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Pastor John Gibson committed suicide less than a week after his name was exposed on the Ashley Madison adultery website due to hackers. According to his wife, Gibson struggled with depression and addiction in the past and was worried that he would lose his job because of the negative exposure. The pastor’s lifeless body along with a suicide note was found by his wife, Christi, in their home.
In addition to being the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Pearlington, Mississippi, the 56-year-old taught at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The family felt Gibson’s exposure was not so bad that it could not be forgiven, but reportedly the pastor was very remorseful and could not live with the shame. When speaking of Gibson’s suicide, his wife said:
It was a moment that life does not prepare you for. I had to call my kids. How do you tell your kids that their dad is gone and that he took his own life?
The pastor came from a long line of Baptist ministers. Tributes poured in from former classmates and students who took to social media to express their heartfelt sympathy and to mourn the loss. He was described as an amazing man, great teacher, a quintessential good neighbor who was known for his acts of kindness. His son Trey said:
My dad was a great man. He was a great man with struggles. Everyone has struggles. Everyone is broken.
Ashley Madison is supposedly America’s most prominent dating site for spouses who want to cheat. The site recently came under fire after hackers stole millions of users’ private information, including chat logs, photos, credit card information and names.
Reportedly, hackers tried to blackmail the site into shutting down due to its morally dubious business model. Ashley Madison refused to suspend its operations and the hackers responded by releasing the stolen data online. The hacker group which goes by the name Impact Team sent a warning to Ashley Madison in July. The statement said:
Avid Life Media has been instructed to take Ashley Madison and Established Men offline permanently in all forms. If ALM doesn’t comply, we will release all customer records, including profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails.
The site which was founded in 2001 boasts of 37 million users worldwide. The slogan on the site which helps people cheat on their spouses is “Life is short. Have an affair.” Avid Life Media, the company behind the site, owns several other websites, including Established Men, a site that connects young women with “successful and generous benefactors to fulfill their lifestyle needs.”
The hack and the negative publicity it produced has caused a lot of existing as well as potential customers to run the other way. At least two confirmed suicides have resulted from their Canada-based site and in the United States at least one. Several witnesses to Gibson’s character said he was a man of grace, love and forgiveness. Sadly, however, he did not feel worthy of the same and allowed the shame of his humanity to end in suicide.
The Bible explains that everyone has sinned, however, one of the results of sin is guilt or conviction. Christians should not be overcome with guilt or shame and instead be thankful for feelings of conviction which are designed to drive them to a place of repentance. Pastor Gibson succumbed to suicide after being exposed on the Ashley Madison website. In the words of an infamous pastor from Virginia Beach, one who does not advocate sin, rather understands the frailty of humanity, “Shame off of you!”
by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Yahoo!: US pastor commits suicide after Ashley Madison hack
Huffington Post: New Orleans Pastor Outed In Ashley Madison Hack Commits Suicide
Vox: The Ashley Madison Hack Explained
Inside Image Courtesy of George Bannister – Flickr License
Inside Image Courtesy of The Lamp – Flickr License