Netflix ‘Ashley Madison’ docu features pastor who killed himself after being outed as user

Carl Court/Getty Images
Carl Court/Getty Images

Netflix’s new documentary series, “Ashley Madison: Sex, Lies & Scandal,” delves into the controversial history of the affair website Ashley Madison, highlighting the tragic story of John Gibson, a seminary professor and his widow, along with another Christian couple.

The documentary recounts the devastating consequences of a massive 2015 data breach that exposed the personal information of over 32 million subscribers, leading to Gibson's decision to take his own life after he was terminated from his position at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary following the revelation. 

Gibson's story and the account of Christian influencer couple Sam and Nia Rader feature prominently in the Netflix docu-series, where fans learn more about the couple's marriage. 

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

In 2015, Sam Rader was exposed as having an account with Ashley Madison. After being outed in the date breach, Sam Rader posted a video in which he claimed he had confessed all of his actions to his wife, Nia, and said both she and God had forgiven him and that he had never had an affair with anyone. He wasn't being 100% honest, however. 

The documentary also features commentary from tech journalist Claire Brownell, who describes the public reaction to the data leak as a “witch hunt,” as reported by Gulf Live.

The breach had far-reaching consequences, leading to public shame and private turmoil for many users. The case of Gibson stands out as a particularly poignant example of the scandal’s impact because it led to suicide. 

Gibson, a 56-year-old professor at NOBTS' Leavell College, also served as a pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Pearlington, Mississippi. He was found dead in his garage by his wife, Christi, six days after the data breach.

His name had appeared on a list of married users of Ashley Madison, and it became apparent that his superiors at the seminary would demand his resignation. 

In a heart-wrenching interview with CNN following her husband’s death, Christi Gibson shared the contents of his suicide note: “He talked about depression. He talked about having his name on there, and he said he was just very, very sorry,” she said. “He offered grace and mercy and forgiveness to everyone else, but somehow he couldn’t extend that to himself.”

Christi Gibson has since dedicated her life to sharing her story and spreading a message of forgiveness. She travels across the country in an RV, documenting her experiences on her blog, “Come Along Ministries.”

Recently, she warned her social media followers about the Netflix documentary, noting that it might be a difficult watch: “If you watch it, let me warn you, it’s not a faith-based project. There is sleaze. You will be uncomfortable. But nothing can hide God’s beauty and his glory,” she wrote in an Instagram post.

John Gibson’s story is one of a respected community leader who was deeply affected by the Ashley Madison scandal.

Born in Louisiana, Gibson followed a path well-trodden by his forebears, spending many of his formative years in Mississippi and Georgia, where his father served as a pastor. He earned his undergraduate degree from Mississippi College and later obtained both a master of divinity and a doctor of theology degree from NOBTS.

Gibson had a long and distinguished career at NOBTS, serving as a youth minister, senior pastor and faculty member. He was particularly known for his kindness and generosity, often helping students and colleagues with car repairs free of charge, according to

Bob Stewart, a fellow professor, remarked on Gibson’s selflessness: “He just delighted in helping students, helping faculty. He was just a wonderful guy.”

Despite his outward generosity and humor, Gibson struggled privately with depression for many years. This struggle was compounded by the release of the Ashley Madison data, which listed his name and the seminary’s address. Although the seminary did not comment directly on his employment status, its president, Chuck Kelley, spoke about the institution’s high moral standards for its leaders.

On August 24, 2015, after Christi Gibson found her husband unresponsive in their garage, family members acknowledged that he had taken his own life.

The fallout from Gibson’s death was profound within the seminary community.

NOBTS held a memorial service, where Kelley described Gibson as “the quintessential good neighbor,” noting his numerous acts of kindness, especially his car repair work. Students and faculty alike expressed their grief and shared memories of Gibson’s positive influence on social media at the time.

Christi Gibson, along with their two adult children, Callie and Trey, remembered their father fondly during his memorial service. Trey shared a humorous anecdote from his father’s sermons, showcasing John Gibson’s ability to connect with his audience through self-deprecating humor.

Despite the scandal, Ashley Madison has continued its operations.  

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles