Faith and Family: How social media is hurting families — Challenges of social media especially acute for marriages, families

May 28, 2015

We live in a culture preoccupied with social media. We publish what is on our minds, describe what we had for breakfast, connect with friends, discover the latest headlines and share pictures of our kids. We do all this instantly from our smart phones. 

This is all wonderful. Such interconnectedness has many rich blessings, from strengthening friendships across town to providing prayer and ministry updates from around the globe. 

However, we need to be honest that as sinners, we are able to corrupt the good blessing of social media. This reality means that in a fallen world, there will be negatives for every positive in social media. All the many benefits of social media will be met with the unique isolation that comes from turning away from live, in-person relationships to digital ones. There is Internet bullying, gossip, slander, sexting, self-promotion on a grand scale and the opportunity to meet for adultery.

The challenges of social media are particularly acute in the family. I was surprised years ago when as a pastor, I began to encounter families who had been torn apart by sinful misuses of social media. 

The stories were sadly similar. A husband or wife would meet an old flame from high school or college, connect and begin to reminisce about the old days. Before long someone would mention that they never really got over the other person. After this came complaints about the frustrations in their present life. 

At this point it was only a matter of time before they were meeting up and eventually committing adultery together. Some of these marriages were restored after the heartache. Many were not. It would have been much better to avoid the pain in the first place.

Doing so means we need to adopt a fresh perspective on Proverbs 5:8 where a son is instructed by his father to avoid the adulterous woman: “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” 

This verse is relevant whether you are a man or a woman and whether the “door” is a literal one or a page on a popular social media site. We are to avoid situations that could lead to adultery.

With regard to our use of social media, avoiding such situations requires us to pay attention to another passage of Scripture, Ephesians 5:11: “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”  

We can best expose the “unfruitful works of darkness” from social media in two ways. First we must be honest with the Lord and with someone else about our weaknesses. If you struggle for purity in your relationships online, talk to Jesus about it. Ask Him for help. He will draw near to you when you come to Him in faith. After you have talked to Him, share the information with another person who can hold you accountable.

Pursue openness

Second we should pursue openness rather than secrecy on social media. This might mean that we have shared social media accounts with our spouse, or it might mean that we will allow access to our accounts to anyone who wants to see. At all costs it will mean that we avoid secrecy. Sin loves secrecy because sin loves darkness. We combat sin by exposing the darkness to the light.

Social media is another tool that can be used to honor Jesus Christ and advance the gospel. How terrible it is when we use such a powerful megaphone to bring sin into our lives and destroy our families rather than to communicate for God’s grace. We need to ask Jesus for grace to stay away from the adulterer’s door and expose the darkness to light. Even, and perhaps especially, when we are online.

To read other articles in this package, click here, here, here or here

  • David Garrard Magic