Facebook and Divorce: Avoiding Temptation
Facebook has more than 500 million active users. Out of those 500 million, half log on daily. People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook, and the average person has 130 friends. Shocked? I’m not. I am, however, shocked when I hear other statistics that involve Facebook.
Divorce rates are on the rise, and have been for years. Most are aware of that issue, but did you know that about one in five couples that have had a divorce list Facebook as one of the leading causes? Most commonly, Facebook is the deciding factor when a husband or wife finds sexual chats or flirty messages between their spouse and another person.
It usually begins with adding an old friend or coworker, and enjoying some friendly conversation. Friendly conversation can easily turn into flirting because of the instant gratification and comfort that the Internet provides. This temptation was not as prevalent before social networking sites and cell phones because one could not call another’s house to talk to him or her for extended periods of time. It would be too risky, and if the spouse answered, it would be awkward and could easily upset him or her.
Facebook hurts marriages in more ways than tempting a spouse to be unfaithful. People try to make themselves look the best they can on Facebook, which can easily stir jealousy. Facebook friends can have nicer cars, nicer houses, more money, and so on, which can make others unhappy with their lives. Five Ways Facebook Destroys Relationships explains
“In romantic relationships, Facebook breeds jealousy in a number of different ways. A wife may be jealous of the time her husband spends online. A boyfriend may be jealous of the number of men on his girlfriend's extensive friend list. Contact with old lovers, private messages, and playful comments ignite jealousy and magnifies any insecurities in the relationship. However small, silly, or insignificant it may seem, jealousy is an intimacy nightmare and relationship killer.”
It’s not only old flings that ‘ignite’ jealousy, but Facebook encourages you to make new friends and meet new people. It is much easier to send a friend request to an interesting, attractive man or women over Facebook, because it avoids the rejection face to face. If the man or woman does not want to be your friend he or she will just ignore your friend request, which is not nearly as hurtful.
“Even if innocent in the beginning, you can get friendly on Facebook. Time passes, and you find yourself smiling when this new friend posts a comment. You enjoy the private messages, and new friends become old friends. Wrapped in the safe cocoon of your own home, you find yourself engaged in conversations that would be unimaginable outside the non-reality of the Internet” (Goddard).
Do I think that Facebook causes divorce? No, I do not. I do, however believe that Facebook is a temptation, and that couples who get divorced because of Facebook are only human. I know some of the men and women who got involved with another on Facebook did not mean for it to amount to anything in the beginning (with the occasional exception, of course). Remember that verse in 2 Timothy? “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2:22). God calls us to flee from temptation.
If you would like an example of fleeing from temptation, think about the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. Joseph was Potiphar’s attendant, and he was also a very muscular and handsome man. Potiphar’s wife took an interest in Joseph, and tried to get him to sleep with her. He refused over and over, until one night she grabbed him by the cloak. He then left his cloak behind and ran away (Genesis 39). I think we can take two points away from this story. We can either, like Joseph, fight temptation, or flee from it. He first fought it, by telling her no and by having nothing to do with her. But once it became impossible for him to fight, he fled.
In 1 Corinthians Paul wrote
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (10:13).
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There is always a way out of temptation, but it is our duty to figure out what that way out is. We can figure this out by being strategic, and thinking about our weaknesses. If we are not certain we have the self-discipline to fight, we should flee. It is easy to fall into temptation because there is a temporary pleasure in it, and we have a sinful nature. Temptation is not a sin, but giving into temptation is.
Now, having said that, it‘s time to combine thoughts. Facebook is not bad, it is not a sin, and it does not cause divorce. Facebook is however a temptation, and I believe we should treat is as such. Regarding the temptation in marriage, a good way to fight the temptation is to combine Facebook pages with your spouse. Having a joint page will make others much less likely to add you if they have poor intentions. This method will bring back almost the same boundaries as the house phone did. Yes, some may still try to contact you, but that is where fleeing comes in. Another option is to share passwords. This method is less effective in eliminating temptation, because it is possible to delete messages, and exit out of chats. Regardless if you have your own or if you have a Facebook that is combined with your spouse, self-control is needed. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).
-Written by Rebecka Rodgers