On Friday Johnny from Shine FM in Edmonton sent me a tweet: “You wanna call in to the morning show to talk about Ashley Madison?” I couldn’t call on Friday but I did yesterday, and hosts Johnny and Hollie and I chatted about this huge, honking mess.
Because it is a huge mess, isn’t it? Tens of millions of Ashley Madison users’ data is now online. You can even search email addresses yourself (though I won’t link to where). Thousands of U.S. government emails are listed. Josh Duggar got found out (I blogged about that last week). And he won’t be the last high profile user, either.
So I’ve been thinking about this whole mess for a few days, and I thought I’d throw out ten random thoughts, in no particular order.
2 Thoughts About the Online World
1. Stuff online isn’t secret
If you buy erotica on your Kindle, it can be discovered. If you use porn, your history is never really gone. If you sign up for something like this, don’t expect you won’t get found out. If you text or email nude pictures of yourself–don’t be surprised if they surface somewhere.
Maybe if we realized this we’d all be smarter–and we’d feel less temptation.
2. Giving into temptation is so much easier in the internet age.
Because isn’t that the main problem? In the internet age, it’s much harder to withstand temptation because options are available instantaneously and seemingly anonymously. A guy (or a woman) who may never, ever stray may just be having a bad weekend alone, and may be surfing the internet when they shouldn’t be. Twenty years ago this kind of sin didn’t exist. I’m sure the vast majority of the guys who signed up for Ashley Madison would never try to pick up a woman in a bar in person. They’d never buy porn in person, if they had to look someone in the eye and ask for the magazine. But today it’s so easy!
And that’s why we need to take some of that temptation away. I know sin is ultimately a heart issue, but I also do believe in putting up roadblocks to temptation. It’s just plain smart. And so I completely support having Covenant Eyes on you computer, even just as an accountability tool (and not as a filtering tool). That way you know that if you wander onto a bad site, someone’s going to know about it. Boom! Temptation’s gone, because it’s no longer anonymous.
3 Thoughts About Guys & Ashley Madison
3. A mistake made in a moment should not define a relationship.
All of us mess up. And some of us are going to mess up sexually. But one mistake should not define a relationship.
There were 30,000,000 or so users signed up to Ashley Madison. That’s a lot. But most of them did not actually cheat. They flirted with the idea, but they didn’t follow through.
I do believe that there is a big difference between someone who is tempted and who occasionally falls and someone who is actively seeking out ways to fall. A guy who binges on porn for a weekend after being clean for four years is in a totally different category than a guy who uses it most nights and says, “It’s harmless and it’s my right.”
Similarly, a guy who signs up for Ashley Madison is quite different from a guy who has several one night stands and who is texting several women. One is likely a sex addict; one is simply struggling.
If your husband has fallen, figure out which category he belongs in. If he’s made a mistake and has fallen, then work through that hurt. Allow yourself to feel the weight of it before you try to forgive, or else the forgiveness may not be real. But then fight on the same side as your husband against the porn and the sexualized culture. Don’t fight your husband. Be his ally.
If your husband instead refuses to confess, refuses to admit it, or refuses to deal with it, then you have an issue and you need some help. But, please, don’t wreck a marriage over one mess up. Don’t let darkness win.
4. Avoid the temptation to think, “all men are pigs”
With this in the media, it’s so easy for women to think, “all men are pigs.”
But most guys didn’t go anywhere near it. Most guys won’t have affairs. Don’t let the news cloud your view of all men, and especially your own husband who may have struggles in the past. Don’t blame him for the sins of others.
I know many will say, “women cheat too!” And preliminary reports were that 15-20% of accounts were female. But news is out today that many of those female accounts were actually fake accounts set up by Ashley Madison to make it seem like there were more women on the site than there were in reality.
This doesn’t mean that women are saints; it only means we have different weaknesses. I think men are more likely to struggle with weaknesses in an online, visual world. Shaunti Feldhahn explained that well here.
5. Most of these guys did not have sex with anyone else.
Remember: many of these accounts were set up by guys on the spur of the moment as they explored the possibility of an affair. Most of these men, though, did not follow through (especially since there were so few women actually on the site!) So just because a guy was listed there does not mean that he cheated. This doesn’t mean that he didn’t do anything wrong; just that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.
5 Thoughts About What The Ashley Madison Scandal Tells Us About Sex
6. Do we give the impression that “marriage is where sex goes to die?”
Look at the motto for Ashley Madison to begin with: “Life is short. Have an affair.” In other words, the affair makes life more fun. Does that mean that our culture tends to think that married sex is really boring?
Yeah, I think it does. Which is awfully odd because the people with the best sex life are routinely found to be people who are married! The hooking up culture really doesn’t result in great sex–especially for women.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of couples for whom sex has pretty much died. And if we don’t stress this part of our relationship, our marriage is going to get really boring. So if sex is boring–do something about it! Don’t settle! And if we give our kids the impression that we have no sex life because we’re married, how in the world are we going to convince them to wait until they’re married?
7. Do we have the idea that there’s “sacred sex” and then there’s “fun sex”?
I don’t mean to insinuate, though, that if your husband used Ashley Madison it’s your fault, just like I didn’t mean to blame Anna Duggar in Friday’s post. I actually wonder something about Josh (and about other men that use Ashley Madison): have we given the impression that there is such a thing as “sacred sex”, which is missionary position and entirely clinical and passion-less, and then there’s fun sex, which can’t possibly be done in marriage?
I think there’s a stream of Christianity that inadvertently does this. If we stress purity in the wrong way, we can give the impression that sex itself is the enemy–that sexual feelings or sexual exploration are to be fought against at all costs. And this can easily make us into prudes. I don’t mean just women are prudes–I mean men, too, may think in terms of “I could NEVER do this with my wife! She’s too pure!” So they turn elsewhere for an outlet.
8. Exploring is good!
We’ve got to reclaim the idea that adventure and passion ARE pure. That losing oneself in passion is actually far closer to godliness than staying perfectly in control.
Spicing up your marriage and having more fun is a good thing.
9. If you feel distance, talk about it.
Nobody wakes up one day and decides to have an affair. Distance builds over time. And even if there’s no open hostility, you tend to feel it. You know there are certain subjects that you can’t talk about with your husband.
That’s a bad sign. If you sense distance–even if you don’t think your husband is doing anything wrong–work to fix it. Work to reclaim that feeling of oneness, of being on the same team.
If you sense a problem, just do not ignore it.
10. Life is short. Have an affair–with your husband!
Let’s have all that excitement and exploration and adventure–with our husbands! Let’s pursue him. Let’s be a little bit “naughty”. Not because we’re scared he’ll stray, but because why on earth would you want to miss out on something so great that marriage has to offer?
Get frisky tonight! If there’s nothing else that the Ashley Madison scandal taught me, it’s that too many people are wasting their lives in pointless pursuits when the best is right in front of them. I don’t want to miss out on that, and I hope you won’t either.