A horrible internet trend is the married chat rooms where husbands and wives, usually unknown to their spouses, openly flirt and engage in sleazy conversations with other married people. Internet technology has created a lot of opportunities and positive experiences for users. For example, countless entrepreneurs have been able to open niche businesses and offer products/services to a global marketplace at relatively small expense. Shopping online has become commonplace as applications have been put in place to secure financial transactions. Individuals do their banking online, create web pages at social networking sites, express opinions and provide expertise on blogs, and are able to access more information with a simple search than could ever be contained in the family's set of encyclopedias. Email is a terrific communication tool for families, friends, and the business community. But the internet, not surprisingly, also has this horrible dark side where pornography is easily accessible, even to children, and predators lurk to snare the unwary in their traps. A disgusting part of that dark underside is the married chat rooms where spouses who pledged to be faithful seek anonymous thrills with strangers.
Counselors, therapists, and researchers are seeing an alarming rise in the number of couples who are adversely affected by the threat of the internet to their marriage and families. These experts agree that the appeal of an anonymous online fling can be quite strong to someone who may be bored in the marriage. An individual can say anything in a chat room, whether it's true or not, and who will know? This secrecy appeals to some people who easily stretch the truth about themselves to impress other chat room members. Someone who joins one of the popular married chat rooms may justify the behavior because, supposedly, all the other members are married, too. The individuals may tell themselves that they mean no real harm and, after all, what can happen? Everyone's married no one is looking for a real-life encounter. But all this is self-deception. The experts call it escalation. What begins as a supposedly innocent exchange escalates into a more intimate emotional relationship. Before long, the two people involved in chatting with each other may decide to meet in person or even to divorce their current spouses. Two more families have been destroyed by "innocent" chats.
Though the internet wasn't around when God's Word was being written, its principles still address the issue of whether spouses should join married chat rooms. For example, researchers have found that visitors to these sites often give boredom as an excuse. That was King David's excuse, too. Scripture says that "at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab . . . But David tarried still at Jerusalem. And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon" (2 Samuel 11:1-2). David was supposed to be with his army, not sleeping all day and wandering his roof at night. His boredom led to murder and the death of David's infant son. If David's example isn't enough to stop someone from being tempted to visit married chat rooms, then how about this warning, that addresses the principle of escalation, from Jesus' half-brother James? "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:14-15).
Several Scripture passages uphold the sanctity of the marriage relationship, but perhaps the most straightforward is this verse from the writer of Hebrews: "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). Visitors to married chat rooms are not anonymous to the omniscient and omnipresent God. The little thrill that comes from flirting with online strangers and developing emotionally intimate relationships with them is a kind of infidelity. It doesn't matter that those chatting with each other haven't met or had a physical relationship.
Getting involved in married chat rooms is plain wrong no matter the excuse or the state of one's personal marriage. If the marriage is in trouble, then the time spent online would be better spent with one's spouse, in counseling if necessary, to renew that sacred relationship. Of course, this doesn't mean that spouses can't participate in any chat rooms. Certainly, there are forums that cater to people with shared interests, hobbies, and professions. For example, several sites exist that are targeted to stay-at-home or working-at-home moms. A forum probably exists for just about any hobbyist, collector, or enthusiast one can think of. It's great to chit-chat back and forth with other people who understands what it's like to spend all day changing diapers and blowing toddler noses or shares one's enjoyment in collecting stamps or coins or comic books. Long-lasting and genuine friendships can come from these relationships. But even here, if a person finds that a friendship with another member is crossing a line so that the content of the chats are being kept secret from the spouse, then it's time to end that friendship and find another forum catering to the same demographic or interest. Under no circumstances, however, should a person sign up for married chat rooms to find new friends. That can only lead to trouble and heartache.