local-input-ashley-madison-is-an-online-dating-service-andThe good, the bad, the ugly. Every society has its share of each. Having them is only the start of our troubles. Being able to identify which is which, now that’s trouble with capital “T.”

We have human traffickers, abortion profiteers, child rapists, serial killers. Can we agree to put all of these under the category of “the ugly”? We also have drug traffickers, corrupt judges, wife beaters, performance enhancement drug users, racists, slumlords, welfare frauds, etc. Are these among “the bad”?

But now we enter the arena which in the minds of many represent the proverbial “gray area.” Finding loopholes in the tax system to pay as little as possible? “Padding” your résumé? Ripping music from the Internet? The list is endless and the cries for not imposing your morality on someone else are loud.

One example of this zone where morality seems to be prohibited is the proliferation of sites that make it easy and “secure” for people to engage in extra-marital affairs. Ashley Madison is the most successful iteration of this business model. Their motto says it all, “Life is short. Have an affair.”

In this post, I intend to show, without appealing to Scriptures, that this business model is wrong. Please, don’t get me wrong. In choosing this approach, I am not saying that the Bible has nothing relevant to say on the topic. We know that the biblical teaching on marital fidelity is unmistakable. Hebrews 13:4, among other texts, leaves no room for speculation: “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.”

But I am trying to do something different here, partially because I believe that the so-called “infidelity business” has left enough skeletons in the closet of their business that I don’t even need to use the Bible to prove how wrong it is. They have left enough tracks on their trail to show us how dirty their enterprise is.

First, there is the woman with the index finger in front of her lips asking everyone to keep it quiet. She is the face of the business, the first thing everyone will see if they choose to visit that website, which I have never done, by the way. Now, why the secrecy? If it’s really good  to revitalize your marriage, like many say, why keep it a secret?

Of course we know the reason for the secrecy. It’s more “sexy.” The allure of doing things no one will ever find out makes the try nearly irresistible. The thief never warns the owner of the day he’s coming to sack the house. It’s the surprise that makes the heist a success. You remove the secrecy and the appeal is gone and that’s why one should be wary of a business model that depends on hiding your actions to achieve the desired result.

Here is another clue regarding the questionable practices of this business. Men buy credit through their website. They use their credit to buy and send gifts to the women. The women, on the other hand, use the site for free. Right there you can see who’s being exploited the most, who’s the bait, who is the hunter and the hunted. This sounds a lot like exploitation of women to me. They are essentially being offered as merchandise to men who can afford them.

Just to be sure, I am not accusing anyone of forcibly getting women to open a profile on a website and receive gifts from men they don’t even know. Obviously, the women who do this do so with their eyes open. But in a world where women and children are the ones most victimized by sexual exploitation, you have to question the ethics of a business that facilitates the offer of women for sexual gratification, whether consented or not.

Finally, for a business that prides itself in keeping the identity of its clients a secret, even charging extra to those who desire such protection, it must have been a complete shock when hackers announced they had obtained the information of 30,000 plus users and would start releasing their  names to the public if their demands were not met.

So let me get this straight: a business that charges a premium to guarantee your secrecy fails colossally in that task and as a result of names being outed, careers are ruined, families are disrupted, and at least one person ends up taking his own life. What redemption line can there be in this trail of tears? None. Because illicit acts beget illicit acts and when life is reduced to getting as much pleasure as quickly as possible, no one cares about what the consequences of one’s actions might be to the life of another human being. Make no mistake about it: every affair is always unfair to someone, whether you spouse, the spouse of the other person, the children, or anyone else you feel compelled to hide your behavior less they change their opinion of you. In the end, there no winners, only losers.

And these are the reasons I think that engaging Ashley Madison’s services is one of the most selfish acts one could commit. And that’s why I think they are wrong.

Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA