“Oh Ashley!” If you’ve ever read or seen Gone with the Wind, the scene nears unforgettable. Obsessed with Ashley Wilkes, Scarlett Ohara draws upon all of her ingenuity to woo the potential adulterer away from his wife. Weakened by his attraction to Scarlett, the southern gentleman almost gives in. Almost. His honor will not allow.
Written in 1936 by Margaret Mitchell, the classic novel portrays the struggle between human desire and societal standards of morality. How times have changed!
An Ashley of a different sort—Ashley Madison—has lit up the Internet as of late. Due to a computer hack, tens of millions of potential cheaters have had their personal information publicly released. “Life is short. Have an affair. We’re the premiere website for discreet connections,” reads the Ashley Madison website. Uh oh!
I have to admit that I’m fascinated by the various perspectives involved with this breach of confidentiality.
The hackers feel as though they are doing a social justice. The Ashley Madison site, they claim, is full of fake female profiles.
Avid Life Media, the parent company of the site, released the following statement:
“This event is not an act of hacktivism, it is an act of criminality. It is an illegal action against the individual members of AshleyMadison.com, as well as any freethinking people who choose to engage in fully lawful online activities. The criminal, or criminals, involved in this act have appointed themselves as the moral judge, juror, and executioner, seeing fit to impose a personal notion of virtue on all of society. We will not sit idly by and allow these thieves to force their personal ideology on citizens around the world.”
Ah, the adultery abetters are claiming the moral high ground—a far cry from Gone with the Wind!
Then are those who take glee in the hack. Few things can compare to the excitement of seeing cheaters getting their just desserts. There’s nothing like a fresh supply of water cooler jokes to break up the office monotony.
The privacy experts? They’re concerned. Regardless of the moral implications of an Ashley Madison account, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain any type of a private life in our technologically invasive world.
I can’t begin to imagine the pain of the faithful spouses and innocent children whose lives are about to unravel. Few emotional hurts compare to that of marital infidelity. Josh Duggar’s poor wife probably wishes she could simply wake up and have the nightmare be over.
Of course, the ones whose secret sins are being broadcast on the public stage are highly vested in this affair. I would guess that their fear runs deep. The searing pain of betrayal will now cut through their families, spilling emotional blood throughout the home. Public facades will be exposed as hypocritical frauds. Jobs will be lost, money forfeited, and in some cultures, particularly those in the Middle East, the revelation of an Ashely Madison account may result in death.
Finally, I have my own perspective. Besides feeling thankful that my wife and I have no reason to be on the list (she’s also thankful), I can’t help but compare the Ashley Madison breach to the Day of Judgment that will one day come our way.
Many of us live as though our secret skeletons will remain forever hidden, but what if they don’t? What if what the Bible teaches is true? What if our every thought, word, and deed will be publicly exposed and morally judged? What if?
Can you imagine every person’s every thought being flashed across the skies for all to see? No one would squeal with delight because not one of us stands on moral high ground.
Regardless of your perspective on the Ashley Madison hack, an event like this provides a poignant opportunity to seriously consider the good news of the Christian gospel.
Jesus Christ came to earth so that our individual slates might be wiped clean. And even better than avoiding eternal judgment for our transgressions, we who are unworthy are given the opportunity to draw near to the God who loves us.
The gospel really is good news.
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