Wow what a crazy couple of weeks with this whole Ashley Madison hack. As this story continues to unfold I am just heart-broken. Millions and millions of folks worldwide are being exposed and the collateral damage is exponential. People are suing, committing suicide, wives hurting, homes broken where and when will this all end? Here are a couple of things as a pastor that come to my mind when faced with a social phenomenon like this. We can learn some things about ourselves here and the Ashley Madison scandal is a great case study.
- Proverbs 4:23: The Internet Is A Mirror Image of The World’s brokenness. When I look into the mirror I can see what I look like physically. If we want to see who we are emotionally, spiritually, financially, volitionally, sexually and socially the internet can paint for us a pretty clear picture of ourselves. It’s all in the data.
- Ecclesiastes 7:20, Proverbs 20:9, & Job 4:17: The Ashley Madison Scandal Unites The World Under A Shared Brokenness. Our goodness has limits. This brokenness is what it means to be human. This issue reminds us of the pervasiveness of our shared fallen depravity and how it knows no boundary or ethnicity.
- Matthew 7:5: Christians Can Be Such Hypocrites. How does a Christ follower remove the mote from his own eye without the humbling work of the cross? When is this process even finished for the believer this side of the second coming? Throughout this whole Ashley Madison issue there has been a small voice within my heart that wants to say “what kind of idiot would join this site?” But after examining what the cross says about me as well as my neighbor I have to come to the conclusion that it would be an idiot just like me. I’m holding onto the cross and the hope of the resurrection by faith. This place is where I find the hope of redemption. I don’t find hope for my redemption in the fact that my name is not on that Ashley Madison list. My goodness If God were to justify folks based on some kind of holy audit of our internet purity or Google search history alone who could stand? I imagine Satan would love to stand before God and accuse us with such a list! I’m thankful that my own heart doesn’t have a USB access for some hacker.
- 1 Corinthians 6:18-20: Sex Needs To Be Addressed Not Repressed In Christian Communities. As a pastor that has taught many pre-marital classes to young folks one thing is for sure. Christian parents are not doing a good job at teaching their children about the beauty and boundaries of sex. Many of the young folks that are getting married today have learned more about sex from the porn industry and the false god of knowledge we call Google than they have from their parents or pastors. We have become much more silent about sex than the Bible itself. Listen Veggie Tales will not teach your children about their sex life and the ethics surrounding it!
- Amos 8:5–6: Our “Justice” Can Be Unjust: Just as Israel’s false worship led to false justice so has the justice of the internet hacker. The focus has been on the adulterers in the unfolding narrative of the Ashley Madison scandal and on the website as well but what about the hackers? Are they noble? Have they done a good thing here? I love what Grace Jennings-Edquist had to say (here) “There was something so wonderfully pervy, so smugly easy to get behind, so delightfully titillating about the story. When the hack exposed self-described ‘family man; Josh Duggar as a cheating hypocrite, no media outlet could resist that juicy tale…” Grace goes on to write… But the damage caused by the Ashley Madison hack extends beyond the sleazy, lonely men and their loving wives. The victims are, potentially, all of us. Think about it: Every person I know has some private information about themselves lurking online. You must, too. Many of those secrets are not as deeply personal or embarrassing as the offbeat sexual fetishes revealed in some of the Ashley Madison leak, sure. But the Facebook messages you sent to your ex-boyfriend, that venting email about your boss, the selfie you took of your boobs back in uni? All of that is sitting online or in the dark depths of a computer somewhere, no matter how hard you try to delete it. And the Ashley Madison hack has made disturbingly clear just how easily it could be revealed to the wider world.”
I agree with her. The fallout from the defamation of character, illegal privacy breaches, in such a publicly humiliating way is not something I can get behind. There is actually no sense of justice in this unfolding story for my taste.
So if you get an opportunity to personally minister to a person that has been touched by this sick mess of a scandal remember these five things and take some personal inventory. There is a tremendous opportunity for light to overcome darkness in this mess.