The I-Phone Back Door and the Question of Who To Trust

There is a court battle brewing, and it affects you. Probably. Because you probably have an IPhone. The crux of the issue involves a single IPhone owned by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attack that killed 14 people and wounded 22 others. The FBI is ordering Apple to create a “backdoor” program that would allow them access to encrypted data. Apple posted an open letter on its website which details the danger of creating something like that, that essentially a program would then exist which would allow unlimited access to a person’s private data at any point. Of course, the FBI claims extremely limited usage of such a program, and Apple responded with the “what if it falls into the wrong hands” argument.

There are all kinds of issues at play here. This is not just about a phone; it’s about privacy. And it’s about control. And it’s about protection.

And one more thing. It’s about the question of who really knows the best thing for you and for me. In other words, the question is about trust. The government is claiming, “You can trust us. We will only use this backdoor just this once. And we’ll be using it for good.” Apple is claiming, “You can only trust yourself. Sure, your choices might have devastating results, but you are an autonomous creature who has the right of self-determination.”

Quite a question, isn’t it? Who is truly worthy of our trust? In this case, it’s a choice between ourselves and our government, but the issue of trust goes much broader than that. On that subject of trust, we would have to admit, regardless of which position is right or wrong in this specific case, that neither one is entirely accurate for the same reason – the nature of the human heart.

The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that the heart is deceitful above all things. In fact, our hearts are so deceitful that we can, and often do, deceive ourselves. If our hope is in our own ability to make good choices, set a wise course, and choose the best outcomes for ourselves, then we will time and time again be disappointed.

The same hearts beat inside any organization no matter how noble their intentions might be. And in this season when we hear so much about this candidate or that one, or this organization or that one, or this court case or that one, we would do well to remember that every single one of those entities will fail us.

I’m not sure where the courts will and should land on this particular issue, but if the argument is based on the issue of trust, whether in ourselves or in an organization, then it is flawed for even our best intentions mask ulterior motives… many times even hidden from ourselves.

Time and time again, we have been failed. We have been failed by our parents, our spouses, our bosses, our friends… and our governments. True enough, many of them did not intend or even mean to do so, and yet our own history has told us to be wary of the one who comes and says, “Trust me.” And time and time again, we have been failed by ourselves. Our lives are littered with the remnants of bad choices, misguided attempts, good intentions, and false motives. Our own history also tells us to beware of our own hearts when we speak sweetly in our own ear, “You can trust me.”

So what is left for us to do? Are we left to live a life of despair, running from everything under the sun, including ourselves, because we know that we can’t trust anyone?

Not quite. For it’s at times like these when we can, instead of despairing at the human condition, marvel at the fact that in a cosmos of distrust, we have an advocate. One who truly can be trusted. One who doesn’t only claim to want our good but One who has demonstrated His love. One that even now stands and intercedes for us at the right hand of God the Father.

When everything under the sun, including ourselves, fail us, we can look out from under the sun to the One who never will.

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