Daily Devotional for Wednesday May 7, 2003

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, SINS

( James 4:17 )

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, SINS." This is often referred to in theological circles as the sin of omission, and yes my friend, it is just as much of a sin in God's eyes as a sin of commission such as adultery, murder, or any other sin. If you don't agree, talk to God, He said it...not Bill Keller. I have never been what someone would call a Christian activist. I appreciate those who are led to work in this area, but I have always taken the approach that true change is made one heart at a time.

We can't eliminate pornography from the Internet, but we can change the hearts of those who look at it. We will never win the mythical drug war by locking people up, seizing shipments of drugs, or burning the fields they are grown in. We win by changing the heart of the person who is using drugs. The way to ultimately stop abortion is by changing the hearts of the women who make the decision to kill their baby. So my approach has always been to attack the root of the problem, sin, and help people find a new life in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. However, I cannot sit back and watch things go on around me that are just absolutely wrong and keep silent.

Several years ago, American Online merged with media giant Time-Warner. During the coverage of that merger, AOL Chairman Steve Case took great pains to point out what a family friendly, family values oriented world AOL was. I have heard this from Mr. Case over and over thru the years, but it is time for me to speak out. Every day, I receive prayer requests from people outlining how their marriages has been ruined, their homes destroyed by a husband or wife who has met someone in an AOL chat room and ended up running away with that person. Based on the fact that a very low percentage of people we deal with ever send in prayer requests, and realizing there are literally millions out there that we have no contact with, I can only imagine the thousands and thousands of homes and families that have been destroyed because of AOL chat room romances.

Let me say right here that I am a firm believer in personal responsibility. A person who kills with a gun is to blame, not the gun. However, if the gun manufacturer can do something to make it more difficult for his product to be abused and refuses to do so, then at that point the manufacturer does bear some responsibility also. Affairs, divorce, ungodly behavior has existed long before AOL chat rooms, and no doubt will exist long after AOL chat rooms. However, these chat rooms have become a customized playground for anyone looking to explore every kind of sinful perverse activity known to man. Real lives are being destroyed in this "cyber adult playground."

I realize that AOL is a for-profit business dealing with a massive global audience. I am not taking them to task for the way they protect children in their on-line community, though that leaves much to be desired. I am not even taking them to task for being a portal to the Internet and Newsgroups which can connect people with incredible amounts of ungodly content. My contention is their AOL chat areas that THEY constructed and control. Both in the rooms created by AOL, and those created by their members, every kind of perverse fantasy and desire is being dealt with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They have the ability to disband these rooms, monitor the content, however they choose to simply ignore them and allow whatever goes on to go on. In fact, they have made special features like Instant Messages and private rooms to facilitate and encourage the activities that go on in their chat area.

My Bible tells me that to know the good I should do, and not do it, is sin. I have no intentions or goals of trying to bring down AOL. However, I am here to make sure that you are aware of what is available, what is going on, what is just a mouse click away in the AOL community. Let me ask you a question. Would you let your spouse have your password so he or she can read all of your incoming and outgoing email? How about being able to see who is on your AOL Buddy List?

If the answer is no, then you are already involved to a point you need to get out...NOW! I do not believe that AOL is the anti-Christ. It is a business. But make no mistake, AOL is NOT family friendly or concerned about family values. They have become an incredible facilitator of the breakup and destruction of untold thousands of marriages and homes.

I will be praying today for those men, women, and children that have been affected by the sinful activities that have taken place in the AOL chat areas. God is able to put the pieces back together, and I will be praying for His hand of healing to sweep through lives worldwide that have been turned upside down as a result of what goes on each and every day in those chat rooms on AOL. I have always believed strongly in prevention. Many of these emails I received daily on this issue start out the same. "I was bored, it was harmless fun, I needed someone to talk to, I never intended it to get out of control."

I love you, and care about you deeply. This has been longer than most of my devotionals, but this is serious since so many lives are being affected on a daily basis. I will be praying for you. I have watched God put the pieces of many lives destroyed this way back together over the last 44 months. What God did for someone else, He can do for you! For those of you who may be caught up right now in an online romance, let me encourage you to STOP IT NOW before it destroys you, your marriage, your family, and the lives of many others.

The enemy is very tricky and knows how to trap even some of God's greatest soldiers. If He got to David, a man after God's own heart, none of us are immune from the attacks. So let's be prepared and let's do all we can to stay away from as many of those traps as we can. It is a day to day battle we fight my friend, but one God has already won for us. Let us walk in that victory!

In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller