Ashley Madison and the Church

brace yourself

The Ashley Madison data hack is already making ripples by exposing high profile evangelicals who have (now) acknowledged having accounts. I predict this is only the beginning. How should the Church respond when people who have been masquerading as Christians are exposed as adulterers? I would like to ask you to:

Care for their souls before their reputations.

Care for their souls before your reputation.

Care for their souls before their ministries.

Care for their souls before their marriages.

And what would that look like? Is that accepting their excuses? Is that believing them when they say it was just “a mistake?”


brown shoe black shoe



Mistakes happen when you get dressed in the dark and you end up at the office wearing 2 different colors of shoes.





on purposeAdultery does not occur because one gets dressed in the dark and makes an honest attempt to do right, but fails. It is on purpose. It is intentional. It involves multiple layers of deception.


But what if they’re sorry?


Let them prove it – OVER YEARS. In the meantime, for their souls’ sake, because you take Galatians 5:19 – 24 seriously, please do not pretend that they are believers and get all the rights and privileges that go along with being true Christians. And that’s the hard part. They will know the right words to say to make you feel guilty, to play you. And if you accept fake repentance, you are doing their souls a great injustice. Please don’t. This is going to be very inconvenient. People you have trusted, people you depend on, people you have laughed and cried with, who you thought you knew, are about to be exposed for what they really are. You won’t like it and you won’t want to believe it. You will have to choose between your comfort and the truth.

Spouses and children will be caught in the fray. Let them see that the Church takes God’s word seriously, that you love them enough to insist that they have a genuine family, not a fake one. If the wounded spouses choose divorce, please don’t act like THEY are breaking the family apart.

morpheus divorce

Please stand by them and offer help, care more for their souls than the divorce stats of your denomination. This is going to be a rough season. But if you are a true shepherd, you will care for the sheep and keep the wolves away.

Originally published at [Internet Archive link].
July 17, 2016 update: Unfortunately is not a functioning website at this time.


Related posts over at Spiritual Sounding Board:

Will Anna Duggar be offered as the next live sacrifice to save the Duggar Family Brand? Scapegoating, “Spread Your Legs Theology” and the Modern Molech [Internet Archive link] — EXCELLENT analysis by Cindy Kunsman.

And for those who need the backstory on Josh Duggar and the Ashley Maddison adultery-purveying website:

Josh Duggar Reportedly Had Account at Ashley Madison, the Site Used to Help Married People Find Someone with Whom to Have an Extramarital Affair [Internet Archive link]

23 thoughts on “Ashley Madison and the Church”

  1. A very good post, Ellie!

    There really is more to repentance than just saying one is sorry after being caught. And it really is possible to forgive without trusting or renewing fellowship.

    On a related topic, you might like to read my recent open letter to Anna Duggar: Dear Anna Duggar [Internet Archive link]

  2. When I read the story about how Anna Duggar took part responsibility for her husbands sin my heart sank. Another victim of this whole wrong, wrong, wrong belief system that the victim is wicked and the sinner is virtuous…My husband of 39 years is a serial adulterer along with being emotionally abusive. I was like Anna, for so many years thinking somehow I was responsible for his reprobate actions. I AM NOT!!!!! I follow stories of women married to “so called sex addicts” and sadly so many times these women are fashion models, some are the most beautiful actresses and over these many years with my own situation I have realized that you can NEVER be enough for these rabid dogs. It is their decision to sin and not the fault of any addiction…Dysfunction is just another word for sin! My words to all the women like myself. You are enough!

  3. Ellie, I love the way you pack punch into memes!

    I didn’t know what the Ashley Madison thing was about, as I hadn’t had time to follow it on the web. But now I know that Ashley Madison is a Canadian site which promotes and facilitates adultery, a link-up dating site for married people to secretly arrange affairs without their spouse knowing, I am DISGUSTED. And it does not surprise me one bit to know that some prominent evangelicals have been using the site.

    In this instance, hackers are helping expose sin and wickedness! Terrific!

    And I think your advice to churches is spot on.

  4. I have been reading about the agunot problem in the Rabbinic court system. An agunah (singular) is literally a chained woman. The husband will not give her a get (divorce). It is considered a form of spousal abuse.

    Conservative Christians have turned women in bad marriages into agunot (plural) by saying divorce is a sin. Divorce is not the sin but putting the wife away without giving her a divorce certificate (get). A 2,000 year misreading of the Bible, including what Jesus said in Matthew has chained women (agunot) to bad marriages that include abuse and adultery.I have several links. I hope that it is ok to include one. Agunot: A Different Kind of Hostage [Internet Archive link]

    1. Thanks Wisdomchaser. When I researched the material on divorce in order to write my book, I learned about the agunah. The rabbis interpret Deut. 24:1-4 to mean that only the husband can issue a divorce certificate; they say that text means the wife cannot issue the divorce certificate.

