Luddite Pharisees

By Caleb Keith

human hand and computer keyboard as symbol of high technology

Anybody who reads my posts regularly probably understands that I enjoy using technology. Technology is with me from the start of the day to the end of the day. I begin with my iPhone’s alarm clocking and end in front of T.V. with the PlayStation on. I think modern technology for the most part is pretty great, and with the exception of human abuses, I look forward to further advances in personal computing and other various areas where technology continues advancing. However, I do not have the only valid opinion about how technology should be viewed in the world. There are plenty of people who have both good and bad reasons to dislike technology, and to allow it to have a minimal place in their lives. Some people don’t understand or know how to use technology, and others opt out because of some negative consequence associated with using the latest and greatest things in tech.

I respect every individual’s opinion on the place and limit of technology within their own lives. Self-proclaimed luddites should be free to live a life with as little technology in it that they can reasonably achieve. What I don’t respect and what I run into on a daily basis are luddites who not only live a technology-free life, but also rebuke those who use technology and assert them to be less virtuous based on ethical platitudes associated with technology. People who sound like Pharisees more than luddites are increasingly common and seem to target high school and college students in particular. As a college student myself, I am used to hearing that spending money on regularly upgrading technology is irresponsible and detrimental to my future, and that technology is ruining my generation’s ability to communicate and have personal interaction. What could be perfectly legitimate arguments about technology and culture are quickly eroded by personal bragging. Proclaiming with a condescending tone, “Look at how much money I am saving” and “I still know how to talk to people”, doesn’t make anybody want to hear you out. Worse yet, this mindset openly rejects the possibility that someone can embrace technology in a financially stable and personally responsible manner.


Many people have made the transition from Luddite to modern day Pharisee; continually asserting technological self-righteousness. The Pharisees of the New Testament started out with good intentions; they sought out prayer, and respect for the demands of God. However, their good intentions turned sour as things which were about God became a means to measure personal gain and assert oneself above others. This behavior did not turn people toward God but away from him. Similarly, luddites start off with good intentions. They desire things like moderation, and respect. However, like the Pharisees, self-righteousness turns people away from the merit of their arguments.

For Luddites, Christians, or simply anybody trying to get a point across, self-righteousness will never work. Instead of backing up an argument, self-righteousness removes the mutual respect people have for each other and it makes things feel like a one sided no win situation. When talking about issues like technology, where certain abuses or problems are real and happening before everybody’s eyes, it is easy to see why so many Luddites get frustrated and a little self-righteous. However just like technology can be abused, so can a blatant stance against technology. As sinful beings we will have a tendency to fall into those abuses no matter which side of the aisle we stand on. So instead of berating and looking down on each other, let us look to Christ and His forgiveness and remember that our sins and the sins of those around us have been forgiven. Whether those sins are behind a computer, or in our thoughts, Christ has taken them from us and set us free. Let us rejoice in that freedom in order that we may talk to each other, not with self-righteousness and condemnation but with grace and guidance. Most importantly in the name of Christ, let us forgive one another when we fail to be gracious and revert to being Pharisees.