In his blog post entitled “My Pastor Is on the Ashley Madison List,”* Ed Stetzer (Christianity Today) estimates that at least four hundred church leaders (pastors, elders, staff, deacons, etc.) will be resigning. Let that sink in. Ashley Madison blew up. They were hacked, and the names of members were made public. It should not surprise anyone. In this fast-moving world of technology, nothing is sacred or safe. If a person made the click of joining Ashley Madison, their chance of facing a consequence was about 100 percent. It is a pretty crazy world we now live in. Unfortunately, the fact that sites like Ashley Madison actually exist has almost lost its shock value, but the fact that church leaders have taken part in a site like Ashley Madison still rocks us to our core. As Christians, we are held to a higher standard; but most of us hold those in spiritual leadership roles to an even higher standard. If your best friend was on the list, it would be devastating for him, his family, and his friends. The consequences would be life changing. If your pastor was on the list, the ripple effect would be unfathomable and could devastate a large number of people. The reality is that what has been done is now in plain view for all to see. Those who have taken a small step toward infidelity and those who have committed adultery now await their consequences. What about you? What about me? How do we respond to this reality? How do we make sure that we stay on the path of fidelity—and that we stay on it today, tomorrow, and the rest of the tomorrows of our lives?
Ashley Madison and Awesome Marriage. You are probably thinking, They don’t go together! You’re right. They don’t. But my firm belief is that an Awesome Marriage is our best defense against infidelity. Look at it this way: If I am putting God first and my wife second each and every day, I am building a wall of protection that is hard for someone or something else to scale. Does that wall take away all my vulnerability? No, but it sure lowers it significantly. In fact, we get on dangerous ground when we believe we are not vulnerable to temptation. I think most of the people on the Ashley Madison list did not set out to ruin their lives and the lives of those who love them. I think they underestimated their vulnerability, let their guards down, believed a lie of the enemy, and clicked. The truth is that temptation will come to each of us at one time or another. But remember this: When it comes, we are in good company. Jesus, the Creator of the universe and the One who died for our sins, was tempted. In this sex-charged world we live in—with sites like Ashley Madison, online porn, graphic magazines and movies and TV shows, and on and on—we will no doubt be tempted. But temptation is not sin. Let that soak in. So many people seem to believe that temptation is a sin, but it is not. Taking a step into the world of infidelity is. Apparently thousands of people took that step. Jesus never took that step.
For me the key to staying faithful to my wife lies in keeping my focus on God and His plan for my life and believing in my heart that the glitter of this world will never give me the fulfilled life that God provides. I think of it this way: The world does not love me. I may think it does, but it does not. God loves me. He loves me the same today as He did yesterday and as He will tomorrow. Honestly, I cannot totally grasp how great His love is for me. He loves you that much too. So the bottom line is this: The life God has for you is the best life possible. The marriage God gives you can be Awesome. The life the world wants us to click into is a mirage built on lies. Don’t fall for it. Ashley Madison or Awesome Marriage? Awesome Marriage wins by a knockout!
*Ed Stetzer, “My Pastor Is on the Ashley Madison List,” The Exchange (blog), Christianity Today, August 27, 2015, http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/august/my-pastor-is-on-ashley-madison-list.html.