The recent Netflix documentary The Great Hack has once again brought internet privacy into focus as a vital discussion within our society today. More than likely you’ve had a friend on Facebook post something along the lines of:
The paranoia surrounding Facebook following the Cambridge Analytical scandal involving the Bretix decision and 2016 election is real. Did these large corporations do something unethical, or even worse, illegal? No one would ever know, right? Who reads the fine print of agreements when signing up for any of these accounts?
Several years ago I had the unfortunate role of asking someone in my church about a sinful choice they were making. None of these interactions are ever easy. Though I want my confrontation to be filled with grace, often the response is not a welcome one. In this particular instance I was told to, “mind my own business.” The person felt I was intruding on their personal life. As their pastor I believe it is my God-given responsibility to do so, but the desire for privacy often exceeds accountability.
I’ve noticed in recent years that when I am able to articulate my sinful decisions or tendencies I am less likely to continue with them. Whereas when I leave them hidden from others, I am more likely to hide them from myself, thinking that as long as I don’t focus on them they are less likely to be true. Try as I might, I can’t hide anything from God.
Proverbs 15 says, “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere.”
Hebrews 4 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.”
It’s one thing to recognize God’s omniscience (God knows everything), it’s another to welcome God into the parts of your life you would rather hide.
The desire for privacy is a natural one for a society increasingly focused on self-autonomy. And while I’m certainly not advocating for the unethical practices many companies have used in the exploitation of online information, the push for privacy within our society won’t provide the cure we’re looking for.
As we open up ourselves for God and others, denying ourselves the hiddenness privacy offers, we find healing for our shame. Few things are more powerful than the bravery of exposing yourself, and healing is found no other way. Privacy is a weak goal, because it always falls short of the value we want hiddenness to provide.
Under the prayer of “Self-Deprecation,” The Valley of Vision prayerbook includes this final statement which you may find helpful as a conclusion:
You know the snares that become my corruptions,
and that my greatest snare is myself.
I regret that my apprehensions are dull,
my thoughts mean,
my affections stupid,
my expressions low,
my life, cheap.
Keep me ever mindful of my natural state,
but let me not forget my heavenly title,
or the grace that can deal with every sin.