Ashley Madison and the betrayal of trust.

Josh DuggarIf you’re like me, you’d never heard of “Ashley Madison” until very recently. Who knew there was a website aimed at married folks with the tag line “Life is short. Have an affair.“?!

But there is such a website. They  promised security to their tens of millions of users in exchange for the chance of illicit encounters. The first mistake their customers made was signing up for such a website. Their second mistake was thinking no one would/could ever find out. In today’s world, it’s safe to assume that nothing remains secret for long.

It is sad to me that potentially millions/tens of millions of spouses are finding out perhaps for the first time that the person that promised to love and cherish them at least until death do they part didn’t want to keep that commitment. My heart aches for the many innocent women and children (and the few men whose wives have Ashley Madison accounts) who are facing broken trust and heartache.  So many of them – most of them – are likely spouses who have no blame in the philandering of their partner. I am frankly shocked and dismayed to see assertions that if infidelity occurs, somehow the spouse who doesn’t wander “always” shares a portion of the blame. What a load of hooey. That’s like blaming the young woman who was raped by saying she was somehow asking for it. Get real.

We live in a world where porn addiction is at epidemic proportions and it is destroying lives across the globe. It’s a scourge of Biblical proportions. My suspicion is that many of these “customers” are also porn addicts, looking to act out fantasies they’ve been viewing. No real-life spouse can live up to the artificial world created by purveyors of porn. Porn is robbing viewers and their partners of the opportunity to have a healthy relationship, built on trust and mutual respect.

With the release of such an extensive database of (mostly) men in search of a fling, it is inevitable that public figures will be on that list. Whether it’s because they thought they were too clever to get caught or they weren’t thinking at all, right now, karma is catching up with them. Reputation management companies are swamped with frantic phone calls right now and some customers are undoubtedly hoping no one will notice them. Here’s a tip to avoid having make those frantic phone calls: Don’t do stupid stuff. You’re welcome.

It’s sad that there are some for whom the spotlight will hurt their loved ones even further. It is sad that their arrogance and disregard for their marital vows will play out in a public forum. People make mistakes and should have an opportunity to repair deep hurts – in private. If they are elected officials, they should step down and focus on their families. It may be that the wounds are too deep and the trust too broken to be repaired and I do not fault anyone for choosing divorce. It may be that after enough time, sincere repentance and true accountability from the perpetrator that marriages may be salvaged.  It may be a combination of a divorce now and a remarriage down the road. Again, those issues can be worked on privately.

There is one thing, though, that pretty much everyone agrees on – regardless of political ideology –  we as a people simply have no tolerance for hypocrisy. That’s one of the reasons there is such an outcry over Josh Duggar’s name being on the Ashley Madison list – he was a “spokesman” for family values and as it turns out, embodies the antithesis of family values. Is it any wonder that he is receiving the kind of flack coming at him, from the left AND the right? He is a liar, a cheat, an addict and has been a sexual predator for years. His poor wife feels she needs to shoulder the blame for “not being there” for him. I just want to hug her and tell her she deserves so much better. (And if Anna were my daughter, I’d be actively helping her get the heck out of Dodge. A sexual predator is not going to just “get better.”)

For those who self-righteously proclaim that we shouldn’t judge, may I remind you that you have judged plenty of times in your life. Here are some policy issues where I KNOW you made a judgment call: immigration, non-discrimination, bakers and wedding cakes, Planned Parenthood and body parts. Sorry. Claiming we can’t do or say anything because it might be “judgmental” is a cop-out at best. It can also be seen as condoning, encouraging or even complicity. Turning a blind eye to wrong-doing doesn’t make it less wrong. It just allows the wrongs to be perpetuated longer. Remember Edmund Burke’s statement? “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing.” I’ll not sit idly by, thanks. Adultery is wrong. Porn is wrong. Lying is wrong. Blaming and shaming victims is wrong.

For those on the Ashley Madison list, please do the right thing. Come clean, go home and fix the damage you have caused. Take responsibility for your actions and don’t pass the blame to others. And if you’re in the public eye, please step down out of office, out of the spotlight and out of the news. It will be ten times worse for your family if you stay in the public eye and try to explain it away. You can’t.  If your name is on the list maliciously and it’s not you, defend your honor. But you better not be lying.

Finally, there is this: Luke 12:2 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.

Dudes – you had it coming.



