Woe to those who…do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?”
Some call them PMs (private messages). Others call them DMs (direct messages). I often refer to them as BMs (I’ll let you come up with your own interpretation) because, truthfully, they can place people knee-deep (or higher) in excrement when they aren’t flushed out immediately. Worse yet, sniffing out excess methane with an old flame could result in a hazardous explosion!
Yes, sometimes private messaging is appropriate – and even a necessity. My husband and I exchange a great deal of information in a non-public messaging forum, including flirting that the rest of the world doesn’t need (and likely wouldn’t want) to see. Sometimes, others have difficult personal matters – where a loving friend’s words of encouragement or instruction are needed – that would not be suitable for others’ eyes.
However, a great number of times, these BMs (PMs, DMs) are nothing more than social media fishing attempts. A person is casting out a supposedly innocent line to see if (s)he can hook another person of interest on the other end. To be fair, I truly believe that people aren’t always even consciously aware of this veiled intent. But somewhere, deep down in the recesses of a bruised ego, (s)he is searching for someone or something to quench a parched soul. And, just as truthfully, there are many forlorn souls who are tricked into believing if they accompany a desiccated drifter to a dried-up well, both parties can get refreshed there. The mirage effect. By the time the two have finished lapping up the muddied remains together, only then do they realize the tainting in the water. (This was sort of Jesus’ point to the woman at the well in John 4, when he offered her his living water instead.)
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Private messaging is one of those realms in which we, as Christians, should diligently search our hearts to be certain of our intent – as well as the intent of those with whom we are interacting in that space. Just like Hezekiah in II Kings 18-25, if we allow the enemy entry into our storehouses – through his ambassadors who may or may not even recognize his intent (II Kings 20:12-13) – we are allowing the enemy the ability to devour our territory and potentially lead us into bondage, to a place we never planned to go.
Search me, O GOD, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts.
But wait, you say. I was just being friendly. Private messaging that person, even if there could have been a little flirting, meant nothing to me. I’m married; (s)he is married. I wasn’t intending on things going anywhere between us. As a matter of fact, it just made me feel good to know someone remembered me so fondly and still thinks so highly of me. (S)He is absolutely no temptation to me.
Maybe so. But…Just because you believe you didn’t get burnt by this flame doesn’t mean you weren’t pouring gas on the fire, where someone else might get burnt.
Have you considered how you’ve set either yourself or that other person up for potential dissatisfaction with his/her (or your) mate? Because we live in a fallen world, we need to be on guard for any potential temptations – to ourselves or others.
Be alert and of sober mind.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour.
I Peter 5:8
I could mention I Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except such is common to man….” Our enemy knows there are common denominators that tempt humans. The fact that social media is so often cited as a realm for affairs and sexual immorality is proof enough of that. Even if you truly have not fallen victim to your ego’s great need for stroking, you can’t control the dissatisfaction that may have set up in the other individual – of which you hold a certain level of responsibility if you encouraged that person to continue private messaging you.
Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks!
For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come;
But woe to that (wo)man through whom the stumbling block comes!
I’m not suggesting you can’t (and shouldn’t) have friends of the opposite gender. I am suggesting that you should invite your spouse into those friendships – and certainly into any personal conversations with those individuals. If you and your spouse don’t already openly share your social media account(s) with one another, then at the very least, immediately include your spouse into the message thread. That way, polite and friendly (and long-lasting) understandings can instantly be established. From there, I would strongly suggest that you encourage public interactions with that person as the social norm (in lieu of private messages). In such a way, you are ensuring that both you, that person, and any involved spouses are being honored, as is the LORD, in both your relationship and in your communication efforts.
You must do all for the glory of GOD.
I Corinthians 10:31
By honoring the LORD, and then the One to whom He has placed in your care, and then others with whom you interact, your relational crops can’t help but reap a healthy harvest of solid growth!
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked:
For whatsoever a (wo)man sows, that shall (s)he also reap.