Hackers made public lists of thousands of individuals, more often than not, males, who had been advertising that they had been seeking an adulterous affair.
Ed Stetzer covered the subject in his blogs for Christianity Today ‘s family of communications. Four times he focused on Christian, often evangelical, phonies that, presumably, preached against sins from God, as referenced in among those Ten Commandments.
Stetzer’s remarks exemplified the "closing in" or drawing tighter of the noose. First, "My Pastor is about the Ashley Madison List. " Still, that may refer to some distant reverend guy. So, next, "My Husband Is about the Ashley Madison List. " Oh-oh. Third, tightest of "I’m about the Ashley Madison List. The fourth blog is Stetzer’s by-now-welcome sort-of-sermon, "Life is Eternal, Don’t Have an Affair. " That is the obverse of the Ashley Madison come-on, "Life is short: have an affair. "
The Schadenfreude circle had a virtual celebratory dancing: "Gotcha," "cha," significance "you"–the religious, the Christians, and oftentimes, that the Evangelicals. For many years media outlets have featured tales of the phoniness of many moralists: the anti-gay preacher who’s exposed and comes out as homosexual; the Prosperity Gospel evangelizer who proves to have been on the shoot, and more, and much more.
Rather than overdo the subject of hypocrisy, we could take a look at the theological consequences of this new world of secrecy, surveillance, exposure, finger-pointing, and humiliation of another.
The humiliators concentrate on "sexual-zone" sins and therefore are less ready to scold or scorn the pioneers that, for instance, claim to be battling injustice whilst living in ways which depend on and nurture injustice. But so it has ever been.
I recall as a kid in catechism class how we loathed and feared that the celestial "omni-s," which reminded us that God was omni-present, omni-potent, and, relevant here, omni-scient. God was all-powerful (as judge) and all-knowing, that struck usin that portrait, as being a sort of cosmic snoop.
Modern technology brings those omni-s into play in moral talk.
We firmly walk the halls of our flats, kids study in classrooms, and thieves and speeders get captured, as a result of omni-present cameras and omni-potent judges. Hackers have obtained surveillance and exposure to new depths.
A bit of secular pastoral relief was proposed by Farhad Manjoo in Friday’s New York Times business section: "Empathy, Not Ridicule, For Victims of Hacking. " "Everyone has any data–probably lots of itburied in their enormous digital document that they would rather not disclose openly. The issue will increase. "
Manjoo’s sermonette: "Given that inevitability, it may be best to approach disclosures like this one by consulting the Golden Rule. "
Invoking that the Golden Rule can expose the moralist to the charge of disseminating what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace," and that form of elegance is less than amazing.
However, in other contexts it can lead to self-examination, decrease in judgmentalism, and much more openness to indications of ordinary humanity, which has to include observations of frailty and hypocrisy, but also enrich the ethical potential of "omni-surveilled" humans.
Stetzer, Ed. "Life is Eternal. Don’t Have an Affair. Scripture makes it clear: we reap what we sow. For many today, this truth resounds amidst devastation. " Christianity Today , August 25, 2015, The Exchange Blog. http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/august/life-is-eternal-dont-have-affair.html.
Stetzer, Ed. "’I’m about is xmeets real the Ashley Madison List. Now What? ‘ You’ve awakened. http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/august/ashley-madison-caught.html.
Stetzer, Ed. "’My Pastor Is on the Ashley Madison List. ‘ Too many Christians are captured using Ashley Madison, a lot of these pastors and church leaders. What now? " Christianity Today , August 27, 2015, The Exchange Blog. http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/august/my-pastor-is-on-ashley-madison-list.html.
Stetzer, Ed. "’My Husband Is on the Ashley Madison List. What Now? ‘ We’ve addressed personal and pastoral responses to the Ashley Madison escape. Now, Trisha Davis shares about how she coped with all the adultery of her husband. " Christianity Today , August 28, 2015, The Exchange Blog. http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/august/my-husband-is-on-ashley-madison-list.html.
Image: McCarthy’s PhotoWorks / shutterstock.
Writer, Martin E. Marty, is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Modern Christianity in the University of Chicago Divinity School. His biography, publications, and contact information can be seen in www.memarty.com.
To sign up: Sign up here. You will get Sightings by email every Monday and Thursday. For updates about new issues of Sightings, follow with us on Facebook or even Twitter.