After a series of high-profile cyber hacks over the past two years, a website called Ashley Madison has recently been the victim of “cyber-terrorism” according to the owners, Avid Life Media.[i] The website is no government-related service, it is not connected to a public or community service in any way, in fact it’s a commercial website that helps married men and women arrange secret affairs. Hidden infidelity was meant to stay hidden, kept secret from unsuspecting spouses who believed in the integrity of their marriage, but what was hidden is now in the open. The owners of the website have spun this latest attack to appear as tragic and unfortunate for their clients, those who bought into their slogan, “Life is short. Have an affair.”
A group of hackers had managed to hack into the Ashley Madison client database and steal the company’s most confidential information, including client credit cards, sexual conversations between clients, and other personal data. Because the website had refused to shut down, the hackers have now released the stolen information to the public, unveiling the adulterers and destroying marriages and families.
The act of cyber-terrorism is a crime under the Canadian criminal code, and it should not be condoned; but what the owners of the website are claiming is mere hypocrisy. In declaring this a crime, they turn a blind eye to the immoral nature of their own company, as if adultery were not a crime. Biblical law is clear on the severity of marital infidelity, in which Leviticus 20:10 states that “[i]f there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” (NASB). This demonstrates the severity of breaking the marital covenant and reinforces the sacredness of marriage as between one man and one woman. The Seventh Commandment clearly states “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14, NASB).
This also carries over into the New Testament, in which Christ goes as far as to say “that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28, ESV). We even find in Romans 13:9 that Paul affirms the validity of the law, mentioning the law that prohibits adultery. The victims are not the clients who have been exposed; the victims are the spouses who are now heart broken, victims of a broken marital covenant, and the children who will witness divorce and separations.
To make matters worse, having wilfully sought sin, with the assurance that it would remain hidden, clients have now leveled a $578 million Canadian Class-Action Lawsuit against Ashley Madison.[ii] The sin is theirs, but they now demand that the service that provided the means of such sin pay for the damage of their own sinfulness. All are at fault here, the client and the provider, but these clients’ failure to own up to their own sin and its dreadful consequences demonstrates the ugliness of sinful man and his attempt for an atoning sacrifice, that someone else pay for his own sin, devoid of the Gospel.
Consider that adultery was a criminal act in Canada before it was repealed in 1985. In C-46, section 172 (1), it stated “Everyone who, in the home of a child, participates in adultery or sexual immorality or indulges in habitual drunkenness or any other form of vice, and thereby endangers the morals of the child or renders the home an unfit place for the child to be in, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.”[iii] Despite the law’s focus on the safety of the child, the fact that adultery was even mentioned as a criminal offense hints at its reliance on biblical law. How else could we have determined adultery to be a moral sin? The reason our society no longer holds adultery as a criminal act is due to the erosion of our moral foundation. Originally, biblical law was at the root of developing Western law, but we have increasingly become our own law-makers, rejecting objectivity and opting for subjectivism. Repealing adultery from the Canadian criminal code was in mankind’s self-interest, seeking to eliminate the repercussions of violating the law by changing the law.
Scripture warns of those who attempt to hide their habitual sin. “Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the LORD, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say ‘Who sees us?’ or ‘Who knows us?’” (Isa. 29:15, NASB). In truth, those who think they can hide their sin whilst enjoying it, later realize that it is futile. Although they had sought sin without consequences, unbeknownst to them, they had already begun to destroy their marriages and families. The grand uncovering of infidelity, whether in public or private exposure, is simply the climax, the breaking point of the damage that had already been done. The repercussions of sin are inescapable, as Paul writes, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7, NASB). These adulterers have now been found out. They had knowingly participated in sin, and are now facing the consequences of their own behaviors. Nothing that is done in secret is truly hidden, for the Lord sees all. And in seeing all, “God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Eccl. 12:14, NASB).
Recall that King David also committed the sin of adultery, systematically murdering Uriah the Hittite, in order to marry his wife, Bathsheba, in an attempt to hide her pregnancy. When confronted by the prophet Nathan, his first reaction was repentance before the Lord. The law demanded a life, it was not David or Bathsheba who would die, they were granted mercy, but in accordance with the law, it was their son born out of wedlock who would die of sickness (2 Sam. 12:14). The tragic story of David’s sin reminds us that we are not immune to sexual temptation, and in committing the sin of adultery David writes “Against You [God], You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge” (Ps. 51:4, NASB). David was shown both grace and mercy, because of his repentance, and humbly wrote of the desire of God to see the guilty repent: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Ps. 51:17, NASB). Let us pray for the affected families, and pray for the repentance and redemption of the clients who are now facing the consequences of their own lawlessness.
[i] Diana Mehta, ‘Ashley Madison Hacked’, The London Free Press, last modified July 21, 2015, accessed July 21, 2015, http://www.lfpress.com/2015/07/20/ashley-madison-hacked.
[ii] The Associated Press. ‘Cheating Website Ashley Madison Faces $578M Canadian Class-Action Lawsuit.’ The Hollywood Reporter, accessed August 23, 2015, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/cheating-website-ashley-madison-faces-816882?facebook_20150821.
[iii] Government of Canada, ‘Criminal Code’, Justice Laws Website, last modified July 10, 2015, accessed July 21, 2015, http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/section-172.html.