With more than 1.26 billion users, Facebook has become a staple in today's modern culture, a revolutionary social and marketing tool, massive industry with its own vernacular. Let me add a new phrase, the "Facebook Fumble." This is one with devastating repercussions.
By nature, Facebook was designed to connect with old and new "Friends." It's like having a high school reunion online, anytime. You can "Like" people, photos, comments and corporate brands and receive regular "Posts" on your "Wall." You can create "Groups" of individuals with similar interests. You can also "stalk" others from a virtual distance by viewing photographs, comments of others.
Facebook is so ingrained into our society it's even one of the fastest ways to spread news, outrunning the television and media outlets to breaking events. These days, people wake up to the morning cup of jo and read their Facebook before other news sources.
Unfortunately, all this social enabling, while entertaining and immensely useful to re-connect with people, is causing a threat to the family and marriage.
I call it the "Facebook Fumble" because more than a third of divorce filings last year contained the word "Facebook," according to a survey by Divorce Online, a UK-based legal services firm. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says 81% of its members have used or faced evidence plucked from Facebook or other social networking sites over the last five years. And, 66% of the lawyers surveyed cited Facebook foibles as the source of online evidence with 1 in 5 adults reported to use Facebook for flirting.
Facebook is one ball you don't want to drop. It can bring you down. It can ruin the "trust" in a marriage, and lead to affairs -- virtual or physical.
Here's the rub: While Facebook is a great social networking tool -- and one I'm involved with -- it has the power to expose the cracks in men's character.
Tips to Avoid the Facebook Fumble
Begin by honestly establishing your plan with Facebook. Sounds silly, but take a minute to establish your mission, and align it with God's mission, and how Facebook can serve as a tool. Then, put in the following measures:
1. Watch What You're Looking At
Your eyes can lead you to think about someone or something, which can lead you to act in ways that do not reflect a God's man. So many times in the Bible, the word "eyes" and "sin" are connected. In the Lord's Prayer Jesus taught us to ask God to "lead us not into temptation." Then in Mark 14:38, we're warned to "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." So, be on alert when on Facebook, and watch what you're looking at so you can avoid being tempted.
2. Watch What or Who You're Looking For
Ask yourself, what's my motive for being on Facebook? And, remind yourself every time you go there. Find some old friends. Share your interests or engage people to follow you and your brand -- all healthy stuff. But don't use Facebook to find trouble. Trouble will find you easily enough. In Proverbs, we learn that "motives are weighed by the Lord" so examine yours regularly before you go looking on Facebook.
3. Watch What You Say and Do
Your words and actions on Facebook are tracked, depending on your Privacy settings. So seemingly harmless "Likes" of photos or flirtatious "Comments" can illustrate a track record of your character breaches. More importantly, your words and actions reflect what's going on inside your heart and the true mission you are trying to accomplish. And, if you're married, don't get into conversations with other women about their personal lives which can create attachments that precede affairs of the heart, mind and body.
Establish this rule: Do not engage with any other woman and no private conversations with anyone other than your wife, mother or sisters.
4. Ask Someone to Be Your Watchdog
Reality-check time! True transparency is only possible if someone else is watching. Ask a close friend, or your wife, to follow your "Wall" and your actions as a "Close Friend." You may want to give them your password info so they can help make any instant course corrections. Marriage is sacred and your word is your reputation. So get a watchdog and make changes to your Facebook life. God's man humbly admits his mistakes, does what's right and stops doing what is wrong.
5. Watch How God Can Use Facebook
If your mission aligns with God's, and you watch what and who you're looking at, examine your motive and what you say and do, and have some accountability, then Facebook can serve an incredible purpose. Encourage others. Share scripture, life learnings and humorous thoughts then watch God move!
Kenny Luck is the founder of Every Man Ministries and the men's pastor at Saddleback Church. His 20th book – SLEEPING GIANT: No Movement of God without Men of God - is a blueprint for men's ministries, and was released through B&H Publishing. Watch and read more of Kenny's teaching here at EveryManMinistries.com.EXPLORE: "Media Vault" for related resources.