Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thou shalt not Facebook — inappropriately

Some pastors are in favor of an 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not Facebook.”

The Rev. Cedric Miller in New Jersey told his married leaders to either delete their Facebook accounts or resign. News services reported that Miller — who has acknowledged his own sexual indiscretion — believes social-networking websites can reignite old passions and lead to infidelity.

While I do not have any personal social-media pages, our church maintains several. I am struck by the disconnect between some people’s online and real-life personalities.

Most married people would not agree to meet with an “old flame” in person but they gladly accept a Facebook friend request.

Social websites seem to ignite poor judgment. Last week, the deputy attorney general of Indiana lost his job for tweeting that Wisconsin police should “use live ammunition” to clear pro-union demonstrators.

Employers also check social websites to assess potential employees. Provocative, inappropriate, discriminatory or unprofessional content are some of the top reasons they disregard candidates.

The Bible, of course, does not deal directly with the matter. But the moral standards people of faith attempt to uphold in real life should not be abandoned when on the Internet.

Social media sites are not inherently evil. The Internet has the potential to reach millions. New Testament writers devoted their lives to spreading the gospel. Undoubtedly, the apostles would have tweeted if it meant more converts.

Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.” Clearly he was applying hyperbole but the point is that if the temptation is too great, it is best to avoid it.

If social media sites are ruining your marriage or if you cannot withstand the temptation to behave inappropriately on the Internet, “gouge it out and throw it away.”

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