At the Cultivate Conference in October I was really impressed with John Acuff’s thoughts on satire. He basically said (loosely paraphrased) that for him satire was blowing something up so big (larger than life), so that we can sort of step back and see ourselves in it. For John, it’s blowing up and satarizing Christian culture. It’s like a mirror reflecting back on what we do, and who we are.

Though this is not satire, watching the video below gave me an opportunity to step back and gain a new perspective on our use of technology and how it is permeating our lives. If you haven’t seen the video yet, check it out below. The groom was basically updating his facebook and twitter status at the altar (mind you, without his bride in on this).

Twittering in Church and Weddings
I have been thinking a lot about the use of technology in our lives and how it affects our relationships, but it took seeing this video to give me some more clarity on the subject, and help me think beyond the use of technology just in this specific situation.

Let me be up front and say that each person can decide what they want to do in their wedding. Everyone has their own ideas, from traditional to more casual. I tend to come from a more traditional camp, holding basically the idea that our wedding ceremony is a worship service where others participate in our union of becoming one before Christ. That is pretty sacred, so I tend to be more traditional. So as I watched the video it tended to rub me the wrong way. But here is why…..

Watching the video of the guy updating his status during his wedding ceremony, helped me to step back and see why others are offended at those who twitter and IM in a church service. A church service is designed for us to come before God in worship, but if we are so busy twittering on our phones, are we removing ourselves from being fully present to God during the worship?

I don’t know.

I’m asking myself that question since I’m one that is very pro technology/social media and have been a big advocate of using twitter and other services during conferences, church services, bible studies, etc. It’s funny how it took a guy updating his twitter status (not being present to his bride–in my opinion), to really get me to ask some questions about if I’m not really being present to God when I let technology interfere in the relationship.

Can technology bring us closer to people that we are in relationship with? I would say yes. But if we don’t carefully think through our use of it, it can as easily detract from our relationships.

Counseling Couples
One of the biggest issues that I’m seeing with couples today is the problems that arise from the use/abuse of technology in their lives. From spouses who complain that their partner is having an inappropriate emotional relationship with someone online–to full out affairs; to spouses who complain that their partner is never present, but always on the phone or computer at home—-the way technology is coming between people in relationship is startling and becoming a bigger issue.

I predict that the use of social media in a marriage relationship will become one of the biggest issues I will be dealing with in marriage counseling in the future.

It doesn’t stop with our spouses, but continues with our children and families. People know when we are not fully present with them. That does not take a rocket scientist. In fact, one can have the computer and phone closed, but a spouse can feel that his/her partner would rather be online, or is thinking about an online project, rather than being present.

1 Corinthians 13:12

12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

I think one of the greatest gifts we can give someone is our full-attention–full-presence. We may not always be able to be physically present with people, so we do our best to be with them in the best way possible (phone, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, blog, etc.).

But if we are face to face with someone (in a wedding, church service, meeting, etc.), then what greater thing can we do for them?

You tell me?

I have clients coming through my door each week who tell me that I’m the only one in their life who is fully present with them, even if it’s only for an hour. I hope that those that we are in relationship with would not have to seek out a therapist to find that.

Moving Forward
As I said above. I love technology. I love social media. I love the things that I have been able to do in ministry and therapy with technology. That is not going away. But I must think more critically about my use of technology in my relationships (professional and private), so that those I interact with do not feel dehumanized in any way.

My desire is to bring a greater sense of presence and humanization to the work I have the privilege to do online. I don’t want technology/social media to go away, but I want to better use it, so that it’s not using me (in the words of John Dyer).

P.S. Pastors, if you are doing a wedding, don’t allow the groom to do something that the bride or family may not like. Thank you.