Internet Integrity Matters: Web 2.0, Accountability, & Congressman Weiner

Integrityphoto © 2008 Courtney | more info (via: Wylio)

Integrity.  It’s a word that word in the church that is the outflow of a life defined by Jesus Christ.  He is the one whose own integrity we aim to imitate.  In so many ways, we often fall short.

Integrity.  It’s also a word that Christian guys hear over and over again at camps and retreats.  This is more than appropriate because it’s a word that often fails to find actualization. Men sometimes fail to live up to the purity to which they are called.  Another word, integrity’s nemesis, lust, creeps in.  Another word, accountability, is key for managing temptations that come into our lives.  Without it we allow lust to dictate actions that corrupt our calling as men to live up to a standard worthy of the women in our lives.[1]

Over the past week, the reminder that integrity matters came as we watched Congressman Weiner deny and then confess to inappropriate interactions with 6 women over the past few years via social media.  This revelation serves as no surprise for most of us, because we live in a day where such actions are expected – almost more than they are a shock.  This should sadden us.

What I’ve been thinking about as this story broke is that Internet integrity matters.  Now, more than ever, the web functions as a web of relationships.  So called “web 2.0” is about information to be sure, but it’s the kind of data that’s collected socially.  For instance: I write a blog post.  You read it.  You comment.  I interact.  You then post it to your Facebook wall or Twitter accounts either conveying: “I love this!” or “This guy is off his rocker!”  Then others read it and compare it to other bloggers or writers they are familiar with.  Then they comment.  I interact.  By the end of just one post, the real possibility is that folks from all over the world have become part of my single blog article.

What happens if someone says something rude on my blog and I come back with web enraged word vomit? I have traded integrity for arrogance and have done so “in front” of all who will read that post.  Unfortunately, this has happened on a few occasions, and for this I am truly sorry.  Integrity fail.  Usually, if I recognize it, I go back to the comment or do whatever I can to make amends.  Disagreeing is fine, acting out of pride is not.  Anyway, the point here is not that I need to “get something off my chest” but to simply point out that in the era of “web 2.0,” accountability is natural and public.  Perhaps a positive feature of “web 2.0” is exactly that for those who would seek it, accountability is built into the infrastructure of social media.

 

Source: VeryWeb - Social Media Advertising

Integrity.  It’s a word that isn’t reflected in Congressman Weiner’s recent actions.  This married man allowed lust to lead to poor judgment.  But, eventually, the system of social media led to his ‘sins being found out.’  Why?  Because that is the nature of “web 2.0.”  It’s social and therefore, what you do on the web can and often will be traced back to you.  May this be a reminder that what we do on the web matters.  It matters to our relationships with people both on and off line.  It matters to our connection with God.   And it matters to for our own wholeness and integrity.

Not all of us will struggle with Internet porn or issues connected to lust,[2] but our integrity will be tested with every comment we make… every article we write… every tweet… every status update…  every friend request… every direct message… every single thing we do online can affect the integrity that God wants to build within us.  May we use the web in a way that helps us to “…grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4.15).  This is the epitome of seeking integrity.


[1] Yes, I realize that the opposite is true as well.  Ladies have similar issues that can be a struggle as well.

[2] If you do struggle with porn and issues related to such, you are not alone.  I encourage you to find someone to whom you can be in accountability with.  Also, see XXX Church for resources to overcome web related addictions.

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  • http://twitter.com/joelhedlund Joel Hedlund

    Great post my friend, I have always heard that integrity is “who you are when no one is looking,” and I think we all agree who we are in private will eventually make itself public.
    Thanks for this reminder, blessings on you today.  Hit me up, its been too long.

    • http://thepangeablog.com Kurt Willems

      @twitter-48448536:disqus  , thanks for reading and yes, I am pretty say Thurs this week so lets grab coffee!

      • http://twitter.com/joelhedlund Joel Hedlund

        did you say you were pretty?  Sounds great have to be in the afternoon for me.  Take care

        • http://thepangeablog.com Kurt Willems

          @twitter-48448536:disqus , I should have said “im pretty OPEN” oops! hahah

    • http://thepangeablog.com Kurt Willems

      @twitter-48448536:disqus  , thanks for reading and yes, I am pretty say Thurs this week so lets grab coffee!

