One of the big stories in the news this week is the Ashley Madison scandal. The biggest draw today is that Josh Duggar, formerly of TLC 19 kids and counting, is one of the men who was on the list, and he has publically claimed to have repented of his infidelities to his wife. I won’t comment on whether I think his repentance is genuine or not, any crimes he has committed are the jurisdiction of the government, not the church. Time will tell if his repentance is genuine. Man will claim that Duggar’s actions prove all Christians are hypocrites—as if the existence of a counterfeit twenty dollar bill proves there are no real greenbacks. Josh Duggar, whatever his sins and failings might be, is not the real story.
Nor is the real story the hacking itself, though of course, no one absolves someone from breaking into a computer system, releasing information or the patron’s credit cards as is alleged to have happen. Yet, what is really interesting is that Ashley Madison’s corporate owners attacked the hacking group by stating these were criminals who were trying to foist their own moral values on society. But this is to have the matter backwards; the fact that this information release has consequences proves the modern prophets of the new sexual ethic to be wrong.
Lets look at what is really happening. People were having affairs, they were connecting with the internet for anonymous sex, and they are upset that they have been caught, despite the fact that they were willing participants. If monogamy was really all that foreign to the American culture, then the Ashley Madison reveal would have no major consequences. If our society were really “enlightened” through the sexual revolution of the sixties, if “everyone” was really doing it, then it would not be shocking that “so and so” is doing it.
Someone might argue that modern sexual mores (or lack there of) are no big deal, after all, millions of people were signed up for Ashley Morgan (mostly men). Yet, they will argue, even if it is no real issue of morality, it might have social consequences, such as divorce. But, if modern sexual mores were as prevalent and as self-evident as these men imply, wouldn’t we embrace the social fallout as natural and good? If monogamy is a socially outdate idea, then shouldn’t the dissolution of marriages be the cause célèbre of the day? After all, one of the central tenants of marriage in the west, until recently, is that it was a commitment to a monogamous life? Other implications have been brought forward as well, for example, some people in the military might face court marshal, but why is that true in the first place? During the first World War, most European armies procured prostitutes rather openly and the US Military has long had a tendency to look the other way when it comes to prostitution, provided it doesn’t impact the mission; It is only when something is actually scandalous that the military seems to take major interest in morals clauses.
It seems to me the social ramifications, if they exist, are simply further evidence of a greater issue: Shame, the result of guilt. The sexual revolution spread the lie that human beings could have “free love” without ramifications and found that human jealousies were not so easily set aside. Sometimes the Romans are viewed positively for their looser views of sexual morality, but even their literature shows that sexual jealousy was understood by the ancient world to be a powerful, but negative force, the Illiad reveals the division of the Greek army created and the war itself started over sexual jealousy. Our modern belief in the changes of social mores are often expressed in the abstract, people may very well talk about how infidelity is natural, but would perhaps not take the same tack if the person who was unfaithful was their spouse. Some men will likely find out too late, that the wives they will lose, along with the respect of their children was worth far more than the pleasure involved.
Some will argue from an evolutionary perspective that moral codes developed to perpetuate the species, but such arguments are highly speculative, and imaginative. One can likely make a case for how any social custom evolved (one can also speculate that human jealousies could not have evolved because they are counter-productive for evolution as well, if one really tries), but one cannot demonstrate that it actually has done so. Social evolutionary theory then is limited in its explanatory power due to its lackluster methodology. And while someone can imagine other answers to the question, I believe the one in the Bible best explains this tension between the sin nature’s desire to cheat on the one hand, and the shame brought on by the conscience on the other. The ultimate reason why men want to cheat desire to do so anonymously is because, “Men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.”