Rev. To NJ Church Leaders: Thou Shalt Not Facebook

NEPTUNE, N.J. (AP) — Thou shalt not commit adultery. And thou also shalt not use Facebook.

That’s the edict from a New Jersey pastor who feels the two often go together.

The Rev. Cedric Miller said 20 couples among the 1,100 members of his Living Word Christian Fellowship Church have run into marital trouble over the last six months after a spouse connected with an ex-flame over Facebook.

Because of the problems, he is ordering about 50 married church officials to delete their accounts with the social networking site or resign from their leadership positions. He had previously asked married congregants to share their login information with their spouses and now plans to suggest that they give up Facebook altogether.

“I’ve been in extended counseling with couples with marital problems because of Facebook for the last year and a half,” he said. “What happens is someone from yesterday surfaces, it leads to conversations and there have been physical meet-ups. The temptation is just too great.”

Miller is married and has a Facebook account that he uses to keep in touch with six children, but he will heed his own advice and cancel his account this weekend.

On Sunday, he plans to “strongly suggest” that all married people to stop using Facebook, lest they endanger their marriage.

“The advice will go to the entire church,” he said. “They’ll hear what I’m asking of my church leadership. I won’t mandate it for the entire congregation, but I hope people will follow my advice.”

Miller said he has spoken from the pulpit before about the dangers of Facebook, asking married couples to give each other their passwords to the site.

“Some did. Others got scared and deleted their accounts right away. And some felt it was none of my business and continued on,” he said.

Miller said he has gotten a mostly positive response so far among the leaders subject to his edict, which was first reported by the Asbury Park Press.

Pat Dawson, a minister at the church, uses her Facebook account to see photos of her relatives. She is unmarried and therefore not required to delete her account, but she agrees with Miller about the dangers such sites can create.

“I know he feels very strongly about this,” she said. “It can be a useful tool, but it also can cause great problems in a relationship. If your spouse won’t give you his or her password, you’ve got a problem.”

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says 81 percent of its members have used or been faced with evidence plucked from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social networking sites in divorce cases over the last five years.

About one in five adults uses Facebook for flirting, according to a 2008 report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. And a do-it-yourself divorce site in the United Kingdom, Divorce-Online, reported late last year that the word “Facebook” was appearing in about one in five of the petitions it was handling.

Miller says there are legitimate uses for Facebook, which is why he started an account a few years ago.

“People use it as an opportunity to invite others to social gatherings, to share Scripture or talk about what went on at church,” he said. “Those are all positive, worthwhile things. But the downside is just too great.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to a before-hours interview request left at its California offices.

(© 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)

  • julie

    FWIW my marriage is ending over fb. Old flame, a reconnect, finally in person…Guess we’re a stereotype. It does happen.

  • semper

    fine, just don’t take away my youtube porn.

  • Frank White

    @Krystal Smith, @Mary to those who say deal with the temptation and not blame facebook. duh, that’s how you deal with temptation, you remove it whenever possible. There is nothing wrong with the Pastor suggesting this to married congregants – they are free to be there and free to not heed the advice. He’s in charge of the church, so it’s also ok that he dictates that married leadership officials must delete their accounts. Again, they are free to keep them and resign their position. The real problem here is the church is a lukewarm 501c3 that allows female pastors – Paul expressly forbids this – no wiggle room – don’t like it then don’t claim to be a Christian, at least one that follows the Bible.

    • Al

      right on, straight forward and sensible comment. True true true, thank you.

  • InSearchOfCivility

    Don’t you think that comment was quite a bit over the top? He has a right to preach what he wants to, just as you have a right to promote your own version of secularism with your Hitler hyperbole. If you believe differently, don’t attend church there. It’s that simple.

  • KT

    Is he gonna volunteer to give up his cell phone and order his workers to, also…can’t have people sexting!

  • Amanda

    I have a FB account and have married FB friends and we do not reconnect in the way this article is saying. I am unmarried.

    I would NEVER let my SO or spouse have my passwords! What kind of relationship is THAT?? If they don’t trust me, the relationship is over! How ridiculous. I also don’t like that people I don’t know about can be reading my personal information. What if I tell that person something about my life that I don’t know the FB SO with the password cannot keep secret, like an illness or something? I guess I won’t be telling any married FB friends about illnesses or deaths or job woes I don’t want getting out. Such BS that someone can be reading what you write, and you don’t know about it. Women and a lot of men gossip like crazy. Smh.

    • I should know

      Knowing the password is pointless. If the spouse in question has something to hide, they could just make an alternate account.

    • Al

      you’re all about self, me, me, me, mine. you don’t really understand accountability nor trust. If you trusted your SO then it wouldn’t even be an issue to give them your password. To not do so smacks of secrecy and distrust. As for your friends privacy, if you are married then your friends surely must realize that spouses share with each other that’s why a person can’t be forced to testify against their spouse in court. It sounds like your marriage is more of a business arrangement than a true marriage if this is how you feel. SAD, AND the problem wih the world.

      • Amanda

        I do understand trust and accountability and know that if someone trusts someone they do not ask for their password, because they have faith in them that they wouldn’t betray them. That is trust, not “Give me your password so I can see every little thing you do.” How is that trust and how is that accountability? The whole foundation of trust is to give someone the benefit of the doubt that they will do right by you and will have integrity. What you are suggesting is the opposite of trust. Someone asking their SO is the one all about ME, me, me, mine and is very against any religious tenent I’ve ever heard, where faith and trust are to be given to the SO, not orders of espionage.

        I am unmarried. I said that in my first post, so the rest of your post doesn’t apply to me.

    • Noah Fing-Whey

      I take it you’re not familiar with accountability.

      • Amanda

        I take it you’re not familiar with trust.

        Does your wife have a tap on your phone and monitor your car by GPS? Have a camera on you at work?

        People who have to have their SO have a password don’t trust themselves and their spouses don’t trust them, maybe for good reason, because if you’re willing to give out your PW, you are afraid you will cheat.

        At worst, your spouSSe has no respect or trust for you. The SS in spouse was intentional, by the way.

        What about accountabilluty for your friend’s privacy? Your friend’s don’t know they have a phantom “friend” viewing their private profile. Do everyone a favor and just delete your account if you gave your wife your password, because it’s not fair to your friends. Do you have accountabilty to your friends and their privacy?

  • Concerned Citizen

    Total BS, if someone is gonna cheat they don’t have to use facebook to find someone to cheat with. Why blame facebook…..get off the whole Internet then, you might meet someone willing to cheat…..or how about, don’t go to the grocery store, someone in produce may make a pass at you and you will be tempted. Total BS, get a life preacher and stay out of others lives. No one makes decisions for me about where and what I do on the Internet. Least of all my preacher. I have to answer to God for what I do and no one else.

    • sensitive citizen?

      it was a suggestion from a pastor. yelling bs and feeling personally attacked about it shows another insecurity all together. don’t be naive. dealing with temptation sometimes means avoiding it. there might be plenty of people who don’t need to delete their accounts because it’s a non issue. but for those whom is does apply to, people who befriend ex-lovers and still have feelings for them, might need to heed some good advice. good grief.

      answering to God means following practical advise sometimes, whether it seams reasonable to our deceptive hearts or not.

      • Al

        wonderful post, clear insightful understanding. thank you

  • Reggie

    The temptation is too great for whom? He must have a pretty shallow flock.

  • Dizzle

    Remember to be afraid of other people and always refer to an authority figure

  • Kristen

    IMO its the people not the website. If their marriages were rock solid they wouldn’t go looking anyways or make it go any further than friendship. I agree don’t face blame on the website though its not like the site is putting a gun to their head saying here cheat on your spouse.

  • Jason Trupp

    It’s your point of view about Christians that make such steps necessary for church leadership anyway. It’s alright for you to live your life as you choose and no one in any church is trying to tell you different. You actually sound a little convicted about this, hence your bitter comment. That not withstanding, as a Pastor I have to set the highest standard for myself as instructed by the Bible and encourage my fellow leaders to do the same. We know we are under scrutiny. We know many doubt our beliefs because of how we live. Your upset at the wrong thing here. It’s not that this pastor is angry or hateful about Facebook. He just wants his leaders to set an example others can follow. You don’t like how Christians behave outside of church but you get angry at this man’s efforts to help that. You can’t have it both ways.

  • Tony

    I dont use FB because of the dangers that I would fall in. As a man we are weak to old flings and will have to test the motor out again and again. Its a great tool to have and to stay in contact with friends but some old friends always start out with “lets have happy hour” Lets meet up for some coffee, then BOM your fu@#ing,

  • dave redmond

    What does being a Jew have to do with it? Your prejidice is disgusting.

    • Krystal Smith

      I agree 100% It goes hand in hand with the idea for example should we blame a pencil for misspelled words, and the idea of guns kill people, its not either of them that are at fault, its usually the lack of judgement on ones part.. Its not facebook, nor the gun, nor the pencil thats at fault for the wrong doing, its the person… (sorry if i spelled anything wrong, its my fault.. lol)

  • conrad carter

    I remember seeing an ad for “the fighting bandana” so because I wanted that kind of protection I wrote and told the fellow I just wanted the bandana, nothing else. Imagine my surprise when he didn’t respond. Facebook is the same way, you get what you put into it.

  • Mike

    Couldn’t he just have them promise not to cheat on their spouses instead? Kind of like when they got married in the first place. This pastor sounds like some kind of cult leader trying to control everything in his congregation’s lives.

    BTW, I’m a deacon in my own church. FB isn’t the problem, it’s people who are the problem.

    • Al

      you’re a deacon and you think the pastor is trying to control everything in his congregation’s lives? you must be a nimrod then. I only see him asking married persons to delete their facebook account because of the possible temptation. Ah, I see, you must belong to a hyper liberal church who thinks everyone is a little god without need for accountability. The bible does tell us to obey those over us in the lord. I guess that doesn’t apply to you does it. You’re exempt. You probably critique everything the pastor says and inform him of his errors don’t you.

