Home > Brandenburg, Culture > Putting the Web in Web

Putting the Web in Web

March 3, 2009

Read Proverbs 4:14-28 and think about facebook and myspace, especially for youth.  I’m going to highlight parts that catch my attention.

Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.  For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.  The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.  My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.  Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.  For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.  Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.  Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.  Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.  Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

If you didn’t read the text, go back and do that.  The first part of Proverbs targets the youth culture.  God knows that people have certain problems when they become teens, certain new temptations.  They need the help of their parents.  In their trek to become an adult, and a godly one, they don’t need the dumbing down of the opinions of other young people.  Nothing in scripture tells young people to look for the company of other teenagers.   The Bible doesn’t recommend youth groups.   If anything, God’s Word says no to it.  We see the rejection of a peer group in Proverbs 1:8-16:

My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:  For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.  My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.  If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:  Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:  We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:  Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:  My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:  For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

Did you read those verses?  If not, go back and do it.  Teens have their family.  During these unique times, they need to listen to their parents.  See how many times Proverbs 1-7 tells a young man to listen to dad and mom.  Again and again.  Teens need a group, the same one that adults need.  It’s the church.  In Psalm 73, Asaph seems to have been going through some of the same kind of covetous desires that a lot of teenagers go through when they’re growing up, thinking they’re being ripped off.  Asaph got caught up meditating upon how good it was in the world, very much like the prodigal son.  What was the solution for him?

When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;  Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.  Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction. Psalm 73:16-18

Teenagers feel pain, all alone and no one understands what they’re going through.  They turn to facebook and myspace.  Where did Asaph find what He needed?  The house of the Lord.  There he heard something from God.  Today it’s the church and you hear God’s Word to give you the right perspective on life, what’s really important.

The internet is a worldwide web and it’s a place to get caught in something you don’t want.  You think you are getting something, but in so many instances you’re just getting gotten.  Bad boy-girl relationships.  Busybodying.  Introduction to sins.  Havens for lust.  It’s the same for adults too, but young people are getting heavy doses of exactly what scripture warns them in particular about.

Social sites are a glove fit for the youth culture, because so much of what teens think they are missing, they can get virtual loads of.  And they are not ready to handle it.  I haven’t met one teenager who the social networking scene really helps.  They’re supposed to be becoming an adult, but they are served more immaturity and childishness, very much lacking in responsibility and sobriety.

Teens look out for acceptance.  They need to look up and see they already have it in Christ.   In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily and we are complete in Him.   They need to look to their family like Proverbs commands them.  Facebook gives them another source to find acceptance.  It won’t give them what they need.  It is a lie in that way.  We have to learn to say “no” to the different ways that sinners entice us.

Young people think they need their space.  Now they have their space on myspace.  And what does it turn into?  Everyone needs accountability.  No one needs a place where he is uninspected.   In Proverbs 7 you see the young man without anyone around.  He is loitering in a place that he shouldn’t be.  He might be very intelligent, but there are places that will turn down any of our IQs and could reduce us, like it did him, to a piece of bread.  We should stay away from those places—or spaces—wherever they may be.

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  1. March 4, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Good thoughts, but I had a question: What about supervised access to sites like Facebook? Is it possible to utilize a site like this without falling into sin or compromising?

    I am in the middle of a study on this very subject and would be interested in any follow up thoughts you might have.

  2. March 4, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Hey Charles, thanks for the comment.

    I think this is a liberty issue. You have to make applications of scripture as it relates to this. If putting strict restrictions is the way you want to apply scripture to counteract the negatives, I think you can do that. I do have experience in this. I find that it rarely edifies a teen. I think an adult might have a different approach. Like a lot of churches our teens had trouble with myspace when that first became popular. Now facebook is the alternative because the site itself has tougher restrictions. However, I find that it is not the right question. I think it is permissible, but I didn’t think it helped. It became something to be very uncomfortable.

  3. March 4, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    True, adults seem to have less difficulties, and women less so than men, at least as relates to the visual experience of Facebook. It is interesting to note that Myspace and Facebook are blocked by default on a number of internet filters.

