The Unreality of Internet Christianity
In a sense, pornography is to sex as "internet Christianity" is to the local church. "Internet Christianity" creates a sort of "church porn."
Let me explain...
Pornography provides the user with access to sexual stimulation that costs them nothing.
In the context of a man…
There was no need for him to become a master of his environment and, by doing so, lay the foundations for a home which is suitable for a wife.
There was no need to wisely build the trust and tension between himself and a woman.
There was no flirting, no playful banter, and no strong shoulder of comfort.
There was no learning her fears or strengths. There weren't any awkward meals or conversations with the potential in-laws or her close friends.
There weren’t any difficult arguments and differences whereby they he calmly had to work through with her.
There wasn’t any engagement, wedding planning, or honeymoon period. There are no shared bills, responsibilities, or children.
There is nothing. There is no effort. No relationship.
No, he just grabbed his laptop or smartphone and looked for a video of a naked woman that gave him a thrill at that particular time. It was immediate. It was cheap. It was fake.
Pornography provides us with a distorted view of our spouse and what sex will be like in the marriage bed…
The women he lusted after weren't “real.” They are actresses of a sort. Their responses to advances and so forth are exaggerated and unnatural. Their appearance was carefully selected and prepared for the recording of these videos. The "film-makers" know what gets clicks and what doesn't. Therefore, they present their viewers with women who are unreal.
Consequently, pornography creates unrealistic sexual expectations for a man. He expects sex will cost him little. He expects a spouse that is always ready to go and in her physical prime. He isn't prepared for the reality of the marriage bed.
Life is hard. Consequently, no one is always ready to go. There is much work to be done and only a finite amount of energy. Moreover, entropy and gravity will affect everyone's body in time.
Soon this sort of man is unsatisfied with real sex with a real woman. It takes too much effort for too little payoff. He is used to getting a variety of “women” at the tips of fingers instead of variety with his one woman. And he grows bored. Moreover, he is grossed out by the marks of a maturing body and desires the perpetual beauty of time-frozen internet videos. In his delusion, he prefers what he imagines some other man has out there but it doesn't exist. It isn't real. He has been taught to love a lie and despise reality.
So, what does this have to do with "internet Christianity" and the local church?
Many Christians go to conferences, listen to podcasts, and watch streams. They listen to speakers who seem superior to their local pastor. These speakers are tracking all the hot theological trends and issues. They are more charismatic, funnier, and "incredible communicators."
Many Christians are deeply involved in Facebook groups and other online forums where they "fellowship" with other Christians. They get encouragement and process through life's challenges in these online communities. These groups can be curated and pruned so that they include only those that they see eye-to-eye with. They are excited by the same theological issues and hip to the same references.
This can and often does distort a Christian's expectation of what a local church should be like. They come to believe that every church should have a dynamic and godly pastor that is an incredible communicator. And think that every church community should come easy and be filled with like-minded people.
Never mind that many local pastors have small staffs and multiple sermons/lessons they must prepare in a given week besides all the other demands of the ministry to contend with.
Never mind that the godliness of the conference speaker is exaggerated in the mind of the listeners because they don't see him during the bad days and weak moments. This allows them to assume that his stage persona is how he is all the time. The local pastor isn't afforded this luxury. People see his kids misbehave and have even seen him argue with his wife on a few occasions. This encourages them to idolize those who they don't know and despise those who they do know.
They long for a pastor who isn't real.
The same is true for the community in the local church. You can't simply unfriend or block annoying people. You rarely are surrounded with people that are just like you in every way and share all the same interests.
Moreover, it takes more effort to develop flesh blood relationships with people in the local church. You have to make time to get together. You can't just login. Nothing is immediate and everything takes time. The local church is costly. It is awkward. But unlike porn, it is real and productive.
So be more than a consumer. Don't allowed the exaggerated nature of social media to create unreal expectations in you. Find a real "in-person" local church, join it, and get involved. Find a elders you can know and who can know you.
Analogies are never perfect. Unlike online content producers, pornography is always sinful.
That being said, it is wise to a level of wariness when it comes to social media influencers or pastors you don’t know in real life.