Tuesday
Apr052011

Creeping

There is a point in a person’s life at which he crosses a generational line, ceasing to be numbered ever again among the young and connected, forever consigned to life’s clearance bin, his knowledge of current culture steadily in decline.

For many, it happens when his eldest child becomes a teenager and, overnight, discerns that his parents are not cool. Their jokes are corny, their warnings exaggerated, their style ridiculous. Yes, I am there.

As I begin my fade from relevancy, I am clinging to certain technologies and cultural opportunities. As evidence, I offer my iPhone and MacBook Air. I have also been on Facebook long enough to know that it was not originally designed for twelve-year-olds, but as a digital evolution of the college photo directory. 

Still, I managed to learn from the younger set that one of the most sinister crimes which can be committed is “creeping.” As I understand it, anybody can establish a social network profile and post anything they want on the Internet, leaving it unsecured and available to billions of eyes, yet no one is allowed to look at it, lest they be accused, tried, and convicted of felonious creeping. You can link yourself to a significant other, but if anyone should click on that link, they are guilty of creeping. You can post pictures of yourself doing silly or salacious things, but only a creep will click.

No one is supposed to creep, but I suspect everyone does. If you really do not want strangers looking at your embarrassing pictures and analyzing your thousands of friends, don’t link to them on the Internet. It’s the same principle behind the fact that we don’t usually build our houses with transparent walls.

One cannot, however, completely dismiss the accountability of the habitual creep (you know who you are). Paul warned Timothy about them thousands of years ago:

 

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (Second Timothy 3:1-7)

 

There are probably many social network creeps who spend their time looking for illicit titillation or gossipy fodder, but the corrupting creep is the one the Holy Spirit chose to identify. He creeps into people’s lives under the guise of being a religious sage, perhaps a pastor, priest, or smiling televangelist, ready with easy answers or misleading reassurances. 

These creeps make conquests – not only weak women, but older folks with monthly checks and estate issues, and men who do not want the hassle of cost-counting, cross-carrying religion. Evangelistic creeps have an appearance of religiousness, the backing of a creed, or the validation of tradition, but they are lacking where it counts. They have crept into vulnerable households with promises that fall well short of truth, the modern equivalent of preaching, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).

Humanism and Protestantism are full of doctrines that creep into people’s minds when there is a conflict of ambitions – a desire to do something that once was called sinful or the conscientious need to justify dishonesty, outbursts of emotion, or sexual deviancy. 

Humanism reassures that there is no true objective standard of behavior anyway, no divinely delivered manuscript that can distinguish right from wrong for everybody. Humanism creeps in through every crevice these days, through self-help books, talk-show psychologists and even many prominent preachers.

Calvinism has an even stronger blend of piety and profligacy, promising that a person once saved can never so sin as to forfeit his soul. Calvinism creeps in to hide the real potential for a believer’s apostasy (Hebrews 10:35-39). Calvinism hardly has to creep, though; it is so reassuring and full of false comfort, that it gets regular invitations through the front door.

Humanism is simply incompatible with the New Testament, a covenantal doctrine that asserts itself to be that undeniable, universal standard of ethics and morality (John 12:48, Ephesians 3:17, Hebrews 4:11-13). Yes, Pilate, there is Truth (John 18:38) and but one legitimate faith (Ephesians 4:5).

Calvinism dominates Christendom where Catholicism leaves off, and yet its continued popularity is tied to its false assurances of absolute security. “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it” (Romans 6:1-2)? Believers must “not go on sinning” (First Corinthians 15:34), “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment” (Hebrews 10:26-27). 

Creeping is a sinister behavior, but one hardly limited to people who examine your online profile before meeting you in person. There are religious false teachers constantly trying to creep into your life and sell you a diluted version of God’s Truth. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (First John 4:1).