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Do christians have a right to privacy?

Discussion in 'Christian Philosophy & Ethics' started by TheWhat?, Sep 16, 2021.

  1. TheWhat?

    TheWhat? Well-Known Member

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    It goes without saying, privacy these days is a vanishing commodity. It wasn't until fairly recently in our history that technological changes have forced society to take into serious consideration the necessity of privacy and what constitutes an expectation of privacy. Unfortunately it seems as if christianity is behind the times on this important subject. With social trends fueled by the internet, in many christian circles there is some confusion on the subject, as if many can't decide if new found surveillance capabilities are actually good for christian living. Being that this is an area of concern within my field and is generally relevant to modern life, I decided to look this up recently and I stumbled on a quora post where one christian author reported that christians have absolutely no right to privacy, that expectations of privacy are only good for sinning, and that the absence of privacy is actually a good thing for a christian community. I found his position to be fairly peculiar, so I took it upon myself to contemplate and expose his error, and besides his apparent lack of appreciation for anything like a seal of confession, I decidedly concluded that a right to privacy is in fact necessary for a christian.

    My reasoning is that it is necessarily assumed to exist in christian morality. All one really needs to do is imagine how many common things which are not sins that could very easily cause controversy or be rendered to be a sin if forced to be done in public. Most of us would abhor being forced to undress for the public's view, or use the toilet in public, or have marital relations with a spouse, etc., and for good reason. These things are not explicitly spelled out in law, but they are assumed to be the case, maybe because it was assumed that most readers of scripture would be fairly sensical with a good head on their shoulders and a basic understanding of common decency and respect due to a neighbor. That said, there is no provision in scripture of which I am aware that either mandates or endorses the violation of our neighbors' privacy at large. It is taught that God knows all secrets, that He both conceals and reveals, but this is simply left to God to know and to handle. On the contrary, for us there are provisions for the respect of persons' privacy.

    [Lev 19:16 NKJV] 16 'You shall not go about [as] a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I [am] the LORD.

    [Pro 11:13 NKJV] 13 A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.

    [Pro 20:19 NKJV] 19 He who goes about [as] a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.

    Ham was cursed for an apparent lack of respect of the privacy of his father, Noah (Genesis 9:22-25).

    Joseph, being described as a just man by scripture, was disposed to put Mary away quietly under the errant suspicion of infidelity (Matthew 1:20).

    In contrast, the Pharisees sent spies to catch Jesus in a fault (Luke 20:20), who of course was finally betrayed by Judas who revealed His location to His enemies.

    In the case of a wrong that is done between members of a community, according to Christ, one was to approach the perpetrator first in private (Matthew 18:16), before taking only two or three witnesses, presumably also in private (since there is no command to take more than two or three).

    In conclusion, a right to privacy is deeply embedded in christian morality, a respect for which is characteristic of a just or righteous person, and while God may expose a thing, scripture does not give permission to betray a neighbor's trust or privacy, even in retribution for a sin committed.
     
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  2. Sabertooth

    Sabertooth Repartee Animal: Quipping the Saints! Supporter

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    Just bathing, toileting and banking are worthy of privacy.

    Jesus said,
    "But when you do a charitable deed,
    do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
    that your charitable deed may be in secret;
    and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly."
    "But you, when you pray, go into your room,
    and when you have shut your door,
    pray to your Father who is in the secret place;
    and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." Matthew 6:6 NKJV

    But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
    so that you do not appear to men to be fasting,
    but to your Father who is in the secret place;
    and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." Matthew 6:17-18 NKJV
     
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  3. SkyWriting

    SkyWriting The Librarian Supporter

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    We have the right to grant privacy to others.
     
  4. Landon Caeli

    Landon Caeli Member of the Heart of Gold Club Staff Member Trainee Supporter

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    I'm not sure why you say this.
     
  5. Landon Caeli

    Landon Caeli Member of the Heart of Gold Club Staff Member Trainee Supporter

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    I'm confused... You say: "Just bathing, toileting and banking are worthy of privacy", but then I see a reference to Scripture that talks about praying in private.
     
  6. TheWhat?

    TheWhat? Well-Known Member

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    We may of course grant privacy to others out of some sense of respect, but there are a number of things you could do without respect of privacy that can be clearly and reasonably interpreted to be wrongful, such as spying on the private affairs of your neighbor's children. We all, for the most part, assume that a right to privacy exists, and scripture isn't very different. It doesn't revoke a right to privacy. As compared to modern sensibilities, it emphasizes it and heightens its importance.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2021
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  7. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Without wanting to complicate the matter too much - in earlier eras - privacy was something people of wealth or rank, or status had more right to. But in the modern world its more or less assumed to be something all people regardless of status have at least some rights to.

    Its not an absolute right - there usually are some circumstances stipulated in law when one has to allow authorities to conduct a search (eg. of a house). The conditions, permissions etc. under which that is allowed to take place, according to a jurisdiction, are normally set out in legal documents.

    I agree with the OP's post, his points are well articulated and supported from the Bible.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2021
  8. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What if someone knocks on your door and its not a policeman, or a postman, or some other public servant with a right to be there. Do you not have the right to tell them to leave if you don't want them there - does a sales person have the right to enter your house?
     
  9. Will Joseph

    Will Joseph Member Supporter

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    Recalling the bible, I can think of some areas that support privacy as well as shame it. There are parts in the bible that warns against looking at or uncovering the nakedness of others, especially families and others wives. I think there is also a part of the bible that warns against being "busybodies." But vigilance is also promoted in the bible. A sleeping watchman can be seen as a sign of sloth or sin. There should always be someone watching for enemies. And enemies can abuse privacy. Then there's also parts of the bible that reveal sinners sinning behind walls and such, even though the Lord sees everything.

    This discussion can probably go towards espionage or spying, which has been an historic strategy of many governments.

    I am an American, so I value my constitutional right of privacy. It is something that Americans have died and fought for.
     
  10. TheWhat?

    TheWhat? Well-Known Member

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    There is one scripture I thought of while I was writing this up which I thought could possibly contradict concepts of a right to privacy.

    [Eph 5:11 NKJV] 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose [them].

    My interlinear shows that the greek word for "expose" here can also be taken as "reprove." Given Paul's clear disdain elsewhere for treachery, gossipers and spies (similar to Luke 20:20), it's a stretch to assume he's giving a clear pass here for what could otherwise be seen as treachery.

    We Americans are exposed to the likes of porn from early ages -- I myself was at a very young age, involuntarily by others and in a way that can be considered abusive, and I can attest to how this causes a lot of problems that need to be dealt with and handled privately. If you were unfortunate enough to have been taken in by it, you have to do what you have to do. Of necessity we need to be able to take our issues to God, in private, to bring them to the light as it were and seek reproof, correction, grace and healing in ways that our nosy neighbors probably don't even care to handle.

    Privacy is necessarily a matter of freedom of religion, and those communities which instead take the crises as opportunity for some kind of Judas playground, are necessarily persecuting Christians who have in some cases, struggled since childhood.
     
  11. TheWhat?

    TheWhat? Well-Known Member

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    On a related note, I was hit by a severe spiritual crisis in the space of 1-2 years ago, wherein it seemed as if I was under the assault of a hostile, condemning voice often coming from christian teaching and media, contributing to severe OCD. I have recovered by the grace and help of God, enough to where my faith was restored to the point that I could clearly distinguish between a healthy semblance of my former spirituality, and this hostility I kept encountering.

    It has been perplexing to me ever since. If God was with me to help restore me, then what is it I'm encountering coming from christianity? In fact I was just praying about this a couple of days ago.

    Well, it has finally dawned on me: satan entered Judas. Given our predicament, our technological changes giving rise to inescapable opportunity to betray and harm one's neighbors and compatriots, it appears it is happening again, and that satan is entering the church.
     
  12. Sabertooth

    Sabertooth Repartee Animal: Quipping the Saints! Supporter

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    My first sentence included self-evident examples of privacy.
    The rest were Biblical examples.
     
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  13. Daniel Hoseini

    Daniel Hoseini New Member

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    Certainly not from God.
     
  14. TheWhat?

    TheWhat? Well-Known Member

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    In the sense that God knows the secrets of the heart, granted. But how does God handle sins?

    He forgets them:

    [Isa 43:25 NKJV] 25 "I, [even] I, [am] He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.

    He covers them:

    [Psa 32:1-2 NKJV] 1 ... Blessed [is he whose] transgression [is] forgiven, [Whose] sin [is] covered. 2 Blessed [is] the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit [there is] no deceit.

    [Pro 10:12 NKJV] 12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.

    [Pro 17:9 NKJV] 9 He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends.

    So, yes, God knows our secrets, and God is obviously not a Judas. I think a blatant disregard for privacy can even be seen to oppose God, the Spirit of Grace.
     
  15. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don't know what you refer to but be careful of Christian Media because while there may be good programmes and teachers at times, not all of it is sound teaching.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2021
  16. TheWhat?

    TheWhat? Well-Known Member

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    It's a very long story but in my case the hostility was clearly supernatural and bent against me for harm. It was like a prophetic voice, too improbable for mere coincidence. Prayers were being answered, or interfered with depending on how you look at it. It would seem to have been from God, except, it was absent of grace, only hostile, at times enraged. It did not sound like the voice of God to me.

    And that's when I found the leading of the Holy Spirit, in contradiction to this hostility coming to me from christians, sermons, and various sources. He pulled me out of it.

    Maybe you can understand why that would be confusing. Well, now it's clear to me. That malevolent power which sought to convince me that it is God, is in actuality satan, and its using churches and christians, and I think I know why.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2021
  17. dms1972

    dms1972 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Satan is the accuser and the father of lies. The Holy Spirit as you rightly discern doesn't work that way. I have often struggled with reading some parts of the Old Testament, I am searching for a devotional / daily readings that rightly relates Old and New Testament scriptures. If anyone knows of anything PM me.
     
  18. HappyHope

    HappyHope Well-Known Member

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    Accountability is needed for sure in a Christian’s life but so is privacy. I’ve known of churches that actually hack congregants CPs to include cameras and microphones. The problem is that peeping Toms might make dastardly assumptions based on the partial picture they try to steal. This becomes quite heathenistic when misplaced sermons are aimed at innocent congregants via hacking. Checkout the Christian Forums post Morality of Church Keylogging. I’ve seriously had to leaving messages on my computer to church leaders to find which they inevitably misunderstand and glare at you or worse from a he pulpit even over communion. It’s a sick church we often deal with these days all too willing to justify any and everything.
     
  19. newwaytobehuman

    newwaytobehuman Member

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    Then that means prison for us to grant it to ourselves. Love others as you love yourself !
     
  20. SkyWriting

    SkyWriting The Librarian Supporter

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    Love others as you would have them to love you.
    It doesn't result in perfection, but it avoids being destructive to ones own ideals.
     
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