Millions of philandering (and would-be-philanderer) spouses were “outed” last month when the Ashley Madison website was hacked. The personal information of 39 million users from 53 countries was leaked. Aftershocks from these revelations were felt from the Pentagon to the pulpit.
A bevy of investigations was launched among government employees over the security breach. Some of the exposed website users committed suicide. Others resigned from their work or lost their job – including Ashley Madison’s CEO. It was even reported that some 400 clergy resigned publicly from their ministries on Sunday August 30, 2015.
The Ashley Madison website offered a simple product: Adultery. Their trademarked slogan was, “Life is short. Have an affair.” For one subscription price, the website would moderate customer information to help facilitate a potential affair for users. But for a premium rate the website practically guaranteed an extra-marital affair.
Yet the adulterers and adulteresses face terrible consequences for their sin. Publicly there is scandal, disgrace, and potentially unemployment. Privately there is broken trust, broken hearts, and possibly divorce. Some adulterers even go to rehab.
So how did the Ashley Madison website persuade people to pay for the privilege of losing everything?
Ashley Madison offered an approach to the sin of adultery that promised, “Sin is safe.” They marketed a particular temptation. For the disenchanted spouse, or simply the curious, this company presented the illusion that adultery is easy, fun, popular, fulfilling…and no one will ever know.
This is always Sin’s pitch. One can replace adultery with any number of unrighteous deeds that the Bible condemns and see people running headlong into them because they are deceived.
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God,” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NKJV.
Sin does not work the way Ashley Madison promised. The Bible tells us how sin really works. There is a “passing pleasure” with it (Hebrews 11:25). But then sin “brings forth death” (James 1:15). And “your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
Do not be deceived. There is no safe sin. An Ashley Madison approach to sin says three things, all of which are false!
- Sin is safe as long as it is inconsequential. “Life is short. Have an affair.” This echoes another lie that the Bible exposes, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). Life is short but it does not follow that we should indulge every appetite. There are consequences – temporally and spiritually. There is a resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-49). There is a final judgment (2 Corinthians 5:9-11). There is eternal life to be gained and perdition to be avoided (Matthew 25:46). Life is short. Eternity is long. Don’t have an affair! Don’t think your sins do not impact yourself, your family, or your neighbors. Don’t think that you won’t answer for it to God. Sin has consequences. It’s been said that sin takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you can ever pay.
- Sin is safe as long as it is consensual. “We’re all consenting adults here.” Who consented? Fallout from this Ashley Madison affair shows that while millions of people subscribed, clearly millions more were neither consulted nor consented. God’s Word is the moral authority, not personal inclinations. Righteousness is declared by the Word of God. Sin is identified and condemned by the Word of God. God never consents to sin and since life is short, His judgment matters the most (John 12:48).
- Sin is safe as long as it is concealed. Ashley Madison’s brand is a beautiful woman shushing the world with her fingertip. The Ashley Madison website promised discretion, absolute secrecy, and identity protection. But hackers showed they could not deliver. Such secrets rarely stay hidden in this life but nothing is hidden from God (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Hebrews 4:13). No sin is safe.
My heart breaks for the millions of homes shattered – to different degrees – over the Ashley Madison affair. The media cycle has moved on but the families are still picking up the pieces.
Yet it would be a tragedy compounded not to learn from this situation.
Know that everything the Bible says about Sin and Temptation is true. You will feel inclined and deceived into involving yourself with it, but in the end it will ruin your life and damn your soul. Neither Ashley Madison nor Satan himself can deliver on all that Sin promises.
Know that if you invested the time and money romancing your spouse rather than cheating on them, you might be pleasantly surprised by how fulfilling marriage can be. This is an application of the Bible truth: you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7).
Know that there is power to conquer sin. While this post has explored some of the deception and pain involved with sin, God loved us too much to allow Sin and Death to be the final words in our story. The gospel really is good news because by Christ’s cross there is forgiveness and reconciliation with God that can lead to forgiveness, peace, and healing between all of sinful mankind – even wounded spouses.
By Andrew Roberts