We are living in very difficult times when things are going from bad to worse. The Bible tells us that we are mentally bent toward evil. (Gen. 6:5; 8:21) The Bible says that our figurative hearts, i.e., the seat of motivation, is treacherous, and we cannot know it. (Jer. 17:9) The apostle Paul tells us that our natural desire (sinful nature) in this imperfect state is toward bad. (Rom. 5:12; 6:6; 8:3; Col. 3:5) Now, having said all of that.
The internet social media is more unsafe than the real world and should not be treated differently. I have 5,000 friends because I am a Christian author and the CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. I have had to block dozens upon dozens of RELIGIOUS LEADERS over the years. As a man, I receive friend requests every day from scantily dressed young women (18-25 years old). I go to their profile at times because I want to see their friends, which I already know what I will find. They always have almost ALL men in their 40s to 60s. Nearly every time I find that many of those men are religious leaders (pastors, elder, ministers) and Facebook is set up to let me know if my friends are there as well. Then I proceed to block these religious leaders and the scantily dressed young woman.
WHAT WE LEARN IN SEMINARY
While I am a Bible scholar, I still had to take many pastoral courses throughout two master degrees. All of the pastoral counseling classes said that no religious leader should ever counsel a female in complete privacy. We are all sinful, with a treacherous heart, being bent toward evil. For women to be talking to men on messenger, a personal, private conversation, as a female, is very dangerous. First, you have no idea if their profile is fake. Second, it is almost a certainty that eventually the conversation will enter into a flirting stage, followed by a sexual conversation.
DO NOT BE NAIVE
When men ask you to be friends, go look at their profile. Who are their friends? What do they write on their timeline? If they have several good looking female friends, go look at those female friend’s timeline and do a “Ctrl F” search for that man’s name. Is he liking their updated profile pictures complimenting their looks?
Predatory Grooming in the Real World
Grooming is establishing predatory relationship: the developing of the trust of a young person or his or her family in order to engage in illegal sexual conduct. “Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or trafficking. Children and young people can be groomed online or face-to-face, by a stranger or by someone they know – for example, a family member, friend or professional.” The predator looks for the weak, just like real animals in the wild. When a lion is trying to take down a young animal, it works itself into a position, an angle to get the young animal separated from the heard.
The teacher, relative, the counselor will do the same. He or she will start with simple communication, nothing more. After a while, the offender will include feel-good compliments. After some time, the offender will move into incidental touching in places that may not raise any red flags. Maybe he or she taps your should as they deliver a compliment. In time, he or she wants to be alone so they will look for reasons because they want you to confide in them privately. After they have become your trusted friend, they will exploit that by now maybe rubbing the back of your shoulder while offering comforting words. You can see the progression here. What you need to do is bring it to a halt at the beginning. The thing is, you need to be wise because teachers, counselors do need to communicate with you. Communication is fine, inappropriate compliments are not. And in no way, is touching ever acceptable.
Predatory Grooming in the Social Media World
Both Men and women can prey on the innocent. Again, how do they do it? It is done very slowly. They ask to be your friend. You accept their friend request because they are a pastor or simply a Christian, thinking you can trust them. At first, and for a few months, they will show you attention by just liking things you post, maybe leaving innocent appearing comments, like “interesting,” “very good,” “nice,” and so on.
Then, the subtle shift comes with personal comments when you update profile pictures, such as, “very nice,” “you look good,” and so on. When you allow this, you are allowing an escalation that is coming. In time, he is going to tell you how pretty you are and even more, which will make you feel good about yourself. Once he has months of being charming, building your trust, he is going to start sending private messenger comments about your posts. Then, you reply, and this becomes a thing until you are having full blown conversations in private. For some months, the discussion will be innocent. Then, he starts to offer small flirty comments and it goes in from there. If you put an animal in a pot of water and you turn the heat up so slow, it will not even realize that it is being cooked alive.
Six Stages of Grooming
MARRIED AND ENGAGED WOMEN (This is Directed At Women Because Women Are the Easiest Prey But Applies to Men As Well)
You have committed to a man you love, your honor, your respect for him. You should be very careful in having men Facebook friends that you do not personally know from your life. Even these male friends that you personally know should never be talked to on Facebook messenger or any social media platform in an extensive way that is private. Why do you need to have a private personal relationship with another man? What is that man giving you that you need to have? Is male attention worth your marriage? If your husband or fiance is not giving you what you need, find out why. What is lacking that you need to seek out attention from another man in a private, personal chat environment?
Adultery around the world is on the rise and was already high as it was. Could it be the billions on social media bringing that number up? Women and men that are engaged or married, if you never spend ant private time with the opposite sex in the real world or a virtual world, you are guaranteed to make your relationship safer. No online opposite sex friends that you do not personally know. No private social media conversations even with opposite-sex friends that you do personally know. If you find yourself posting many pictures of yourself to update your profile, ask yourself why? Are you seeking attention because you have low self-esteem?
This should not surprise Christians, as the apostle Paul foretold that in “the last days” many people be “lovers of themselves,” would be “unloving,” would be “without self-control, brutal,” and would be “treacherous,” “lovers of pleasure” and “without self-control.” (2 Tim. 3:1-3) These are the traits of people, who prey on others, taking advantage of them sexually.
Paul said, “be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise … because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16) Max Anders writes, “The world in which we live is filled with dangers and deceptions. It is not always easy to live an enlightened life even when we want to. We can get tripped up or ambushed by events and people without even being aware of the danger. We must be very careful to live our lives rooted in wisdom, using our time wisely. Not to do so would be foolish. The will of the Lord is that we live carefully, cautiously, always matching our lifestyle with the teachings of Scripture.”
 Child grooming | NSPCC (July 23, 2017)
 Child Sexual Abuse – 6 Stages of Grooming – Oprah.com (July 23, 2017)
 Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 171–172.
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