Life is Short, Don’t Have an Affair
Written by Pastor Jim Law
One can only imagine the panic Tuesday’s revelation brought throughout the world when hackers announced that they were going to post online the client data from Ashley Madison, a web company that facilitates adulterous connections globally. This data leak is now available for download and includes: full names, street addresses, email addresses, and financial information of some 37 million users.
Make no mistake about it, the fallout will be devastating to millions of families, and serves to remind us of the dangerous secret lives that are being lived out in epic proportions on the Internet. We could rightly call this week’s Ashley Madison debacle a category 5 with regard to moral storms, and its effects most certainly will be catastrophic.
The explosion of Internet immorality into multi-billion dollar business seems to have come together like a perfect storm as spiritual decline coupled with the jettisoning of biblical truth merged with the rapid advance of the Internet.
With this phenomenal global connection comes the good, the bad, and the ugly. In a connected world, believers can advance Kingdom causes freely from anywhere. And at the same time, purveyors of pornography and trysts have shown a brilliant entrepreneurial strategy which has catapulted their businesses into the top spot of Internet commerce.
We are aware from news outlets that professing Christians are among the Ashley Madison casualties. Joshua Duggar’s confession this week serves as a compelling illustration of the avalanche of sorrow that is forthcoming globally. Duggar admitted to multiple subscriptions with Ashley Madison, and stated this week, “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have been unfaithful to my wife. ..I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him.” It is hard to calculate the loss expressed in that statement.
From a Christian worldview, the operative question is always, “How shall we then live?” This is a question believers in Jesus Christ have always asked. Whether in Ephesus, Corinth, or Rome, believers in the first century had to live as salt and light in sexually permissive cultures.
“How shall we then live?’ was the question that the Apostle Paul answered to church at Corinth where he wrote, “Flee immorality!…You are not your own, you have been bought with a price—therefore glorify God with your bodies.” (I Corinthians 6:18-20)
Even a millennia before the Apostle Paul’s words, “How shall we then live?” was the question addressed in the wisdom literature of Proverbs. In this valuable book we come to a series of “my son” passages in which an older man/father imparts seasoned counsel to his son.
In reading Proverbs 5-7 purity is high on the list of his wisdom talks. In these three chapters, the language is intense as the elder speaks of being intoxicated with the wife of one’s youth (5:18,19), underscoring that such affection is a glorious blessing.
However, within the same conversation, he also warns this son, perhaps with tears in his eyes, “For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread.” (Proverbs 6:26) What a word picture that is! This father had seen the fallout of immorality in his lifetime, and concludes a man having sex with a prostitute (or in any adulterous relationship) is reduced to nearly nothing.
This is a tragic step down from the position God has created us to be. We are created in His image to be the glory bearers of His creation, and when we fall into immorality the toll is great. In fact, this wise father gives a summary statement to it all, “The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; He who would destroy himself does it.” (Proverbs 6:32)
With such sober warnings, and the bitter fallout that comes with the pain of adultery, why is this epidemic? I believe the answer takes us back to the fallen, sinful susceptibilities of the human heart. By nature we are prone to wander in pastures where have no business. Thinking the need is greener grass, many discover to their great sorrow and bewilderment that it is only AstroTurf.
George MacDonald’s poem “Sweet Peril” summarizes the loss from the deception that is adultery:
Alas, how easily things go wrong;
A sigh too much, a kiss too long,
Then comes a mist and a weeping rain,
And life is never the same again.
What many don’t realize is that life is never the same again. Yes, there is forgiveness found in Jesus Christ. Of course there are new beginnings by His grace. We find an example of that in the woman taken in the very act of adultery. She was thrown at the feet of Jesus by a rabid mob. As she faced a certain stoning, Christ said to her accusers, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” With a thud, the stones hit the ground, and Jesus said to this woman, “Go, from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11)
Living for Christ in a culture with “no boundaries” requires an intense focus and discipline to pursue personal purity. (I Thessalonians 4:3; Ephesians 5:1-15) Keeping marriage vows and any other kind of vow begins with the heart. It highlights our need for a new heart found through repentance and faith in Christ alone.
A. W. Tozer once said, ““No man suddenly goes base.” In other words, no one suddenly becomes an adulterer. Like a battering ram which strikes a gate, the gate does not fall on the first blow, but over time the gate yields to the force of the blows. Even so, yielding to the sexual offerings on the Internet breaks down important barriers of the conscience that must be trained by biblical truth if we would live for God in this world.
Ashley Madison’s slogan is “Life is Short, Have an Affair.” What a terrible statement that is, and it is gobbled up as truth in the spirit of our age. On the contrary, life is short…too short to ever have an affair and to be plagued by self-inflicted wounds that destroy the relationships and commitments of one’s life.
For the glory of Jesus Christ, the One who brings redemption and hope to a broken world, may we do our work on the Internet for the cause of His Kingdom and with a clear conscience before all, knowing that His omniscient gaze sees it all, otherwise we will find ourselves bobbing for apples in a bucket of sewage and reduced to a loaf of bread.