SBC Life Articles

On-line Poison

It could be any Baptist church in any small town. This particular church is in Georgia, where life is good from outward appearances.

The congregation doubled in three years with 150 baptisms and a new building. The highway out front was even four-laned. Growth from a nearby city meant more people settling in the church's vicinity.

"We're in the computer age," the pastor said. "For Christmas, we buy the kids a p.c."

He counsels families thirty hours a week. That's where he saw a disturbing pattern.

And that's why he didn't want his name mentioned; news of the problem would affect families still in the community.

One man was a deacon and married for nineteen years. He had two children and got them a computer. His wife discovered a Christian chat room, the pastor said. Over the months, she met several women and men, and continued the on-line talk with one man in that chat room.

The pastor recounted that the man started asking personal, and even seductive questions.

The wife had to go to Atlanta for a trip. The chat room friend agreed to meet her there and flew out from Los Angeles.

The deacon's wife then wanted to see an old friend in California and offered to stop by and visit her new friend from the Internet. He sent her $3,000 for the trip.

The deacon realized the danger at this point and removed their computer. But it was too late. His wife went to Los Angeles and decided to stay.

"Completely abandoned her family," the pastor said. "Here's a home broken over the Internet."

Another church member had been married eighteen years when his wife met a man from Europe in a chat room.

"She left her children, left her husband," the pastor said, and "married this guy."

"It all starts totally innocent," the pastor explained. "It goes from a spontaneous meeting to a planned meeting."

Shared interests become a "shoulder to cry on," "fascination" and then a "love relationship," the pastor said.

And it has affected the young people in church, such as a twelve-year-old girl who corresponds with a man over the Internet.

The pastor said the man started asking personal, physiological questions.

"You don't know who you're talking to," the pastor noted. "He's probably a pedophile."

There were other dangers on-line. A Sunday school teacher developed an interest with Internet porn. And he was married to a beautiful woman.

Whenever she leaves home, "before she's at the end of the driveway, he's on it (the computer)," the pastor said about the on-line porn. "Totally addicted."

The church had to remove that man from his teaching duties.

"It's destroying the fabric of what we stand for," the pastor said. "The Bible says we're to guard our eyes."

Even older couples are affected. One couple had been married twenty years. Their children are grown but the husband is confused: His wife used to come home from work and get cleaned up before cooking. They would go for a walk or work in the garden. Then they got a computer.

Now she goes from work to the Internet. She tells her husband to eat leftovers and sits at the computer terminal until one a.m., seven days a week.

"That's the progression," the pastor said. "It went from a home where there's a relationship — to no relationship at all."

Cyberspace, he said, "has made our people aware that anything we have can be abused. Our people … need to have some controls over their home computers. The evil is all around us."

    About the Author

  • Clay Renick