Their Iniquities shall be Spoken upon the Housetops: Ashley Madison and Living True to the Gospel

This week the news was filled with accounts of the hack of Ashley Madison, a website helping married individuals cheat on their spouses. It was disclosed that several prominent individuals had accounts on the site. Most notably, Josh Duggar, a staunch religious conservative who has garnered attention for his strong positions on moral issues, admitted that he had an affair on his wife using the site. Sam Rader, a vblogger who became a viral sensation for surprising his wife with a positive pregnancy test and who is known for daily devotional videos, also admitted to having a paid account (but said that he did not have an affair from it).

It’s been disappointing although not at all unexpected to see friends of mine on Facebook reacting to the news. They have been using the revelation as proof that conservative Christians are ultimately all hypocrites who preach morality but fail to live up to the code they wish to impose on others. The actions of these individuals has caused hurt to their family, but also has created an additional stumbling block to push people away from faith in Christ. And this makes it all the more tragic.

When I read about the hacks, I was reminded of a scriptural refrain which echos in the Book of Mormon, the Bible and in the Doctrine and Covenants  Mormon prophesied that in our day ” all things which are hid must be revealed upon the house-tops.”  (Mormon 5:8). In Luke, the savior taught that “nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.” (Luke 8:17).And In the Doctrine and Covenants we read “ And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed.” (D&C 1:3) .

Occasionally in the scriptures, we see prophets seeing the future and attempting to describe modern conditions to the best of their limited vocabulary and understanding. For instance Isaiah described vehicles that resemble modern day airplanes and other technology that was simply unfathomable to him.  In a way, I also think that the notion of secrets being spoken upon the housetops captures the free flow of information that exists today as a result of the internet which would have been unfathomable to Mormon or even Joseph Smith. Today, there are few things that can truly remain secret for long. Wikileaks and Edward Snowden showed that even the best kept government secrets will be exposed.. While the Ashley Madison hacks illustrate that even promises of anonymity (indeed some users paid extra to ensure that their accounts were “permanently deleted”) will not suffice. And regardless, even if something we do remains secret in this life, it will eventually be disclosed before the bar of God.

As Elder Oaks warned in his 2004 talk Do Not Be Deceived:

As we look about us, we see many who are practicing deception. We hear of prominent officials who have lied about their secret acts. We learn of honored sports heroes who have lied about gambling on the outcome of their games or using drugs to enhance their performance. We see less well-known persons engaging in evil acts in secret they would never do in public. Perhaps they think no one will ever know. But God always knows. And He has repeatedly warned that the time will come when “[our] iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and [our] secret acts shall be revealed”

In this day, when what we do in secret will literally be broadcast from the housetops, we must take greater effort than ever to ensure that we truly live what we preach. If we are to preach in defense of family values and gospel truths, we must make sure that our own lives are in order. We must drive our discord and disharmony and put off the natural man.

Because Satan  loves nothing more than to draw attention to the ways that those who claim to be disciples fall short. He prowls like a a roaring lion and searches for any signs of hypocrisy and guile.. He knows that if he can show that we who claim to be saints are really just as bad as everyone else, he can score a monumental victory. He will not only destroy a family, but he will be able to prevent many others from coming to know Christ and embrace his Gospel.

It is incredibly difficult to live in a world where our every actions are closely scrutinized. But that is the day in which we live. It is part of the burden that we assumed when we promised to be witnesses of Christ “in all times and in all things, and in all places.” The truth is that we never stop being in the spotlight. And our goodness will rebound to Christ’s glory just as our mistakes will speak poorly of the Gospel.

In light of this, I rededicate myself today to more fully living in harmony with the truth that I preach and hope to teach others. Heaven knows that I am so far from perfect. But I can’t stand to think that my words or my actions will cause a soul to drift further away from Heavenly Father. I can’t stand to think that my failures will add to the scorn that was heaped upon the Man of Sorrows who atoned for us all. I pray that all of us who have taken upon ourselves the name of Christ will likewise seek to ensure that our conduct is harmonious with the name that we bear and bear witness of.


12 thoughts on “Their Iniquities shall be Spoken upon the Housetops: Ashley Madison and Living True to the Gospel

  1. One of the accusations against the Church is the apparently secretive conduct of Church finances and temple rituals. I know there is nothing shameful about the temple and the only thing I question about Church finances is how so much is accomplished with the offerings of the faithful. The lack of huge executive salaries is possibly one factor in the efficiency and effectiveness of the the Church.
    In most worldly matters secrecy comes from shame. Most of us are pleased to share worthwhile thoughts and actions. There are good things we prefer to keep private because it really is nobody’s business. Sometimes they are sacred or intimate.
    In a righteous society there should be no fear of disclosure of most of our actions and intentions but we do not live in a righteous society.
    It is sad if shame and fear are the key motivations to avoid sin.

