"There is nothing new under the sun." (Eccl. 1:9) But social networking sites like Facebook leave us feeling like this is completely new territory. In the June 2010 issue of the P31 Woman magazine, you can find my article "Pretty Face, Ugly Face," addressing challenges social networking poses in the life of a Christian woman. More specifically, sites such as Facebook stir up questions (even conflicts) in marriage. MUCH more could be said, but for today's Marriage Monday, "How can we be faithful while on Facebook?"
Since we have "everything we need for life and godliness," (2 Pt. 1:3) even this new territory should look different in the life of a Christian, in contrast to someone who jumps into the online world without the values of God's Word. Scripture has a lot to say about our speech, our attitudes, how we treat one another, and our reputation to the world, so YES, God's Word addresses Facebook. Facebook IS impacting marriages today all around the world. About 70% of users in 2010 are outside the US, so the influence truly is global. Men and women have found opportunity to reconnect with, and sometimes rekindle, old flames via Facebook, while others have just followed up on curiosity to see "who's out there". In 2009 the fastest growing group of users was women over age 35.
This past Memorial Day weekend Jeff and I enjoyed a reunion of "Vacation Families" from my childhood; we hadn't seen each other in 20 years or introduced spouses/kids/life changes. Facebook made it possible, and it was truly sweet! However, as I work with women and couples, I hear repeated testimonies of the potential social networking has to stir up discontentment, sow seeds of doubt, and even create fertile ground for conflict and affairs. Does this sound familiar?
To be FAITHFUL while on FACEBOOK, it helps to have some non-negotiables in place to SPOT potential hazards:
S ... Sharing - Sharing passwords (Some couples even share the same FB page) & info is essential for trust and accountability. Loss of trust and accountability is a toxic by-product of many FB habits.
P ... Priorities - A husband and wife need to know what their priorities are in their individual tasks and life together. It helps to write these down and be specific BEFORE one of you feels the need to confront the other about falling into the trap of time wasting. We set our spouse up for frustration (husband AND wife) if we come home to undone tasks or blank stares, but we discover (or hear about) creative status changes or Farmville ;) activity taking place during what we thought was work time.
O ... Openness - Couples who struggle most with online networking don't work at being open with their involvement. This takes time and consistency. This isn't "policing," but it's involvement in each other's lives. This is easy for me ... my hubby only gets on FB once every 3 months or so. ;) Openness includes freedom to communicate about what is discussed online ... after all, these are conversations, and they are public. If a woman is making flirtatious comments on your husband's wall and, to add to concern, never showing her "face" on yours, YOU NEED TO TALK.
T ... Togetherness - Being married means you are one flesh, even on Facebook. You should come to decisions about a degree of privacy in settings, photos, comment content, and even acceptance of friends together. I wouldn't accept the friendship of a man known to both my husband and me, unless my hubby is friends with him, too, and then only in certain cases.
Never before have we had a visual "page" where we declare who our friends are. It's creating confusion, ladies! Whew! It's creating pressure and conflict. Remember this: Your marriage is more important than your friend page or your status. Even on Facebook, we need to guard and protect our marriages and our reputations and that of our Lord and our husband. What we put "out there" is "OUT THERE" for the world to see; over 400 million users are active on Facebook now. Wow! Let's let our conversations be full of light ~ Matt. 5:16. It seems so "innocent," so "harmless," but Satan is notorious for taking such things and creating cracks in which to inject poison; it's the "little foxes that ruin the vineyards" (Song of Sol. 2:15).
Finally, if you need a quick "SOS Scripture" for decision making, go to Phil. 4:8 for God's guidelines on how to think. And if you're struggling with online involvement or an online friendship, ask yourself these questions in terms of your marriage:
Does it help or hurt our marriage relationship?
Does it help or hurt our reputation or that of my husband or myself, individually? (which impacts you together)
After you pray over and reflect on the true answers to those questions, feel the freedom to set yourself free from anything that hinders your relationship with God or your husband ... even if that means Facebook. "Deleting" is not the unpardonable sin ;) And if this post was helpful to you, post a link to it on Facebook! ;) I promise you that you are not alone.
I'm praying as you read this online today. Let's take the online resources of 2010 and use them like only God's gals can. I'd love to hear if you have specific questions or examples we could address. Blessings,
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