fighting for free hearts

I Am Ashley Madison

No. This is not an admission that i had an account with Ashley Madison. i didn’t. And for that i am grateful.

But when you consider Jesus’ words about looking at women with lustful intent being the same as adultery at  the heart level, i essentially had an account all those years i was in my addictive pattern with porn — even though Ashley Madison didn’t exist then.

The point is, i didn’t need Ashley Madison to live an adulterous life. Nobody does. The fact that i didn’t have an account doesn’t make me any better than the men (or women) who did.

This is why i cannot gloat, nor should i. This is why the jokes i hear about the people caught in the Ashley Madison Dump —quite a phrase when you think about it — don’t really make me laugh.

Instead, this story brings to mind scenes of utter pain and devastation from my own marriage dating back to the time when my wife finally learned of my 12-year addictive pattern with pornography.

It seems as though there is a very casual attitude among many with regard to adultery such that Ashley Madison easily became a punchline. But the thing that gets lost in that is the fact that this saga involves real people.

It involves real people who made commitments to each other and then — at least one of them — purposefully and blatantly violated that commitment. This means that in millions of marriages one party was honoring that commitment; honoring their spouse; and trusting the other party to do the same.

The betrayal of trust is absolutely brutal. You know this to be true because when you are a victim of it the pain is deep and real, and you seek reprisal.

i betrayed the trust of my wife for many years, just as the men who used Ashley Madison have done.

And that is why i am Ashley Madison.

The fact that i haven’t looked at porn in a very long time is great, but it doesn’t mean i can’t still have plenty of adulterous thoughts if i let my heart run towards the lusts that beckon. It’s true, there is a big difference between what stays in your thoughts and then acting on those thoughts to have an affair — with or without the help of a site such as Ashley Madison.

This is where many people feel they have the moral high ground: I may have thought about adultery, but i didn’t act on it.

Of course, not following through on adulterous thoughts is commendable. But if that’s the basis for celebrating the pain and ruin of those caught in the Ashley Madison ordeal, then that’s shaky ground.

You could easily say, as many have, that those cheaters got what they deserved by being outed. But what kind of people celebrate the destruction of marriage?

Wouldn’t doing that make us just like Ashley Madison’s founders; people who once offered a $1 million prize to any woman who could prove she had had sex with NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.

Regardless of what you think of Tebow — who has been outspoken about his celibacy until marriage — the real issue is that Ashley Madison put a veneer of sophistication on a horrible thing: cheating, and using sex against people.

But then again, so many of us have. i lived a life of selfishness and disregard for my wife, as well as the  vows i took to her on our wedding day, when i was living in my addiction. i believed i needed and deserved pornography because of how it made me feel.

i put the veneer of sophistication on my sexual compulsion by justifying it and having what i thought were clever defenses ready. My sex was mine and i didn’t care if others got hurt by it.

i am Ashley Madison? Well, i was, and i have much in common with those men who are now dealing with the fallout.

Many of us do.

 

 

 

 

 

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