Social networking websites are all the rage these days. It’s apparent from looking at our family Thanksgiving candid photos that I spent way too much time lurking the halls of Facebook.
It’s also apparent from recent hardships in my circle of friends that Satan stands ever ready to use any means possible to destroy relationships, including social networking. Reconnecting with old friends means the potential is there to reconnect with old flames…and consequently, to get burned.
So began a true, high-tech “love” triangle between my friend Leslie, her husband Brent, and a man from the past named Les. (Not their real names.) Leslie got a Facebook account about six months ago. It all started innocently enough — she wanted a place to post pictures of her family. She found many old buddies from the past and started sharing photos and laughs. Brent, her outdoorsy husband, didn’t have a Facebook account and did not plan to open one. He had enough computer time at work.
Then, Satan set a stumbling block in Leslie’s path. She reconnected with Les, an old boyfriend from years ago. Soon they began emailing each other. Phone calls followed, and slowly, faded step by step, she allowed this man to replace her husband in her heart. Now she wants to divorce Brent so she can be free to pursue Les, who has become her “true love” in her heart. Les is also seeking a divorce from his wife so he can be with Leslie.
It’s worth noting that Brent and Leslie are Christians; in fact, they met at a church singles group and have been married for nearly ten years. They have four young children together. Brent is still holding on to hope that the Lord will work in Leslie’s heart…that she will see for herself the deceptive trap that Satan put in front of her. He believes in covenant marriage — he will not divorce her, no matter how many times she begs and pleads and tells him that she no longer loves him or how miserable she sets out to make him so he will voluntarily let her go.
Instead, Brent has laid claim to 1 Corinthians 13. He knows that love is an action verb. The Lord has shown him places where he needed to be a better man to his wife, and he is eager to do whatever it takes to win her back.
Meanwhile, Leslie has found out about a “do-it-yourself” $129 divorce. In her mind, it’s a done deal. She will wear him down until he files for divorce…or she will do it herself. In this no-fault divorce state, she can divorce him without his consent. She has turned her back on the Lord and does not want to hear Scripture. She avoids her church. She does not want to continue in her marriage, so she has deluded herself into thinking that God never intended for her to marry Brent.
How did this happen? How did a strong Christian marriage fall victim to emotional adultery?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I can certainly look at their experience and use it as a cautionary tale for my own life. If an old flame “friended” me, I’d definitely think twice before accepting the request, and I’d talk to my husband about it beforehand.
Leslie was unhappy in her marriage to Brent, but she did not communicate that to him. They both took each other for granted. They allowed the children to come between their own romantic relationship — they didn’t go out on dates, for example, because Leslie couldn’t find a babysitter she trusted enough with her kids. Brent often acted like a fourth child and did not romance his wife or show her how much she was appreciated. None of those things by themselves would derail a marriage, but ever-watchful Satan saw an opportunity in Facebook, and took it.
This is exactly the sort of situation Peter might have been thinking of when he wrote these words:
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.” -1 Peter 5:8-9, NLT
We would all do well to take his words to heart, lest we, like Leslie, become participants in a slow slide into sin that shatters our families and leaves us broken and making choices we never dreamed we’d ever make as we stood and said our marriage vows before God.
Casting Crowns captured this phenomenon well in their song, “Slow Fade.” My husband watched the video at a men’s retreat and shared it with me. Here’s the video:
“It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day”
Stay alert, indeed. Guard your heart with diligence. With all this turmoil happening to my friends Leslie and Brent, I have found myself clinging even tighter to the Lord and to my husband. I hug him and make sure he knows that I love him and appreciate him. I pray the Lord will help us be on alert so that our relationship won’t crumble in the halls of Facebook or anywhere else the devil chooses to prowl.
I’m sure Leslie had no intention of getting burned by an old flame when she opened her Facebook account, but it happened nonetheless. So if my male Facebook friends suddenly notice that they have been “de-friended” by me, they will know I took that drastic step as a preventative. Jesus tells us to cut off the hand that causes us to sin. Facebook is one snare that I refuse to let Satan use to thwart my relationship with my husband and with the Lord.