The data breach at the infidelity dating site Ashley Madison has been heralded by some as those sinners who used the site to cheat on their respective spouses as just deserts, or the wages of their sin. But this response with no other consideration of a complex problem is a visceral response to a multi-faceted social ill. Let me state for the record that I am not in favor of anyone violating their marriage vows. But to use the moral absolutism of infidelity to justify the greater sin of the Ashley Madison hackers' righteousness in placing millions of the site's subscribers' family and friends in harms way is, in my opinion, a greater sin.
We do not even know if the hackers were motivated by over active morality, or if they simply were a competing site trying to eliminate the competition. Even if those who engaged in the hack and have threatened to expose the subscribers if the site does not cease to function were motivated by decency, they have placed millions into a very narrowly defined characterization of infidelity.
The hackers do not know for instance if all the names they acquired illegally even committed the sin of adultery. I wonder how many of those who subscribed to Ashley Madison ever actually acted upon their intent to commit infidelity? Is it fair for their names to be released publicly if they never engaged in the physical act of cheating? There may be millions more who may have myriad reasons for committing the sin of infidelity that are based on reasons that reach deeper than someone violating their marriage vows simply for the pleasure of sex with strangers.
In any case, judging someone else's sin that is not inherently evil as if it were is a position fraught with a moral instability greater than the sin being exposed. Especially when that judgment is applied to millions of disparate sinners, as is the case with the subscribers to Ashley Madison. Does the moral superiority of the hackers (if the act indeed was committed for morality's sake) give them the authority to destroy countless others' lives who are the innocent victims of the sinners being exposed?
The act of hacking into a database and acquiring its content is illegal, the owners and subscribers of Ashley Madison on the other hand have done nothing illegal. As for the morality of the two groups, the individual sin of adultery is in no way comparable to the sin of exposing millions of adulterers. And in thus doing, putting in jeopardy the emotional well being and mental stability of millions more who are innocent victims of both the adulterer and the hacker. The sin of infidelity can and often is resolved by the two people involved, many times without family or friends being aware of the sin in the first place. The Ashley Madison hackers have sinned to a greater extent because they have made that redemption less likely for millions of sinners.