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Personal Privacy a Biblical Perspective

Do we have the right to personal privacy?

Is personal privacy even a good thing?

The internet has failed
One of the heart cries of the internet is that people have a reasonable expectation to personal privacy. When social media changes these policies it is big news that is accompanied by a bit of whining. When hackers breach the security of banks, stores and websites it is enormous news with sometimes life altering consequences. These breaches of security only illustrate what we all actually know down deep inside, security and therefore privacy is a myth. The internet seemed to be a place for secrecy, security and anonymity. It has failed. The possibility now exists that everything saved online is or may be made available to anyone with a notion to look at it. Nefarious or nosey availability of information is becoming, just that, available.

What scriptures come to mind that grant us personal privacy?

When a group of men were asked these questions the consensus was that personal privacy was indeed a right and a good thing. When asked to think about the subject Biblically the consensus quickly changed. First to confusion, blank misunderstanding, and then the realization that we had all been had. Personal privacy was just another word for anonymity and that was a fertile field for sin.

What does the Bible actually say about privacy? Pretty much just the following instances: Bathroom, nakedness, alms, fasting, and praying. Everything else is done in community, together. Think about your average Bible villager. They were absolutely dependant on one another and pretty much everyone knew everyone, to the backs of their non existent closets. Secrets had to be hard to keep, at least with in the community group.

We are supposed to be a community. This may be the first generation to truly have secrets. This may be the only time in history in which anonymity was even possible. And what good has come of it? There is always some upside but the truth is we were duped, trapped, and thankfully that lie is now exposed to all who will see it. Security is a myth and anonymity will likely get you into trouble.

This is how community is supposed to work:

Ephesians 5:11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says,

“Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”

15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And )do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Here come the bullet points.

  • Wake up, if it is done anonymously it is likely to be avoided.
  • Walk wise, very simply learn and apply the teachings of Jesus.
  • Waste no time, “off” time is for rest, a benefit of time spent “on”.
  • There is no escape*, be filled with Holy Spirit.
  • Build up the brothers and sisters.
  • Worship and praise the Lord
  • In community everybody is watching, be subject to one another.

They day of universal anonymity is over. Our credit card numbers and good name can be sullied. This is a good thing, it was doomed to fail anyway, sin always eats it’s own offspring. Community is a wonderful reality.

*Much can be said about drunkenness. It is the cause of much pain and abuse. This passage is not just a prohibition of drunkenness  it is to be mindful of the ways in which we escape our pain. We may not get drunk but waste time escaping the very issues and problems we should be working hard to overcome.

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