Rev. Kleyn is pastor of Trinity Protestant Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Michigan.
I take this important article from Reformed Perspective, a magazine written by young Reformed people for young Reformed people and, in the case of this article, also for their parents.
There is out there the great unknown world of the Internet. Part of its draw is that there is so much that is undiscovered—an old friend, a new friend, a good bargain, some information you needed for research, a stimulant for a pet sin. The problem with the Internet and our kids is that they aren’t telling their parents the whole story—where they’ve been, what they’ve seen, how they ended up there, what their friends at school told them to look up, who they’ve been communicating with, etc. And parents need to know. They need to be on the alert. They need to protect their children, not just physically from the lurking molesters, but especially from the spiritual temptations that rot the soul and heart.
And now there’s this apparently innocent but very powerful social networking site called Facebook. What is Facebook? It is a very popular, easy to use, social networking site where people can leave messages for their friends and find messages about their friends all day long. But is it as innocent as it sounds?
Well, parents probably don’t know, so, here is an article, written by one who is in the know. Maybe not written to his parents, but to parents in general and a good warning, not just for parents, but also for the young people (Jon Dykstra, Reformed Perspective, June 2008).
There’s a lot to like about Facebook. Status updates for example. Through them I’ve learned when a friend was excited about an upcoming trip to New York, or in need of prayer because of their medical situation, or stressed because both their children had the flu, or happy because they were expecting another little one.
One friend’s update even helped me save valuable minutes every laundry day: “Jan has a laundry confession—she doesn’t fold underwear. It’s true. Try it! C’mon—free yourself from folded underwear tyranny!” This website is often derided as a timewaster, but if it weren’t for Facebook I would have been forever condemned to worrying about wrinkles in items of clothing that no one even sees!
A starting spot
So there’s a lot to like about Facebook, but the site does have an unpleasant side. Like the Internet itself, it is not a place teens should be allowed to go unmonitored. And younger children should not be allowed on the site at all.
How young is too young? You have to be at least 13 to get a Facebook account (though many children get around this restriction by simply pretending to be older). If 13 is the standard this secular group sets, that seems a good indicator that Christian parents should consider an older age limit.
Some of the parents I’ve talked to have signed up to Facebook specifically to keep track of what their children are up to. But even some of these parents are oblivious to the dark side of Facebook. This is a site that encourages curiosity—the more you explore the more cool applications, pictures and games you can find. But if children do start exploring they are sure to come across Facebook’s sleazy side. A quick perusal of the 20 most popular applications revealed that at least 11 of them had material that was not appropriate for children…or adults for that matter.
1) Funwall: Lots of cute posters, but about 10% of the material is pornographic
3) Superwall: Users can share videos, half of which seem to be pornographic
4) Bumperstickers: Contains a category called “F-you”
5) Owned: Allows users to buy and sell friends
6) Texas Hold ‘Em Poker: A great place to practice gambling
7) Friends For Sale: The name says it all
13) Super Poke: Loads of street slang sexual references
16) My Sexy Friends: Encourages the objectifying and rating of friends
17) Mob Wars: For anyone who wants to be the head of a murderous gang
19) Zoosk: A dating service
20) Likeness: How similar are you to the movie stars you idolize?
Pornography is a big problem but applications like Fun Wall, SuperWall and Bumpersticker are also problematic in that they contain clever insults, cutting putdowns and vulgar jokes. This is just the sort of source material that teenage boys use to impress their friends in the schoolyard, and Facebook is an endless source.
The site has also been used by students in our Reformed schools to pass comments to each other about their favorite and least favorite teachers. We all know that students have always said nasty things about teachers, but doing it on Facebook brings it to a whole new level. The mean words spoken between students in a school hallway are soon forgotten, but the same words posted on a Facebook page encourage friends to add to and expand on these insulting words.
The same thing can also happen between friends—silly insults spoken between friends aren’t that significant. But they become far more hurtful when they are posted on Facebook for dozens and even hundreds of others to read.
I’ve seen some rather horrid material being said by Christian youth. I can only assume that their parents don’t know what these children are up to.
And that’s the real problem; many parents aren’t monitoring their children’s use of Facebook. A responsible parent always knows where their children are and it shouldn’t be any different with the Internet and with this website.
Like the Internet itself Facebook has some amazing content that makes it very attractive. Facebook allows friends to share photos and news, keep track of birthdays and email addresses, organize events, play games like Scrabble and Boggle together, and even monitor the cheapest plane fares to Europe. Mature users can decide to make use of the good material and ignore the rest.
But younger users may not make the right choices so parents must takes steps to know what their offspring are up to. To do that, you’ll have to sign up as your child’s Facebook friend and check their page regularly. If you don’t know how, ask your child or someone in their early twenties and they’ll almost certainly be able to help. And if your child is under 13 get him off the website. If the world admits the site is inappropriate for children this young why would we think different?
Well, anyone who is the slightest bit familiar with Facebook, or any other of the social networking pages (myspace.com, xanga.com, etc.), knows not only that they can be time wasters, that they are harmful to personal communication skills, that they are places for gossip, slander, name-calling, church schism, and promotion of every sort of sin, and so on, but also that they are very, very popular among the young—75% of youth aged 18-24 years have Facebook accounts in the USA. And this demands that parents take the strictest oversight of their teenagers’ and children’s use of the Internet.
Punishment for Speaking Against Homosexuality in Canada
Tolerance for everything is tightening its noose on the intolerant. This article by Tim Waggoner comes from Lifesitenews.com, June 9. It tells the story of an Alberta pastor who was recently fined $7000 and ordered to apologize publicly and remain silent on homosexuality.
OTTAWA, June 9, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com)—On Friday, the Alberta Human Rights Commission ordered Alberta pastor Stephen Boissoin to desist from expressing his views on homosexuality in any sort of public forum. He was also commanded to pay damages equivalent to $7,000 as a result of the tribunal’s November decision to side with complainant and homosexual activist Dr. Darren Lund. The tribunal has also called for Boissoin to personally apologize to Lund via a public statement in the local newspaper.
Boissoin was first hauled before the Human Rights Commission to answer to a complaint filed by Lund, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary. Lund made his complaint after Boissoin published a letter to the editor in the Red Deer Advocate, in which he denounced homosexuality as immoral and dangerous, and called into question new gay-rights curricula permeating the province’s educational system.
“Children as young as five and six years of age are being subjected to psychologically and physiologically damaging pro-homosexual literature and guidance in the public school system; all under the fraudulent guise of equal rights,” wrote Boissoin in the letter. In an interview, Boissoin told LifeSiteNews.com that he’s under attack not only for his letter, but more significantly for his beliefs. “The point I am trying to make here is what’s being attacked at the core is what I believe, according to my personal beliefs and my religious beliefs.” Most disturbingly, says Boissoin, is that the ruling calls for him to “cease publishing in newspapers, by email, on the radio, in public speeches, or on the internet, in future, disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals.” Boissoin wondered to what extent the right to freedom of expression in Canada will be deteriorated, stating, “I am not allowed to hold on to my views.”
The pastor also maintained that his beliefs are founded not on hate or malice, but derive from a personal concern for the family and society rooted not only in faith, but also in science. “I am not allowed to hold my views, but the Lunds of the world are allowed to bring gay ministers into schools, they are allowed to present scientifically baseless teachings to kids that people are born gay.” “I am all for tolerance, I don’t want to see anyone who calls themselves homosexual be discriminated against,” added Boissoin. “At the same time I believe it is a behaviour, there is no scientific proof that anyone is born gay, but these teens are taught in our school systems that that is the way it is, that people are born homosexual.”
Boissoin then addressed the potential implications of what he called a scientifically baseless pro-homosexual curriculum being taught in schools. “When you deem something acceptable, you increase the likelihood that they will participate in that, and that’s a great concern to me,” he said.
“Absurd—beyond absurd. I will never make a public apology; I stand by what I said. My context has never been taken into consideration. Lund’s context has always been taken into consideration.”
Boissoin’s is the latest in the string of actions by human rights commissions at both the national and provincial levels which have the nation in an uproar over the threat to freedom of speech and freedom of religion posed by the human rights commission. The Alberta government, which created the human rights commission, has ultimate authority over the commission and its mandate, rules and who is appointed to the commission.
The question can be asked, Why is this happening? Why this attack on Christians?
In this case against Boissoin, some circumstantial evidence has apparently been produced that links the influence of his teaching to the beating of a homosexual young man. Some kids who were involved in the beating had apparently read about the Boissoin case, and suddenly he became guilty of a hate crime for this. Meanwhile, it is a fact that of all the hate crimes and terrorist acts committed in recent history, none of them can be attributed to Christianity, and yet, as this case demonstrates, Christianity is being targeted for its speech against homosexuality. So, why is Christianity being targeted?
The answer is, because we have the Word of God, the Scriptures, which condemn homosexuality. These people want to at tack God and His will and Word, and so they attack Christians. And, fearful as this may be, this is what believers can expect in this world. But then, we should count it joy to suffer for the name of Christ, we should continue to demonstrate true Christian behaviors toward our persecutors, and we should trust the Lord who has promised never to forsake us in such troubles. He said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
From Justification to Women in Office
Over the past several years the Presbyterian Church in America, PCA, has been involved in ongoing debate and decisions regarding justification by faith alone and Federal Vision. This year, the synod dealt with another important and difficult issue that, it seems, will extend over years to come. On Reformation21.org, Ligon Duncan posted the following:
The Assembly was called upon to debate a controversial matter, the overtures of a number of presbyteries asking for the creation of a Study Committee to consider women’s roles in the church, or the possibility of female deacons in the PCA. Eventually, the Overtures committee recommended against a Study Committee, and a Minority Report advocated the establishment of a Study Com mittee with narrowly defined parameters (e.g. a focus on women in diaconal service).
The minority report was adopted and a study committee was appointed to look at these issues.
It’s important for us to note that when a church begins to waffle on the question of ordained women, in any of the offices, it is only a matter of time and the churches will not only allow this, but be overrun by it. Evidence of this is in the Christian Reformed Church synod of 2008, which seated women delegates, and it was not long ago that the same disputes and questions existed in the CRC.