  1. Love it holly! I TOTALLY agree.

  2. Well said, Holly! I agree 100%!

  3. Seriously!? Equating infidelity with rape?? That is, perhaps, the most extremist, nonsensical thing I’ve ever read from you. It’s demeaning to those who have been raped or sexually assaulted in any way. That’s about as bizarre as it gets.

    It’s clear from your tone in this entire piece that 1) that you hate men, 2) You don’t have the slightest clue of what you’re talking about and 3) You have no idea what it means to be an “empowered woman.”

    Empowerment is not calling yourself a victim every chance you get. It is not washing your hands of your part in things. I had never heard of either Ashley Madison or the Duggars until this, but who the hell are you to criticize Mrs. Duggar for standing up and acknowledging what she thinks she did wrong here? Were you there? Do you know what goes on behind closed doors? Do you have ANY idea why it is she might feel that way? Isn’t it possible she took a long, fearless look at herself and decided she made mistakes that contributed to the situation? Do you even know her? I highly doubt it.

    But you, and others, having never walked the walk feel the need to go after her for standing up for what she believes in, as if she has somehow been oppressed by her man. Talk about taking away her power!

    And as for the philanderers, the idea that anyone in marriage can wash her hands of being a ***** when their spouse strays is ridiculously narrow-minded. In your world, it’s like I can treat my husband as poorly as I want, because no matter what he does in response, he’ll pay for it. If he leaves me instead of cheating, I take his children and his assets. If he cheats on me, I still get a pass. If he stands up for himself, I don’t have to change or acknowledge my part in things; I can just leave him and still take his children and his assets. Hooray for women’s equality!

    It’s this kind of extremist nonsense that makes true feminists look bad. It’s why some are referred to as “feminazis.” What you’re advocating for is the exact opposite of empowering women. We’re not always victims in everything. You can’t be empowered without taking responsibility.

    • Please. Blaming infidelity on the partner can be the equivalent of saying a woman was “asking for it,” yes. Bizarre? Only in a world with distorted reality. I agree, empowerment is not calling yourself a victim every chance you get. It’s standing up and saying “I am worth being treated well” and “I don’t need to be a doormat while my partner walks all over me.” Sure, Anna Duggar seems to believe that she is somehow to blame. She is living with a man who admitted to sex with children, who admitted to being a porn addict and a serial adulterer, not to mention a liar. He is an abuser. Co-dependency benefits no one.

      I am empowered in my relationship with my husband. I’ll take ownership of the things I am responsible for. But I sure as heck will not accept guilt, blame and shame for things that I am NOT responsible for, and neither should anyone else. And what on earth is your definition of a “true feminist?”
      Someone who puts up with crap with a smile on her face?

      • Well said, Holly, thank you on behalf of all of us loyal spouses out there who have found ourselves in this situation. Sadly, Ashley Madison’s users, being mostly men, are not entirely representative of the average cheater–I belong to a number of online support groups and have read the stories of many men who were devoted husbands and stand-up Dads who found themselves cheated on by their wives.

        Cheating is a form of abuse, committed by people who feel entitled to “have their cake and eat it too,” and blaming their spouse for their “need” to cheat is a very common behavior. As you rightly point out, this is simply another variation of “blame the victim.” I hope for her sake Anna Duggar reads this blog and listens to your wise and compassionate advice.

        • Thanks, Kat. You are absolutely correct, there are women who cheat on their devoted husbands. I think you nail it when you say: “Cheating is a form of abuse, committed by people who feel entitled to “have their cake and eat it too,” and blaming their spouse for their “need” to cheat is a very common behavior.” The fact that there are tens of millions of names on this website is just beyond words.

          • The numbers are astounding, Holly–and Ashley Madison is just one of so many sites where cheaters can hook up with each other. The issue that really gets to me the most, though, is that in this day and age, with most states being “no-fault” for divorce, there’s no need to hide, lie, and deceive.

            If your spouse has truly done something so egregious that you feel the need to find comfort and companionship elsewhere, there are a number of options available well in advance of taking the (obviously premeditated) steps to cheat, from expressing your dissatisfaction and having an honest discussion, to walking out the door and filing for divorce.

            I’ve even heard stories from spouses in so-called “open” marriages who discovered that they were being cheated on with a partner they had no idea even existed. The sad reality is that many people who engage in this type of behavior love the thrill of deception and “getting one over” on their spouse.

            The bottom line is that anyone who is willing to defy their marriage vows in this way is capable of anything. Unfortunately, financial abuse and hiding of expenses/assets (especially those devoted to maintaining the affair) often go hand-in-hand with cheating. To anyone who might be reading this thread and is questioning why things don’t “add up,” please take measures now to protect your health, your finances, and your mental well-being.

