Quite possibly I’m about to step on your toes or offend you. I pray not, and it’s not my intention, but I can’t stay silent on this any longer.
I’ve written quite a bit about social media. In fact, I’d planned to write a book about it until God changed the course. So instead I decided to publish parts of the material here on my blog. You can read my series Unseen here.
Social media can be all things wonderful and dangerous at the same time. It can look innocent, and motives can be mostly pure, but the post could be doing far more damage than we realize. And this is how the enemy works. He masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). He works in secretive, deceptive ways. Deceiving our own hearts and motives so that we are doing his will without even realizing it.
I see it all over instagram and this alarm sounds as I scroll through posts. Sadly, it’s more prominent in the christian blogging world than anywhere else. That’s partly because thousands of followers will like these posts within seconds, validating that heart desire for affirmation, acceptance, and approval. The person posting sees that people like those kinds of posts and are encouraged to do it again. To seek that filling of being “liked” or “favorited”.
I debated for a long time writing about this. It’s been burning and churning, but I’ve avoided it for fear of offending someone (which is likely to happen no matter what I write) or seeming cynical. I want to say the reason I’m writing this is that I’m convinced there are many young women who are posting on social media and have no idea the danger they are creating with their posts. I hope to open eyes to seeing in a way that the enemy of our souls is using these posts.
Post danger #1: Posting a picture of your handsome, well built husband, fiancé, or boyfriend. Sometimes laying on the beach. Sometimes shirtless doing yard work. Sometimes appearing to be unaware his picture is being taken while he is deep in thought staring out into the wilderness.
The post will have emoticons of flaming red heart eyes, rows of purple hearts and flowers, cascading words of adoring love. There will be a clever phrase about how blessed one is to have such an amazing husband. Possibly a heart of humility that one doesn’t deserve such a man.
Here’s why it’s dangerous. There is a woman who will see that picture and be thrown into lust. She struggles with it daily. Men aren’t the only ones who lust and struggle with this temptation. It’s an undiscussed struggle of many women as well.
Porn is an addiction for women as well as men. Spend a few minutes researching the shift in pornography addiction. It will startle you. Know where it sometimes starts? Right here with these lustful producing images and posts. It helps create the appetite.
It’s setting up your man and your relationship as a target. Placing that picture up in that way makes him a bullseye. There are some women who thrive on the challenge of getting the man who seems untouchable. Don’t put a target on your relationship!
It breeds jealously and discontentment in another woman. Undoubtedly, a large number of women liking that post don’t feel they are blessed in their relationship. Their marriage is rocky and tumultuous. They feel unloved or unnoticed. They have experienced hurt and failure and are clinging to shreds of hope in their relationship. Then these perfect husbands appear in their feed. Their eyes stop for a moment and their imaginations begin. They begin to create unspoken expectations for their own relationships. The relationship that has been striving for a breakthrough goes back a few more steps.
You see it used to be television and magazines that offered us the picture perfect mate and life to pine over. Now it’s right up in our face, with people we know and love, or people we don’t know but think we do because we are able to follow anyone no matter how famous they are. Suddenly, they become a real person to us. And life and relationships look like the magazines and movies. So it must be real and attainable, right? Wrong!
I’m convinced that many of the women who are posting these types of pictures and posts don’t have any clue what they are doing. Many are young and newly married. They are excited and in 2016 when you are excited you shout through Instagram.
My plea is to stop posting these posts for the sake of your sisters. The ones you don’t know are struggling. Protect their hearts. Love them enough to not proclaim your amazing relationship. Please. Their hearts are aching in ways you can’t understand. Be sensitive to the fact that a husband who is both incredibly handsome AND the world’s greatest man is just rare. Don’t set that up as the standard to achieve. Help a sister out. Marriage is HARD and still beautiful. Marriage doesn’t fit the Instagram mold, but it is beautiful in ways Instagram can never achieve.
Dangerous post #2: Posting a picture of you enjoying a glass of wine or any alcohol. I’m not at all saying drinking is wrong. It’s a gray area. Some people have no problem enjoying alcohol, others cannot. I’m NOT saying having a glass of wine is a sin – I don’t believe it is, though drunkenness is a different story. I’m not saying as christian women we can’t drink. I’m saying, do we have to post it? I hope I’m clear here so you will hear what I want you to hear.
Here’s why I believe we should not post those types of pictures- There are younger women in the faith who take their cues of what they should and shouldn’t do from other christian women rather than straight from God. Given a few more years in their walk with the Lord, they are easily able to discern the voice of God and determine what is acceptable for them and what is not.
I struggled early on in my christian walk in knowing how to discern God’s voice. I often looked to my christian sisters to determine what God would have me do or not do.
Again, please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. This is not at all a drink or don’t drink statement. I very much believe that this is a personal choice that is perfectly acceptable for some who are not tempted to enter into drunkenness. But for others, one drink leads to many drinks and they simply can’t handle it. When a young woman struggles in this area and she sees a Jen Hatmaker personality enjoying drinks with friends, she may believe that is her green light.
We aren’t responsible for the choices other people make, but we are responsible for the example we set and for the stumbling blocks we erect. Today, this is primarily through social media.
The danger with social media is that it provides us this invisible screen. We can hide behind it not taking full responsibility. It gives us courage to be who we want to be. If we aren’t careful, it can become dangerous in more ways than one.
If you are a christian woman with a platform, you are in a place of leadership. You are a silent mentor, disciple maker in the lives of young women. Many you will never meet. You have a call and a charge to lead them in their walk closer to the Lord.
Before we post, we must ask ourselves what the intent of the post is and what dangers it might pose to another woman. Will it be a stumbling block? Will it tempt her to sin? Will it arouse jealousy? Is it boastful? Is it proud? Is it arrogant? Because that’s not love.
Before we post, we should ask ourselves does this post promote love? Here’s love:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Cor 13:4-7
Love protects. We must protect our sisters in Christ by guarding what we share and how we share it on social media. We should be open, vulnerable, authentic, and transparent for sure. We shouldn’t be fake or hypocrites. I’m simply saying, if it is a picture that could tempt someone to fall, maybe it should be held for your private photo album.
Do we stop adoring our husband? No, but save those for his ears only. No need to broadcast to the world how awesome he is. Do we stop having a glass of wine with a friend? No. Just no need to flaunt it on social media for the world to form a false judgement on you or set up their standard based on your personal choices.
Do we have to become paranoid about what we post? No, we shouldn’t. Social media is fun and full of wonderful elements. It’s great to share our excitement with others online and to share our journeys of life. But with all good things, there is a fine line. And the enemy that works to destroy us, works very well through social media. He takes what is good and twists it for his evil purposes.