Friday, September 04, 2015

Questions to ask RC Jr.

The Ashley Madison hack has caused lots of problems for lots of people.  One of the people coming to light as having visited Ashley Madison is Pastor RC Sproul, Jr.  He confessed to his presbytery and to Ligonier Ministries.  Ligonier has suspended him.  Since it is a business, and businesses operate on a different model than churches, Ligonier’s response or responsibility is not part of what I want to discuss.  The real question is, what does a church do with someone who visited the site but did not have an affair?  Should such a man be disciplined (or if a paster, defrocked)?  How is this different from thinking about having an affair, which is surely a sin, but then not going through with it?  Sproul’s thoughts happened to be recorded in electronic format.  Is this a discipline issue?  Does it make a difference that the site itself is “immoral” since it is dedicated to affairs? 

So what should a presbytery/classis/church do if they find Ashley Madisonites, even ones who haven’t consummated an affair, in their church?  I suggest that someone needs to lovingly, but firmly ask some follow-up questions.  It is very likely that there are ongoing spiritual battles that might require further confession/counseling/accountability.  Here are 5 questions for RC Jr. to get us started:

    •    “How did you find out about the site?”  This seems an important question since I doubt I was the only one to be amazed that such a site existed.  It is not something one just stumbles across while surfing the internet for commentaries on Hosea or looking up the latest baseball scores.  “Were you told of the site?  By whom?”  This is important as it might give more insight into exactly what the mindset was when being tempted to visit the site.  And the referral might have come from a Christian in your church, too.  It is said that about 400 pastors were on the Ashley Madison list. 

    •    “Are you viewing porn?”  This really ought to be first, but it may also be the answer to question one.  I imagine Ashley Madison advertised somewhere, and porn sites seem likely locations for such ads.  If one is contemplating an affair, it could be that one is participating in other sexual sins as well.  Viewing porn is all too commonplace these days, and this question needs to be asked directly.  We do know that Josh Duggar was viewing porn as well as visiting Ashley Madison.

    •    “Why did you pick a site dedicated to affairs?  Why chose a site where meeting you would cause the other person to break their own marriage vows?”  Ashley Madison is marketed as a site explicitly enabling married people to have affairs.  Why not use eHarmony or any other venue featuring single people?  In RC Jr.’s situation, it seems especially important.  His wife had already passed away, so he is free to date and get remarried, and yet he chose to use a site dedicated to affairs.  He was looking for a married woman, in theory.  “Why” is a question that needs to be asked.

    •    “What has changed since the account was abandoned?  How are you dealing now with whatever temptation led you to sign up with the site in the first place?”  I appreciate RC Jr.’s comments about the grace of fear and shame, but the battle is not only to stay off a horrible website but also to be biblically faithful.  The temptation reveals a spiritual battle, and it will find another way to manifest itself if it is not dealt with. 

    •    “What are your relationships like with women in general?”  Going to a site dedicated to getting women to break their vows might be indicative of a poor view of women.  “Do you view them as sex objects?  Do you fantasize about them inappropriately?  Do you flirt too much?”  A man who is signing up to have an affair may very well behave inappropriately with other women he knows.  Not just in person, but in texts and emails.  Maybe cyber life allows him to take on an unchristian persona. 

Obviously, these questions are geared toward the people who visited Ashley Madison but didn’t actually have an affair.  If that is in doubt, an obvious sixth question should be added: “Did you have an affair?”  Make it plain that not just Ashley Madison affairs are being asked.  Those who signed up at Ashley Madison may have found other outlets as well.  Again, note Josh Duggar, who had other accounts on other hookup sites.  His confessed affair did not come via Ashley Madison, but through another avenue. 

We need to remember as Christians that Satan is against marriage.  Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church, and so Satan seeks to destroy it.  Pray for your pastors and their marriages.  Pray for your own marriage.  And do not give Satan a foothold, or he will barge all the way in. 


Jeremy B said...

Do you see any connection with this and their (both Josh Duggar and RC Jr) more patriarchal-ish views?

Lee said...

I think I do, but I am not sure I could point it out. I would probably argue that the Patriarchy movement has shown a problem with this kind of behavior whether it is RC Jr., Josh Duggar, Doug Phillips, or the others. In general I think it is an unhealthy degrading of women that makes them more objects than people. Then they become objects to please the man.
Now they would all reject such things as wrong, but it appears to be a fairly pervasive problem in the movement.

Larry W said...

Lee, these are great questions and I don't understand why more people aren't asking them. To me Sproul's explanation of what he did has way too many holes in it.
Anyone who's had a problem with porn like I used to would know to be skeptical. Maybe I missed it but I've only found one other blog that's questioning Sproul's innocent sounding story, RC Sproul Jr's Ashley Madison Scandal .

"I imagine Ashley Madison advertised somewhere, and porn sites seem likely locations for such ads." God delivered me of porn awhile back. Very addictive stuff and one thing leads to another. I can pretty well guarantee Sproul was already viewing porn when he saw an Ashley Madison popup and clicked on it. How else could he have known about AM unless he was already someplace he didn't belong? When you're already viewing porn "the little head is thinking for the big head." So he wasn't thinking about consequences. He signed up for an AM account. That's what he did BTW. He didn't just "visit" and that article I linked to proves it.