Tuesday Briefing: Southern Baptist leaders address ‘Ashley Madison, Adultery, and the Church’

Lisa Misner —  September 1, 2015

The BriefingTHE BRIEFING | Southern Baptist leaders including Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer are taking notice of the repercussions that have followed the release by hackers of names of subscribers to the Ashley Madison website, which boasts the tagline, “Life is short. Have an affair.” Rainer, president of LifewWay wrote about the revelations on his blog, ThomRainer.com. “As the list of names on the Ashley Madison list began to unfold, pastors and other church leaders received word that some of their own members were on the list,” he said. “Some of the names included elders, deacons, pastors, church staff, and laypersons in the church.”

Rainer said the pastors he spoke with “were struggling with how they were going to respond to the families impacted, other church leaders, and the congregation as a whole.” He offered some ways church leaders and members could deal with the scandal if it touches their church.

Stetzer, LifeWay Research President, used his blog, The Exchange, to blame the culture for the Ashley Madison site and the behavior that supported it. “Many are reaping what they have sown individually, but we are also reaping what we have sown culturally…Though what was in the dark is now in the light, and though those who share our faith face utter embarrassment, our place is not to gloat. Perhaps, rather, we should grieve at what sexuality has become in our culture.”

Stetzer went on in another post to estimate a wave of up to 400 ministry resignations due to the hackers’ list. He noted however, “Not everyone on the list signed themselves up. Among those who did, the sin and circumstances will be different. Many likely signed themselves up and didn’t actually go through with adultery. Regardless, though, trust has been shattered and hearts have been broken. But before we assume a name on a list means adultery has taken place, we must confirm all things and seek the full truth.”

Late Monday (Aug. 31) night, the news broke that theologian RC Sproul, Jr, had admitted that in a “moment of weakness, pain, and from an unhealthy curiosity” he left an old e-mail address on the site.

Supreme Court rules against Kentucky clerk in gay marriage case

The Supreme Court ruled Aug. 31 against the Kentucky county clerk who has refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, and today, Sept. 1, the clerk has refused to issue licenses to same-sex couples who have arrived at her office.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis may now be found in contempt of court and face fines or be ordered to go to jail.

Morehead County Sheriff Matt Clark told the couples there was nothing he could do, saying the matter was in the hands of the federal courts.

“She will likely be found in contempt, as we know,” the sheriff said.

42 IMB missionaries appointed; Platt addresses trustees

Even as the International Mission Board prepared to announce a reduction of up to 15% of its staff and missionaries, the organization held an appointment service Aug. 26 for 42 new missionaries. IMB President David Platt addressed the missionaries and attendees, speaking on Matthew 4:18-22, where Jesus is calling His first disciples, and particularly verse 19: “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’” (ESV). Read about the appointment service at BPNews.net.

SBC President Ronnie Floyd addressed the announced staff reduction on his blog, writing, “Regardless of our thoughts or feelings on the International Mission Board’s budget announcement, now is the time to go to the Lord in prayer about it more than ever before. We are a people that believe in our powerful and providing God, and no one is more committed to reaching the nations than the Lord Himself. When His people fasten their eyes to joining Him in this eternal task, God will move powerfully and provide generously. He always has and will do so again.”

Christianity Today cover highlights ERLC’s Moore

Russell Moore’s five meetings with President Obama and a personal objection to displaying the Confederate battle flag that predates Moore’s public stance on the issue are among the highlights of a Christianity Today cover article profiling the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president.

Same-sex marriage ruling used to defend polygamy

We knew it was coming. The stars of the reality television show “Sister Wives” used the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent same-sex marriage ruling to support their case against Utah’s polygamy ban, court records show.

The filing with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by Kody Brown and the four women he considers his wives – Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, Christine Brown and Robyn Sullivan – came in response the Utah Attorney General’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling in their favor.

Sources: Baptist Press, Christianity Today, Fox News, Reuters, ThomRainer.com, USA Today, Washington Post

Lisa Misner


Lisa is IBSA Social Media/Public Policy Manager. A Missouri native, she earned a Master of Arts in Communications from the University of Illinois. Her writing has received awards from the Baptist Communicators Association and the Evangelical Press Association.