      As I recall, David Instone-Brewer writes about this in his book Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context [Affiliate link]. He cites documents from diaspora Jewish communities a few centuries before Christ which indicate that in in those communities, Jewish women were initiating divorce against their husbands, and issuing divorce certificates with authority of the Jewish courts.

      He also writes about how the Mishnah indicates that sometimes the Jewish leaders would bring pressure or force to bear on the recalcitrant husband, to make him issue a divorce certificate and thus set the wife free.

      Sadly, the Jewish leaders’ authority to enforce their rulings on dog-in-the-manger husbands no longer pertains in many Jewish communities today. Hence the ‘chained’ Jewish women whose marriages are to all intents and puposes over, but whose husbands refuse to issue the ‘get’ so the women are unable to remarry.

      I have even heard of cases where the husband took a jail sentence from an Israeli court, rather than sign the ‘get’ and set his wife free to remarry. To me, that kind of thing shouts “abusive husband”!

    2. Hi Wisdomchaser, I’ve edited and re-edited the other reply I’ve published in response to your comment, so please check my reply on the blog, don’t just go by what is in the notification in your email in-box.

  5. We are told that there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open (Lk 8:17). And also that one can be sure that one’s sin will find one out (Ex .32:23). And Ps 139:12 confirms that to God there is no darkness and nobody can hide from Him.

    My H’s sin before our marriage is slowly being disclosed and he’s only shooting himself in the foot. Shame on all the nominal Christians for dishonoring God and Christ’s beloved church!

  6. I have been following this blog for a few years now and this post in particular is the best one I’ve ever seen depicting the way sex addicts destroy lives and families within the boundaries of the church and beyond. I was married for 18 years to a sex addict. A few years ago I found out the extent of what he had been doing in secret and was sadly sucked down a proverbial rabbit hole. The next 7 months that followed brutally seared my mind with knowledge of sex sites, online dating ‘hook-up’ sites, and bestiality clubs. Never in my wildest dreams, as a Christian woman, would I have ever thought such evil existed. I will never be the same after viewing such filth.

    It is now been a few years post split and divorce, and my church community abandoned me and my two children. The church and subsequent ‘Christian’ school my son attended make it clear they wanted no part of our family. Not only that, but so called Christian ‘friends’ literally turn their backs on us when they see us in public. We are totally alone in our walk and subsequent recovery from such devastation.

    My ex-husband was OPENLY bragging about his exploits to friends and sharing sites with the men who wanted to participate. Two days ago, I found out my ex-husband is a registered member on Ashley Madison. In some odd way it is comforting to know that all my gut instincts weren’t wrong when it came to the depth of his depravity and I feel in some way I can now heal from what I’ve seen and heard.

    Just as a post script, my ex-husband is now remarried and actively participating in his new ‘church’ family and leading the men’s Bible study. If only all who were around him knew who he was, I wonder how long they would tolerate him in the fold.

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and insights with all of us who are hurting and looking for answers. I pray all of us receive the healing we deserve. It is my greatest hope of all.

    1. Enough,

      You will notice that I changed your screen name and eliminated a couple identifying phrases in your comment – to protect your identity.

      We hear stories like that of your ex-h again and again. The upstanding “c”hristian abuser – polished to a shine on the outside and accepted with open arms by the “church” family – yet within lives evil, pure evil. Yes, your gut was right. Often times it is.

      And my guess – if those around him knew who he really was they would just toot their “love and forgive” horn loud enough to drowned out the truth.

    2. Enough, regarding your comment:In some odd way it is comforting to know that all my gut instincts weren’t wrong when it came to the depth of his depravity.
      One of the hardest things to learn for me is how to trust those God given instincts that we have. I knew my h was doing all kinds of stuff for years but couldn’t prove it. He finally admitted way more than I had even imagined. Now I try to trust those gut instincts more but it’s hard!
      God bless you as you pursue healing!!!! You are ENOUGH!

    3. Bitter But Getting Better, this: “God given instincts that we have”, I’ve been learning to listen to the “intuition” inside (gut feelings), which abusers know how to muffle in their victims. A recommended book here at Crying Out for Justice is The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. I started reading it (got it out of my local library) and is EXCELLENT!

      1. Innoscent, thanks for the suggestion. I read it years ago but will have to read it again. Blessings to you today!

  7. Thank you for changing my screen name. It is deeply appreciated. And yes, I believe you’re right — his immediate family knows of his depraved behavior and keeps on co-enabling him. His church family would only excuse away the behavior and most likely blame me as the result. The stories he’s told anyone who would listen since I threw him out are utterly shameful. It is even painful to go to the grocery store because of the people who work there and used to know us. He’s a gifted liar.

