Deleting Facebook Not Answer to Infidelity, Says Texas Pastor

Preventing faithlessness in marriage involves more than deleting a Facebook account, according to Fred Lybrand, a pastor of 25 years.

In fact, he says that forcing a spouse to extinguish their Facebook presence or do something against his or her will could be more harmful than helpful to the marriage.

"The real solution is for two people to be in relationship because they are freely in it," says Lybrand, who's been married for 28 years. "Control and manipulation covers the love and then next thing you know they are looking for it somewhere else."

Ldbrand was responding to recent remarks made by the Rev. Cedric Miller, the New Jersey pastor who made headlines after he told 50 church leaders to quit using Facebook or resign from their leadership positions at Living Word Christian Fellowship Church.

Miller, who is temporarily stepping down after a three-way sexual relationship he had a decade ago resurfaced in the media, said he made the request after 20 couples from his church came to him for counseling over a spouse reconnecting with an old flame on Facebook.

Lybrand said he also had to counsel couples facing infidelity and marital troubles connected to the social networking site while a pastor of Northeast Bible Church in Garden Ridge, Texas.

But addressing infidelity problems in marriage usually involves a deeper approach that simply removing temptations, according to Lybrand who retired as pastor of his church in January.

"Chances are, there is something there going on. There is some hole in the person's soul," he said.

The most common problem Lybrand said he encountered when counseling couples was that spouses would put on "masks" before marriage and get another person to like them only to shock their spouses with their true selves after marriage.

"We are putting on masks to get that person to like us but when we get married we can't keep the mask up. We say, 'This is the real me,'" he said.

In his book, Glaen: A Novel Message on Love, Romance, and Relating, Lybrand makes the point that love is not about controlling and manipulating another person into who we want him to be but accepting and respecting that person for who he is.

"Love is about two people learning about how to be themselves with each other, when someone honors you being who you are," he said. "When you are who you truly are and when the other person is who they are truly then you have a real relationship."

"We spend a lot of time trying to manipulate the other person instead of trying to spend time to know each other and grow with each other."

However, Lybrand said that in any healthy relationship, couples can discuss and agree to boundaries even though there is the premise of freedom.

"I would say, 'It would mean a lot to me if you didn't contact your old flames on Facebook,'" according to retired pastor. "That is different from saying, 'I'm going to throw your computer out if you contact your old flames on Facebook.'"

"The greatest protection for marriage is a growing intimacy, love and oneness, the way the Bible says," he added. "If you are on Pike's Peak there is not much chance of falling in the Grand Canyon."

That same principle applies to relationships between a pastor and his church, added the author.

He said that if he was Miller, he would have convened the church elders and leaders together to discuss the Facebook problem and agree on a solution together. And if Miller had wanted his church leaders to not fall into the same temptations of Facebook, he should spend more time in their discipleship and mentorship, argued Lybrand.

"It's not about legislating morality but it's about transforming character," argued Lybrand.

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