If you have been uncertain if we live in modern-day Babylon, then this should settle any doubt you might have. I found it sadly ironic that the website that tempted over 32 million people to cheat on their spouse by advertising "Life is too short. Have an affair", is now accusing the group that hacked them of being "immoral." Spokesmen for Avid Life Media (ALM), which owns the tempting website Ashley Madison, released the following statement:
This event is not an act of hacktivism, it is an act of criminality. It is an illegal action against the individual members of AshleyMadison.com, as well as any freethinking people who choose to engage in fully lawful online activities.
The criminal, or criminals, involved in this act have appointed themselves as the moral judge, juror, and executioner, seeing fit to impose a personal notion of virtue on all of society.
We will not sit idly by and allow these thieves to force their personal ideology on citizens around the world. We are continuing to fully co-operate with law enforcement to seek to hold the guilty parties accountable to the strictest measures of the law.
A month ago, the site was very publicly hacked and the hackers, who call themselves The Impact Team, leaked snippets of the compromised data and threatened to publish names and salacious details of as many as 37 million customers unless Ashley Madison and its parent company were taken down. A couple days ago they made good on that threat. But did you note how quick ALM is to call the hackers "the guilty parties"?
The blame game that ALM is trying to establish attempts to follow this logic ... The Impact Team dumped a huge cache of data containing customer information, including email addresses and credit card details on the Dark Web. And what is the Dark Web? It is sort of an "internet black market" which cannot be accessed with the usual search engines such as Google, instead requiring the use of a covert internet browser called TOR.
As their statement proclaims, ALM would like you to believe that they are a target of cyber vigilantism, and claim that the hackers have appointed themselves as "the moral judge, juror, and executioner, seeing fit to impose a personal notion of virtue on all of society," Avid Line Media said in its statement. "These are illegitimate acts that have real consequences for innocent citizens who are simply going about their daily lives."
Excuse me? Did they say "innocent" citizens? How is anyone innocent who is caught actively seeking an opportunity to cheat on their spouse? Since when is one innocent who thinks that having an affair is OK? And even if you don't believe that marriage is a sacred and holy institution in the eyes of God, you can't tell me that there isn't a part of every human being on the planet that feels a sense of wrong in betraying the trust of a loved one!
So which are they, these millions of men and women who feel it's OK to commit adultery, and these company executives who proudly promote this temptation? Are they immoral or amoral? First, we have to understand the difference. Immoral means ‘failing to adhere to moral standards.’ Amoral means ‘without, or not concerned with, moral standards.’ An immoral person commits acts that violate society's moral norms. An amoral person has no understanding of these norms, or no sense of right and wrong. Whereas amoral may be simply descriptive, immoral is always judgmental.
So, let's just cut to the chase, shall we? As sad as it is to admit, I am beginning to discern that our moral standards are becoming a thing of the past. Is anyone even interested in being "moral" anymore? If you are a moral person, you are concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character. It seems to me that the parent company of Ashley Madison doesn't give a flip about whether the behavior they promote is right or wrong, good or bad for the people it affects. They're just loving the money! And the millions who have signed on as subscribers to the site? I think they fit both descriptions; they are both immoral and amoral --- they have abandoned any moral standard they might have had, and obviously aren't concerned about violating any code of honorable behavior.
And even if you have a sense about what is right and wrong, or have determined what you think is good or bad for society, would you agree with me that our standards have slipped? Our acceptable guidelines and patterns of living are becoming widely divergent. It is obvious that the standards between secular and faith-based groups are moving in opposite directions; but even as Christians, we are seeing a division among those who strictly adhere to God's standards, and those who want to merge with the culture.
As bad as all this sounds, there are still some in the business world who are resisting the lure of Ashley Madison. I think we can all agree that pornography is a pervasive, yet common, cancer upon the human soul --- even Subway's ordinary spokesman, Jared, has pleaded guilty to porn and soliciting sex with minors. Did you know that statistics say that 68% of young men, and 18% of young women view porn on the internet at least once a week?
But take heart! Even in the midst of this shocking revelation, a site such as Ashley Madison which promotes adultery still has the power to offend. (Remember that adultery is listed after murder in the Ten Commandments). Ashley Madison is banned from South Korea and Singapore, and the justice secretary in the Philippines said she would like to do the same.
And despite the parent company's 2014 ad budget of $34 million, Microsoft's Bing search engine will still not run Ashley Madison ads, although Google will. Many TV stations in the U.S., including ABC, and all stations in Britain won’t run its spots. Cisco classifies Ashley Madison as an adult site, making it easier for corporate IT to block access for employees. Ryanair turned down Ashley Madison's offer of 120,000 euros to paint the Ashley logo on one of its planes that flies to Spain (site of possible vacation trysts). But here's the other side of that coin ... Ashley Madison has found plenty of willing media outlets, including MSNBC, CNN and Fox News.
It will be interesting to see where this story goes from here. Will society view the hacking through a superficial, self-centered lens, and condemn the release of personal data as a criminal act? Will we also bemoan the loss of privacy and the rights of individuals to lead their lives as they desire, without the fear of disclosure or judgment? Or will it be a wake-up call to the sinfulness of our culture and the need to examine our souls and re-establish measures of virtue, and right and wrong? In the end, how we choose to view this situation, and how we choose to answer those questions will reflect the moral compass of our nation, and its ultimate success or failure.
Thanks to the U.K. website "The Telegraph", and Forbes.com for much of the facts and statistics on this post.
Isaiah 47:10 You felt secure in your wickedness, you said, “No one sees me”; your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me.”