  • Anonymous

    Hello again!   At my age, I really am not that interested in “social” media.  I am listed.  I don’t bother to check in.  I have a belief that if God needs to get my attention, He has ways, ancient ways.

    And after a number of occasions when I met with other guys to discuss our “integrity” – our “purity” – our “accountability”, I gave it up as a waste of time.  My profession required me to seek truth in all who came to me for help and in that process, I learned how to assess the truthfulness of my clients and really did not care whether they were telling the truth or not.   Then, I came to my “brothers” in the faith and discovered that most of them seemed to prefer playing “games” rather than openly admitting to their needs.  I bowed out.

    That old scripture verse, “Your sins will find you out”, has been the word that has kept me on the narrow path for the most part in the 36 years I have walked with our Lord.   After almost 45 years of “playing games” with God, e.g., going to church regularly and believing I was a “good” man, made me realize, only a fool believes that God is somehow honored by even our best intentions.

    Am I perfect – ask God.   He knows for certain.   He also knows that when I asked for help in dealing with a particular vice or troublesome situation, He was always there.  The best part is, I have come to depend on Him.

    Do you need Him?  Yes, you do.   I really don’t care if others call you an Archbishop.  You need Him.

    The joy to be realized in the Christian life is to live with a sense of utter dependence on Him.

  • Ian

    Integrity is hard for a person in leadership sometimes, because they think that they need to look good for the sake of the people they are leading, but really what a good leader does is be open about his weaknesses. “…Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b. As a youth leader I used to fall into this trap. I would tell myself “I need to look good so that they will listen to me,” most of the time just on a subconcious level. Now I realize that I need to be open about even the deepest darkest sin in my life and then as a body of believers we can build each other up. So I think that part of having integrity is being the real you even if thats pretty ugly.

  • Jonathan Colegrove

    Thank you for offering shalom — wholeness — to the discussion of so much brokenness in the lives of so many.  Ultimately, only deep communion with Jesus will ever bring about the healing we all need.  I’ve thought about writing to Congressman Weiner.  He doesn’t need censure as much as he needs shalom.  

    As a guy, the easy thing is to look at Anthony Weiner’s “Oh crap!” moment and react by thinking, “there, but for the grace of God go I,” or getting XXXChurch (great product, by the way).  What we men really need to do is run as fast as we can.  We don’t need to run somewhere we can hide from our sin.  It will follow us there and destroy us all the same.  That’s why traditional accountability structures are mostly like rehab programs.  They treat the symptom, not the cause.  You may be clean, but you are not sober.  You want to run somewhere?  Run to Jesus himself.  

    Today’s Lectionary reading from Ezekiel tells what God will do for anyone who runs to him.  “And when they come there, they will remove… all… detestable things and all…abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”
    (Ezekiel 11:18-20 ESV)

    Yes, we all need brothers to gather close and stand with us.  And we all need to be careful when and for what purpose we use our computers and now our “smart” phones (an oxymoronic name for sure).  If you struggle with improper use of the internet when you’re at home, here’s an idea: leave the computer at work.   But there is no firewall so secure it will keep you from your own desire.  And no brother can be present often enough to really hold you accountable.  Only Jesus himself can do that. 

    Brothers, RUN!  

    Jon
    http://www.the-morning-watch.blogspot.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.enns James Enns

    The truth is social media has made it nearly impossible for a major public figure (or even a minor one) to hide something.  Scandals are not new…many American President’s have had mistresses, illigitimate children, etc.  These days anyone with a IPhone can be a reporter; you can post something to twitter or facebook and within seconds at least a few hundred have access to it.  Shortly after, it will spread like wildfire.  There is no need for gossip anymore…your improprieties can be posted via a Driod to Youtube for all to watch and critique…  

  • http://covenantoflove.net Derek

    Good article Kurt.

    Another fantastic resource for men (yes, even us Christian men) is Covenant Eyes. I would encourage you and your readers to check it out: http://trevinwax.com/2011/05/26/guard-your-heart-a-conversation-with-the-ceo-of-covenant-eyes/


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