Not too long ago, I wrote a post regarding how I use social media. I talked primarily about my role as a small business owner, as well as someone who is just fascinated with all these new ways of meeting interesting people and/or potential customers and building new friendships. Much has changed in a few months, as is evident by the recent news of Representative Weiner, his sexting scandal, and his consequent resignation. When I read this devotional, entitled “Three Guidelines to Safeguard your Marriage While Participating in Social Media,” I realized how very harmful a casual trek to the wrong side of cyberspace can be.
There are two discussions/ declarations that struck me in the midst of all the media surrounding Representative Weiner. First, there is a feverish debate regarding whether or not his actions can really be considered adulterous. Second, and similar, the side that argues that he did nothing wrong asserts, “These were two consenting adults.” It has all led me to think about how innocently some serious actions begin.
I was reading Genesis 4 this morning. As an aside, I had prayed about where to go within the Bible for our family’s summer study, knowing that I didn’t want to create something formal and overwhelm our already chaotic schedule. I decided to go with familiar stories like Jonah. After that, what? The Lord spoke simply—start at the beginning. Since sitting with her older siblings for Bible study, the youngest has never been exposed to the very first stories of the Bible. So we’ve begun with the book of Genesis. And God saw that it was good. Don’t you just love how the Word comes alive each time you read it? Anyway, this morning, Genesis 4:7 leaped out at me:
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.
In this verse, God was speaking to the condition of Cain’s heart, and how Cain didn’t feel adequately appreciated for what he had to offer. And in marriage, this feeling of being under-appreciated can lead us into dangerous places, just as it did Cain. Sin is always crouching at your door, desiring to have you.
My husband and I both dated extensively before we met, and so we both are ripe targets for past flames regarding social media. I can remember my first follow. After the shock of seeing that face again, my mind immediately started to travel backward, and my fingers forward—to his profile. I checked his other links—what’s he doing now? Where is he? What does his wife look like? (Yes, I have exposed my feet of clay) How many kids does he have? After quickly perusing all of that information (no pictures of the wife–J), I wondered if he did the same after Googling/ Binging me. Then I realized something. If he looked at my profile—my blog links, my tweets, my website—he’d see someone very different than the person he knew over 20 years ago. The physical changes are a very small part of what’s happened to me since then. At that time in my life, my cardboard testimony was one that would make your mouth drop. Praise God that person died and Jesus came alive in a new creature. I’m also thankful that the Christ in me was keen enough to recognize the danger of what could happen had I continued down the path of innocent curiosity without caution.
Admittedly, my husband and I have not come to as formal a set of rules as the author of the devotional listed above. My husband, who is not quite as involved in social networks as I am, is more lenient than I am regarding contact with the opposite sex. As one example, we have a friend who follows what he calls the “Billy Graham” rule, refusing to so much as have lunch with a woman unless a second person is present. Working in a field that is significantly populated by women, my husband often states that it is unrealistic that he’d never be in a position to be alone with a woman. However, we communicate about his phone contact list, about planned lunch outings, and about our professional interactions in general. Yet, the rules of engagement for professional exchanges don’t even scratch the surface of how to handle past girlfriends/ boyfriends.
How do I handle those follows or friends? I don’t return those would-be friendships. I don’t subscribe or friend anything that they do, and I reply politely if asked a direct question, but I don’t solicit any further contact. AND, my husband knows all about it.
Did Weiner do anything wrong? I think his wife would say yes. I think her tears would speak volumes about what perhaps started as an innocent contact with someone of the opposite sex on a social network. No follow or friendship is worth that kind of hurt, in their marriage, in my marriage, or in yours. Be blessed, my friends.