    I am interested in the principle of using social networking sites. Given that they are a virtual meeting place for old friends, and hundreds of wannabee aquaintances, are they somewhat like malls? I would not let my children hang out in a mall unattended, and the friends they might meet there would be good friends.

    But what about exposure to sin? For instance, if I go to a mall, I am inundated by advertising similar to Facebook. The checkout lines in the grocery store expose my children to worse than we get on Facebook. The local billboards regularly display 30ft women in hteir underwear.

    Any thoughts as to why we don’t do bars or Facebook, but malls, sports games, and TV are OK? 🙂

  4. March 4, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Charles,

    I think those are good questions. I don’t think the mall is a good place for anyone to “hang out.” The Facebook, however, is not a one time deal, but a regular function, usually daily or hourly or more. It requires maintenance. The mall sits out there rather passive with less beckoned call. If you go to the mall to purchase something, that would be akin to going to Amazon or some other online store more than facebook, I believe. We’re going to come into contact with possible temptation to sin in our lives, but the difference between some of these others and facebook is degree and nature.

    I do believe the others do relate to modernity and the new way we interact as a civilization under the curse. Everything must be considered. I’m not proposing monasticism—we are in the world.

  5. March 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    OK, I agree. I was just hoping for some extra light on the murky junction of social technology and true Christianity. Insulation seems the answer, not isolation. If you get any more ideas, come on over my way. I hope to post the Facebook article in a week or so. Thanks for your time.

  6. March 4, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    I know a church that had a very serious spiritual battle where Facebook became the discord-sowing gathering place. It was amazing how those involved could be posting comments about other members of the church and appearing to be surprised that they read it! 🙂 The format of these social sites encourage public gossip that can be extremely harmful. It seems the supposed annonimity and lack of supervision make it especially tempting.

    Also, I’ve seen pastor’s kid’s sites where the kid either thinks he is just playing a game, or he is really leading a double life.

  7. memphiswill
    March 4, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    I can agree with the idea of not letting teens on sites like Facebook unsupervised. I have no problem with that idea at all. I myself use Facebook, for a variety of reasons. 1. I like to keep in contact with old friends. I live a thousand miles away from where I was born and raised. Almost all of my old friends still live in that area, so keeping in touch with them can be a bit difficult…except for Facebook. Without wasting minutes on my phone and/or running up long distance bills, I can easily see what they’re up to in their life. If they need prayer today, their status will frequently reflect that, and I can offer up a prayer for them. In fact, my high school reunion is coming up this year, and if I hadn’t had Facebook, the classmate in charge of it would have had a difficult time locating me. 2. My church and my church singles group both have Facebook pages. I’m frequently updated as to what’s going on at church this week. My friends from church and I are able to easily keep in touch, and we pass notes around about topics of Biblical/Christian interest frequently and launch some good discussions.

    I think the issue really comes down to: Are we able to handle having a Facebook or Myspace? And we need to know ourselves. If you have children, you need to know your children. And if you have Facebook or Myspace, for pity’s sake, know who you’re adding to your page. If you just add people all willy-nilly, that’s where you run into problems. Which is why parents should screen their child’s friends on such sites.

  8. March 5, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Interesting perspective on moderation. But where does that leave us if the question is “can we handle it?” That really doesn’t give much of a basis for instructing others. Memphiswill, any further thoughts?

    By the way, I am not trying to stir up trouble! I simply am trying to develope some guidelines for instructing my people.

  9. March 5, 2009 at 7:33 am

    I’ve always wondered why one cannot use simple email (remember that old-fashioned way of communicating–sarcasm–) to stay in touch with friends and family. I’ve done everything I can to discourage the use of these social networking sites for the last few years. Thankfully, as far as I’m aware, the members of the church here are in agreement about this and stay out of it.

    There are so many dangers involved with the internet and I hope that we can keep ourselves from being entangled in all of them.