    • Wow. When did feminism become about denying victimhood? Like if something bad happens to us we can pretend it wasn’t bad and it some how makes us more empowered women? As a woman who’s experienced both rape and infidelity the infidelity was by far more painful. As a feminist, I am ashamed of other women claiming to be feminist by saying it’s right for a woman to acknowledge what she did that might have contributed to a situation involving a child molester and porn addict. The man is a predator. Rapist don’t get a free pass either just because they’re married and we sure as heck don’t blame their wives. I would never wish either of these things to happen to any woman but I sure as heck wouldn’t assume that somehow she could take back her power by finding a part of it to blame herself for.

      Glad to hear a voice of reason in the Christian community. I personally do not think that marriages are savable after affairs. I agree that it is abuse. It’s a rare person who is truly contrite and makes the real effort to change and make up for the hurt and damage it causes. Maybe if more spouses realized they were The Victim than they wouldn’t spend so many years trying to single handedly save a marriage.

    • Feminism should NEVER be about denying that abuse has happened, and infidelity is abuse. Physical, emotional, and psychological. Cheaters expose their unwitting partners to STDs, they frequently gaslight their spouses to maintain the affair as the spouse begins to figure it out, and they leave us second-guessing ourselves and what we could have done better when the reality is that there was no excuse for what they did. How is that not abuse?

      If you are a s****y marriage partner, by all means, own that and work on that, but understand that your behavior does not justify his/her infidelity. And the day I realized that was one of the most empowering days of my life. It gave me the anger I needed to kick him (and by extension, his affair partner) out of my life and stop being a doormat to both of them.

      In Ana Duggar’s case: the woman had 4 babies in, like, 6 years. I doubt she’s had time for much more beyond her child rearing responsibilities, and this asshole was out there cheating on his pregnant/postpartum wife. She probably couldn’t have contributed to his cheating had she wanted to.

  4. Addiction to pornography starts at an early age. In the past access to pornography was not very easy for kids. Today, it is way too easy for our kids to access graphic content. Allowing younger and younger kids to begin developing terrible addictions to porn!

    I am not in favor of stopping “Freedom of speech” but I think parents need the ability to control was is streamed into their home via digital bits and bytes.

    Join with me in promoting internet filters for parents to protect their children from the dangers of porn!!! We would never allow our precious children to wonder in a big city alone for hours on end… The Internet is the biggest city in the world with everything available at a click of the mouse or tap of a finger.

    There are many solutions for parents to provide a safer Internet. My personal favorite and the product I am promoting is MagicBlock. Click here for a brief explanation.

    I prefer this solution over others because it is very easy to install and setup. It protects all devices in the home. It’s a filter that is managed in the cloud so there are not any lists that the parents have to update or maintain. And it’s cheep! $9.95 a month!!! If you don’t use MagicBlock please get something else to protect your family! Join me in the fight to protect our youth! We are the Village that is raising the next generation and right now I’m afraid that all of our youth will privately be exposed and addicted to pornographic images rampant on the Internet. This is something where you can take a stand and say “Not in my Home!”

    I am doing what I can, will you?
    Jody Hadley

  5. As a victim of infidelity, whose marriage broke up over first an emotional affair and then a physical one, I applaud the rape analogy. Whenever commenting on my now-ex-husband’s affairs on a blog or Facebook page, it never takes long for someone to say something to the effect of, “Gee, you sound bitter! Maybe your husband cheated for a reason!” When I first “outed” the affair to my blog readers, one of the first comments I got was from a (male) reader saying, “Shame on you for telling people about your husband’s affairs!” Really? Shame on me for talking about it, but no “shame on him” for having them and abandoning a pregnant wife and disabled older child in the process??

    This compares to rape in so many ways. People are always telling rape victims that they must have done something to cause the rape, they should have dressed differently or taken more precautions or they were just asking for it. People are always telling us that we must have done something to make our spouses cheat. Just as there is nothing you can do to “deserve” rape, there is nothing you can do to “deserve” infidelity. It doesn’t matter how terrible you are or how many problems your marriage was riddled with. Infidelity was the wrong answer to the problems.

    Furthermore, while rape is sex without consent, infidelity is changing the sexual nature of the marriage union without the consent of all parties involved. It exposes the faithful partner to STDs without their knowledge. It should be considered an extremely aggressive form of abuse: physical, emotional and psychological. In both cases though, the main issue is one of consent. With consent, rape isn’t rape, it’s just sex, and infidelity isn’t infidelity, it’s open marriage or swinging.

