The month of August saw a threat against the adultery website Ashley Madison by a group calling themselves “The Impact Team” carried out and, as promised, millions of emails and profile information (pictures, wish list, etc) were released to the deep web first, eventually making it to mainstream web sites. Newspapers, magazines, tabloids, and others forms of news outlets began pouring over the millions of emails, looking for evidence of VIPs using the services of the “hook up” website. And of course, unless you have been living under a rock, you know they found someone of prominence in the Christian realm…what a shame…but that brings us to the first truth found in the Bible that we can learn from the data dump.
1. “But if ye will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
God does warn us about many aspect of sin in His Word. This warning should be enough of a deterrent to keep us from doing whatever sinful act we are entertaining the thought of. Especially because real grave deviant sexual sin like adultery and such are embarrassing and humiliating when it comes to the sordid details surrounding the planning and committing of that sin.
In the case of this prominent Christian that was called out for his Ashley Madison profile (which he admitted to), his sin found him out, and it’s not been a good week for him. This is actually the second round of allegations that have been brought to light on him relating to sexual deviance, so anyone who may have given him a chance after the first sexually deviant scandal that had happened years prior, now are having a harder time giving him a THIRD chance. And he has all but lost credibility in the field of championing the sanctity of marriage, as he resigned from his national post earlier this year after the first scandal came to light, and this latest Ashley Madison revelation has all but sealed his fate for having any credibility with anyone regarding the sanctity of marriage.
The real damage to the cause of Christ in all this was the fact that once the affairs he was seeking came to be known to all of us, he was forced to admit his transgressions publically in front of the whole world, and in humiliated fashion, announced to the whole world that he was a hypocrite. But whether he truly was a hypocrite or not, I can’t say for certain. I believe that he truly was a champion for the sanctity of marriage, but was VERY weak in controlling his fleshly desires, and that caused him to sin. Then, when he didn’t know who to trust, to confess this sin to and ask for help, he kept failing. I believe that all the while he kept failing, he kept wanting to do right, but with each failure came disappointment, frustration, shame, etc…which only brought him lower and lower, making his ability to fight the sinful urges weaker and weaker. That’s not the definition of a hypocrite, but again, it’s just a hunch I have. I just have a hard time seeing him preaching about the sanctity of marriage by day, and intentionally and willfully committing adultery because he himself didn’t actually believe in the sanctity of marriage. That is the definition of hypocrite. So if he misused the word, that fuels the fire of Christian haters who think deep down we are all closet hypocrites who have not yet been outed.
2. “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25).
Another warning God graciously gives us in His Word about sin, to help deter us from becoming involved in it, is that sin, while it brings immediate pleasure, is deceptive. The instant pleasure that is promised to us by the devil is fleeting and short-lived. In my case, it was a literal season…the Winter of 2002-2003. I had what I thought was everything I ever wanted beginning in December of 2002, but by March of 2003 (spring) it was all gone. It’s such a weird paradox to get immediate gratification for such a short time, or wait patiently and be happier for an extended period of time afterward.
Now this Christian man, and all the others who engaged in adultery, had their pleasures anytime they wanted them. Some people planned these encounters around business trips and speaking engagements. There is very little need to wait or to go without these days with these websites coordinating these services. So they had their pleasures. But no matter what, anyone who has been outed by this data dump, now is experiencing many more heaps of trouble, sorrow, sadness, shame, and humiliation than any amount of pleasure they had enjoyed from their deviance.
Also, besides those who used the services losing the pleasures of their sins, what about the CEO of Avid Life Media (AVL), Noel Biderman. His company is the parent company of Ashley Madison and the adultery website alone brought in 115-million dollars in 2014, which was up nearly forty-five percent from 2013. Guess what!!! Whatever accolades and “that-a-boys” he enjoyed, and whatever yacht he was sitting on this past year may be gone soon as there is already a 578-million dollar class action lawsuit against ALM. Do the math. The website took in only a fifth of what they potentially may have to shell out to satisfy the pending lawsuit. Amazing isn’t it? The devil is even sinister to those that are his own (assuming Noel Biderman is unsaved). The site was launched in 2001 and in just a short fifteen years, as it grew and grew, it may soon die, and along with the website, possibly the lifestyle that Noel Biderman has come to enjoy off the sins of others.
3. “Rejoice not when thy enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him” (Proverbs 24:17-18).
