In July 2015, the Ashley Madison website, an online “dating” service for married people with the motto, “Life is Short. Have an Affair,” was hacked. The service caters specifically to married people who want to have a discrete affair and thus sought to ensure that their information was safe. However, millions of user names and profiles, including addresses and payment information, were made public.
Reality TV star Josh Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting fame was among the many high-profile people with Ashley Madison accounts. As the days and weeks have unfolded since the leak of information, some politicians and religious leaders have been implicated. Many have since resigned from their positions. Other less public figures are also experiencing the devastating consequences of being linked to this website.
Internet Dangers and Lies
One of the great dangers (and lies) of the internet is the privacy it seems to offer. The Ashley Madison website is just one of many that promises anonymity and secrecy. Before the internet, those interested in pornography or sexual hookups had to leave their homes and risk being seen by someone they knew. The internet comes with less risk of being seen physically, but it is naïve to think that we don’t leave a trail of data that leads directly back to us. Nothing is ever lost on the internet and, despite security measures, someone can access its information. All of the internet searches and websites we have ever visited are logged in a server(s) somewhere.
I have a history with internet pornography. Even though I have been open and transparent about this, I still would not want to see every site I’ve ever visited displayed before me. I am reminded of a couple of scriptures:
Jeremiah 23:24 – “Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord (NIV).
Luke 8:17 – For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open (NIV).
Things Done in Secret
While families, political regions, and churches are currently being rocked by the consequences of the Ashley Madison data breach, it ultimately is a good thing. Although some are celebrating the exposure of so many, especially Christians, as hypocrites, I hope that those affected will use this opportunity to get the help they need to overcome addiction.
As Scripture has stated so clearly, the things done in secret will be brought out into the light. When things are done in secret, there is almost always shame attached; otherwise, why keep it a secret? When the secrets are brought into the light, there is opportunity for people to face the shame that has kept them bound for so long.
Will you pray with me for those who are trapped in sexual addiction? It seems so easy to ask, “Why don’t they just stop?” This question is fair, but it also oversimplifies the situations. Why would reasonable, intelligent people risk so much for an affair or a sexual outlet? Addiction distorts reality and truth. It leads people to believe they are invincible or conversely, that they are so worthless that nothing they do matters. Let’s pray that people (including ourselves) will know and understand the true value of who they are in Christ. I’ll close with another Scripture:
Galatians 5:1 – It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened by a yoke of slavery (NIV).