Up until a week ago, I would have told you that a website called Ashley Madison must be a name generator for preppy girls who like monograms. I know. Color me naïve. Suddenly, the website and its torrid details are everywhere.

People I have known for years are on the list. Lives are falling apart. Marriages feel like shams. The sins of the world are delivered up on your computer screen free of charge. And, based on the numerous opinions on social media, everyone wants a piece of the action.

It really is a fabulous opportunity for moral superiority. This is our chance to hold out our own vaguely intact marriages and yell out, “Hey Losers, How you like me now?” But let’s be real here, this isn’t a moment to showcase the 7th commandment on a hot girl wearing a placard. (Although, maybe the dudes might heed her warning with more fervor.)

mirandaKEROSENEAnd I’m not interested in talking about the offenses of Josh Duggar. Again. But I can tell you if I were his wife I would have burned his prized possessions in the front yard whilst playing Miranda Lambert on a loop. He’s lucky he married up.

Nope, this isn’t a moment about other people. This is a moment about us. And it’s a moment about us on the internet. It is a landscape that is always shifting and forever surprising us. I remember David Zahl commenting to me a year ago that the internet is still in its “Wild West” phase and we don’t even know what it’s for yet. This week, its main purpose appears to be exposing extramarital affairs. Next week it will be for looking at photos of the latest royal baby being baptized. Oh internet, you’re like an even weirder Santa Claus.

My point here is that the internet can feel like it just happens to us. We simply sit in the privacy of our office or (wo)mancave and get to look at whatever and talk to whoever about whatever whenever we want to. We get to live out our darkest fantasies with zero repercussions for real life. Or so it seems.

There was this bizarre commercial a few months ago from Nature Valley. In it they in they asked three generations to talk about what they did for fun as children. It will reel you in with bucolic images of childhood offered by the grandparents and parents. They talk about blueberry picking or fishing. Their stories are fun and adventurous. But when the third generation answers that same question, “What do you like to do for fun?” their answers are terrifying. Small, sweet faces look at the camera and say that they love to text, email, and watch videos for hours on end. It is so disturbingly creepy that I kept waiting for one of them to blurt out “Red Rum.”

One little boy looks innocently at the camera and says of his screen time, “I forget that I’m in a house, that I have parents, that I have a sister, that I have a dog. I’m just in the video game. I completely get lost.” It is difficult to think that these kids aren’t getting outside the way previous generations did. However, the real heartbreaker is that for these kids, the world of the internet has become the most comfortable world they inhabit.

But of course, if the adults around them are always seeking escape from their realities through the internet (Ashley Madison/Madison Avenue/Ashley Olsen), then why shouldn’t they? Dear Trees, Meet your Apples.

So, here comes the advice portion of my article. And yes, we at Mbird tend to shy away from giving advice. But here goes nothing. If you have an addiction to internet porn, or you turn to your iphone for a way to hookup with strangers, or even if you just like to yell at people in the comments section of the New York Times, then it’s time to tell Jesus to take the wheel because you are going to need that hand to type L-O-C-A-L (space) T-H-E-R-A-P-I-S-T into the Google.

I’m not trying to put a Jesus Blanket on things. Sometimes when we find out that everyone we know (including us) has horrific moral behaviors we like to say things like, “We just need more Jesus in our hearts.” Well, here’s the Good News: Jesus is all for that. Here’s the Bad News, though: you’ve got some very painful days of reckoning ahead before that actually happens. Have a hard conversation with your therapist and your pastor. And if your pastor can’t have a hard conversation with you about it, then add “Church Shopping” to your to-do list. Because the thing about extramarital affairs is that they aren’t nearly as exciting or original as we give them credit for being. They are old as time. As Biblical as King David. And for all of the escapism they promise, they offer only brutal real life consequences.

Life was not made to be escaped. It was made to be lived. We were made for intimate conversations with that person we chose to marry. We were made for arguments about who should pick up the kids or how much vacation we can take. We were made for real love over frozen waffles and drip coffee. And after years of faithful companionship, we were made to hold one another’s hand as we pass from this life to the next. Married love is sinful and beautiful all by itself. We don’t need Ashley Madison to up the ante.

David Zahl was right. We don’t know what the internet’s ultimate use will be (Lord Jesus, please let it not start with a K and end with a Shian). But we do know that the sins that happen in the elusive “cloud” eventually rain down into the real lives of people everywhere.