  10. memphiswill
    March 5, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Charles-
    I personally hesitate to give solid guidelines for how people should determine what they can and can’t do in their relationship with Christ when it comes to matters that aren’t dealt with explicitly by Scripture. Making blanket statements can be a form of legalism in regards to Sanctification. If somebody has a problem with a need for social acceptance, Facebook probably isn’t the best place for them, until they get that sorted out in their lives. I don’t know where to draw the line for people. They need to work that out between them and God. Now we can say “Here are some guidelines for using Facebook”, but we need to let each man be “fully persuaded in his own mind” as to whether or not he uses Facebook. We Baptists do believe in Soul Liberty after all. 😉

  11. Damien T Garofalo
    March 5, 2009 at 9:01 am

    ya know, I wonder if somehow social networking will have a vital role in the deconstruction or even revival of the church today. now I know the common internet dangers could have effect, that’s obvious. But I’m getting at something a little different – the exposure of the private lives of Christians.
    I remember hearing about several Christian schools that had to kick out students because of their myspace accounts when that site first became popular. when I learned of what was on their accounts, I thought, “why in the world would they put that stuff on there, especially for the world to see? did not think they’d get caught?” then I realized what the rest of us do – we try to hide that which we do in secret. now I am not advocating the use of Facebook or Myspace, or arguing against it for that matter, but the use of these sites by Christians can be used to expose people for who they really are, and quite frankly, that may result in a different issue than any of us have anticipated.

  12. March 5, 2009 at 9:35 am

    I am no infant on the web, but the realm of Facebook is a little beyond my ken. Anyone want to take a stab at making some BASIC guidelines for Facebook? I have found some tools that help. I and am in the process of drawing my own guidlines, but am also interested in your ideas.

  13. March 5, 2009 at 10:19 am

    The means we make a decision about a facebook is guided by what we see in Scripture. Sure, the Bible doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not facebook,” and I hate having to make that point, because it seems inane to me, but we have examples in the Bible that we are to use in application. We see Jesus do this when he used the OT narrative of David and Ahimelech and the old bread from the table of shewbread in Luke 6:1-5 to apply to an activity of eating grain in a field on Sabbath. We’ve got the meat offered unto idols example by Paul, and plenty of other principles to apply to liberties. If we don’t think those are important, then we should consider what Jesus said to at least two churches in Rev 2 & 3, condemning their eating meat offered unto idols. He agreed with Paul in a very severe way. So even though we have liberty, we certainly must apply principles to these places. To Paul and Jesus that meant not going to a place at all, even though they had the liberty to do so.

    Our associations, our accommodation, exposure to the temptation, waste of time—all of these things do matter! And then at the end, Paul said, be an imitator of me. Do what I do. Is that legalism? He commanded it. I believe a pastor of a church, like Bobby mentioned, can say, “Do what I do.” He is not going outside of his bounds of authority to do so. He has scriptural reasons for this. We should look at God’s Word, prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good.

    Could God use facebook to expose sin? Sure. But we are talking about this? Is facebook exposing a problem or is it exacerbating a problem? Flee youthful lusts, Paul commanded. How does someone flee a youthful lust? Does facebook feed youthful lust? The purpose of priesthood, I believe, is more responsibility than it is privilege. We aren’t priests to make our offerings any way we want. We’re a spiritual priesthood offering up spiritual sacrifices to God.

  14. Evelyn
    March 5, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    My husband is the youth pastor at our church. We use facebook to easily catch up with our teens and their families. I can see at a glance when one of our teens is celebrating an accomplishment, has a bad day at school, or just prayed with a friend at school. I keep up with their birthday reminders, I can chat for a few minutes with them in the evenings, and I can pray for the needs I see.

    When I visit the pages of our teens, I am always amazed that God is glorified in both the attitudes I see and in the words and pictures they use. I suppose that is not true in every church, so maybe our teens are exceptions to the rule. It is with this thought that I say that one has to guard one’s own heart and if one has a desire to do right, one is going to do right no matter what. Ergo, if one is going to do wrong, one is going to do wrong no matter what.

    I/We have found facebook to be an invaluable tool in other ways, as well. We have been able to re-acquaint ourselves with our friends from Bible college, former church members, our distant family serving overseas – this has been great for the photo albums and daily updates – and two weeks ago, I found the young lady responsible for my salvation when I was a very young girl.

    My son, 19, has a facebook page. I am able to keep up with not only his classes and activities, but also his thoughts about college life. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

  15. Daniel B
    March 5, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Pastor Brandenberg,
    I agree with most that was written but there are a few things that seem to have been skipped over. First of all, in the second main paragraph that you wrote you talk about what teens should do and how they should listen to their fathers and or authority… The part you are skipping over is that, not all authority is right. If a father doesn’t raise a child right, when the child becomes a teen and gets a facebook or myspace (to make his life more private) and the father then steps in to stop it. This will only anger the child and basically provoke him to do more.
    The problem doesnt lie with facebook myspace or eharmony. It soley lies on the parents or guardians that raise the children. In Zechariah 10 it says that the Lord will (of course) punish a sheep for going astray but it says that His anger will be kindled against the Shepherd that led them astray.
    I think we could fuss all year about how facebook or myspace can be bad but the problem lies with the parent sand pastors that “provoke” children to wrath. Now Im not saying that there isnt wrong things on facebook or myspace but as one person commented we will see evil wherever we go. The evil lies in what we do with it or how we approach it.
    Everyone has a different definition of what is right and what is wrong so we can argue all day about things others do and how we wouldnt do them but its not our place to judge. For example, one person can walk through a line a Walmart and not even notice the magazines on the racks but another might have a huge temptation walking through that line. That is why God made us all different beings.
    If Facebook is used with caution it could be a huge asset to anyone but Christians love to pull things from it say its wicked and as Pastor Mallinek says “he is going to plaster some walls over the next month”. Because you don’t or wouldn’t does, in no means mean, that every one is going to get in trouble when they use it.
    I had to hold back a laugh when I saw that some use it as a tool and some take it as a sin worse then pornography. Everything has its place in life, Facebook can be used for good just like some can walk through the checkout line and not notice the magazines.

  16. March 5, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    By the way, I am in no ways being sarcastic or caddy. I am only trying to point out that some people can be good Christians and do things that others might think is wrong or bad.

  17. March 5, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    In general, I agree with the point of view that this is a matter each individual will have to decide on their own. Personally, I don’t get the facebook thing, partly because there are some people out there I don’t want to keep up with!! But that’s another topic…

    However, I thought I would comment on this comment:

    “Making blanket statements can be a form of legalism in regards to Sanctification”

    Quite frankly, that is almost a legalistic statement itself! That is, if you subscribe to the definition of legalism that says “if you make a blanket statement (i.e. a rule), that’s legalism”. In fact, legalism is not rule-making. Legalism is assuming that one can be holy or righteous with God on the basis of law keeping.

    We all make rules all the time, for ourselves, for our families, and for our churches (either corporately by a vote of the body or, if in leadership, administratively by authorized policy-making). There is nothing wrong with making rules, and if a duly constituted authority makes a rule, those under the authority of that person or body must abide by the rule. That isn’t legalism.

    We have a rule about adultery in our church. Anybody who breaks it is out. That isn’t legalism.

    Now, that isn’t to say that facebook=adultery! But the concept that ‘blanket statements’ (i.e., rules) = legalism shouldn’t really be part of our thinking. If an individual, or a family or even a church were to make an anti-facebook rule, that shouldn’t automatically be called legalism.

    I don’t think, however, that anybody here has been advocating for an anti-facebook rule (other than perhaps at the individual/family level). The general feeling has been one of advocating for wise guidelines to help people deal with something that has the potential to seriously harm spiritual lives.

    The youth culture problem is a very pervasive one that particularly has seemed to undermine the ministry of local churches and parents to their young people. This applies to many things besides facebook (Christian schools, youth groups, etc). The wise parent and pastor needs a lot of help, wisdom, and prayer in these struggles.