Let all of us take heed to this warning about sin. If we take a “holier than thou” attitude and gloat and sit back with a sadistic glee that a self-proclaimed hypocrite has fallen from his lofty heights and has been exposed for “what he really is,” God will NOT be pleased…with US! In fact, God’s Word says that God may actually take His attention off the offender and start dealing with us instead. But we have to remember something important here. This verse speaks of us rejoicing when our ENEMY stumbles and falls. A fallen Christian is not our enemy.
But let’s look at Noel Biderman, who is in a boatload of trouble (or at least it looks like it’s coming to that). He, as a human being, is NOT our enemy either. He is simply a child of the devil doing what the devil is leading him to do, and that is to propagate immorality and make it readily available to all who want it (Christians and heathen alike). But here’s what I think the crux of the verse is warning us about. If he loses everything, we can’t sit back and say, “Hah…serves him right! Now suffer!” That is not a Christian attitude to take with the unsaved. If we take the “you’ve made your bed, now lie in it” attitude, we will not do the things we should be doing, like having compassion for him as a lost person. And if we lack compassion for him as a lost person, are we going to want to pray for him, or minister to him, or others like him?
Of course you’ll rationalize it by saying, “He’s someone I don’t know personally. He’s millions of miles away from me. What do I have to do with him.” OK…fine. Now what about the family that lives two houses down from you that play loud music, swear out loud, have very loud and vulgar arguments day or night, and have less than desirable people coming in and out of their home constantly. Admit it. Instead of praying for them and looking for opportunities to minister, you just wish they would move so you wouldn’t have to deal with them any longer. If they were raided one morning and all carted away by the police you would be relieved. God will turn His focus away from them (people He won’t even chasten because they are not His) and He will go to work on us instead, because we are His children and we should certainly know better than to behave like that.
4. “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the moat out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).
I’m going to loosely translate this verse into this common saying: “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” This is directed at the Impact Team specifically. Many cyber security experts are scouring the clues surrounding the data collection and dumping. Many are slowly coming to the conclusion that this group of people who call themselves the Impact Team, do not have upholding morality as the reason behind the data dump, in the hopes the site will shut down. Nope, this group has left clues that it may be a vengeful act from a person or persons who worked in the technical arena for Ashley Madison or ALM, and was jilted by one of those two entities. This speculation is fueled by the claim that security experts at ALM are closing in on a person of interest. So this all MAY be the case of one or more persons having a personal beef with ALM or Ashley Madison. So they are going after a cheating website and exposing what is being done over there, all the while it’s because some person or persons wants to get back at the entities in question for having wronged them.
Also, let’s suppose for a moment that the hackers’ true aim really was to shut down the website to satisfy their own personal moral convictions against adultery. It loses something when the person or persons responsible for the data dump gathered information illegally!!! OK…adultery is wrong…I’ll give you that. But breaking the law by stealing is wrong too! But these same people who are piling it on this prominent Christian caught up in this mess, are almost touting the Impact Team as heroes for exposing this blight on marriage called the Ashley Madison site. My statement stands, two wrongs don’t make a right.
If the Impact Team had morals behind their actions, they would have noticed that to break God’s Law and steal information illegally is no justifiable act for exposing someone else’s sins…I mean seriously…c’mon!!! Another non-Bible quote that has Biblical principle behind it is, “Those in glass houses should not throw stones.” That principle is found in John 8:7, “…He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” In that passage of Scripture, it’s believed that Jesus was writing down the sins of those condemning the woman caught in adultery, and when Jesus called them on their sins in a subtle way, their consciences were pricked and they ceased, dropped their rocks where they stood, and left.
We can’t look at that portion of Scripture and say it teaches that none of us are worthy of exposing someone else’s sins because we have our own. I think it teaches us to deal with our sins first for two reasons. First, it will put us in a contrite frame of mind as we approach God, thus getting us in the right frame of mind to deal with an offender. Second, if we recognize that we were guilty before God in our sin and He was merciful to us, we should in turn be merciful to the offender we are trying to help. But that’s not how the Impact Team operated here. But so many people are missing that.
So the Ashley Madison data dump exposed a very bad thing, but not a new thing. Adultery has been going on since Old Testament days as early as Noah. But since it’s in the news and everyone’s talking about it, we might as well talk about the positives that came out of the data dump and learn from those four passages and take each one to heart, as they are designed to serve as deterrents from sin.