Ashley Madison exists to help married people have affairs. With 34 million members, it claims to be the world’s second-largest dating website, second only to Match.com. Avid Life Media, which owns Ashley Madison and related websites, values itself at $1 billion. The company reported revenue of $115 million last year, up 45 percent from 2013. It is making news today with plans to raise up to $200 million by listing its shares in London.
The company claims that it helps married couples: “The response we get from our members who have had an affair via the website is that they feel happier, invigorated and transmit that happiness, which actually reinforces and ignites a spark in their marriage and relationships.”
Don’t be deceived. Satan is the “father of lies” (John 8:44), so we know that all deceit has its ultimate origin in him. Consider three claims regarding adultery, and see if they are Satanic lies intended to destroy your marriage, home, and witness.
Claim #1: “Everyone is doing it.” The truth: the annual prevalence of infidelity is 2.3 percent, according to a national study. A University of Chicago study reports that 75 percent of husbands and 85 percent of wives never have sexual relations outside of marriage. We often hear that Christians have affairs as often as non-Christians. The truth is that worship attendance drops the divorce rate 25 to 50 percent. Satan has used popular media to normalize adultery, so that it seems common and ordinary. The opposite is the case.
Claim #2: “Nobody will get hurt.” The truth: seven out of 10 marriages end after an affair is admitted or discovered. The spouse is often afflicted with “acute stress disorder,” including great sadness, profound fears, intense anger, and severely damaged self-esteem. And an affair can be crippling for the children: 55 percent of adult children from families where one parent was unfaithful commit adultery themselves. Satan wants to use an affair to damage our families and everyone we love.
Claim #3: “Nobody will know.” The truth: the spouse nearly always finds out. One marriage counselor estimates that 99 percent of the time the spouse discovers the affair. Satan loves adultery, because he knows that moral failure damages our witness for Christ. (Tweet this)
If you’ve fallen to the deception of adultery, know that God still loves you. He can forgive every sin you confess to him (1 John 1:9). He can restore any relationship that is completely yielded to his word and will. But don’t let Satan use God’s forgiveness to encourage sin. If we drive a nail into wood, a carpenter can remove the nail but the hole remains.
What’s the solution to Satan’s schemes? Finding our identity in Jesus. When we know we are loved absolutely and unconditionally by Christ, it is easier to refuse the temptation to seek love and affirmation through adultery. When we are in love with Jesus, he helps us love our spouse. And he gives us the power to be faithful and pure.
Consider this wise observation from a veteran marriage therapist: “Very often we don’t go elsewhere because we are looking for another person. We go elsewhere because we are looking for another self. It isn’t so much that we want to leave the person we are with as we want to leave the person we have become.” She was asked, “Would you ever recommend an affair?” Her response: “No more than I would recommend cancer.”
She’s right: adultery is marital cancer. If you’re being tempted, or if you’ve fallen to temptation, turn to the Great Physician—now.