For the past few years, Grace and I have hosted various marriage events at churches all across the country. Recently, during a Q&A session, we were asked: “Can you address social media and being “friends” with people you dated, or wanted to date, and/or were married to?” Since that day, this question has only become more relevant and problematic.
Social media—like so many other things in culture—can be used for good or bad. In a good way, it allows us to keep up with friends and family or share encouraging Bible verses and prayer requests. In a bad way, it can cause us to become envious, attack people, and even lust after people. What can easily start as an innocent private conversation can quickly escalate into flirting, sending inappropriate images, and even sexual sin. These kinds of temptations are constantly available on social media. This does not mean that social media is in itself bad, but that it is an opportunity for the human heart to reveal itself.
What do you think? Should someone who seeks to live with integrity set some guardrails around their social media activity? Should a married couple come to agreement on how they will use social media or if they should use it at all? Is it okay to have a private social media communication channel with someone that you were or are romantically or sexually interested in?
These kinds of questions were not asked in previous generations because such technology did not exist. Today, however, there are couples all over the world discussing, debating, and even disagreeing about these kinds of issues. As we speak to ministry leaders and licensed counselors, issues related to social media increasingly crop up as pain points in romantic relationships. It it not uncommon for one or both partners to feel violated or dishonored by a photo or statement that was posted.
My wife Grace and I did not know this question was coming, so we tried our best to answer it live on the spot. We hope this short video clip of our answer is helpful to get you thinking about this issue. If you are married or in a serious relationship, we would seriously encourage you to have an honest and kind discussion about the issue of social media and what role (if any) it will play in your relationship. Our concern is that if you do not proactively discuss what you will do (and not do), that you will instead have the conversation reactively after one of you is hurt or disappointed. The goal is to be mutually respectful and considerate while seeking to honor one another and your face-to-face relationship over the less intimate relationship you have with those who peer in on your life through social media.