Daily Devotional for Friday September 19, 2003

The wisdom of Internet romances

(Proverbs 8:11, James 1:5)

The wisdom of Internet romances. One of my number one goals every day is bridge the gap between our unseen faith and the very real world we find ourselves living in each day. If there is one area the church as a whole has failed in, and why so many find little relevance in many churches, is because of the failure to take the very real day to day life experiences we have and put them in the context of our faith in the Lord. As you know, if you have read many of my Devotionals, I will not back off even the most controversial issues, since it is usually THOSE issues many struggle with and need spiritual guidance in. One of those issues is Internet romances.

I discussed in the past the trap of chatrooms and how easy married people fall into sin in this area. Today however, I want to address those who are single, and the wisdom of Internet romances. First, there is NO SCRIPTURE that says "thou shalt not have an Internet romance." The spiritual application here is from a standpoint of wisdom and discernment. After all, it is God who gives us wisdom, and like all gifts He gives, we are to use it.

I realize that there may be some of you reading this Devotional right now that met your spouse over the Internet, you developed a spiritual foundation in your relationship, dated over a period of time, had confirmation in both of your lives from God that this was part of His plan for your life, and have a very healthy and happy marriage. ***There are always exceptions! However, I can tell you from dealing with this issue over the last 48 months, having seen tens of thousands of emails from men and women, Internet romances are NOT a good idea!!!

You have two basic problems with Internet romances. First, is the distance factor. Second, is the fantasy problem. The problem with long distance romances is the fact that without being in the physical presence of a person, it is very difficult to develop any chemistry, develop a bond, and really get to know each other well enough to make a wise decision on whether this is really a lifetime relationship.

Again, I know there are many examples where two people have made it work, but trust me, those are exceptions and not the rule! Two people who potentially may spend the rest of their life together, need a period of time to see if they can build a spiritual foundation to their relationship, to see if they can communicate, to have the time to be able to properly hear from God about His will for them. There is NO substitution for spending time together.

With the Internet, you have a blend of fantasy and reality. When your main form of communication is email, Instant Messages, and chatrooms, you are in a blended world. You build a mental image of who this person is with little basis in reality. Of course, via email, they are PERFECT. They literally become to some extent, a creation of your imagination. This is NOT healthy and extremely dangerous!!!

Some of the frequent problems I encounter daily in regard to this issue are these. Many of the "single" men and women you are dealing with are NOT single, but married. Of course, you don't find out about this until you are very well into your cyber relationship. Another major problem is no matter how spiritual your conversations may be, at some point, sex enters into the mix. This often leads to involvement in cyber sex, usually advances into phone sex, and commonly ends up in the real thing.

The biggest problem however is at some point the "relationship" advances to a point where you actually meet each other in person. Usually you have had many months of contact with this person, you have created in your mind who this person is, and there is incredible thrill and anticipation in actually meeting 'real time." Many men and women are predators and use the Internet to find their prey. Because you DON'T really know them since you have never spent any time together, since you have fantasized who this person is in your mind without really knowing for sure, you have left yourself wide open to incredible problems.

I love you so very much, and I really do care about you. After these 48 months you are like part of my family. The things I have shared with you today come from dealing with real people, many who have had their lives turned upside down from Internet romances. I realize many of you are lonely, and thus you become easy prey for those men and women trolling the Internet for someone to take advantage of.

But you are not using wisdom, and playing a very dangerous game. The end result of most of these situations range from people being used sexually then dumped, people being taken advantage of financially, marriages that end in divorce, and in one case...death. Internet romances are NOT a good idea. They are not wise.

You are much better served doing it the old fashioned way. Meeting someone in a real face to face meeting. Dating. Building a spiritual foundation together. Ultimately, putting yourselves in a situation where God can confirm to both of you that this is part of His plan for your life. God is the one who gives us wisdom. In regard to Internet romances, use wisdom and don't get involved in one!

In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller