Decoding And Overcoming Smartphone Addiction

Day 1 of 4 • This day’s reading


Paul and Smartphone Addiction 

The fact that our world is lock-stock-and-barrel addicted to the smartphone is undisputed! Even believers are no exception! Jean Twenge, an American psychologist who studies generational differences writes about iGen – a generation that does not remember a time before the internet – this: “Curious, I asked my undergraduate students at San Diego State University what they do with their phone while they sleep. Their answers were a profile in obsession. Nearly all slept with their phone, putting it under their pillow, on the mattress, or at the very least within arm’s reach of the bed. They checked social media right before they went to sleep, and reached for their phone as soon as they woke up in the morning (they had to—all of them used it as their alarm clock). Their phone was the last thing they saw before they went to sleep and the first thing they saw when they woke up. If they woke in the middle of the night, they often ended up looking at their phone. Some used the language of addiction. ‘I know I shouldn’t, but I just can’t help it,’ one said about looking at her phone while in bed. Others saw their phone as an extension of their body—or even like a lover: ‘Having my phone closer to me while I’m sleeping is a comfort’” (The Atlantic, September 2017 issue).  What Jean found true about her students is perhaps true of many of us reading this piece! Yes, even believers are addicted to their smartphones and that is sad! Here is a poem I recently wrote referring to this malady: It your phone you check right before you go to sleep/It is your phone you reach for, when in the morning, out of your bed, you creep,/In the middle of the night, you end up looking at the phone, in case your sleep is not that deep/Do I love my phone, more than my Lord? – this is a question, I cannot, under the carpet, sweep!

The Bible is very clear in this: addiction of any sort is sinful! If you quizzed Apostle Paul about the burning issue of smartphone addiction, he will draw your attention to his words penned in I Corinthians 6:12. The verse goes this way in contemporary Voice version: ‘I can hear some of you saying, “For me, all things are permitted.” But face the facts: all things are not beneficial. So you say, “For me, all things are permitted.” Here’s my response: I will not allow anything to control me.’ So, if you smartphone controls you, you have picked up a sinful habit! 

Apostle Paul calls himself a bond-slave of Christ in Romans 1:1. When you read the relevant cross-reference passage for Romans 1:1 in the Old Testament (Exodus 21:1-6), we understand who a bond-servant actually is: “A bondslave was one who worked willingly because he sold himself into slavery out of love for his master” (the words of Jamie Mitchell). The bond-servant gets his ear pierced by the master as if to proclaim to the world, “Seven years were not enough for me to serve you, master! These seven years of serving you as a slave were like life in heaven! I now want an entire lifetime to serve you!” Paul was so pleasurably pierced in his heart by the love of Christ that he self-introduces himself as Christ’s bond-slave in Romans 1:1. If you are addicted to your OnePlusOne smartphone, you should remember the message of Romans 1:1 (For that matter, you should remember the message of Romans 1:1 no matter what brand of smartphone you use!). Do you love your Lord more than your phone?