The news of the recent hacking of the Ashley Madison website has sort of died down in recent days, but the internet continues to buzz with articles about the “what now.” The CEO has stepped down. It has been suggested that a couple of suicides are linked to the list of names revealed. There are incidences of extortion cropping up as some seek to use another person’s ill-fated decision for their financial gain. Many marriages are being further torn apart as names are made public. Reputations are at risk – and not only in the USA. According to numerous online articles, names are included from the UK, Asia, and Europe.
No matter how we look at it, it is a sad commentary of our world-wide society!
What made this website so alluring to so many folks? I think there are at least three areas to consider:
- Appearance of anonymity
Entitlement: How many times have we heard, “You deserve . . .” Some stay unemployed because they “deserve” the exact job and salary of their dreams and will not accept anything less. Fewer people start out in modest living spaces because they “deserve” to have homes, cars, and other possessions which are often way beyond their means. We frequent fast food businesses and use our microwave ovens because we don’t “deserve” to have to wait to eat. We “deserve” to be happy NOW, to be satisfied NOW.
It doesn’t help that we have to deal with desires and hormones daily as magazine covers and advertisements use varying levels of sexual messages to entice us to buy just about anything. TV and the internet provide visuals which are next to impossible to erase from our minds. We have come to believe that we “deserve” to do anything we want to do with our minds AND our bodies.
Opportunity: The website in the news is not a new one. It started in 2001. And, it is not the only one. Nor is it the only avenue to explore if one entertains the thought of straying from marriage vows. I think it is also safe to assume that a number of those who registered may have not been married. For them, it provided a “safe” place for a play date. Perhaps it was just one of a number of sites intentionally visited. Availability provides heady opportunity.
Appearance of Anonymity: Just as we sort of think that everything we read in the newspaper and hear on the news is accurate, we fall into the trap of thinking we can be anonymous on the internet because a site promises unbreachable security. It is unfortunate that entities such as large stores, banks, and governmental agencies – AND websites – are magnetic targets for some who seek pleasure in the pain of others. The allure of breaking codes and creating havoc to millions of people is an enticement some just cannot resist. But, let’s face it. Everything we do online is always floating around out there!
A One-way Mirror
You’ve seen them; those crazy one-way mirrors which show us our image on one side and allow us to see through on the other. This hacking/exposure fiasco has served to show us that hiding in the depths of most of our souls is, at least, a hint of what is right and wrong, moral and immoral. On one hand, refraining from sexual activity outside of marriage has become an outdated, old-fashioned idea which many choose to ignore. On the other hand, publishing the names of those doing this has served as a finger-pointing situation because we really do know it is unacceptable – and, well – wrong!
We simply cannot always trust our feelings. Just because something feels good or right does not make it so. We need some sort of objective measurement. It is no secret to anyone reading this blog that I believe that objective measurement is found in the Bible. Even in the Ten Commandments which are shunned by some as outdated gives us short – even terse – advice on a number of things destructive to society, including, “Do not commit adultery.” That is as unmistakable in its meaning now as it was then!
Jesus addressed the source of many of our societal woes when He said, “it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come–sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person. (Mark 7:21-22 NIV)
Well, that about covers it all, doesn’t it? We cannot always avoid the thoughts, BUT we can avoid entertaining and acting on them. Once again, a verse I’ve used often in this blog tells us that with every temptation comes the promise that God will provide a way out of it! (I Corinthians 10:13)
Oh yes. Don’t you feel sorry for those women whose name actually is Ashley Madison? 🙂