Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Lessons from Ashley Madison

Welcome to the digital age. After the hack of Ashley Madison {and subsequent release of information}, we now know that we leave a digital footprint now matter where we go, and that no one is safe from having their information compromised. Ashley Madison is a website that markets a "dating service" to married people. No, not a dating service for spouses to interact with each other. As a matter of fact, their slogan is "Life is short, have an affair." 

Photo courtesy ashleymadison.com

So far, thousands of people have been exposed as being unfaithful to their spouses via this site. And a handful of them have been celebrities. There have been two suicides. There will be an unforeseen number of divorces. 

Naturally, a story like this has captured media headlines. It's juicy. It's controversial. It's scandalous. And mostly, bad news just travels fast. We live in a world where pointing out people's flaws seems like our purpose for living. From suburban moms that gossip about the latest divorce drama going with the family down the block to fashion gurus issuing worst dressed lists, people LOVE to talk trash about one another. {I'm not innocent of this. I watch every season of the Bachelor, Bachelorette, and Bachelor in Paradise and live tweet my thoughts--good and bad--on the subject. And I've said less than favorable things about this whole Ashley Madison situation.} 

America LOVES to hate on one another. Republicans hate democrats and vice versa. Christians hate on other religions and vice versa. Heck, Christians love to hate on one another. We have our ideological hatred, and our moral hatred, and our hatred for entertainment value like The Bachelor and all its spinoffs. In fact, the Kardashians have built an entire empire on being the family America loves to hate. So when a story like this breaks, of course the story flies off the shelves.

Predictably, public Christian figures were outed in this Ashley Madison hack. The biggest scandal like this includes 19 Kids and Counting star Josh Duggar. I, along with America, read about his sexual preferences included on the site. And my heart BROKE for his wife. She likely read these things about her husband along with the rest of us. My heart breaks for her having to endure something like that in such a public way. But then I got to thinking, this hack is not just about the Duggar family. Sure, tabloids are probably profiting the most off of their part in it, but there are so many lessons to be learned here about people in general.

  1. Christians aren't immune to sin, so let's stop idolizing public Christian figures. This is a huge issue. Just a glance through the comment sections on articles attached to this story will tell you everything you need to know about this one. Commentary runs the gamut from "HAHA Christians are so hypocritical" to "I thought this family was centered on Christ" to "I'm disgusted that a Christian could do this!" and everywhere in between. We've seen just as many public Christian figures fall to sexual scandal as politicians, musicians, and celebrities. Just because someone is a Christian, doesn't mean that they are actively pursuing Christ. We are broken, and the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. So be vigilant in your own walk because something like this could happen to anyone. Trash like Ashley Madison is everywhere, and you don't have to seek out sin. Temptation will find you even if you're not looking for it! And stop looking to figureheads to be your example, look only to Jesus. 
  2. We, as the church, need to talk about the stuff we've been scared to talk about. There is a lack of information and conversation throughout the church world about pornography, abuse, sex, lust, etc. And when we do talk about these things, we just say "it's bad." We stop ourselves before we hear from people who have been through things like these. We don't talk about how people can recover from things like these. We just talk about their scandal, whisper about them, and vow to be better than them. We need to prepare ourselves and each other for the sinful world we face. And let's be receptive to hearing about other peoples' sins, and help these ones who have fallen short to heal. Because our silence on the tough stuff is getting us no where. 
  3. We all fall short of the glory of God, but it sure is easier to point and stare at other people's sin and shame than to deal with our own. I was thinking last night that I'm personally glad that my sins aren't publicly broadcasted like this for the world to see, but I've started pretending as if they were. This motivates me to take care of these things more than pointing at others. Think about your own struggle. Take time to deal with your own spiritual struggles before they get the better of you. Move toward your own righteousness with The Lord.
  4. Healthy marriages are the fruit of two healthy individuals in it. We can't deal with the brokenness of bad marriages if we're not helping fix the people in it. Individual struggles are intensified in any marriage. So, if you want to fix your marriage, it begins with fixing yourself. Get introspective and deal with any hidden sins. Bring them to the light. Repent. Learn. Grow. Because sin--ANY SIN--if kept hidden, will only fester and continue to take your life in a negative direction. And lies have a way of coming to the surface eventually. It's so much easier to tackle your hidden issues before you get ousted.

So look at the worst parts of yourself. The parts of you that happen when no one is watching. The parts of you that fill you with guilt and shame. And then trust God to restore you. Because He can. But only if you let Him.

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