    Anyhow, I found it refreshing to come across a blog post that speaks the truth about the horrifying nature of adultery and the way victims will often blame themselves (or be blamed) when adultery is found out, so thank you, Holly. Christian couples like Josh & Anna Duggar and Sam & Nia Rader who are waving “forgiveness” around like saving a marriage from infidelity is as easy as saying “hail Mary” leave me shaking my head. First these men set a terrible example with their infidelity and now their wives are enabling the narrative that Christianity offers cheap and easy grace and infidelity isn’t a serious problem.

  6. I love it when people skip all of the political BS and say what they really think. I happen to agree with you on this… but if I didn’t I would still applaud you for standing up for what you believe. Our world is becoming less and less safe for our children because so many want to make sure that even the lowest among us have their “rights”. Rights to what? To hurt and destroy lives? No.. not this girl. Shame on those who thought they could sneak one by… and especially shame on Ashley Madison for giving them the vehicle. Don’t like your marriage and want to some fun on the side?… get your butt over to that side and don’t drag your family along with you! Even if no one ever found out… its on your heart and your Lord knows it.

  7. As a divorced woman who checked out Ashley Madison in the middle of the divorce proceedings, I think you are rushing to judgement without any knowledge of the facts – and that’s a problem. Of course people make judgements -but the less you actually know about the people you are judging, the less your judgements hold any water and the more you shut yourself off from knowledge, understanding and compassion.

    I went on to because I was curious whether if my soon to be ex-husband was there – one of his best friends was there, his wife had caught him on the site, and I wondered if mine had done the same. I was also curious to see who was out there, if it was all married guys looking for 25 year old yoga instructors, because I was worried that at 50, I would be considered completely unattractive. I corresponded with a few, I was upfront that I wasn’t there for sex but was curious about the people who ended up there. I was surprised that most of the men I ended up chatting with seemed to have similar stories as I did, minus the divorce proceedings – long marriages, stable partnerships as parents, but complete disconnection from the partner emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Years of attempts to bridge the gap – weekends away, date nights, marriage counseling, but the partner was unable or uninterested in connecting. Now, who knows if any of that was true, but they had nothing to lose being upfront – I wasn’t going to meet any of them.

    Post divorce, I have made many other friends who also divorced late in the game, as I did, at church and in divorce support groups. Some were unfaithful toward the end of their marriages, but most weren’t – however that went, many of the stories are the same as mine – “my partner lost interest in me 10-15 years ago, all he/she wanted was my paycheck/childcare, and years of attempts to talk and reconnect and go to counseling went nowhere, I tried until the last child was old enough and then I gave up and left. ”

    So when people say, why not just talk to your partner, I ask them – do you think people DON’T try that, perhaps for years? Do you think talking and counseling always work? In my recent experience, most people don’t cheat or divorce until they have given up hope that they count as a person to their spouse in any way. I hear so many times – “my ex didn’t BELIEVE in counseling and said that I was the problem, so I tried to fix everything about myself he/she didn’t like, but nothing changed.”

    When people say, those evil people are exposing their partners to STDs, do you really think they still have sex lives together?

    When you paint someone as a victim, do you know how that person has treated his partner for the last decade of the marriage? Do you think it’s okay for them to criticize, make fun of, belittle that person, stonewall their partner’s attempts at connection? Do you actually know for sure that the “victimized” spouse treated the partner as a human and not a thing to use? Of course you don’t, unless you know the couple very very well. It probably makes sense to show compassion for both.

    When people say, why don’t you just get divorced? Well, I wasn’t unfaithful, but I thought about divorce for years – but although my ex was completely absent from my marriage, he is a good father. We were good parents together. I was committed and wanted to give the marriage every possible chance. Divorce would have meant disruption for our kids, a move to a different community, fractured weekends and holidays. No thanks – it was hard enough doing it when they were adults. Believe it or not, my kids were more important to me than the brand of honesty that would have had my marriage end when my children were toddlers.

    I think it’s overly simplistic to treat people so quickly victim or a villain – my ex treated me horribly but I think, given his upbringing, he was doing his best. Many people find intimacy horribly unbearable. Many people project their own anger or fear or history on the closest people in their lives.

    I’m sure there are some people who cheat without having tried to fix things at home or even letting the partner know something was wrong. But you are painting everyone with the same brush and that’s inaccurate. Most people in this world – at least the ones not taking bribes – are doing their highly imperfect best.