Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Facebook


Last Sunday, Reverend Cedric Miller, senior pastor of the Living Word Christian Fellowship Church in Neptune, N.J., told the leaders in his church that anyone in a leadership position and who is married and is on Facebook has to resign their church position if they do not give up Facebook.  Apparently a larger and larger portion of the counseling in the church over the past 18 months has dealt with marital problems, including infidelity, stemming from Facebook.  According to The Guardian, in the past six months, 40 of the 1,100 members of the Living Word Christian Fellowship Church has such problems, so Reverend Miller has had enough.

On YourTango, I wrote an article about this case : Does Facebook Cause Infidelity?  It's been picked up by the AP and is even on MSNBC--so it's national news now--but one of the things this case really pointed out to me was not one that this pastor was missing the mark and blaming the tool, but just how far the Christian Church in the USA is willing to go in order to place blame and pretend that "Infidelity doesn't happen to us--we're Christians.  If he/she had an affair it must be  fault nor ours."  Just as we, as mature adults, need to be personally responsible for the choices we make--and for gaining the benefits as well as experiencing the consequences of our choices--so the Church (that is to say, the body of Christian believers) also needs to demonstrate maturity by accepting personal responsibility for NOT teaching couples how to affair-proof their marriages and what to do if your spouse *does* succumb to that temptation.   When divorce became "popular" in the 1970's the Church had a chance to stand for godly values and say "NO!  God says that adultery is wrong and He does not tell you to end your current marriage so you can be with your lover and 'minister together.  If you're thinking that, it is a lie."  In the following decades the Church had the chance to stand up and say "NO!  We will not pretend that we are immune to temptation, and when couples do try to divorce so they can continue an affair, we will apply church discipline."  But the church (lowercase c) has become a social gathering place rather than offering right worship to God, and in an effort to get more "members" into the pews, slowly but surely we've allowed feminism, quickie divorces and worldly thinking about marriage to be spoken from the pulpits!   We had the chance to stand and obey, and instead we chose to worship "more members" and now we are facing the consequences of that choice.  



Church--WAKE UP!  The truth is that divorce rates among conservative Christians were significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists or Agnostics experience.   The truth is that Christianity is wearing blinders to the adultery being conducted often literally inside the church building.  Almost universally those who have a spouse commit adultery--who want to save their marriage and don't want a divorce--turn to their church for support, encouragement and help, and are told that the Church "won't interfere."  Then to add insult to injury, once it's know that your spouse is having an affair, often the loyal spouse continues to attend church in an effort to get some biblical support, and they become a pariah.  Time and again, I've heard horror stories of churches keeping the two adulterers because the two of them run the music ministry...or the loyal 'stay at home' is excommunicated and the cheating spouse is not because they are the doctor and they contribute more...or even worse, it's not even addressed AT ALL!  There is a Single Adults ministry but nowhere for the husband to turn when he discovers his wife's affair...and he desperately wants to learn how to save his marriage and rebuild a new, godly, loving marriage!  Marriage Basics are not taught.  Marriage Crisis is not taught.  MARRIAGE IS NOT TAUGHT. 


The time has come to stop pointing fingers at Facebook, cell phones, and lined paper and admit that WE are the sinners.  We are the ones who need to come before God, repent with a godly sorrow, change so that we live to please Him...  It's not Facebook's fault.  
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4 comments:

Ben said...

Facebook is a medium. There are 2 reasons why there's such a high rate of emotional/physical adultery linked to facebook.

1. The reason Facebook is a "popular way to cheat" is that you're not meeting strangers, at least not for the most part. I've only seen anecdotal evidence, but from what i understand "facebook cheaters" aren't on the prowl for new people. Instead they reconnect with old flames with who they have a connection. Think of it like a 24/7 high school reunion. We've all see the power of old high school love gone wrong and a couple drinks as an adult. Im not in any way justifying it, Im just saying that it makes sense that there may be a higher percentage, because there is more opportunity for being connected to someone you may have unresolved feelings for.

2. The sheer number of Facebook users is so large theres bound to be some correlation between the percentage of Facebook users who cheat, and just the percentage who cheat. Facebook opens up a world of possible connections. Places like adult friendfinder and other "on the prowl" kind of sites are far more insidious as their specific point is to help people "hook up", and even offer things like married and looking categories. Facebook is more popular medium because those other sites charge for their services which allows a means of being traced back to the purchase.

However, removing yourself from the Facebook medium as a way of "protecting the ministry"? Ask a Catholic how well making all priests be celibate seems to work these days. It's my opinion that the best way to fight fire is with knowledge. Understand the urge to connect, understand the ways that people can fall and how facebook can be used properly. People who fall victim to sins via facebook are just as vulnerable in any other medium.

hhhandmaiden said...

Super duper great comment BB. I feel the same, especially after seeing the facebook movie. You are essentially correct, for hooking up or reconnecting with old flames. When Cindy was on the show she mentioned this as well. It is a bit ridiculous I think and Cindy always makes a personal point of "dealing with YOUR own sin dude". I will have to admit, that facebook for me at times has been difficult bc it can create a whole lot of "what ifs" in your mind...Lol, yeah, as you see I dont frequent it much because it is a complete distraction in my life, hence, hootsuite posts and im out.

But I did watch several friends in messed up marriages a few weeks ago on facebook doing just as you mentioned, checking old loves, flames, flings, etc. My thoughts were...if the status says separated or divorced, there is a REASON. As Cindy says, deal with yourself and your own issues.

hhhandmaiden said...

oops, I had meant to write "don't" frequent facebook but deleted my comment on accident :)

Cindy J. Taylor said...

Thanks for the great comments, and boy I must say I couldn't agree more! The way to combat this as a couple or as a Church is not to force people! (rolleyes) I could see the instance where a couple might agree together that until they deal with some of their own issues, it might temporarily be best to be off FB, or make that a consequence of having had and carried on an affair there.

What gets me, though, is that once again rather than taking personal responsibility, the Church is blaming all over. The pastor may have his heart in the right place, but if you REALLY want to save the marriages in your congregation you give your flock the gospel, you teach them from the Bible to learn what pleases God, and you give them the tools and encouragement to do the hard thing and grow in Christ!

Whew--don't get me started.


 
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