  • atty79

    I agree with @Jason Kahl, respect your vows and commitment. My spouse has all my passwords, and vice-versa. I treat our relationship like an open book; as @Jason Kahl said, like my spouse is watching me. It’s part of the union of marriage.

    • Clayton Sheldon

      I agree as it should be

  • Brian B.

    The problem is not Facebook, it’s how people chose to use it. People have secret sins they “think” they are keeping hidden, but the truth is, you effect the environment around you. drugs and alcohol are obvious examples of this, but lust tries to stay in the shadows out of sight, but sooner or later, like drugs and alcohol, it gets to control your mood,your thoughts, your goals and your relationships. Before you know it, your looking at a broken marriage and alienated family members. This is why God said repent and turn away from your sins. Not because he is a “fuddy duddy”, sex is a creation of God, but has very specific terms of use. When you go out side of those terms, you run into trouble with God and people. If your not satisfied with your marriage, you need to figure out why. Then seek God on the issue. I can say a whole lot more, but will stop here.

  • possom20

    It is nut bars like this one that make organized religion look so bad.

    • Al

      being concerned about the dangers to marriages, 50% end in divorce, and requiring his married STAFF/EMPLOYEES to stop using it or quit makes him a nut bar. You’re an idiot.

      • Clayton Sheldon

        I had a divorce and it was not because of facebook
        She was tired of being a mom and did not want the responsabilties of being a parent. and Shes A Catholic

    • steve-in-stl

      truth hurts? If Facebook is tempting folks into adultery, why should the pastor not advise against it? Certainly the issue is bigger than FB, but that is one small step. And he has not condemned your FB use, or you for calling him an idiot. HE was speaking to his congregation.

    • Jason Kahl

      A alcoholic should not hang out in bars too, if someone is having a “Problem” the solution is not to hang out where a person that is already pron to “Back Sliding”. It makes Perfect Since for a recovering crack head not to hang out in a crack house…

      • david

        so you’re saying it makes sense that adulterers shouldn’t use facebook? so all of those church employees are adulterers? i didn’t get that from the article but that insight certainly clears things up. thanks!

  • John Cowan

    It’s always somebody else’s fault.

  • Jason Kahl

    My wife has ALL my Email accounts and passwords to Face Book also, I have already had a couple people wanting to “Re-connect”, I use face book like my wife is watching…because she IS!

    Honesty…the best policy…

    • Jason Kahl

      Why even temp yourself? My wife does not mind me talking to anyone, I just have to respect my vows and commitment…

      • mike

        So nice that mommy is watching her little boy’s every wittle move. Awww….

  • bottomline

    As the Reverends know, Jesus said adultery begins in the heart, no physical contact necessary. It’s regrettable when marriages break up, but is denial in the form of a blindfold the real answer to an alleged flaw in the heart or mind? I say alleged because forced monogamy indicates an unreasonable, unnatural life style susceptible to failure by invitations offered with social networking. The continuous denial of this biological fact of life by the church had caused many to abandon the church. With the growing abandonment of wholesome family values, the old moral constrictions will continue to fall too and temptations will increase. Encouraging traditional family values, even with a straying partner, is a far better solution then banning social networking, especially since it’s alleged and probably true, forbidden fruit is always sweeter.

  • Mary

    Facebook might open the door as to with whom they cheat, but cheaters will find somebody with or without popular social networking sites. Shouldn’t he be counseling how to deal with the temptation…not just removing it?

  • Jude

    I AGREE. Ask a divorce lawyer… FACEBOOK divorces are SKYROCKETING. It eases connecting to exes whom spouses idealize. Any slight imperfection in your current spouse is measured against this ex.. whom you have forgotten alll the BAD things.. and only remember the GOOD things. Hence, your spouse always loses. Starts with coffee..or lunch… go ASK A DIVORCE LAWYER. FB does ruin marriages.

    • Goze 2-11

      Sure Jude…kind of like spoonfuls of ice cream made Rosie O’Donnell fat…we should definitely ban spoons as well.

    • Martin

      FB doesn’t DO anything…it is a website. People ruin their own marriages! They just use FB to do it.

  • Diane

    Who is he to tell grown people what to do??!! You a pastor, not their parents! These people are grown and they know the difference between right and wrong and of course we all have free will or do we??!

    • steve-in-stl

      Let’s see … who is this guy … a pastor … what does a pastor do? Oh that’s right … he advises people on how to be more like Christ. This he has done. And apparently they DONT know the difference between right and wrong, or at least they ignore it. And yes we do have free will but we are tempted. If they don’t like his counsel, they can vote with their feet and walk out of church.

    • Alec Berg

      Normally I would agree with this, but….the article says they keep coming to the Pastor for marital problems. So if they’re coming to him with the problems, he’s got every right to tell them what he sees as the issue. Whether or not they listen is up to them (as they are, as you say “grown”)

      Obviously Diane you do not see clergy as authority, that’s fine, don’t go to them for advice and they won’t tell you what to do.

  • Alec Berg

    Oh man, that reminds me of a few wild memories that I’d like to relive….

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