As far as I know, there wasn’t one single person at our weekly gathering this past Sunday whose name was revealed through the Ashley Madison data hack. And that’s a problem. In fairness, if my name or one of our leaders names had been on the list, that would have been a bigger problem. But I don’t want us to ignore the problem we do have.
It seems like people are responding to Ashely Madison in one of two ways: condemnation or amusement. Condemnation seems more prevalent within the church and amusement in the broader society. Both are deadly.
At it’s core, amusement says, “none of this really matters.” Marriage isn’t that big of a deal, people cheat, the operators of the site made a fortune and it’s kind of fun to watch people get outed. Of course, if it’s a high profile person being exposed, that makes it even more fun. To be honest, I have trouble understanding how the destruction of marriages, family and trust can be sport for the rest of us.
Unfortunately, I do understand the temptation to condemn. It’s so easy to take shots at a site so vile and at people who have done something so stupid. God’s been using two passage of Scripture to help me fight my condemning spirit: 1 Corinthians 10:12 and Matthew 5:28. The 1 Corinthians passage is a helpful reminder, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” This whole mess should push each one of us deeper into community, into accountability and into establishing boundaries that protect our faithfulness and integrity. We need to focus more on ourselves and less on casting stones at others. By the way, in case you’re still tempted to fling a rock or two, let Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 sink in, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
People on the Ashley Madison list don’t need our jokes or our judgement. They need Jesus. Only in Jesus will they find a God who draws near to the broken. Jesus doesn’t sweep sin under the carpet. He carries it to the cross. Jesus died for every single person on Ashely Madison’s list. He offers hope, cleansing and restoration. He offers a new day, a new life and a new way of living. He breaks us free from the chains of sin and death and allows us to experience life and joy.
If that’s true, why wasn’t Restoration City filled with people looking for that kind of hope this weekend?
We should have been. Churches all over this country should have been packed with outed adulterers who knew they would be welcomed, cared for and loved. It seems like we still have some work to do in broadcasting the message of grace.
I’m not writing this to condemn the church. I’m writing this to remind all of us that we are the church and you’re living your life this week as an ambassador of Christ.(2 Cor. 5:20) Stand for truth. Don’t laugh at the jokes. Show grace. Broadcast hope. Point to Jesus. People don’t need to come to a church to hear the gospel. They just need to meet you. And if you know any one on the Ashley Madison list, tell them we would love to have them with us this Sunday.