G.K. Chesterton said “emptiness does not come from being weary of pain, but rather weary of pleasure.”

Perhaps no other quote better explains the pornography crazed culture we find ourselves in today. The explosive prevalence of mobile phones and tablets has made pornography readily available. In fact, Pornhub reports that their website receives 12 million hours of viewing time a day.

But, the porn industry is now setting its sights on one of the newest, fastest growing technologies on the market—Virtual Reality (or VR for short). According to a recent Statista report, 3.6 million units of the Oculus Rift are forecasted to be sold this year.

Not only has the adult industry spent significant resources to help push development of the technology, they’ve been working hard to get consumers on board. CNet recently published an article detailing how one company’s unveiled VR category now pulls in excess of 60 million visits each day. To further their goals, they’ve promised to give away 10,000 free VR headsets.

With a third of the content available for VR geared towards pornography, could this be the next giant leap in sexual dysfunction? There are seemingly countless stats abound about how pornography has adverse effects on marriages and relationships, and even on brain function.  

What We Need To Remember:

Russel Moore said it best in that “sexuality is intended to bond a wife and a husband and, where conditions are met, to result in newness of life, thus connecting generations. Pornography disrupts this connection, turning what is meant for intimacy and incarnational love into masturbatory aloneness. Pornography offers the psychic thrill and biological release meant for communion in the context of freedom from connection with another. It cannot keep that promise.”

VR will undoubtedly exacerbate the isolation that pornography creates and will only feed moral and ethical temptations.

But, should we as the church stick our heads in the sand and wait out the storm, or can we embrace this new technology to spread the good news?

If Christ has released us into the world to change it for the better, how might we use VR for Kingdom impact?

Here are a few ways we may see VR used in ministry:

1. Create virtual environments for people who are physically marginalized (the home bound, the sick or disabled) to engage with church services that they have only previously been able to watch on TV or online.

Craig Groeschel—founder and lead pastor of LifeChurch.tv— has said that “to reach people no one else is reaching, we’ve got to do things no one else is doing.”

Their passion for using technology to keep churches well equipped has led to the creation of a virtual church in Second Life, the YouVersion Bible App, and a completely free virtual church platform for other churches to use for their own virtual ministries.

2. People who want to grow deeper in their walk with Christ can participate in online Bible studies or seminary classes with others from locations far removed from their own.

Many churches have embraced online video streaming. Is it possible to offer homebound people a personal experience through virtual reality? Could VR be the next step in church streaming?

 

Food For Thought

Like all new technologies, we may have a knee-jerk reaction to fear the unknown. But unlike many tech fads, virtual reality isn’t going anywhere. Being able to reach the millions of people that have been disenfranchised from church by physical restraints is a giant leap in the right direction. The moral implications set forth with this new technology is unlike anything before, and the Church has an obligation to live by example with these advancements.

Since virtual reality is somewhat new, there is no better time to help mold the future. So how can the church take some ownership of this unknown territory and use it for the kingdom? Can we use VR to reach more people?