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What Should Christians Think About Selfies?

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By Uri Brito, CP Guest Contributor
March 27, 2014|3:59 pm

"A selfie is a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone."

It's a selfie world out there. Instagram has enriched itself with millions self-portraits. Justin Bieber may have popularized it, if one dares give him original credit for anything, but it's now a world-wide phenomenon. Amateur photographers hold in their hand the perfect camera. Change the camera to self with a simple touch, smile, and post!

I am not interested in going on an anti-selfie campaign. People are creative. They are made after a creative God. Sometimes selfies incorporate a level of art that is truly remarkable. God likes to showcase his creation. And so at times showcasing a picture of ourselves to the world is not necessarily harmful. Sometimes it is can be humorous. Sometimes it is pathetic. Sometimes one does not know what to think.

When mom takes a picture of her pregnant belly, I see life. When a young lady takes a picture of herself with her new engagement ring, I see joy. When a guy takes a picture showcasing his new pair of athletic shoes he worked hard to earn, I say, "kudos." Now, when young ladies begin to display their body parts that are meant to be displayed only to their future or current husbands, I say, "what in the world are you thinking!" When a young boy takes 15 pictures a day of himself in every imaginable pose, I say, "Where's your father?"

Selfies can be great. And they can also be remarkable testaments to a pathetically self-serving and self-glorifying culture.

And then there are people who take selfies to a whole new level.

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Well, for most people, that compulsion is relatively harmless, but for 19-year-old Danny Bowman, it reportedly led to an attempted suicide.

The British teen spent up to 10 hours each day taking photos of himself on his iPhone, the Daily Mirror reports. The addiction became so debilitating that he dropped out of school and retreated into his home for six months.

"I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and, when I realized I couldn't, I wanted to die," Bowman told the Daily Mirror. "I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life."

It's a selfie world. It's a world where self-promotion and an unquenchable desire to find meaning finds a little bit of satisfaction in a selfie; a temporary satisfaction that cannot be quenched, and the search for more satisfaction ensues until one realizes that meaning is simply not possible.

So, a few thoughts to the selfie culture – especially those in the church.

First, always examine the purpose of your selfie. What am I trying to represent to the world about the God I worship? Owning things is not sinful. But the central issue has to do with the role you place on these things in your life.

What is this selfie communicating to the possibly hundreds or thousands of people who will eventually come across this picture? Why do I think that a certain part of my body needs to be seen by others; some that I never met personally, and others that I will see tomorrow in class?

Second, by all means don't read this as a crusade against selfies. Take them. But take them to show the world how beautiful we become when we are in Christ. "Look at me. You see my joy in my new tie? If you know me you know that I treasure deeply the God who gave me this tie."

Third, take fewer selfies. Period.

Fourth, when in doubt about the potential consequences of a selfie in a certain pose or wearing a certain outfit, don't post it. Keep it as a private reminder of your self-restraint.

Finally, let's turn a little of our attention from self-portraits to familial portraits. You know what the world knows little about: familial happiness. The abortion rate and the growing trend of unbiblical divorces continue to rise. Talk about an ugly selfie! We have in our society a pitiful view of what joyful family life is like. Use your camera–a great gift from God, by the way–to honor others. Put pictures of your brother or sister accomplishing something. Show the world that your life is not just centered around yourself, but on others also.

So, don't give up your selfies. I will add a little Instagram heart to them when I see them. But for every selfie you take, make sure to take three non-selfies. And then show the world that the world of me is also about you.

Uri Brito is pastor of Providence Church in Pensacola, Fla., and editor of The Church-Friendly Family.
 

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