally revealing our personal flaws but it has also repeatedly aided authorities in making arrests for enacted crimes. Computer data regularly leads authorities to cases of fraud and illegal/inappropriate activities.
The difference though, in the future, will be that a person won’t have to do anything but exist for others to know the intellectual and emotional evils that they commit daily. Can anyone possibly begin to fathom the social implications that will come from technological advancements that allow us to know each other’s thoughts and feelings? When our deepest darkest secrets are revealed how will we stand and face one another?
Be assured that that day is coming. An era when we won’t even have the privacy of our heart/mind. And, while the harm of such intentions to persons is obviously potentially multifold, fortunately we are also increasingly observing a corrective. What we are seeing in our current age is that following Christ’s spiritual teachings, a formational process of bettering the heart/mind, is one way to make sure that what technology reveals about us is increasingly less and less scandalous.
More than that though, these developments also imply that, if humanity is going to truly seek to better itself as a species then, we are going to have to be intentional about learning to be better at extending grace to one another. For, as the unbridled thoughts of our minds are exposed for all to know, the understanding that grace and intentional reconciliation are paramount to human flourishing will be realized. Or, maybe – to put a finer point on it, technology is going to starkly remind us what we should have been focused on all along.