Is Facebook a force for evil or a force for good? Am I being too much of a squish if I say yes to both? Joe Carter at First Thoughts provides both sides in commenting on a New Jersey pastor’s decision to ban Facebook for married leaders of his congregation. The pastor claims that over the last six months, 20 couples at his congregation have experienced marital problems due to the social networking website.
I’ve been on Facebook for two years now, and I’ve very much enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances. It is certainly true that some users do not seem to recognize any boundaries between what should be private and what should be public. Most status updates are innocuous enough, but there are also those that run the gamut from heartbreaking to sad to offensive to tantalizing. Some of my old friends live a life style that I, as a middle-aged husband and father of seven couldn’t and shouldn’t share.
Clearly, there are options for dealing with temptations on Facebook. We can ignore the posts. We can pray for the poster. We can block a person’s updates from appearing on our feed. We can delete the person from our list of friends. Yes, we can also go all the way to deleting our own Facebook account and decline to participate.
Christians, however, are not called to separate themselves from society. We are to act as a leaven. In terms of Facebook, that means that we should sail the waters but navigate within safe boundaries. It is similar to other media through which temptations enter our lives: cable and broadcast television, popular music, glossy magazines, the world wide web, etc. Where Facebook is different is that the flow of content runs both ways.
Others might see the stability, virtue, and dare I say, joy that is present in the life of a practicing Christian, even (especially?) when undergoing adversity and be led to question their own misconceptions. If the biggest barrier to conversion is the scandal of Christians behaving badly, then perhaps the best counter to that is the example of Christian’s living well. In many cases, the only exposure that the worldly are going to get to an authentically lived Christian life is through our status updates. If we all quit Facebook, then they won’t even get that.