Thursday, August 15, 2013

“Is it Ever OK to Read Your Boyfriend’s Texts or Emails?”

“Is it Ever OK to Read Your Boyfriend’s Texts or Emails?”

I took this question from an article written by Marie Claire on yahoo on 08/14/2013.  There were 5 comments when I read the article, and all were unanimous that spouses should not read each other’s emails, texts or Facebook messages except authorized. Where do they meet? We have heard how couples now tract each other via wiretapping, eavesdropping, GPS, phone sleuthing, recording devices, and baby monitors. Some people check the mileage while others just log into the spouse’s email or check the phone log to see the calls and read the text messages or emails. With social media now, others dive into the Facebook. Some couples go as far as installing spyware and keyloggers on the spouse’s Pc. Through these methods and others, husbands have caught a cheating wife or a wife has caught a cheating husband. The question is not if these things exist; the question is if they are correct. Should they have done that all? Do spouses have boundaries? This lesson will look at the legal and also biblical boundaries, if they exist at all.  
What I read there spelled out the notion people have about marriage. There is a conflict between the concept of marriage and the local law. To determine if the spouse secretly checking his wife or husband’s messages is eavesdropping, we will have to reconcile the nature of marriage with the civil law.  
The Federal Wiretap Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 USC 2516 prohibit wiretapping and eavesdropping. However, Federal Law enforcement officials can obtain a court order with a probable cause to wiretap or eavesdrop on our communications. These are the things that Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden have informed the public that their government is doing. What about at the private level or in a marital home? Can a husband eavesdrop on the wife? Is that biblically and legally permitted? The answer is yes and no. I will explain.
How can we draw a line between biblical principle and civil law (eavesdropping)? Eavesdrop is to listen to someone’s conversation or read someone’s emails or text messages without their knowledge and permission. The first case of eavesdropping in the Bible is found in Genesis 18:9-15. When the angels visited Abraham and Sarah, they inquired to know her whereabouts. Abraham told them that Sarah was outside. However, Sarah had sneaked closer to the house to eavesdrop on the conversation of the guests. When she heard them telling the husband that she will be pregnant, she laughed and the guest overheard her (Gen 18:9-15). She was listening to a conversation she was not invited to partake.
Let us look at what the Bible says about eavesdropping. The word eavesdrop does not exist in the Bible, but there is a synonym to eavesdropping in usage- busybodies (2 Thes. 3:11; I Tim 5:13; I Pet 4:15). It is used to describe people who want to know about other people’s business-privacy. 
Ab initio when God instituted marriage, he made a covenant, a blood bond sexually administered. God said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Gen 2:24). While single, they had independent rights, cares, concerns and privileges but when they decide to enter into marriage, they lose all of them. They will have to come together to produce posterity as one person. Jesus reiterated the principle of leaving one’s parents which simply means to wholly give up (Mt. 19:5-6). What were the bride and bridegroom wholly giving up? They were giving up the rights and privileges of hiding their emails, texts and phone records from each other.
God, Jesus, Peter and Paul created an equal pedestal in marriage through mutual trust and obedience (Gen. 1:27: I Pet 3: 6; Mt 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-8; Eph 5:21-33; Gal 3:28; 2:1-14; Heb. 13:4; Prov. 5:15-19; 18:22; 1 Cor. 7:2-3, 7-9; 12-16). The Bible goes as far as saying that their bodies do not belong to them; they must not deprive sex from each other except via consent (I Cor 7: 4-5). If we are to give our bodies and not hold back, what then should we hold back: text messages, emails, or phone calls? That is the main reason marriages go kaput. These passages eliminate the notion that the wife or husband has a privacy of her or his own while in marriage.
In other to show that they are one and to generate more trust and love, they must be transparent in a society where there are laws meant to destroy the bond within marriage. The couple must strive to be transparent. If the wife or husband has communications he or she does not want the spouse to see, it means there is something to hide. If you are shining light, you shine in darkness (Jn 12:46). 
Transparency started just immediately after the institution of marriage. The couple Adam and Eve were both naked before each other and were not ashamed (Gen 2:25). When a spouse starts hiding anything, it simply means that there is something they are ashamed off.  Jesus himself was very transparent (Mk 12:14). His disciples knew that he was true; that he was what he said he was. If your spouse cannot read or listen to your conversations, it simply means you are not what you say you are.
However, the Bible warns against too much transparency (Prov. 10:19; 12:18). Too much transparency may risk the joy of your marriage. Let us say that your friend tells you that her husband is cheating and you decide to tell your husband because he must know everything you do. He might spill the secret and your friend will lose trust in you. Things that have no direct bearings on the relationship, should not be brought into the marriage. If you constantly tell your wife how many women want to sleep with you, the message could ring differently. Even if women woo you, it is useless telling her because it does not increase the bond.
Therefore, eavesdropping is a sin whether we are married or not because it is transgression of the law, but it is a sin that does not lead unto death because morally before God neither the husband nor the wife is guilty of eavesdropping since they belong to each other. However, we can bypass that by being transparent with each other and by mutual consent allow each other to enter into our privacy. That will increase the bond of marriage and curb unforeseeable or foreseeable dangers.
Until then, let us garnish privacy with transparency for a trustworthy relationship.

St Arrey of Ntenako

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). "It is not how well you know a person; it is how well you treat them that they will live longer and happier with you." Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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