Ashley Madison Revealed More Than Real Names

A few months ago, the Ashley Madison website scandal received considerable media coverage. For those few who are unfamiliar with the website, (like I was), the site’s tag line is: “Life is short, have an affair.” “….the world’s leading married dating service for discreet encounters.”

Apparently, Ashley Madison was the safest place to hook up as a married person, until hackers released “millions of users private, real names”, leading to Ashley Madison becoming a national news story. It received days-long media coverage because many of Madison’s customers were famous, and the number of users was excessive (over 37 million according to reports).

Millions of users?

Do you think that at least one of those millions was a parent?

Do you think that the parent ever told their child not to use their real name on a social media website?

Do you think one of those millions ever told their kids to be careful with their credit card information online?

In the words of Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does”. I don’t exclude myself from the mass of humans who has engaged in some very dumb decisions, but I try to avoid deliberate, purposeful idiocy. I’ve often told my kids that I do plenty of spontaneous sinning, so I attempt to exercise self-control with the temptations that require contemplation.

The scandal simply revealed the state of society’s backward principles, making that the greater news story here. Affairs will carry on, with or without Ashley Madison. But, Ashley Madison revealed “millions”. (The site is over 42 million presently.) This extraordinary number shines a flood light on the increasing comfort we have with immorality.

How did the deterioration of traditional values and lack of self-control get to this point? One of the contributors might be that we tell our kids one thing, but blatantly engage in the very activities we tell them not to do. And, hey, we all know how difficult it is to practice what we preach. Again, I do not exclude myself from the struggle.

Parenting is hard. Marriage is hard. But, it is imperative that we indeed practice, not just preach.

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Annul a 20-year marriage?

I ran into an old friend of my Mom’s a few weeks ago at the grocery store.  This woman’s husband left her 15+ years ago with 7 young children.  He left her for a younger woman and his relationship with the kids is estranged at best.

Embracing her in the store, we briefly caught up on all the happenings with her mountain of children and now, grandchildren.  The woman looked exactly as she did when I last randomly bumped into her: exhausted.  She had been working two jobs for over fifteen years, was uneducated, so she was making little money for hard work.  One of her daughters had a child out of wedlock and was living with her as well.  Barely able to make ends meet, this friend secured yet another 10 hour gig on the weekends to help raise the grandchild. Let me repeat:  she looked drained.

Through the ten minute conversation, she mentioned that the ex-husband was happily married, living in another state and hadn’t provided for the kids’ needs in many years.  Upset and distraught with the Catholic Church, she said her ex received the “right” to marry because he had the marriage annulled.

Just to clarify, I asked, “how long were you married?”

“20 years.  7 kids.”

She continued to explain that after the divorce, the Catholic Church had not accepted her as a formal church member, since she was a divorced woman.  She was also forbidden to take communion for many years.  This was especially painful to this woman, because as a devoted Catholic, she did not use birth control – thus, the 7 kids.

Her eyes grew wet as I suggested she try visiting an Evangelical or non-denominational church where she would be lovingly accepted and could develop new relationships.  I emphasized that the “church” is a group of believers in Jesus…that Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus and believing that God loves you – just as you are, right where you are in life.  Christianity is not about being alienated by your Sunday worship center just when you need love and help the most.

It’s important to note that as someone who was raised in a liturgical church, I respect and admire all the tradition.  Although I grew up in a liturgical church, I am no longer familiar with the rules, having been in a different church the last 20 years.  So, upon arriving home I looked up the true meaning of annulment.  “To reduce to nothing.  To obliterate. To make void; invalidate.”  Are we seriously “invalidating” a 20-year marriage for one spouse at his request, after years of painfully rejecting the other spouse by isolating her from the church she devoted herself to?  How does this mentally impact the children?

That afternoon I had a very clear understanding of Gandhi’s words when he said:  “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”