“Life is short. Have an affair.”
This is Ashley Madison’s slogan, a company that guarantees adulterous relationships. They boast of having almost 40 million “anonymous” members. But the anonymity is over.
As you’ve probably heard, the site was hacked, giving away private information of millions of members to the public. A large number of married men and women have just found out that their spouse committed adultery. This information has crushed the hearts of many. Tragically, some have even taken their own lives because of the infidelity.
This is not easy news to digest. But like any dire situation, there are lessons to be learned.
Let me suggest four things for Christians to keep in mind:
1. Examine your heart.
It’s easy to judge and criticize. “You idiot, why you cheat on your spouse?” We can spot the log in someone else’s eye without removing the speck in our own. If we’re honest, we violate our own standards with embarrassing regularity.
Ask yourself: “Am I struggling with lust — and no one knows it? Do I secretly want to cheat on my spouse? Do I love seeing people fail because I feel better about myself?”
A self-examination would benefit us all.
2. Guard Your Heart.
Fill in the blank: “I would never do ________.”
If you don’t think you’re capabale of committing the ugliest sins, you don’t know your own heart.
Take a few folks from the Bible:
- David committed adultery.
- Lot got drunk and slept with his daughter.
- Abraham gave up his own wife — twice.
- Peter denied Jesus three times.
And the list goes on and on.
If some spiritual giants can fall, then so can you and I.
“Keep watch on yourself, less you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1B).
3. Don’t Follow Your Heart.
“Follow your heart” might be the worst advice ever.
What people have in mind when they say this, I think, is a famous Psalm: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). This verse is telling us guard our hearts, not follow our hearts. Why? Jeremiah tells us: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
That’s your heart’s condition. True, the Christian’s heart is changed at conversion, but indwelling sin and temptation befalls us all until God calls us home.
4. Trust God’s Heart.
The reason I say this is because we have to trust that God is sovereign over tragedies like Ashley Madison. “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Look at the cross — God is in control even when everything seems haywire. And we have to trust his heart in this, that somehow he is working things out for good.
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Also, we can see people from a distance doing all kinds of evil things and think they’re getting away with it. They’re not. No one gets away with anything. God keeps track of everything, and he will repay as he sees fit: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the LORD'” (Romans 12:20).
And so we move on by grace, but also with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). No one is invincible. And even though I’m single, I’ve already started to pray that God would keep me faithful in marriage (Lord willing, of course). Whether you’re single or married, check your heart. Though the world does not always know your heart’s motive, God does.
When temptation comes, remember: obedience leads to joy.
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