When Janet logged on to one of the social networking sites that she was a member of, she noticed that she had received a friend request from her old friend Tom and she was thrilled! She hadn’t seen or heard from him in years. They had been good friends at one time, but after Janet married they lost contact with each other.
She immediately accepted his friend request and started messaging him to find out more about him. It had been such a long time since she had talked with him. Tom promptly responded to her and they spent a couple of hours exchanging information about each other. They had a lot of catching up to do.
The following week, Janet noticed that whenever she would log on to that particular site, there was always a message from Tom waiting for her. And when she responded, they would usually end up spending an hour or two messaging each other.
Janet’s husband started to notice that in the evenings, Janet seemed glued to her computer and smartphone. When he asked her about it, she brushed it off by saying that she was just chatting with old friends.
Janet and Tom’s communication continued and eventually progressed to texting each other throughout the day. When Janet’s husband went out of town, they even talked on the phone. Janet looked forward to the time she had contact with Tom and she started to develop feelings for him. Even though she felt guilty about it, she did not want to stop her communication with him. One thing led to another and soon they were involved in a raging affair.
This scenario has been played out in the lives of many all over the world. Even though the names, places and circumstances would all obviously be different, the sad reality is that the Internet has created new challenges for many marriages.
Social media sites can ironically drive a wedge between people
Many who divorce today list popular social networking sites as the cause of their break-up. And many divorce attorneys also use information obtained from these sites against spouses in some divorce cases. Cyberspace has truly changed the marital landscape.
While the Internet provides us tremendous benefits in that it allows communication with many all over the world, and quickly gives us information on almost any subject, these same benefits may also be used in ways that harm marriages. Being aware of some of these dangers may help us to better guard against them.
It’s not the social media sites themselves that are causing problems; it’s how they’re being used. Some people are looking for an affair and use the sites to hook up with old flames or friends. Others may not be flagrantly looking for a chance to cheat, but get innocently caught up in an “emotional affair” with another. Spending a lot of time conversing and flirting with others on these sites can lead to becoming emotionally involved with them.
It can be damaging to a marriage when too much time and attention are given to someone other than a spouse. Husbands and wives may get jealous and angry that they are not the ones receiving the emotional attention. Even though a mate in this situation may never physically cheat on his or her spouse, it is wrong to become too emotionally involved with members of the opposite sex when one is married.
There are many opportunities to damage relationships via the Internet
The availability of pornography on the Internet also poses another danger for marriages. Obtaining pornography has never been easier – it’s just a mouse click away! This can be a big temptation. Many easily become addicted to it. But in Matthew 5:28, God tells us, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Viewing pornography so easily leads many to break theseventh commandment, which tells us to not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14).
Pornography can also lead to a lack of attraction for one’s mate. Mates hardly compare to the plastic-filled beauties or hard bodies that are displayed in pornographic photos and movies and can cause one to become dissatisfied with his or her spouse. This is unfair and can cause a rift in a marriage as a mate will often feel hurt, unattractive and betrayed when he or she finds that their spouse is viewing pornography. We should guard our marriages by staying away from it altogether.
Chatting on Internet chat rooms can also cause problems in marriages. Many like chat rooms because of the fact that they can remain anonymous and easily converse with members of the opposite sex. Others enjoy private video chatting. Many of these chats often lead to “cyber affairs” where both individuals engage in intimate, erotic dialogue. Some people spend a great deal of time in chat rooms and even become addicted.
Some feel as long as the affair never becomes physical they are not doing anything wrong. But when a spouse finds out that his or her mate is involved in a cyber-affair, they often feel betrayed, hurt and angry and it can lead to a divorce.
Some “cyber affairs” often lead to physical affairs. But even if they never do, they damage marriages and are simply wrong! If romantic emotions, sexual desires and intimate conversations are all given to someone other than a spouse in a marriage, it is a betrayal of that spouse.
Sadly, another way the Internet is used to harm a marriage is by online cheating sites designed specifically for cheating on spouses. These services allow people who want to cheat to hook up with other people who want the same. The promoters of these services even say that this is good for a marriage! I wonder if the spouse who has been cheated on, and their children (if any), would agree.
These sites seem to be gaining popularity as some people like the idea that they can cheat with another person with no strings attached. They want a casual fling with someone who is looking for the same thing. These sites offer an easy way to make this happen.
Guard your marriage
Committing adultery has never been easier! Hooking up with others is now just a matter of a few keystrokes in the privacy of a home. The Internet has created a way to bring people together who are looking for an affair. It can be a temptation and trap that leads to sadness, broken hearts and broken lives.
The best way for us to guard our marriages is to stay off of the sites that will lead us down a wrong path. The Bible tells us to “flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). The principle implied is that we should run in the opposite direction from sexual temptations.
Social networking sites can be a great way to stay in touch with others and reconnect with friends. However, we need to stay in control while we are on these sites and not let our communication with members of the opposite sex get to a point where we make our mates angry and jealous or we become emotionally ensnared. We should not allow our social networking participation to become a temptation to sin or let it undermine our marriages in any way. All any intimate feelings of deep bonding with the opposite gender should be reserved for our mate and our mates only!
As with many other things in life, the Internet can be used in a positive, beneficial way. But, sadly, it can also be used in a way that tears down and destroys. This is especially true when it comes to our marriages. We need to guard our minds, emotions, and eyes from the many temptations that are out there, and remember that Proverbs 6:32-33 says, “Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul. Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away.” (This is true for women too.) Let’s stay true to our mates – it offers great rewards in this life and eternity!
To learn more about how to strengthen your marriage and stand guard against the things that tear it down, request our free study aid, Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension.