I said I wasn’t going to do it. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get caught up in it. I’d ignore it. Fight the temptation to join in. Think twice before doing something that I may regret down the road. I really had good intentions of just walking away. But that’s me, see? I’m the Queen of good intentions. Always have been.
But then I caved. And I did it anyway. And here I am. And there you are. And sitting between us is the Elephant in the room that people are either A) pointing at, laughing at, ridiculing and criticizing or B) crying over because it’s destroyed them and their families and possibly their entire lives.
I remember when Ashley Madison came out in 2001-ish. I remember the huge news discussions about it. I remember being in college and thinking to myself, “Ugh. That’s so disgusting. Shame on sick people like that. They don’t deserve happiness. I bet there are a bunch of hypocrites out there who will get caught. Liars. Cheats. I would never do anything like that.”
That was back before I had any idea what life was about. What marriage was about.
I don’t watch the news very often. Namely because there’s never anything on worth watching. Someone got shot/stabbed. Someone is rioting somewhere. ISIS. Terrorism. One of the Kardashians is pregnant or divorced or has an eating disorder or something of the like. It’s all just depressing. The way I figure it, if it’s important enough for me to know about it, I’ll see the link within the confines of my Facebook account. That’s where I get my news from.
So, when I started seeing all of this mess and garbage about Ashley Madison and the leaks that were coming, I brushed it aside. I knew what the site was. I knew what it was for. In truth, I’m pretty sure I probably know someone, somewhere on that list.
I didn’t feel excitement because this website is (hopefully) about to be closed down. I didn’t download the however many gigabyte file that’s out there with the names on it to try to crucify the men and women who are on that list. I didn’t sit there gawking behind my computer screen saying, “Haha you bunch of jerks. That’s what you deserve. How dare you make a mistake like that.”
Because I’ve made the same one. And so has my husband. And so have you. And so has your spouse.
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman (or a man) with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her (him) in his heart. (Matthew 5:28 ESV Emphasis and italic type mine.)
You see it’s real easy to sit over hear protected by our screens from the storm that brews when things like this happen. My husband came from a divorced family. One that was a result of adultery. I’ve been in the midst of my husband’s own personal struggles. I’ve had my own struggles with pornography and lust. And considering that books like 50 Shades of Grey and movies like Magic Mike do so well within their respected audiences, I’m going to venture a guess that every single woman reading this blog has struggled with it to. I’m also willing to bet that whether that woman wants to admit it to herself, her husband has struggled with pornography or lust as well.
But you see, those are the kinds of sins that the church and the “Christians” want to cover up. That hidden sin that “isn’t that big of a deal” or “isn’t as big of a deal as the other sin” that lingers within our homes, our hearts, and our lives. The same hidden sin that is destroying us from the inside out.
I haven’t written about it much, but not too long ago, my husband and I were on the brink of a separation. My idea, not his. My unwillingness to work through things and address things that needed addressing and needed dealing with. Anger, bitterness, attitude, unresolved issues in our pasts (both together and separately), lust, pornography, anxiety, temptation, greed, pride…just a few of the things that were ripping our marriage apart. I was ready to call it quits.
I had had enough. My husband wasn’t doing the things that I wanted him to do. He wasn’t acting like I thought he needed to act. He wasn’t living by the rules that I had set or the standards that I felt we had to live up to.
I thought of having an affair. I looked at other women’s husbands and single men and just knew within my heart that someone else could make me happier. That I deserved much better than what I had. That I was being treated so unfairly. That my life was miserable and that I shouldn’t wake up every day feeling like I did about my marriage. I reached out to a dear friend to guide me through this very, very dark point in my life. I turned to her and she in turn, turned me back to God.
When I gave up trying to fix my marriage and my husband, something amazing happened…
Oh that’s great, Courtney. I’m so happy your marriage is back together! What does that have to do with Ashley Madison and the disgusting lifestyle that it supports and encourages?
I’m glad you asked.
I’ve prayed over this post. In fact, as I write this our youngest son is napping in our bedroom while my husband and our oldest boy are at football practice. I’ve got mounds of papers and notes surrounding me and a to-do list half a mile long that I still need to work through before bed tonight.
But, it was the comments and the remarks that flooded my Facebook feed earlier today that prompted this post. It was the judgement and the condemnation and the ridicule and the hatred and the disgust pouring from the mouths of women all over internet about “those men” on that list. It was the despair that I know that many, many wives are dealing with right now over seeing that their husband’s name is on that list. It is the pastor(s) who have fallen into temptation who will now face expulsion from the pulpit and the church. It is the Military men who are on that list who will face dishonorable discharge and possibly even incarceration for their involvement in this site. It is the children who won’t understand who Ashley Madison is, but who will always associate her with the reason that their family dynamic dissolved. It is the man who adores his wife more than anything but had one moment of temptation that will now cost him his entire life.
These are REAL people. These are REAL lives.
And rather than being disgusted by it, I’m made acutely aware that whether YOU want to admit it or not, that something like this could have happened to ANY of us.
I’m very aware that while millions of women had their entire world come crashing down around them with the leak of this information, there were probably millions more who were confused by the feelings of both relief and disappointment that their husband’s names weren’t on that list so that they would stop questioning and second guessing the gut feeling that they’ve been carrying around that their husband is up to something.
When all of this first broke…when this news first came out…all I could think of was the Adulterous Woman that Jesus encounters in John Chapter 8. Now…this woman was taken from her home in the middle of the very act of committing adultery. Now, I’m assuming all of you are over the age of 10, so you surely know what that means. The Pharisees wanted to put Jesus to the test here…wanted to see what He would say about this “disgrace” of a woman. Surely this man [Jesus] would follow through with the Law of Moses, which commanded that this woman be stoned to death.
But what does Jesus do? He leaned down and wrote in the sand. What did he write? I have no clue. Some people speculate that he wrote her name. Some say he wrote their names. Some say that he simply doodled in the sand there while he was ignoring the commands and expectations of the religious anticipating that they would get to witness this “Messiah” stone this woman for her sins. I have no idea what he wrote, but I know what he said.
Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. (src)
And when no one threw their stone, they were forced to walk away. He told that woman then to go and sin no more. Is the Ashley Madison scandal (or any form of adultery) right? No. Am I diminishing it? No. Am I saying that I am not glad that the site is (hopefully) permanently being shut down? No.
What I’m saying is simply that I’m opting instead of pointing my finger at these men and women, I’m offering grace. I’m just simply aware that my name is on a list somewhere, too. Maybe not a worldly list, but on God’s list…and that’s the one that matters.
Child of the Most High.
Held & Treasured.
Daughter of the King.
If you’re looking for more articles on this subject, I found this one really good as well. And I always, always love what Sheila Gregory has to say about topics like sex, marriage and temptation. This is good stuff, right here.