The last couple of weeks have given us insight into everything that’s wrong with America all in one news event. And, no, I’m not talking about the presidential race. I’m referring to the hacking and subsequent release of the members of the Ashley Madison website – a site that’s dedicated to helping married folks have an affair.
37 million names were on this list. Let that sink in for a moment…37 million. That means that there are 37 million spouses who took the time to sign up for this site in order to have an affair. This is proof, as if we needed it, that infidelity is an epidemic today. And, apparently the internet is playing a major role in facilitating this breach of vows to remain faithful.
And, the question that must be answered whenever there is anything in the news that impacts so many people (yes, even people in your church) is: Should pastors respond? And, if they should, how do they respond?
I think the answer in the case of the Ashley Madison leak is a resounding YES! But, the how, as usual, is not as an easy an answer. But, here are some ways that I believe pastors should respond to news like the Ashley Madison leak:
- Speak up. Far too many pastors remain silent on this topic. It’s time for us all to speak up about marriage, divorce, and infidelity. And, if you don’t feel adequate, there are plenty of well-qualified speakers that would be happy to visit your church and do it for you. But, when we are silent, it conveys to our congregation that it’s not important – whether that’s our intention or not. The reality is that there are many marriages in your church that are either already dealing with this issue or are on the verge of it. Speaking up now and using this news story as the catalyst has the potential to save marriages.
- Offer resources. In addition to simply speaking up and speaking out about the topic, it is also important that you point your congregation towards resources. This can include things like pastoral counseling from you, professional, Christian counseling locally, or a marriage conference. There are plenty of resources to help strengthen marriages, but many people aren’t aware of them. Books, blogs, websites, etc. exist in large number – take a look at them and then recommend the best ones. There’s even a ministry that I’m aware of that helps marriages that are dealing with affairs and infidelity: Marriage Restored. Check it out!
- Be available. Pastors and the church should be the FIRST place that people turn to when they’re hurting, not the last. Let your congregation know that you are there for them and that you want to support husbands and wives who find themselves in crisis. Make time in your calendar for counseling sessions with folks that need the help. Consider starting a small group that focuses on strengthening marriages. Find ways to be present and available for those that need help in this area.
- Pray. This is of course top of the list…which is why I put it last. Both your personal and public prayers should regularly include marriages and the state of marriage today. Issues like Ashely Madison lie squarely at the heart and it will take a move of God and His people to fix this. Prayer should be the place that we immediately find ourselves when we find out about things like this.
What would you add to this list? Do you agree that pastors need to respond in some way to this crisis? Comment below and let me know…