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.