Friday, November 19, 2010

The morality of using Facebook

So a New Jersey pastor has told married church officials they must delete their Facebook accounts, because Facebook breaks up marriages.

He's concerned because he's seen many people re-connect with exes on Facebook, start flirting, and wind up having an affair.

I can actually see what he's saying - I have heard enough stories from my own circles about such issues, even if it only ever gets to flirting. Facebook makes it easier to get back in touch with old loves. Getting back in touch with old loves can be dangerous to your marriage. It's not really Facebook's fault - it's just that Facebook is an easier and more available method of chatting with old flames than periodic high school reunions and whatnot.

But I think it's interesting that this is a big problem among churchgoers, seemingly as much as the general populace. Because I think this kind of thing stems from a failure to give some sober thought to your morality and where your limits are. And of course, ex-religious atheists tend to examine these moral issues much more than many religious people.

Most people are religious without much inquiry. As products of our culture they probably hold enlightenment ideals and interpret their faith to be consistent with them. They go to church, but only on occasion. They have vague notions of God's rules, heaven, and hell, but don't seem to examine their beliefs.

IMHO, it goes hand in hand with this fuzzy notion of religion that people don't sit down and think about their marital obligations, and whether one has a duty to stop short of flirting, the appearance of impropriety, or just actual intercourse.

I also think religious people may fall into a trap made of their own piousness. "I'm a good person," they think. "I can go to lunch with Mr. Wonderful and I'm not doing anything wrong. I can control myself." I personally have a much more practical approach - stop before you get to a point where you might get carried away. Well before. It's all too easy to rationalize, rationalize, rationalize . . . then "lose control" and do something you regret. Or at least that you'll tell yourself afterward that you never planned to do.

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