    Maranatha!
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  18. March 5, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I’ve appreciated the comments on here. I recognize that I’m very strong against facebook. Others have stepped up for facebook and its benefits to them. I’m happy for those people. I hope the best for them. However, I believe there should be a warning to these types of sites, and I think it is the right thing to lead away from them.

    We’re talking about it here and it could be a blessing to a church. A pastor may want to stress “no-facebook” and this is a place to come and read for some support for that position. I believe this is a liberty issue. We don’t have liberty to sin. We have liberty (Daniel) to go through a supermarket check-out, I believe, as well. I believe we have liberty to do a lot of things. They may be lawful, but they’re not expedient, they’re not edifying, they bring you under their power, and more.

    Even unsaved people online warn against the debilitating effects of facebook to many. Some on here say that they’ve been fine with it, but no man lives to himself and no man dies to himself. All of us have to judge what we do in light of not just what it does to us, but what it does to others. That is another consideration.

    Bobby mentions old-fashioned email. That’s what I tell my son. I think that many facebook people don’t like the idea of just using email. What is it about facebook that is better, that is superior to email?

    I’m going to save comments about facebook and the youth culture or modernity, contemporary culture. How are we to relate to it?

    Daniel,

    I have no doubt that fathers provoking their children to wrath is as big an issue as something like facebook. Let’s just say that a dad has been provocative with his children. Should the son or daughter remain bitter against the parent when Paul wrote for him to put away bitterness even as Jesus wasn’t bitter against those who sinned against Him by torturing Him and crucifying Him?

    Dads might be wrong, but are we really looking for sinless perfection and if not, then we need our pound of flesh? I believe we should look at it this way. Was Scripture violated? If so, was it repented of? Did someone say that it was wrong? If so, then be easy to forgive. Don’t get bitter if you don’t think that you got justice. Paul said that Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. We wait on God for what we think we deserved (when what we all deserve is Hell).

    Let’s say that Dad wasn’t repentant and we still think we were wronged. We may not have been wronged. We may think we’ve been wronged. It’s possible we’ve been wronged. But have wronged others? Have we always been repentant when we’ve wronged others? Have we been faithful to Christ? We still must be tender and kindhearted. It’s a supernatural kind of life that we can live by the grace and Spirit of God. We must be tenderhearted and forgiving. We must be like Jesus taught in Mt. 18:21-35. We must desire reconciliation. Don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath.

    I think that it is true that young people got tired of the many rules and the enforcement of those in a severe way that perhaps externalized and moralized the Christian life. Young people may chafe under those rules. But what about Paul’s instruction to slaves? Do you think that slaves felt taken advantage of? But Paul said, “Obey your masters.” If a slave can live with joy for the Lord, then a teen can live with a strict parent.

  19. March 5, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    I only want to address one, tiny, micro-issue that keeps coming up here: “Why is Facebook better than email”.

    I think it’s akin to comparing shooting and hunting, where communication is concerned. As hunters know, you can burn a lot of ammo without shooting anything you can eat (a few of my hunting ventures have been reduced to this). While I’ve had email for 12 years, I didn’t have any way of emailing past acquaintances until recently. I’d lost track of them and they of me. On very rare occasion I’ll run into someone at a bank, wal-mart or such that I’d lost track of years ago. On Facebook, that’s a daily occurrence.

    Being social creatures, we don’t normally make a friend in life where we know none of their friends and they know none of ours. That facts sets up the “degrees of separation” relationship where each person is a center of a circle friends. Your friend has a list of his own friends. When you look through that list, you find other friends/acquaintances that you’d lost track of. By adding that person to your list, you tend to find other past friends that were not one degree, but two degrees removed from your circles, and so on.

    This idea works in reverse as well. I think I’ve added ten or so people as friends on my Facebook. But many more people found me than I them. Where I had lost track of every single member of my uncle Dave’s family, I am now “connected” with all 14 of them, and all through Facebook.

    On the other side of the Facebook -vs- email question, I tried to email a fellow that I’m trying to help at Fairhaven with career related issues. I can’t find his email address, and so I can’t email him. I’ll have to talk to someone whom I know reliably keeps his contact info. LinkedIn and Plaxo accomplishes this job equally well. When I first saw LinkedIn, I wished I’d had it ten years earlier. I’ve lost track of so many professional and personal contacts that would have been of benefit to me along the way.

    Now, none of this addresses the other issues you’ve all discussed. We’d find more common ground than not on nearly all that you’ve stated. If I started adding to it, I wouldn’t finish today. But I just wanted to clarify that one point.

    Aside #1: I do think that Facebook removed one of the most dangerous features of MySpace: Anonymity.

    Aside #2: To submit just one rule for Charles:

    1) If your kids have a Facebook account, then so do you. And you are on each others’ friend list. It should be understood that parents watch everything they do, and your kids’ friends should also know it. (Time must be limited too). Usually someone who knows to make this rule already has it covered, though. It’s unmonitored, unfiltered internet usage by teens that is the source of most the trouble I’ve heard of on Facebook.

  20. March 5, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Hey Jason,

    I’m happy for your reuniting with your friends. I’ll get into more detail in my criticism of social networking. I recognize that it has value for work and other factors.

    I do have a question right now for you though. If they really were friends, how did you become separated from them? If I’ve become separated from a friend, it was either because he really wasn’t a friend or because of the doctrine of separation, that is, I had to separate from him scripturally. It sounds like you had lost track of people that you wanted to know about and then you found them through facebook, so that it really was a kind of location and reconnection tool for you. I’ll talk more about some of these things perhaps as our month goes on, but I appreciate your contribution.

  21. March 5, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Kent, you pretty much just wrote what I was thinking. Are we sure that we need to remain in touch with everyone from our past? I tend to think that it is good that I’ve moved on from some (not all) of the friends of days gone by. I’m sure that some of them are great people, but the Lord in His providence had us lose touch. I have seen some of this reconnecting lead to dangers. I’m just thinking and asking here folks, so don’t take this as dogmatic, but I wonder if we really need to keep up with everyone from times past–especially times before we were saved or before we were really growing up in the Lord? One aspect of this would certainly have to do with those of the opposite sex that we used to have an interest in before marriage . . . If we are going to get back in touch, shouldn’t we make sure that we have some MAJOR standards set up that involve full disclosure with our spouses?

  22. March 5, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    These are some great thoughts, and it looks like we could use some further discussion. Joint accounts, full disclosure, transparency and accountability are necessary items for anyone on the web these days. It is in applying these recommendations to the use of social networking sites that I could use the help.

    I have found tools that eliminate adds from Facebook and youtube, and am finding developing a document to help those who need a little assistance with recommendations for a safe and productive web experience. If anyone wishes to help me refine this, drop me a line at frozenpreacher@gmail.com

    Kent, I appreciate your hosting this, and I apologize if my question hijacked your original intent. Keep up the good work.

  23. March 5, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Kent said:
    If they really were friends, how did you become separated from them? If I’ve become separated from a friend, it was either because he really wasn’t a friend or because of the doctrine of separation, that is, I had to separate from him scripturally.

    Why does it have to be either/or? I have a lot of friends from high school, or friends back home, that I’ve lost touch with for one reason or another. One of my best friends has changed his address so much that his own family doesn’t know how to get ahold of him half the time. Others of my friends, they got married, and drifted off in their own directions, while I’ve remained single and gone my own way. When people get married, things in their lives change, like friends(especially if their old friends are single). I’m also removed from my friends that I grew up with by about a thousand miles. We use Facebook to kind of keep in touch with where we are going in our own lives. For one thing, it’s a whole lot cheaper than trying to call one another every so often. Simply because friends lose touch, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t truly friends. I think that’s a rather erroneous assumption to make on your part, if not a bit snobbish. Neither does it mean that I needed to separate from them on Biblical grounds. Friends drift apart, it happens all the time. They move away, get married, and lose touch. Sometimes, years later, they get back in touch again and pick that friendship up again.

