Last night, when it was already too late for me to begin writing according to my customary fashion, I became aware of a failed attempt at blackmail that had ended up with 10GB of personal information including accounts and credit card information being downloaded into the darker parts of the worldwide web by hackers. These hackers had targeted a website known as Ashley Madison, which markets itself as a dating site for married men looking for partners in adultery. As I have never (yet) been a married man, this is unsurprisingly one of the few dating sites that has not relentless sent me spam or advertising in one way or another. There is a lot that is unethical about the website, starting from its slogan (“Life is short. Have an affair.”) to its practice of sending people messages from fake profiles in the hope of making money when the customer (usually a male, since about 70% or more of the people who have accounts are men) sends a message to the fake account. This glorification of cheating and this sort of unethical behavior appears to have drawn the ire of a certain moralist breed of hacker.
A few years ago, I wrote a blog article about one of the more contentious passages of the Bible, which describes an ordeal for wives that have been suspected of cheating by their husbands, with its repercussions . This particular case provides a useful counterpoint to that, a modern-day trial by ordeal concerning cheating husbands. In this particular case, a website that deliberately sought to appeal to those who were dissatisfied with their marriages was targeted by hackers, to the point that it is likely that these people (and perhaps their soon-to-be-unhappy spouses) will likely be having some awkward and uncomfortable days ahead. The contemporary problem of hackers targeting sites based on morality appears to be a modern-day trial by ordeal, namely the ordeal of losing one’s reputation as a result of committing dishonorable actions one thought were private. I am reminded of a story my aunt told me about one particularly unhappy couple who called the bank where she works. First, the husband called about some money he had taken out of an ATM at a strip club near Tampa, Florida. He was unhappy that the name of the so-called gentleman’s club  was obvious and that his wife was going to kill him because she checks all the line items in their joint bank account. The next call, a few minutes later, was from the wife, saying she was going to kill her husband.
It is hard to feel sympathetic with people who are exposed for this kind of behavior. To be sure, we all have our own moral weaknesses that we struggle against, or attempt to justify, or wallow in, but at the same time we all have at least some awareness of there being boundary lines in marriage. At least, since the vast majority of us expect our partners to be faithful to us and honest to us about difficulties so that we can go about overcoming those difficulties, we therefore consider fidelity and loyalty to be important parts of a relationship. Certainly, there can be a continuance of a sham relationship where people are satisfying their needs outside of the marriage and therefore not showing signs of discontent with their partner, but these arrangements are built on secrecy and treachery, and generally do not endure. Quite frequently, a mistress may want to become a wife, or a wife (or husband) who was blissfully unaware of an affair finds evidence of a secret double life, private bank accounts and cell phones that she has no access to and so on. If the marriage is not destroyed by these revelations, and if both parties are willing to work through the carnage of their wrecked relationship, then something worthwhile can be salvaged, with difficulty. This is, admittedly, a best case scenario, requiring a great deal of repentance on the one side and an unusual amount of mercy and graciousness on the other, neither of which can be assumed or taken for granted.
Yet at the same time it is not just that it is hackers, particularly hackers working in secretive and unethical ways, under the threat of blackmail, that are the ones to enforce morality. For if we wish to enforce a standard on others, we must be exemplars of the standards which we enforce. Far more galling than punishment is hypocrisy. It is one thing to be harangued for one’s secret life or one’s vices, but another matter to be exposed by people acting just as secretly and dishonorably as the people who are exposed. It is one thing to be reminded that one must pay one’s debts or be publicly embarrassed as a debtor, with one’s wages garnished, but it is an entirely more unjust matter to have this done by an institution, namely our national government, whose indebtedness is far more scandalous even than that of its citizenry. Such punishment is not justice, it is hypocritical double-dealing, by which we condemn others by a harsh standard and consider ourselves to be above the law, and not subject to the same rules. It is wise that we strive to avoid behaving dishonorably, and strive to treat others with respect, especially if we are bound to them by covenant. It is unjust, though, if these standards of morality should be enforced by people who are more wicked and dishonorable than we are, who blackmail others while piously intoning moral platitudes. What is moral is that we should be just, and enforce our standard of morality on ourselves, of which we are properly the judge, or that we stand before the judgment of God, both morally perfect and inclined to be merciful. All too often in this world, those who wish to be judges are the most corrupt of all, and not inclined to be merciful at all.
So, what is the end of all of this? As a single man, I seek honorable marriage. I wish to find a woman who can see my open follies and my wounds from a harrowing and difficult life and still treat me with tenderness and respect, who is amused at my dry wit, interested in my often pedantic intellectual conversation, who sees me as I am and still wishes to walk by my side for the rest of our lives. Such a woman would almost certainly not be strictly sane. The amount of effort it would take to communicate my own thoughts and feelings to her, and to give her encouragement in her own struggles and difficulties of life, would no doubt take much of the free time that I possess aside from the burdens of my vocation and my avocation. In such circumstances, I would want to marry someone with whom spending the time together would be a pleasure—to be sure, she would have her friends and I would have mine, and we would have interests to pursue apart from the other, but in the main, I want to spend my life with someone who wants to walk with me, who enjoys me as a person, who has something to offer from her own wisdom and intellect, from her own experience and perspective. Or else why walk together at all? If we cannot be made richer by becoming joined with someone else, what is the point of all of the effort it takes for two very different people to live agreeably? Let us go about the work it takes to make a happy marriage, and to increase the depth of our appreciation for and understanding of others, and we will not have the time to conduct affairs at all. May we all agree at least that this is something worth doing, if we can find someone crazy enough to marry us in the first place? Let it be so.
 See, for example: