Social networking is a fairly recent phenomenon; but it’s popularity and growth staggers the imagination. In February of this year (2010) Facebook alone boasted 400 million users worldwide. No small feat considering it is only about 7 years old.
As with anything new there is a learning curve involved and a sizable list of pros and cons. Only the foolish would ignore the dangers while enjoying the advantages. Recently I read of a pastor out East who is taking a rather strong stand on the issue.
The Rev. Cedric Miller of Living Word Christian Fellowship Church in New Jersey is encouraging his congregation to delete their Facebook accounts because of the overwhelming temptation to connect with old flames.
SRNNews.com reports that Rev. Miller is also ordering about 50 married church officials to delete their social networking accounts or resign from their positions.
At Living Word Christian Fellowship Church, Rev. Miller has seen 20 couples among the 1,100 members who have experienced marital stress over the last six months due to Facebook relationships. “I’ve been in extended counseling with couples with marital problems because of Facebook for the last year and a half,” he said. “What happens is someone from yesterday surfaces, it leads to conversations and there have been physical meet-ups. The temptation is just too great.”
Rev. Miller has a personal Facebook account that he uses to keep up with his family, but he says he will delete it before he speaks to the whole congregation this Sunday.
“The advice will go to the entire church,” he said. “They’ll hear what I’m asking of my church leadership. I won’t mandate it for the entire congregation, but I hope people will follow my advice,” says Rev. Miller.
I’m personally not ready to throw in the towel but I do think we need to wake up and recognize the potential dangers inherent in social networking; and take some precautions. For starters:
- Husbands and wives should be connected so that they have open access to all the dialogue taking place. But recognize that “private messages” can be sent without anyone’s awareness.
- If one spouse doesn’t use the chosen network then find a few agreed upon accountability partners who will be connected.
- Another consideration would be for spouses to share the same account so that everything is out in the open.
Of course, the best defense is a good offense. The more we find our delight in intimacy with the Lord and work at healthy marriages the less we will be tempted to look elsewhere. What comes to mind is a little song many of us learned growing up.
Oh be careful little eyes what you see…