  24. March 5, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Pastor Brandenburg,

    Yes, this is a completely valid question. First let me state that I have no “Friends” on Facebook that I didn’t already know from another time in my life. This probably differs from most teens.

    When I first signed onto Facebook, I wrestled with the word “Friend”, even before the issue was brought up around here. It was plain that this would eventually catch the attention of churches and pastors, and I spent some time thinking it through. I could see that some of the people who were acquaintances were not, in fact, friends. They were people with whom I shared a classroom, church, neighborhood or grandparent. Even today, I’m sure that if I started to probe the background and situation of some of my “Friends” that I couldn’t fellowship with them in an consequential way. For that matter, I really don’t on Facebook either. When I first send any kind of correspondence to a recently added “Friend” and want to kind of either force a spiritual tone or keep from getting too close to some past acquaintance that seems to be faltering spiritually, or even fallen completely down, I usually ask them where they go to church and what they teach their children. Though this hardly constitutes a hard question, it is usually enough for the backslidden acquaintance to leave off the conversation in search of greener pastures.

    I have also wrestled with some of the contacts from my youth. When we were teenagers or even younger, a family would leave our church or school. Sometimes I knew the reasons, usually I didn’t. I’ve wondered how much importance I should put on something like a parent’s decision to leave my childhood church. The separation was usually not occasioned by the person who invites me to join them on Facebook. On the basis of that, do I refuse to communicate with that person twenty years on? Facebook tells you very little about a person before you can choose to either accept or reject them as your “Friend”. The amount of time I spend on each acquaintance is usually very low. To do “due diligence” on each contact and determine which of them I should and should not fellowship would take much longer than I spend on it.

    What about a “Friend” from our childhood neighborhood. I played with these kids when we were pre-teens and younger. I know they are not saved. Most of them I’d expected to never see again. In some cases, I didn’t witness the way I should have. I’ve long regretted that and wished for an opportunity to remedy it.

    In the end, I decided that the term “Friend” at the top of a web page was not enough justification to not leverage the avenue. Some of my “Friends” are not really friends. To me it was a tool. I’d rethink that if I was convinced that it was stumbling a brother or giving occasion to God’s enemies. So far, it doesn’t seem so. Additionally, I’ve not met anyone that would drop their objections to using Facebook if they agreed to change the word “Friend” to “acquaintance” or some such thing.

    In the end, I think of them Biblically as “neighbors”, not necessarily “friends”.

    One note I’d like to throw in is this: I use the Firefox browser with the “ad-block” plug-in. So I don’t see any ads on the Facebook sidebar (or anywhere else on the web for that matter). I didn’t even know they had ads until I pulled up Facebook from our church computer. Since then I’ve heard people complain about the ads. Based on what I saw at church, I’d definitely agree.

    I know there’s plenty of room for discussion and debate on this topic and am glad you all have taken up the issue. Our Pastor just finished teaching on it for a few weeks. I look for ward to your reading your perspectives all month.

  25. March 5, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Charles,

    I don’t think you can derail anything here. I think it was all appropriate as a line of comment. Thanks.

    Will,

    I appreciate your coming over. You seem to have a strong preference for facebook. I do have a hard time accepting that you don’t think that any of the points here are legitimate applications of scripture. Nevertheless, I’m glad you’re reading.

    Bobby,

    Hi. What’s your status? I just finished doing nordic trac (cross-country skiing to nowhere) for forty-five minutes, and then I came on to check Jackhammer.

    Jason,

    That aspect of firefox I didn’t know about. Thanks for bringing to all of our attentions. Very helpful. Childhood friends is an interesting point—reconnecting with them for the sake of evangelism or for some kind of edification.

  26. March 6, 2009 at 6:17 am

    The last post by Jason brings up an issue that is often neglected in these type of discussions, that of insulating or cleaning the internet/networking experience. Granted, this does not address issues like wasting time or accountability, but it IS possible to get a very clean internet experience through the use of some tools.