  2. I don’t think that shame and fear are ideal motivations to avoid sin, but I do think that the motivation of avoiding creating a stumbling block to keep others away from Christ is a very, very good motivation.

  3. It pleases me to imagine an omniscient God who will in some future day reveal all to us. I like to think that such complete knowledge of all things is not merely a sideshow for the curious, but a critical preparation for us, who would someday in the best world take upon ourselves the role of parent of spirits.

    It seems to me that such complete and comprehensive knowledge of things as they are would be the only way to convince the evil ones of the great harm they’d done, or to convince to obedient and guileless who would forgive the unrepentant sinner of the reason for justice.

    As for paying a service to arrange for committing adultery, the premeditation of sin reminds me of the great care the Nazis used to ensure their murders were efficient. Chilling.

  4. On the idea of shame and fear as motivation, I think it’s important to remember that only a very small number of people can reliably make good choices because of the best motivations (and the number is only one if we are talking about perfect choices based on perfect motivations). It is the whole project of organized religion to help individuals have better motivations, maybe even approaching the best. But it must also work on helping people with not so good motivations restrain bad behavior in the meantime. It should always be remembered that doing right has good consequences, no matter the motivation. If wicked individuals could be effectively restrained, it may not lead to their own salvation, but it would have an effect on how many victims they have, and you have to care about protecting the vulnerable if you are a righteous person.

    So personally I favor a society where people don’t commit adultery with impunity. Sure, that will mean that some, maybe even most, people stay faithful out of “fear of shame”, etc. But it would be a better society for children for sure.

    Jesus said that a non-adulterous person can still be guilty of adultery in his heart, not to invite the idea of thought-police, but to invite to a higher standard of motivation. But he certainly didn’t say it to make an excuse for actual adulterers to be able to say, “Well, you’re guilty too, in your heart, so don’t judge.” He was not trying to break down judgment based on actions, but was inviting to a higher standard of examining one’s heart IN ADDITION.

    There are many who try to use Christianity, and the idea that we are all sinners, to break down all concepts of shame and guilt. They use the idea that many people are only righteous because they are afraid of public shame (and this is likely a true idea) to say righteousness is inherently dishonest. But the goodness of right actions is based on measuring important consequences of those actions. It would be a fool who would say, “If you’ve had adulterous thoughts, you might as well go ahead and commit adultery, because it’s the same thing, the worst damage is already accomplished in the thought.” And yet this is how so many people interpret the words of Christ.

    In my experience, the best of motivations are not my constant companions. So, for my children’s sake, I hope that my husband and I will always have AT LEAST the protective motivation of being afraid of the shame of adultery. And at length, maybe we will be more reliable in our nobler motivations.

  5. Between this and Trump’s ascendance, it seems the (unfortunate) takeaway is: don’t have any morals if you want to enter public life, that way you can’t be accused of breaking them.

  6. As more information emerges about this silly site it appears that anyone taking part in it is not only sinful but truly foolish. To be revealed as a fool is perhaps the worst shame for many.

  7. I would tend to argue that shame is an essential component of sincere humility. Of course shame can also be a function of pride, but there is such a thing as utterly shameless pride, and I cannot say the same of humility.

    To be perfect, like Christ, is to have nothing in one’s personal acts of which to be ashamed. And yet, I think that perhaps those innocent of a shameful act may (and ought) to be ashamed to witness or admit it committed by another. Perhaps this vicarious shame is not the only reason that “no unclean thing may enter” the presence of God, but I think that it at least plays a part. After all, Christ says, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

    There is a literary element here, the poetic justice of Christ being ashamed of those who are ashamed of Christ. But I think there is also a deeper meaning behind why God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of tolerance.

    Ultimately, sin is a matter of turning away from God, and it is a sign that we are ashamed of Him. Signing up for Ashley Madison is not, in and of itself, a sin (verification of the hack came primarily from investigators who had previously created accounts there in order to report on it, I imagine that the hackers also created accounts). The sin is in those who turned away from the marriage covenant, which is ordained of God. The same is true of all God’s commandments, we disobey them because we are ashamed of God’s promises.

    So, should we not be ashamed to follow the pride of our hearts, the lusts of our flesh, or the imposture of men, as Christ was?

  8. I try very hard to avoid hypocrisy and guile, ideally I wouldn’t want anyone to ever be (morally) disappointed by something I do. I hope that I am acting consistent with my beliefs and covenants.

    This episode (Ashley Madison) has been interesting to say the least. As has been mentioned the levels of premeditation and foolishness just astound.

Comments are closed.