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Ashley Madison and a Culture of Adultery

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No doubt you’ve heard of the Ashley Madison hack. The records of 37 million cheating spouses have been leaked online, and the world has gone nuts.

Popular opinion concerning these adulterers has been, rightly, negative. These users have been seen as ‘deserving’ of having their data exposed. “Serves them right,” some say, “why would they cheat on their husband/wife?”. This is in some sense good. These users, 70% of whom are men, should not be given the access to cheat on their spouses.

But what concerns me most is this: the movement of our adulterous culture. Whilst extra-marital affairs have been looked down upon for the past two thousand years, I suspect they are beginning to be seen less negatively. Just like the single party culture, more movies and the media are portraying having an affair as a ‘score’.

Taking a step back, we can see a whole culture which is degrading, or devaluing, sexuality into fun and games. As quoted by The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, apps like Tinder are changing mating rituals for young people. Here’s the scary question asked by Vanity Fair: “When you have a culture of utterly meaningless sex… what’s next? How could the stakes be any lower?“. A Marketing Executive from New York says “Sex has become so easy, I can go on my phone right now and no doubt I can find someone I can have sex with this evening, probably before midnight.

Our culture is seeing sexual freedom more and more as an entitled right. Pornography, which was once taboo and difficult to access, is now a norm. Samuel James says “there’s no real difference between the hookup culture described by Vanity Fair and the culture of a million individual minds living out private fantasies via pornography. In both cases the arc of sex isn’t very long and it bends immediately towards the self“.

As mentioned in another article I wrote, what we practice influences what we believe. Pornography models to men how to treat women, and models to women how to treat themselves. Human beings created in the glorious image of God become mere objects of daily sexual gratification. All the strings attached like love, security, or children are removed. Just a few minutes of ‘harmless pleasure’ behind a screen, is contributing  to soaring divorce rates and the genocide of abortion.

Yet, it isn’t only pornography that is affecting our sexual culture, however. The clothes we wear, the jokes we make, and the photos we put on social media all contribute to the shaping of a certain culture. Alcohol-driven parties and your ambitions for a fantastic love life at the cost of loving your neighbour all accumulate, pushing society towards a certain direction.

I’ll be the first to admit that living as a Christian in this world is hard. Sexual temptation strikes from every angle and personal defeats can often seem to outnumber the victories. But don’t let yourself be disheartened by this. Here’s the question you need to ask yourself:

how are you contributing to a culture of adultery?  

Remember that according to Jesus, lust is in the same category as adultery (cf. Matthew 5:28). You who look down on extra-marital affairs yet lust after the girl across the street or fantasise about that guy, you are committing adultery in your heart. What’s more, sexual sin isn’t just adultery against your spouse, your future spouse, your boyfriend or girlfriend, but adultery against God.

Jeremiah 3:20 says “Surely, as a treacherous wife leaves her husband, so have you been treacherous to me, O house of Israel, declares the LORD.” Which reminds me of another verse from 1 Corinthians 6:15: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!“.

As the culture of adultery around us pretends to offer satisfaction but only delivers loneliness and emptiness leading to the wrath of God, how will the church respond? Will your church be filled with nominal Christians who adulterate themselves to a ‘private’ world of pornography that will definitely be revealed, whether by humans or the living God?

Here’s a fresh alternative: Come on your knees before God and admit your sin, trust in the person of Christ and His work to save you from your adultery, and rely on the Holy Spirit for change and healing. Make a decision today to turn your life around, step by step and day by day. You will not be alone. Scripture will straighten your path and your brothers and sisters will spur you on.

You know the the industry statistics, you know the psychological effects, and you know the biblical truths.

What are you going to do about it?

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