    Pastor Kent, if the experience were clean, if accountability was present, and the purpose was legitimate, would you be interested in looking again at this issue?

  27. RW
    March 6, 2009 at 6:29 am

    You guys are retarded.

  28. March 6, 2009 at 6:45 am

    “It was plain that this would eventually catch the attention of churches and pastors, and I spent some time thinking it through.”–Jason

    Just want to comment on this part of Jason’s post. First off I want everyone to understand that from everything I know of Jason I have a lot of respect for him, so please do not see this as an attack on him or some type of using his phrase to go off on him. Not at all.

    I do want to point out that what Jason said here is typical of how things work in churches today. Church member A gets involved in something, while thinking that that something will eventually catch the attention of the church and pastor. Church member thinks it through and reaches the conclusion that he/she should get involved.

    Would I be unScriptural to propose that Church Member, while thinking this through and considering that it will get the attention of the church and pastor, might be wise and considerate to consult the pastor about this? Wouldn’t it be more like a body/family to bring things like this up (things that we are not totally sure of or that are new to us that will have us involved with a lot of people and quite a bit of time) and work through the pros/cons as a body/family/church.

    There used to be a time when things were more slowly introduced in our society and parents/pastors/church members in general had time to process and come up with helpful standards on matters. Now, technology is moving at light speed and folks jump on board with either no thought, little thought, or much thought that does not include parents/pastor/other members. Then, they are involved, it is fun, it is neat, it works–and they don’t want to even consider letting go (not saying this about Jason, but many others, I fear–Jason appears very considerate and contemplative concerning these matters.)

    I’d love to see NT churches actually work through these type of things instead of members just getting in and then the pastors playing catch-up.

    I’ve learned (because of mistakes and failures and Scripture) to ask when I’m unsure. I’m thankful for Godly men that I can bounce things off of. It really works. The local NT church is God’s plan for these type of matters of personal holiness/separation/practical Christian living.

    Hope this contributes a little.

  29. March 6, 2009 at 11:05 am

    RW,

    It’s only ADD. I haven’t been diagnosed as mentally retarded yet. I might ask next time I go in.

    Charles,

    I think it is a liberty issue. What needs to be applied, I believe, are principles that relate to liberty that are found all over Scripture. We don’t have liberty to cause disunity in a church, to disobey church authority (I’m assuming you know this is something that is either found in the Bible or is a non-scriptural issue guided by scriptural principles), be a stumbling block to believers or a bad testimony to unbelievers. Our liberties should be guided by the glory of God, principles of association and many other criteria. I think we can flesh out those principles by applying them specifically to social networking.

    I’ll have more to say about this in further posts.

  30. March 7, 2009 at 9:00 am

    Coming in a bit late, but I was interested in pointing out the irony of this statement from Daniel B…

    If a father doesn’t raise a child right, when the child becomes a teen and gets a facebook or myspace (to make his life more private) and the father then steps in to stop it. This will only anger the child and basically provoke him to do more.

    The irony was in the explanation for a teen getting a facebook or myspace — to make his life more private. Let’s see then… here’s how it works. In order to make my life more private, I put my diary on the WORLD WIDE WEB.

  31. March 16, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Pastor Mallinak,
    Without being snide or “smart” with this comment I will tell you that facebook is one of the most private things on the internet. It would help to know the subject before you debate it. To be a friend of mine on facebook, I have to accept you, you cannot see anything but my name and a tiny picture if you are not my friend. So yes a child would go on the WORLD WIDE WEB to make his life more private. Just like you have an online bank account that is private….and its on the WWW.

  32. March 19, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Daniel,

    You still didn’t explain how putting it on the web makes it MORE private (than, say, NOT putting it on the web). And, you are assuming that I didn’t know that you have to invite me to be your friend. And, you are assuming that I don’t know that many of those who have fakebook accounts also have friends whom they hardly know, since there are many who accumulate friends the way FBC Hammond accumulate church members.

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