“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”—Proverbs 4:23
Unless you live in a cave, you’ve probably heard that a group of hackers recently released the names of nearly 90,000 clients of “Ashley Madison,” a Canadian dating website marketed to married people with the slogan, “Life is short. Have an affair.” There have been some claims, mostly unsubstantiated, that close to 400 pastors would have to resign because of their involvement on the website.
I don’t know about you, but this whole scandal just makes me sad. If church members and pastors are indeed involved, what kind of testimony is that to the “unsaved”? I don’t want to convey an “us versus them” mentality, but as Christians, we have a responsibility to live as set apart, to be an example of godly living. If we aren’t living above reproach, how will this translate to faith seekers? Will they become disillusioned because of this display by “Christians”?
Here are four lessons we can learn from this whole debacle.
1. The Truth Will Always Come Out
Adam and Eve couldn’t hide the truth from God in the garden when they disobeyed him, so what makes us think it will be different for us? I know that affairs can happen for many different reasons—neglect, abuse, distance, a moment of weakness—but it’s still a tragedy, all the same. It’s not how God intended love to look or act.
Sometimes I wonder if these things happen because people think they won’t get caught. I’m reminded of the Scripture verse: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” (Luke 8:17). If Christians believe they can hide sin, think again.
2. Christians Aren’t Impervious to Temptation
If you think that you will never struggle with temptation after becoming a Christian, you are sorely mistaken. Temptation is still alive among Christ-followers. When Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray, he even taught them to pray against temptation: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).
If you know you struggle with a specific type of temptation, be aware of it. Be vigilant. Be on your guard! Even though Christians are set apart, we can still stumble and fall. If some Christians have been caught in this mess, I pray that they find healing, forgiveness and grace on their road to recovery and reconciliation. Temptation is very real, especially among those who claim to be Christ-followers.
3. Guard Your Heart
The third lesson is this: guard your heart. Put up barriers to sin and temptation. If you have trouble with overeating, then don’t drive by the doughnut shop. Take special precautions to avoid situations in which you might fall into temptation. If you’re proactive, you stand a better chance of side-stepping the things that trip you up. When we guard our hearts, we guard our lives. When we filter the things that we allow into our hearts and minds, we are able to withstand the barrage of temptation.
4. Hold Your Judgment
I don’t want to condemn anyone who is caught up in this scandal today. I’m not perfect, and I’m sure you aren’t either. Here’s a newsflash—neither is the church. In fact, our church doors are open to all who are imperfect and require the kind of healing and grace only Christ can offer.
We might be tempted to sit back and judge people who have been caught in this whole Ashley Madison mess, but think again. Hold your judgment and try to offer grace. I’m not saying we allow sin to continue in our churches—I’m saying we must allow grace, forgiveness and love to enter the equation before we cast the first stone. I pray for healing for those in need of it today.
Captain Scott Strissel is the corps officer at Evansville Corps and Community Center in Indiana. He is an active blogger and contributor for the purpose of encouraging and challenging the Salvation Army world. Read his blog at pastorsponderings.org.