Ashley Madison, the company with the tagline: “Life is short. Have an affair,” has been fertile ground for the devil. He now reaches beyond those that have fallen hard, seeking to also pull in the gleeful spectators. For by enjoying the specter of moral destruction, Satan pits people against the will of God who desires salvation not downfall.
To summarize the Ashley Madison fiasco: when threats to take down the adultery website went unheeded, hackers calling themselves the Impact Team, made good on their threat and leaked data on more than 30 million Ashley Madison users. The details — including names, emails, home addresses, financial data and message history, of even those that had paid to be deleted — were posted publicly online.
What Goes Around Comes Around
The hacking of the multi-million-dollar company heaped a humiliating comeuppance on adulterers, or at least sleepless-nights among those fearing discovery. The devil pulled the strings with front man Noel Biderman, self-proclaimed "King of Infidelity" and CEO of Avid Life Media, the parent company of Ashley Madison. He was king of deception for sure, even swindling wanna-be cheaters before they got their own cheating into gear. For although the website had 37 million registered users, a detailed analysis by Gizmodo found a mere 12,000 of the 5.5 million female profiles belonged to real people.
Biderman claimed to only be trafficking in adultery, not partaking himself since his wife, the mother of his two children, made it clear that she would not be cool with that. A third email dump, however, revealed that—oh shock--the King of Deception was partaking in his own adulterous games. I haven’t heard how his wife took the news but seriously, what did she expect? It’s a bad idea to flirt with fire—or as Catholics call it, the near occasion of sin—because the devil is all about the burn. If your husband aids and abets adultery, his own infidelity is just a matter of time.
If Biderman had read his Bible he should have expected this. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open, (Luke 8:17). The hackers just beat God to the punch.
That last dump of information that exposed Biderman, led to him stepping down. Since the hacking, at least 5 lawsuits have been filed against Ashley Madison; one from Canada is for $578 million. And in the meantime, Avid Life Media is scrambling to find who betrayed the betrayer, offering a bounty $500,000 Canadian dollars (around US$379,000) for leads to the hackers. What a costly debacle!
“Many people see the Ashley Madison leaks as a good thing because it exposes people whom they view as "sick perverts and adulterers,” according to Peter Kleponis, PhD., assistant director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in West Conshohocken, PA, and a clinical therapist specializing in marriage and family issues and pornography addiction. He is the author of the book, Integrity Restored: Helping Catholic Families Win the Battle Against Pornography, and the website Integrity Restored, to help overcome pornography. “It's easy to condemn these people for their actions,” he said. “However, as Catholics we need to step back and view these people for who they really are - beloved children of God who are deeply wounded and in need of love and mercy.”
|Dr. Peter Kleponis|
Kleponis explained that he is not trying to exonerate their actions because establishing accounts on Ashley Madison is wrong and they must answer for their actions. “But what would make a person join Ashley Madison?” he asked. “For some it's pure selfishness - a hedonistic view of life that leads to a sense of entitlement. However, for most members I believe it's the natural progression of sexual addiction.” According to him, many of these people began by viewing Internet pornography and became addicted to it. As the addiction progressed and a tolerance developed, viewing the sexual act was no longer arousing so they craved something stronger. “This meant participating in the sex they viewed on the Internet,” Kleponis said. “Ashley Madison was an easy way to meet people for "hookups” to feed their addiction without anyone knowing.”
He said he suspects that Ashley Madison did not bring them happiness. “They were probably very sad and hated themselves for what they were doing, but felt trapped,” Kleponis explained. In actuality, Kleponis said the Ashley Madison leak was probably the best thing that could happen to them because it is a push to freedom. “Yes, it is very embarrassing and shameful,” he said. “Yes, many spouses and loved ones have been deeply hurt. However, now that it's all out in the open, those who are addicted can get the help they need."
Kleponis said they still need to answer for their actions, but that's between them and God and their loved ones. For the rest of us, he said, “We need to pray for all involved so that they can experience God's great love and healing.”
Smug is not a Virtue
For non-cheating couples, Ashley Madison deepens our feeling of security that comes from the luxury of living morally. Life is so easy when one follows the rules because ultimately the rules are about the freedom to live well. It is the devil that dangles forbidden fruit as license in front of those too blind to recognize the slavery of sin. But are the smug also part of the fallen?
Consider, are you enjoying this scandal rather than finding it disturbing and sad? Do you care that lives are being destroyed and even ended? Has it occurred to you to pray a rosary or a chaplet of Mercy for those mired in hopelessness and sin?
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2).
For more inspiration, check out Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families. Follow Patti at Twitter and like her Facebook pages at Dear God Books, Big Hearted Families and Catholic News & Inspiration on Facebook. Sign up at the right column to receive articles in your inbox. God bless you!