Whether it’s the TV or the newspaper, it’s difficult not to be exposed to the Ashley Madison website story. Of course, there are millions of people who have known of this site for a while. They are the same people whose names were made public.
These names are the primary focus in a sea of compromised marriages. Spouses may be finding out for the first time the gravity of the problem that they have been suspecting. Others, after seeing their husband’s name on this exposed list, may be as surprised as a person who has received a tax notice charging them for 5 years of back taxes.
The one thing I’ve seen is a preoccupation that some people have had to see if they know any names on this “knock list.” It’s almost as if the overarching goal is to make oneself feel better about themselves by comparing themselves to those who are “immoral scum”. The prevailing thought process is, “I may not be perfect but I’m not as bad as that person.”
Three points come my mind regarding this whole topic. First, you reap what you sow. In the world of cyberspace and social media nothing is really private. This is a well-known biblical principle, as stated in Galatians 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
Second, the names on the list represent struggling marriages and this institution of marriage is under attack. Whether it’s materialism or depravity, if couples do not take time to invest and truly become “won,” these forces can create division and destroy a marriage which eventually destroys communities. We can all be tempted. Surrounding ourselves with positive influences and keeping open communication can be extremely important in protecting a marriage.
Third, what is adultery? The actual act of committing adultery only describes an action, not what’s inside the heart. A much stronger standard is described in Matthew 5:27-28, in part of a passage in scripture named the Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Jesus raised the bar for believers. No longer was the standard of conduct an external, work based pharasitical standard, but one based on what’s in one’s heart.
Therefore, according to this standard of the heart as described in Matthew 5, many of us can be guilty of adultery as well. There are no lusts associated with this verdict though.
So rather than examine this list of names to see who I may know, I instead will pray more intensely for marriages and take time to closer examine the log that resides in my eye before casting stones on the sins of others.