Virtual friends, virtual money… virtual reality
Real disease, loneliness, pain and despair.
The internet, we are told, has changed life, linking us with each other in ways never before envisaged, and giving us access to things that in previous generations we might have heard about, but would never have seen. We are told that in this brave new ‘virtual’ world, we are all connected and everything is possible!
If you want to go to a concert or the cinema – get tickets online and download them to your smartphone. Want to know train times – download the app. Pay a bill – go online. Need information – look it up on Google. Feeling lonely, misunderstood, or bullied – get friends online. The list goes on and on.
Some of the changes really are phenomenal and good – but there’s a downside too. It’s a perfect vehicle, for example, for the spread of evil, as we know all too well from the reported explosion of pornography and paedophile rings. But, that apart, the reality is that increasingly all of life is being conducted in some out-of-sight and intangible world that we know exists, but that we cannpt see or touch. And, paradoxically, the result isn’t cohesion, but rather isolation, combined with growing social and cultural ‘redundancy’, because in this virtual world, the physical contribution of individuals to life and work is becoming increasingly superfluous.
But there’s a perhaps less obvious consequence that is even more concerning, because men and women are today so blinded by this chimera of reality, that they can no longer see what’s really real. Virtual reality encourages demonic delusion, desensitizing people to God by promoting absolute belief in mankind’s capacity to re-orchestrate and redefine reality, elevating ‘immaterial’ illusion over truth. To put it another way, the transcendent has been reinterpreted out of existence by illusion, beguiling the greater mass of humanity so that they are no longer able to see God.
Small wonder then that in all sorts of ways we try to recreate creation, and that Church leaders feel, as justification, that they can rewrite Scripture. And small wonder that, in consequence, families disintegrate, children are shipwrecked by parental and educational inadequacy, and rates of mental illness continue their horrifying spiral into the stratosphere of emotional and spiritual dysfunction.
None of this is to say that scientific discovery and the internet are evil. They are not, but their use is being perverted to separate us from meaning and true purpose. As a matter of urgency, mankind needs to reconnect with reality. Above all, we need to reconnect with God – who is Reality – because only in relationship with Him do we find true meaning and purpose; and only in obedience to Him are we fulfilled.
So as we go forward into 2019, with its many challenges, let us consecrate ourselves anew to God, and in particular let us, in ‘real’ love, use science wisely, rejecting all that defiles our faith.
Before Christmas, the Church of England announced its backing for the creation of a new liturgy to celebrate the transition of trans-gender people and welcome them into the church in their new persona (https://www.christian.org.uk/news/church-of-england-backs-gender-transition-services). A short time prior to that, the Diocese of Oxford sent out a letter to all clergy, affirming LGBTI+ involvement in the Church, and banning intrusive questioning about sex and gender. It further announced the planned appointment of a new LGBTI chaplaincy team to support people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender, and to advise clergy on appropriate care and support (https://www.premier.org.uk/News/UK/LGBT-chaplaincy-team-planned-by-diocese-in-response-to-past-hurt-and-exclusion).
I do not, and never would, say that LGBT people – or indeed anyone – should be excluded from the Church. We are all, in our various ways, sinners, and the Church holds out hope and redemption for all. But redefining so as to affirm behaviour of which the Bible both disapproves and prohibits is not an act of love and helps no one; and this current stance places too much emphasis on sexuality, at the expense of true respect and care for the individual. At best, this supposedly ‘modern’ attitude of the Church is a hindrance to the development of a relationship with God; at worst, it consigns the sinner to hell.
It is a poison spreading throughout the whole Church, which increasingly subjugates its role of providing spiritual and moral guidance to believers, to one that prefers to give way to, and thereby prioritise, opposing views. At the least, the traditional believer is left without clear and proper guidance, as demonstrated by Archbishop Welby, who has been at best equivocal in his approach to same sex marriage, repeatedly refusing to say whether or not he thinks gay sex is a sin. But the celebration of personal inclination and orientation as some kind of self-fulfilling spiritual determination can only blind people to the immensity of God’s love, made manifest in the sacrifice of His Son, who died in order to free us from sin and restore us to fellowship with God.
I was among the first women to be deaconed in the Church of England in 1987, and then priested in 1994. I have served the Church since that time as faithfully as I can, in obedience to a call from the Lord to shepherd and care for His people. But this is no longer the Church to which I was called. It is becoming an apostate church – that serves secular and political fashions and morality. But not God. It is a church that is losing the will to defend Truth and God’s name.
The chaos affecting the nation is manifestation of the moral degeneracy of our culture. We are under judgment. Yet the Lord’s will remains to save, and it is still not too late. Unpalatable as it may seem, both as a nation and as individuals, we are faced with a choice. The Church is faced with choice. ‘Reality’ and repentance; or continued worship of illusion and ultimate death.