“Life is Short. Have An Affair.” – Ashley Madison
Their message was clear. You don’t have time to waste in a difficult or unsatisfying marriage. You don’t have time to waste in the boredom of faithful, sacrificial service to your spouse. You deserve better. You are better, so secretly step out and be satisfied. Find someone who fits you—and nobody has to know.
Ashley Madison’s offer to arrange a secret fling was popular. The adultery promoting website boasted of some 38 million anonymous members before they were outed by a group of hackers this week.
The shockwaves from this exposure will be far reaching and the fallout will be devastating. The names on the lists are real people. They have real spouses, real children, and real parents who must now deal with the real and lasting effects. Tens of millions of lives are now different because of this unveiling of sinful escapades.
Times like this provide us a unique opportunity to consider the deadly deception of sin. Let’s reflect on Ashley Madison’s message in light of what we’ve learned.
- Life is short. Don’t believe the lie.
The Madison tag line does what all good temptations do—tell you a partial truth.
Life is short. This is true. We only have a brief amount of time to get the most out of our days before they are over. This makes the pains of a difficult marriage feel all the more imposing on our happiness.
Life is short. I deserve better.
Life is short. This isn’t who I thought I was marrying.
Life is short. I am tired of being the only one trying to make this work.
Pitting the difficulty of marriage against the brevity of life is a masterful way to allow discontentment to take a seat in the den of your heart.
It’s the same trick Satan pulled on Adam and Eve in the Garden when he told them that if they ate of the forbidden fruit they would “be like God knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-6).
Satan told the truth to them. When they ate, they would go from only knowing good, to now experiencing evil as well. All that was true. The lie was that knowing evil would be better for them than the goodness God had already supplied.
I bet that first bite of the forbidden fruit was amazing. But the aftertaste has been more bitter than they could have imagined.
The temptation of adultery plays the same trick. At first, there is pleasure. The thrill of secrecy. The power of curiosity. The excitement of newness. The satisfaction of passion.
But that’s where the truth ends and the bitterness of the lie begins. If Madison was honest, her tag line would have said:
Life is Short. Let us help you destroy it!
Life is short. Be ever anxious about covering your tracks and deleting emails and erasing texts.
Life is short. Be always imagining ways to explain your travels and bank withdrawals.
Life is short. Be racked with fear and indescribable guilt when you walk in your house and see the eyes of your spouse and children.
Life is short. Be ready to get caught, because you will get caught.
We all get caught.
- Life is short. You will be exposed.
On Tuesday, a list of adulterers was laid bare for all to see. We know no one expected this to happen. That’s why they used a site that promised anonymity for their adultery. They assumed, like we all do, that lies can be hidden.
We all do this don’t we? We think no one will know about that little lie we told. No one will see that Internet history we deleted. No one will see the way we judged that person in our heart.
We think that we can hide our sin, but the fact is that eventually “your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). And as shocking and devastating as the Ashley Madison unveiling was for those affected, it is merely a foreshadowing of what will happen for all people on one quickly approaching Day.
Jesus promised that “nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17). That means that every thing that has ever been done, thought, or imagined by every person who has ever lived, will one day be brought out in broad daylight.
The book of Revelation paints a picture of a day when all things will be exposed, not merely before other sinful people, but before the holy and just God of the universe.
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. From His presence earth and sky fled away…and I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened…and the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Revelation 20:11-12).
On that day the list of all lists will be unveiled. Dates. Places. Actions. Motives. Lies. Cover-ups. Justifications.
Everything that has ever been done. By you. By me.
This is why the Ashley Madison exposure is such a blessing in disguise, both for those on the list, and for those on the outside looking in. It is a warning that one day all of our lists will be exposed, and God will not overlook any evil. But because He is good, He will bring just and eternal judgment on all people who have sinned (John 5:26-29).
- Life is short. Come to Jesus.
This brings us back to the truth that Ashley Madison reminded us: life is short. But the brevity of life should not lead us to pursue fleeting and deceptive escapes.
Rather, it should bring a sober realization that what we need is not deliverance from the pressures of this life, but we need a Savior. We need someone to deliver us from the judgment that awaits us all.
And here we find the scandal of the Gospel. That Jesus is the Savior of all sorts of sinners. He did not come for those who have no sin. Rather, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Jesus came and died on the cross as a substitute for adulterers and liars and religious hypocrites alike. He then rose from the dead to extend forgiveness to all who will come to Him. For those who turn from their sin and believe in Him, He “forgives all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us” Colossians 2:13-14.
If you were on the Ashley Madison list, come to Jesus. He will forgive you. No matter if you were an atheist or a Christian. Today is the day to turn from your sin and turn to the Savior.
If you were among the ones wounded by someone on the list, come to Jesus. He promises that “we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
If you are someone on the outside looking in, come to Jesus. Events like this remind us that we too can fall into grave sin (1 Corinthians 10:12) and that we must prepare to give an account for our own lives.
Life is short. Don’t believe sin’s lies. All things will be exposed. Come to Jesus.