September 2, 2015|7:30 am
The hacking of the Ashley Madison website and the public posting online of approximately 37 million users with their names, home addresses, financial data and message history has caused a tremendous uproar. The Ashley Madison website was designed for married people who want to cheat on their spouses. The website's motto: "Life is short, have an affair."
Avid Life Media, the Toronto-based company that runs Ashley Madison, has offered a $500,000 Canadian dollar ($378,000 in U.S. currency) reward for information leading to the arrest of those who hacked the website. Also, several multi-million dollar lawsuits have been filed against Avid Life Media for inadequate security in protecting its customers' data.
Both Canadian and American law enforcement authorities have reported that the monster hack has already led to numerous extortion attempts and several unconfirmed suicides.
Why has the hacking of personal information from this website been so toxic and devastating? The Ashley Madison hack reveals just how schizophrenic American society is about sex.
The sexual revolution has engulfed traditional morality in a tidal wave of moral relativism and hedonism. A majority of Americans now think that sexual chastity until marriage is outdated, if not harmful to "natural impulses." In fact, a majority of Americans have embraced a form of polymorphous perversity that is uncomfortable with any categories like normal and abnormal, much less moral or immoral.
Conversely, over 90% of Americans still believe it is wrong and morally unacceptable to cheat on, or be unfaithful to, one's spouse, or alternatively, one's partner in a committed relationship.
So, it seems that Americans are casual about casual sex, but not about betraying trust in a committed relationship. That sounds like a split personality to me. In a truly pagan culture, being outed on Ashley Madison would be irrelevant.
Why the alarm from those whose names were outed on Ashley Madison?
First, they were attracted to the website in part because of the same false promise of anonymity that Internet porn sites advertise (the porn providers know who is on their websites, and as many people have discovered to their horror, it is virtually impossible to completely erase what you have been viewing on the Internet).
Second, the shame of having spouses know they have been betrayed must be devastating. The pain of scandalizing children who have looked up to you and whose confidence in you has been shattered must seem unbearable.
How should Christians respond?
As Christians we need to understand that the sexual revolution has changed how many of our fellow citizens view sex. They have a profoundly different understanding than Christians should have. A majority of Americans now see sex as a consumer choice, an act of the will, an expression of self, a casual activity based on personal preference, designed merely for recreation and pleasure. Such people see sex as "natural" and merely as a biological fact of life, a casual activity signifying nothing more than pleasure and sexual gratification.
On the other hand, Christianity understands sex as "supernatural," a gift from God and thus a sacred and transcendent activity. God revealed in Genesis that it wasn't good for man to be alone so He created a helpmate or "completer" and the two became one flesh and "cleaved" together in such a way that they could never be completely separated again (Gen. 2: 18-25).
Christianity understands that sex is "holy" and "sacred." God emphasizes this by using the husband-wife relationship to describe His relationship with Israel in the Old Testament and Jesus' (the bridegroom) relationship with His church (His Bride) in the New Testament.
It should always be remembered that God created us as social creatures (for fellowship with Him and with each other) and we are all influenced by our culture and the society in which we live. The concept of "generations" demonstrates this, where we understand that Boomers are different from the Silent Generation that preceded them and the Busters and Millenials that followed them because they shared a unique generation experience with each other that the other generations did not experience.
As Christians we cannot help but be influenced by the sexual cesspool in which we are forced to wade every day in 21st century America, unless we consciously and continuously guard ourselves by putting on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6: 10-20). This includes a comprehensive theology of human sexuality which teaches that sex is holy, joyful, and safe within the confines that God designed for it (marriage), but destructive when practiced outside God's design and parameters. Only thus armed can Christians protect themselves, and go forth and protect others from being seduced by the siren song of a pagan, hedonistic, destructive view of sex as merely biological and composed entirely of sexual pleasure designed merely for one's personal gratification.
How should Christians respond to those caught up in this destructive sexual morass?
So far several prominent Christians have been exposed, revealing them to be hypocrites who preach one thing in public and practice the opposite in private, making a mockery of both their marriage vows and their faith.
How do we respond to such brothers and sisters in Christ? Perhaps the most prominent of those who so far have been outed has been Josh Duggar, the former reality TV star and family values advocate. Josh, who was listed as a customer on the Ashley Madison website, has been contrite.
Just before entering a long-term rehab program Josh wrote, "I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values I have been unfaithful to my wife. I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and my family and most of all Jesus and all those people who profess faith in Him."
His parents also issued a statement, saying they were praying "that in this he comes to complete repentance and sincere change." They also said "as parents we are so deeply grieved by our son's decisions and actions. His wrong choices have deeply hurt his precious wife and children and have negatively affected so may others. He has also brought great insult to the values and faith we hold dear."
Josh Duggar and many others stand as vivid examples of the destructive nature of sexuality practiced in rebellion against God's plan and design and how ever present the sin nature is, waiting to pounce in a weak moment.
The list of heartbreak and destruction that follows in the wake of non-Christian sexual practices is horrific and wrong, chronicling the ever-expanding web of destruction such a lifestyle leaves in its wake: broken hearts, betrayed trust, sexualized children and youth, fatherless children, broken homes, sexually transmitted diseases, abortion of unwanted children, the breakdown of the family, pornography, sex trafficking and the list goes on.
Safe sex? If you and your spouse live a Christian sexual lifestyle (no premarital sex and fidelity in marriage between husband and wife), virtually all of the ills listed above disappear.
God wrote the rulebook on His creation, human beings. In the end we do not break God's laws, they break us. The landscape of American society is littered with the casualties of the so-called liberation of the sexual revolution which promised "free love," and which proved to be neither free, nor love.
To those Christians and others who have been exposed by the Ashley Madison scandal we should first understand that "there, but for the grace of God, go we." If King David could fall into sexual sin, so could any one of us. One of the things that emerges vividly from David's confession of his sin to God in Psalm 51 is his humility. He clearly understands in his repentance that only with God's help can he defeat the temptations of the fallen nature.
As Christians we should all pray for Josh and all the other Christians outed by the Ashley Madison hack. After all, the Bible lays out the prescription and roadmap for reconciliation, forgiveness, and restoration. The Bible tells us that if we confess our sins He is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9) and that when we accept Christ as our Savior he blots out our transgressions and wipes the slate clean (Col. 2:14).
The glory and the wonder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that His grace forgives, His grace saves, and His grace restores us. As Christians we are commanded to cast all our cares on Him for He cares for us (1 Pet: 5:7). And our Heavenly Father is capable of restoring "the years the locusts have eaten"(Joel 2:25).
The glorious truth of the Gospel is that there IS such a place as "the land of beginning again" and again, and again, and again. It is found at the foot of the Cross and is guaranteed by the empty tomb of our resurrected Savior.
Dr. Richard Land is president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention's official entity assigned to address social, moral, and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families and their faith.