You probably don’t bow to a carved image of a god in your living room. But is your phone an idol? Is it possible that the ubiquitous, ever-present phone has taken center stage in your day and in your heart?
In the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20, we are told not to make an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or the waters below. We are not to bow down to any idol or worship them, for the Lord is a jealous God. God deserves our deepest affection and admiration. He knows we are truly satisfied when we are found in Him, and that’s one reason why He is jealous for our attention.
An idol is something or someone we put before God in our hearts. It’s something we love more than God, want more than God, trust more than God. Doubtful that your phone is really capable of becoming an idol? Well…most of us would have a hard time pulling away from our phones for an extended period of time, even when we’re on vacation. We seek our answers on Google before taking them to God in prayer. We rely on our calendars, apps, social media, and email.
Phones went from nonexistent to indispensable in less than a decade. According to a study by researchers at Iowa State University, 58 percent of men and 47 percent of women suffer from nomophobia (the fear of being without your mobile phone). Researchers asked participants if they agreed with statements like:
If I did not have my smartphone with me, I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken. I would feel weird because I wouldn’t know what to do.
Can you relate? It’s easy to slide into a dependence on our devices without even realizing it. In addition, the content we’re curating isn’t always what is good, pleasing, or perfect.
Colossians 3:5-6 says this about defining idolatry, “Put to death what is earthly in you, sexual immorality, impurity, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”
Think about what is often consumed on our phones, tablets, and flat screen TVs. Sexual immorality, impurity, evil desire, and covetousness. Whether it’s pornography, discourteous social media, or shopping advertisements, we often crave what we don’t have and even that which is forbidden.
The phone can become idols to us and to our children. We can become tethered to our phone more than the living God. We can be tuned in to text messages and tuned out from the Holy Spirit. Your phone may be your GPS but it cannot and should not provide direction for your life. Your phone may answer questions within seconds but it cannot provide the real solutions to life’s deepest problems.
So, is it time to put your phone in its proper place? It’s a tool to use on occasion for specific purposes, not an idol to have and to hold 24/7. There are times to power on and power off. If you realize you are consuming media that is damaging to your soul, it’s time to do something about it. Ask your family to hold you accountable. Set up limits like charging your phone overnight in another room. Use a timer when you’re scrolling through social media so you don’t waste time or wander into trouble.
Today is a great day to knock down any idols of technology in your life. God is jealous for your time and your heart.
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of several books including Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Lifeand Parents Rising: 8 Strategies for Raising Kids Who Love God, Respect Authority, and Value What’s Right. Learn more at ArlenePellicane.com.