Some people had their eyes opened when the Ashley Madison files were released this week. The adultery site made some news when it came online a few years back. A few months ago it was in the news when it was hacked but it was not a household name. Some of my female Facebook friends and their female friends were stunned and disgusted when they read about the site in one of my posts. They simply couldn’t understand how people can do such things. Let me explain.
There is no question that the Internet has opened up more doors of opportunity for sexual deviancy to a broader number of people than at any time previously in human history. But the Internet is not the problem. It is a symptom of the problem. The biggest problem has been the separation of sex from sacredness.
During the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky affair revelation period, the Clinton defenders championed a line, “It’s only sex.” They downplayed the Clinton affair by downplaying the significance of sexual relations. We were told that “everybody lies about sex”. For them, that is probably true. They are children of the sexual revolution.
Some major restraints were removed from society and that has led to a more lax sexual ethic among people. One of those was the legalization and popularization of birth control pills for women. Up to that point, women were always at significant risk for pregnancy. That was a strong deterrent. Birth control pills allowed women a flexibility that they had never had before. This led to the “free love” movement of the 1960s and 70s where women were encouraged and empowered to have multiple sexual partners without the commitment of marriage. This was the era of the hippie movement, casual drug use, and of women’s liberation – which encouraged women to live the way that the men were perceived to live. A woman could do anything a man could do – even sleep around or not commit to a relationship. Relationships were free to focus on sex not children. Marriage was not really necessary. Cohabitation began to rise.
Sex education began to be taught in schools. While this seems to be a necessary part of human education, it empowered teenagers in larger numbers than in the past. The surrounding culture became increasingly sexualized with television, movies, and music. At the same time there was a rebellion toward religious values of the past. Marriage, monogamy, and fidelity were treated as the ways of the old people. They were not cool and hip for youngsters who were plugged into the current cultural trends. In the early days of Hollywood, sexual misconduct was hidden by the studios so as not to damage the marketability of the stars. But during this time period the excesses of sex, drugs, and rock and roll put a lot of young pop icons on the side of the cultural rebellion. Naturally, many of their fans followed suit.
As the crisis of divorce peaked in the late 70s and teen pregnancy in the late 80s we have seen something of a cooling effect for this unrestrained sexuality movement. However, that does not mean that the effects do not still linger on.
It used to be that cohabitation was both a sin and a public shame. Much of that shame has been washed away from it because the element of sin has been removed or demoted in the minds of people. Out-of-wedlock pregnancy was a serious black mark on your name. It demonstrated a gross moral failing. It was so shameful that parents might ship their daughter off to live elsewhere until the baby was born and then place the baby up for adoption without the community at large knowing about the situation. This was a means of protecting the daughter’s reputation if not the boy’s as well. Another option was to have the couple marry in order to “make things right”. Today the out-of-wedlock birthrate among blacks is at 70% and among whites at 40%. These numbers have more than doubled in the last 25 years. Clearly, young people over the last few decades have not felt the shame in the same way as previous generations. They are empowered by the pop stars who live this way and comforted by friends in their communities who are just like them. These are not heavily church-going people and so the element of sin has been demoted for them. There is not fear of God and no understanding as to why marriage is important.
The sexual revolution has separated sex from the sacredness of marriage and the purpose of child-rearing. It has made sex a recreational activity with little or no moral stigma attached to it for the younger generations. “It’s only sex”, as the Clinton defenders would say. Indeed, for them it is nothing more than a physical stimulation to a physical end. That generation of the sexual revolution could not allow itself to care about the immorality of what they were doing. They ignored the psychological, physical, and social damage that their actions brought upon them. They refused to listen to the counsel of their elders and ministers who advised them against it.
The systems that were put in place: sex education, movies, television, and music have become increasingly sexualized. They are taught that all sexual expression is good, even homosexuality, and now they’re told that homosexuals can even marry! This tells people that there is no difference between the sexes in an even more extreme way than women’s liberation did. Religion is still a devalued commodity and, by statement and implication, considered to be irrelevant to those pushing the sexual revolution ideas today.
What do you expect?
So is it any wonder that a site like Ashley Madison can rise up in such a climate? Josh Duggar will take a lot of heat for his infidelity because he was a moral crusader who fell. He will be held to a higher level of scrutiny than others guilty of the same sins. This is because the community of faith still remember shame and disgrace and calls adultery sin. It doesn’t mean others won’t suffer public humiliation, family strife, financial loss, and divorce.
These are the things that monogamy, fidelity, and faith bring to the human condition. People who are serious about their faith, respectful of their spouse, and value their children, reputation, and jobs do not engage in such behavior. A spouse does not worry. Children are not exposed to marital strife. The expense and emotional turmoil of divorce is not an issue. Life is comparatively more peaceful and happy. These are the things that God desires for His people.
My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
turn your ear to my words of insight,
that you may maintain discretion
and your lips may preserve knowledge.
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
She gives no thought to the way of life;
her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.
The women on my Facebook page are shocked because infidelity is not on their minds. Women, on the whole, are interested in committed relationships. Men are much more likely to be stepping out, even though most do not. The anonymity that these people thought they were buying surely bolstered their confidence that they could get away with it. Whether it was money, power, or ego that drove them to these affairs the one thing that did not drive them was a fear of God. Until people reconnect God with their sexual ethics, we cannot expect a significant change in human behavior. Recognizing the sacredness of the sexual bond is central to human happiness and well being and to the benefit of society as a whole. God knows. He set things up.