lies, deceit, and cell phones

We tend to have strong reactions when something is taken away from us that is meaningful. This can be anything from:

– headaches and grumpiness after giving up caffeine

– tummy rumblings on the first days of a diet

– boredom after the electricity goes out

– having to get a ride when your car breaks down

You get the idea, right? When we have to give something up, especially when it is not our choice, we tend to not respond well.

Over the last two weeks we have been at church camp and, as one of our rules, we ask that campers do not have cell phones, electronics, etc. This isn’t a move to be controlling or mean. Really, we have found these things to be a distraction when it comes to camp. We as a camp leadership team feel that if we don’t have to worry about what is going on at home, we can better focus on the tasks at hand during camp. And, for those who do this, they find it to be a liberating experience.

Yet, each year we battle. Yes, we battle with our teens’ gripes about giving up their cell phones. To me this is a natural response to giving up something that is important. Having had to do this several times, I understand what it feels like to not have your phone.

But, the battle goes deeper. This year many campers decided it would be easier to lie about not having their cell phone than give them up. Our groups had parents who would help their teens get around the rules so that they could communicate with their teenager. And, on top of that many ministers (including myself) have tired of fighting the issue and avoid addressing these behaviors.

So, what we experienced last week, all surrounding giving up cell phones revolved around these behaviors:

-conflict avoidance

This post is not to call any certain person or group out, but I struggle to leave a week of camp that is supposed to be devoted to loving our God where these things happen on account of an electronic device.


We lie, deceive, and avoid conflict just so we can keep our electronics close. Does this bother anyone else?

I bring this up because I would submit these behaviors are not limited just to camp. These things happen all of the time.

Are our relationships really so shallow that we feel that it is okay to lie to each other to avoid giving up our cell phones? Do we really need to deceive one another to get what we want? Do we avoid conflict in exchange of real, meaningful conversations about what is important?

I believe that our lack of depth in relationships leads to these kinds of things.

What do you think? Am I being too hard about this idea? Or do I need to lighten up?

Tell us what you think.

I plan to follow up this post on Friday with some specific ideas on how to address these issues. I would love your contributing thoughts on this subject as I prepare.

7 thoughts on “lies, deceit, and cell phones

  1. I am constantly surprised by those who think the rules do not apply to them – especially those who are God followers. Of course my surprise comes from the fact that – I am a rule follower. Rule following is ingrained in my inmost being. Sometimes I want to break the rules but just can’t because – it’s a rule. it was made to be followed, it was made for a reason – who am I to think it does not apply to me. As a teacher I know the importance of rules and the need for compliance. I don’t understand people who think “that does not apply to me”.
    This has become a joke with our family – mostly after working at the entrance table to school sports games – we are amazed at people and the reasons they come up with to not pay the $2 admittance fee. Really – $2! We joke that what they are really saying is “I’m important so I’m not paying.” I think they same applies with the rule following – “I’m important so I do have to follow this rule.”
    My mind wanders to the God implications in this situation.

    • Its funny because I by nature am not a rule follower. I love that there are rule followers in the world because we would descend into chaos if you guys were not around. I try not to be a rule breaker, but for some reason God made me into a questioner. So I have the propensity to question more than follow.

      But my deeper issue about this idea isn’t necessarily the rules being broken, but the devaluation of the relationships at hand. My thought is this: if you are willing to lie to my face or be deceitful about something as small as a cell phone (or big I guess), what does it say about how much you value our relationship? What other parts of our relationship can be disposed of?

      Some might say I am making too big of a deal about it, but I feel like it is a discussion to be had.

      And, once again, I am really glad you are a rule follower. You keep us questioners honest. 🙂

  2. Just keep having that open door available for conversation. Not everyone will take advantage of it, but those who do will start to understand the value of the types of relationships that you are inviting them to take part in. Relationships that include accountability.

    One of the most influential people in my life was our youth minister Steve Martin. Any time we had questions about his authority or decisions he would be so candid. He really wanted us to understand the “why” of his boundaries and expectations. I respected so much that he trusted us enough to be honest. It helped me to see his that he was offering guidance as opposed to that typical adult authoritarianism.

    Love you Robey, hope OC was fun 🙂

    • Dude, that is a great thought. Steve really did show a great example of being vulnerable when we didn’t understand his reasoning. In fact, I think that situation has really colored how I deal with conflict and with people who disagree with my decisions.

      Imagine if he would have just done the “because I said so” routine with us. It would have gotten us nowhere and likely would have destroyed a potential teachable moment.

      Thanks for bringing that up.

  3. Chris this is a very depressing post. (by the way I have missed you all but admire what you did). I am the oldest person on my part of facebook and as such I run the risk of thinking the olden days were best, the days before some of the dependence on electronics. (I have never thought that I would hate to give up electronics. although I don’t do cell phones but then I try to avoid any phones)
    I don’t see this as being about cell phones. Nor even rules. This is an erosion of the word NO. My generation (age 76) began this slow erosion because we did not want unhappy children and we had begun to be busier outside the home. My kids generation enhanced this erosion and my grandchildren are forgetting it altogether with their children. Lets face it. Its fun to raise happy children and we are an instant world. Never mind that the instant will fade, its fun while it lasts. (I hope you understand what I am saying). I hated to tell my kids “NO”. it called for an explanation, it called for a certain amount of pouting, it called for sometime absolute rebellion (don’t story to me, every one us has rebelled from time to time). We abdicated for the easy way out (obviously not the best way but easiest)

    Larry taught a lesson in ladies Bible class and we talked about how it used to be and believe me it was not always better. But we all agreed that of all the roles we are assigned probably the role of the child has changed more than any other We, ate after the adults were fed, we went to bed early, we did not get to sleep late. we played sports (not so many) and our parents didn’t even come. We were in plays and sometime they were not able to attend. In other words we were not the center of the universe. When we misbehaved in school our parents did not immediately go to the teacher and blame her and other children. Our parents felt we should take responsibility for our actions.

    Now you tell me that parents were in agreement with the deception. That is sad. I still labor under the belief that you and Allen and Phil who all have small children and the other young couples I see, are trying to rectify what my group began and that you are slowly rotating the crops and doing some sideways plowing to stop some of the erosion.

    I agree with Phil that it is great when you explain the reason behind the rule, but remember that sometime you will find it is a parent’s job to say “because I said so”.

    • Thanks for your response, Beverly. I am always thankfully when you chime in the conversation.

      I think I have been caught off guard about how relationships are perceived by many in my generation. For me, I value honesty and being up front in my relationships, even when there is disagreement. When we avoid conflict, no one is the better for it. Only resentment, misunderstanding, and dogma can result from avoiding conflict.

      There are definite flaws in all of our generations, and ours tends to be conflict avoidance and we use our cell phones to do so often.

      This is an important conversation, I believe and I really value your voice as we continue talking about these things. Thanks again, Beverly.


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