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Facebook & Adultery

Last week, a pastor in New Jersey, Rev. Cedric Miller, made somewhat global news by his edict to many couples in his congregation to delete their Facebook accounts as he witnessed evidence that FB was ruining marriages since it was a “portal to infidelity.”

The news – in itself – was fascinating and worth discussing but unfortunately, the story got a little more sensational (in a bad way) as news surfaced that the pastor engaged in some inappropriate relationships in his personal past.

In court testimony he gave in April 2003, Miller said his wife had an extramarital affair with the church assistant. Miller said he participated in many of the sexual encounters and said the assistant’s wife was sometimes present, too.

Miller said the dalliances — which occurred in the Millers’ home — sometimes took place during Thursday Bible study meetings and Sundays after church. But the minister said the encounters “came to a crashing halt” when several women in the church accused the assistant of having sex with them. [yahoo news]

What? Huh? I’m not even sure how to respond to this so I won’t…

But what did you think about his edict about deleting Facebook to his congregation?

Some thoughts:

What’s wrong with his suggestion?

When I first read the article, I thought it was coming from a pastoral concern and care for his congregation. It’s been documented that there’s a rise in affairs as a result of folks re-connecting with past flings via Facebook. If it causes you to sin, why not delete it and/or suggest it to others?

I kinda like it. Pastor demonstrates some firm love.

A deeper issue.

Deleting Facebook is an action that while it may provide temporary relief and remedy to temptation – does not address a deeper issue of the heart (and one’s marriage).

But it has to go deeper.

Maybe it should not be non-negotiable.

But threatening to remove leaders from their leadership positions is unreasonable. In essence, you’ve made this a non-negotiable issue for leadership.

Lost authority?

Not much as this blog isn’t intended to spew gossip and like all stories, there’s always context that we’re not privy to. But it does bring up an interesting question:

Does his past now diminish his authority and ability to speak to his congregation about affairs, Facebook, adultery, etc?

He certainly has lost credibility and sadly, witness to those outside his church community. The news, reports, and blogs have been ruthless since his past has been revealed. Sad in man ways.

But how about his credibility and authority to his church? I hope it’s been restored…

But regardless, such a bizarre story.

Here’s the article:

A pastor is to warn his entire congregation to delete their Facebook accounts because he claims the website ruins marriage.

The Rev. Cedric Miller said 20 couples from his 1,100-strong flock have experienced marital difficulties because of the social networking site.

Facebook enabled spouses to reconnect with former lovers, leading to rows and bitterness, he said.

Rev. Miller has issued 50 married church officials an ultimatum – delete your Facebook account or quit – but will ask the entire congregation to stop using it.

He had already asked married members of his flock to share their log-in details with their partners in a bid to foster greater trust.

Married Rev Miller said there are many understandable uses for Facebook – he has his own account to keep in touch with his six children, although he will be taking his own advice and closing it down.

Beyond that, it posed risks that were too much to bear, he claimed.

‘People use it as an opportunity to invite others to social gatherings, to share Scripture or talk about what went on at church.

‘Those are all positive, worthwhile things. But the downside is just too great.

Modern problem: The America Academy Of Matrimonial Lawyers says 81 per cent of its members have dealt with cases involving people with Facebook account

‘I’ve been in extended counseling with couples with marital problems because of Facebook for the last year and a half.

‘What happens is someone from yesterday surfaces, it leads to conversations and there have been physical meet-ups. The temptation is just too great.’

Rev Miler, who runs the Living Word Christian Fellowship Church in Neptune, New Jersey said his advice would got to the ‘entire church’.

‘They’ll hear what I’m asking of my church leadership. I won’t mandate it for the entire congregation, but I hope people will follow my advice.”

So far the response has been positive and previous sermons against Facebook have resulted in parishioners deleting their accounts immediately.

Pat Dawson, a minister at the church, who is unmarried, said: ‘I know he feels very strongly about this.

‘It can be a useful tool, but it also can cause great problems in a relationship. If your spouse won’t give you his or her password, you’ve got a problem.’

According to the America Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 81% of its members have dealt with evidence taken from social networking sites in divorce cases in the last five years.

British do-it-yourself divorce Divorce-Online has in the past claimed that the word ‘Facebook’ came up in one in five petitions it handled.

Despite the support from his congregation, some observers dismissed Rev Miller’s attack on Facebook as misguided.

CNN commentator Roland Martin said: ‘If somebody is committing infidelity there is something else going on in their marriage that has nothing to do with social media.

‘If you ban Facebook, what about Twitter…what about all these other social media outlets?

‘The real issue is what’s happening inside these marriages. I think we’re also crossing a line by telling somebody what you can do in your personal life as a staffer.

‘How are you saying you’re going to link having a personal account on Facebook to your job? That makes no sense to me’. [article]