Can Facebooking lead to adultery? A New Jersey pastor says that the marriage counseling that he's been doing over the past 18 months suggests that the social networking site - by allowing people to reconnect with old flames - is creating marital trouble.
His solution: married couples should delete their Facebook accounts. And, to set an example, he is ordering some 50 married church officials to either quit the site or resign from their leadership positions. It's certainly a more extreme push than his previous suggestion that married couples share their login information with each other.
The Rev. Cedric A, Miller, senior pastor at the Living Word Christian Church in Neptune NJ, told the Asbury Park Press that a large percentage of his counseling lately has been for marital problems stemming from Facebook. From today's report:
Miller said there was no problem when people just met with friends from high school in a platonic way. But that has changed, he said, and now people are reigniting old passions and connecting with people who should stay in the past. He said a marriage can be going along fine when someone from the past breaks through and trouble begins.
Of course, he can't force the congregation members to delete their accounts but said he does have authority over the church leaders. And while he also acknowledged that some might see his actions as "controlling," he told the newspaper that his bigger concern is "to save families and marriages."
Rev. Miller, who is married and has a Facebook account to follow what his six children are up to, said he will delete his account to set an example.
Of course, the big question is whether Facebook is really the cause of marital problems? The Park Press report quotes psychologist and therapist William Rosenblatt:
I wouldn't say Facebook is the problem. What I would say is we live in a rapidly changing world, and we are facing stresses and opportunities that we've never had to face before. Facebook doesn't create dissatisfied marriages. People who are dissatisfied now have better means of creating support systems and networks that are much more vast, and it's much easier to connect with people that way.
So while Facebook may be the outlet where people in troubled marriages go for support or even online relationships that are more satisfying than the home relationship, it seems like a bit of a stretch to think that deleting a Facebook account will change things for some husbands and wives.
And the idea that a pastor can force a church leader to resign his position over membership in a social networking site - even if for a well-intended reason - is definitely an abuse of power. Just because some people aren't strong or secure enough in their marriages to be able to interact with others on the Internet without cheating, doesn't mean that everyone who is married and on Facebook will cave to the temptations put out there.
At least that's how I see it. What do you think?