  8. At times like this, I am so glad I’m single.

    But yes, the same song and dance. I watched my father blame-shift to my mother for everything, including his perversions. I watched pastors of my childhood church get caught in adultery, step down for a while, and then go right back into pastoring with the church’s blessing. One of my dad’s drinking buddies was a Bible study leader.

    Am I the only one who looks around at Christendom, both today’s present one and that of 2000 years’ worth of history, and wonder whether my faith is for nothing? How can a true faith produce so many evil followers, and so many others who make excuses for them? How can a truly inspired text be so confusing, such that for 2000 years we would lose the original cultural context and think that we’re all trapped with our abusers / adulterous spouses until death do we part? Couldn’t God have pre-empted such misunderstandings in the Bible by putting more clarity into the New Testament? And seriously, the people who resisted even widows remarrying and called it adultery are the same people who determined which NT epistles were apostolic.

    On one level I know God exists, and that He is Jesus. On the other level, I’m so confused. Am I the only one?

    1. Megan, I don’t think you are the only one to ask those kinds of questions. When I was writing my book, I sometimes thought “Couldn’t God have pre-empted such misunderstandings in the Bible by putting more clarity into the New Testament?” The only answer to that question is Yes, He could have; but for reasons we cannot fully understand till we get to heaven, He didn’t.

      I think that the misunderstandings of the scriptures about divorce and remarriage can be explained by the fact that all down the years, from the first inception of the NT church, evil people have crept in and passed themselves off as believers and led many astray after them.

      But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3 ESV)

      God warned all Christians about this in His Word many times (2 Peter is just one example of this kind of warning); but many people have chosen to ignore the warnings and chosen instead to follow the sensual, ear-tickling false teachers. Hence the way of truth is blasphemed, and people like you are asking the questions you are asking. . .

      Remember, false teachers are not just those who stand in pulpits or write books or articles. Teaching can be done by example too, in the way people live their daily lives and interact with each other. Pharisees in the pews have, by their haughty looks and frowning brows, been setting a bad example to true beievers down the centuries. And on the other side of the coin, libertines in the pews have, by their cavalier approach to sin, been setting an example that leads the weak astray.

      1. Hi Barb, sorry about the criss-cross in my replies. I had intended that last one for Twbtc. Thanks for the reply. I get it. It’s just…even famous ones we look up to from the past, like Augustine, were so instrumental in laying the groundwork for the mess we have today. It’s depressing. It’s hard to call some of these men from history false prophets when they also offered up so much good. But I suppose that’s where we must learn from history and beware of teachings that have been passed onto us, to check them afresh against Scripture, in case even an honest mistake was made, or a more intentional twisting made.

    2. Megan,
      It doesn’t make sense, does it? The evil that masquerades as a ‘c’hristian, and how it can be so rampant. But I don’t see the problem stemming from true faith or because of lack of clarity in scripture. Instead possibly the problem is with man and his sinful nature and especially the sinful man who chooses to use scripture for evil.

      The Bible warns us that there are those who will use scripture for their own self-glory and self-justification instead of using it for God’s glory. And these people, who’s motives are wicked and evil, cannot believe. In spite of the fact that they search the scriptures, and are even perceived as highly knowledgable in the scriptures – they cannot see, hear, or understand God. No matter how clearly God may spell it out for them. Why? Because they search the scriptures to seek their own glory, not God’s. (John 5:37-44)

      Pastor Crippen is far better at revealing what scripture says about the use of scripture for evil intent. If you have time, may I suggest his sermon When the Study of the Bible is Turned to Evil This link will take you to the audio of his sermon posted at

      1. Whoops! I got my replies to Barb and you mixed up! I meant to say to you that the sermon by Jeff was very good. Thanks for recommending it!

  9. Barb commented:

    Remember, false teachers are not just those who stand in pulpits or write books or articles. Teaching can be done by example too, in the way people live their daily lives and interact with each other. Pharisees in the pews have, by their haughty looks and frowning brows, been setting a bad example to true believers down the centuries. And on the other side of the coin, libertines in the pews have, by their cavalier approach to sin, been setting an example that leads the weak astray.

    I encountered both the Pharisees and the libertines. I did not have anyone who cared enough for my soul to warn me about an impending decision. I paid a painful and expensive price to learn something I needed to learn. (And that wasn’t the first time.)

    Each time, the Holy Spirit has led me to safety – or at least, from that specific instance.

    Some of my errors arose from living my entire life in abusive relationships, both personal and professional. Some of my errors arose from a hyper-vigilant nervous system. Some of my errors arose from what I now know are permanently damaged emotional boundaries, a result of infant sexual violation.

    I read the original post, linked articles, and comments generated – including some of the links the comments contained.

    I am afraid of repeating that loop.

    Each time I need longer to heal.

    I follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, but I have misunderstood His communication in the past.

    Perhaps the closer connection with God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – will make-up for my limitations.

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