By Caleb Keith –
It seems that every other week or so there is a big hacking scandal. Credit card numbers, names, and addresses are regularly stolen from retailers and online marketplaces. The most recent attack, which had probably affected at least one person you know, was the 2013 Target hack where over 40 million credit card numbers were stolen. Shoppers panicked, banks reacted in a frenzied rush to attempt to protect customers, and Target had a massive PR problem to deal with as well. This week 37 million individual’s personal information has been stolen from the company Ashley Madison. Ashley Madison is a dating website with a twist. It is designed and marketed toward married adults looking for an affair. Their motto is, “Life is short. Have an affair.”
37 million adulterers are sitting at home biting their nails hoping that all the hackers want is their credit card information. With one stroke of a keyboard, lives could be turned upside-down and families torn apart. Commenters on the Internet are up in arms over who is to blame. Is it Ashley Madison, the hackers, or the adulterers who are at fault for such a mishap? The answer seems pretty clear cut to me; don’t cheat on your husband or wife and you’ll never have to worry about getting caught. However, the ethical realities of today’s world, or at least the loudest voices on the Internet, believe that the only thing wrong here is the “stealing.” For every Internet comment that says, “I guess they shouldn’t have cheated”, there are ten that say, “The idea that you’re okay with the theft because it conforms with your moral code, is disturbing to me.” The sexual ethics of western culture are all over the map making conversation difficult when someone fires back, “well that’s just your moral code not mine.”
Adultery and sex are big issues. Ashley Madison hooks up cheaters, few people seem to be able to keep it in their pants, and porn is the number one search on the Internet. Sexual sins have always been an issue; just take a peak at the Old Testament! What surprises me today is not that sex or adultery are problems; no, what surprises me is how we respond. As a young married man I was the recipient of endless questioning and lecturing from anyone who could grab my ear the six months leading up to my wedding. Here are some of the things that were said, “Why are you getting married? Don’t you know you have your whole life ahead of you?” “Fine, get married, but just don’t have kids until you’re done with school.” “You haven’t been dating long enough to know you want to spend your life with her,” and the list goes on. The common theme across all of these lines is that success, happiness, love, and sex should remain separate. Don’t have sex before you get married, but date somebody for six years, graduate college, and get a job before you even start to talk about tying the knot.
Sex is tied to marriage, and marriage is reserved for after you’ve already lived life and had as much fun and success as you can achieve. The easy answer for my generation more often than not is to untie sex from marriage and you can be happy, live life successfully, and still get as much sex as you want. When marriage is described as the last major step after everything good in life has already happened, it’s easy to see why services like Ashley Madison have 37 million names sitting on a server. As Christians, it’s easy to get caught up in the moral conversation about sex, but it only makes us look like moralists standing on a high horse. Dr. Mallinson on a previous post said it excellently, “Virtue thinking encourages us to stop asking what our genitals are allowed to touch and start remembering that if we get our hearts in the right place our genitals will follow.” The real conversation isn’t about sex or adultery, it’s about how we talk about and describe love, sex, and marriage.
Talking about marriage as if it were a plague or the last step before death encourages people, young and old alike, to go outside of marriage to fulfill their sexual desires. Marriage IS an amazing gift from God that brings joy and fulfillment through shared experiences, forgiveness, hard work, and even sex. We should work together to stop hiding those gifts behind a wall of fear, and instead share the joy of marriage with our friends, family, and children.