November 20, 2010 in Features

It’s the heart, not Facebook, to blame for infidelity

SteveMassey
 

Can you blame Facebook for infidelity?

I’m asking because of this week’s headline about a church, adultery and Facebook: “Rev. to NJ church leaders: Thou shalt not Facebook.”

Pastor Cedric Miller said 20 couples among the 1,100 members of his Living Word Christian Fellowship Church have run into marital trouble over the last six months after a spouse connected with an ex-flame through Facebook.

Because of the problems, the Associated Press reported, Miller is ordering about 50 married church officials to delete their accounts with the social networking site or resign from their leadership positions.

The pastor also plans to ask married congregants to give up Facebook altogether.

Thanks to a Los Angeles Times blog, the AP and MSNBC, Pastor Miller’s edict has become a national talking point – at least online.

Which brings me back to the question: Can you really blame Facebook for infidelity?

Not at all. But statistics suggest Facebook’s risks ought to be taken more seriously.

Scripture makes it clear that our biggest enemy when it comes to temptation is that person staring back at us in the mirror.

“Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires,” says James 1:14-16 (NLT). “These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death. So don’t be misled …”

The death of a marriage via adultery ultimately is not the fault of Facebook or any other outside influence. It is the fault of a spouse whose heart indulges the temptation to wander.

You cannot blame Facebook for adultery any more than you can blame a handgun for murder, or a Big Mac for gluttony. This is ultimately a heart problem, not a Facebook problem.

Although I don’t agree with Miller’s methods, I applaud the conversation he’s induced. Secrecy enabled by the Internet makes it a dangerous moral minefield. It’s something we Christians ought to take much more seriously than we do.

Need convincing?

Consider this: The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says 81 percent of its members have used or been faced with evidence plucked from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social networking sites in divorce cases over the last five years.

And about one in five adults uses Facebook for flirting, according to a 2008 report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Clearly the online world is making it much, much easier to fall prey to moral temptation.

While we cannot legislate morality, we can and should resolve as Christians to keep ourselves out of online situations where we might be tempted. In most cases, removing the secrecy of Internet use is a vital first step.

This isn’t hard to do: Let your spouse have your Facebook log-in information, or simply share the same account. Keep your computer/s someplace where secrecy is not an option.

Be open about who you “friend” and how online relationships are maintained. Use an Internet filter or accountability software; both are available at no cost.

An unwillingness to take these kinds of measures in itself suggests a heart problem.

King David, remembered for his own infidelity, said, “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart, I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” (Psalm 101:2-3 – NKJV).

Job, too, said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes …” (Job 31:1).

Both of these saints learned that they had to protect themselves by limiting what they looked at. That’s a habit worth developing whether we use social networking sites or not.

Is Facebook to blame for adultery? Of course not.

Does it pose a danger to the morally careless? Absolutely.

Steve Massey is the pastor of Hayden Bible Church in Hayden, Idaho (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.


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