The subject of adultery is a fairly touchy subject in the United States and this has been true for the duration of the country's existence for one reason or another. More recently, the Christian positions on lifestyles and sex have come more and more under fire. While most of that ire is directed towards their common stance on gay relationships and gay marriage, even the subject of adultery has come into question from some circles. This report will cover the traditional Christian position on adultery as well as some opposing views and some other dimensions of the subject and the argument that centers on the same (Cherry).
Many feel that the Christian position is monolithic but that is simply not the case. After all, the Christian religion is fragmented in many ways based on denominations and other separating factors. Examples of different denominations include the Catholics, the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, the Baptists and so forth. This paper will not center on labeling what each of those groups believe because even inter-denominational thought patterns are not always the same (Cherry).
For example, ELCA Lutherans have a much different take on gay marriage, on the whole, than Missouri Synod Lutherans. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a Catholic but some of her stated beliefs run extremely counter to a lot of the dogma coming from the Catholic Church including the Pope himself (Benedict, to be precise), but the former Speaker also has a lot of supporters who agree with her (Gros).
In any event, because of all the disparity and differences both between and intertwined amongst each sect of the Christian faith, the author of this report will offer the positions generally held by most Christians. Most Christians hold that sleeping with another person while within a marriage is a sin. For example, if Mary is married to Bob but, whilst still married, she then sleeps with Mike, that is adultery regardless of whether it happens once or ten times and regardless of the intent behind the sex, presupposing that the encounter is consensual for all parties involved (Gros).
However, some Christian sects/people take things a bit further and posit that if the act is even considered or dreamt of, even if it never happens and even if one of the parties involved never knows of the desire, the person being desirous of a sexual encounter outside their marriage is committing adultery "in their heart" and many consider that just as bad as committing the actual act. Not all corners of the Christian populace hold this view and say that the actual act is the sin. It is much like the belief that one sin is no different in severity from another. For example, some hold (per scripture) that a lie is just as bad as a murder in the eyes of God. Some hold to that and some do not (Gros).
Before getting into the views that oppose, in whole or in part, the overall viewpoints of the Christian faith, there is another wrinkle to this debate that should be mentioned. Many hold adultery to be improper and immoral on grounds and reasons that do not need to include religion. Indeed, adultery can be very damaging to relationships is the aggrieved spouse was expecting or demanding monogamy from their spouse and adultery is indeed the grounds for many divorces and even some lawsuits, including "alienation of affection" litigation that pursues either the cheating spouse and/or the party that was allegedly cheating with the spouse and thus lead to the demise of the marriage (Torts).
Even relationship statuses or lifestyle choices that run afoul of established Christian dogma have "rules" or at least understood and informed agreements that are to be followed. Many to most homosexual relationships are at least partially monogamous and even less traditional (and/or illegal) lifestyle choices like "swinging," bigamy, polygamy, polygyny, and the like are not nearly as exclusive as a "one to one" relationship, but there are agreed upon rules and people are generally content as long as the rules are followed (Knapp).
For example, one thing that both heterosexual and homosexual couples sometimes engage in is a semi-open relationship whereby one or both spouses are given the discretion to have a sexual tryst with another partner from time to time. The usual conditions behind this are that contraception always has to be used and that no external relationship can be serious and/or anything more than a one night stand. These arrangements are fairly rare, but they most certainly exist (Knapp).
In general, the non-Christian positions, regardless of how the chips may fall, is that as long as all parties involved have a firm and committed understanding of what is truly being agreed to in terms of commitment, then basically anything else is on the table. A couple that open swings can be just as committed to the arrangement as a couple that is supposed to be monogamous (Knapp).
Many scholars and pundits hold a very dim view of the general Christian way of thinking as it relates to adultery and other "moral" sins. Many of these scholars go so far as to say that humans, men in particular, are not "wired" to be monogamous and that foisting a moral standard that goes against the biology of a person is simply not proper or intelligent. People that counteract that argument often offer one of two viewpoints. The first viewpoint is that "biology" should not be confused with "temptation." In other words, just because the opportunity exists to cheat does not mean it is right and it does not mean that the person being tempted cannot just say no to the opportunity and keep their vows intact (Singh et al.).
The other argument posed is that cheating, either inside of or outside of a relationship, is a massive violation of trust and the act is therefore not proper or right. Whether one uses morality to drive that point home or just simply pointing to the mutual expectations that the couple supposedly had before the infidelity, some just like to point out that as long as people can be honest about their intentions and whether they plan to remain monogamous, there should not be a problem and that problems really only crop up when one or more spouses or partners in a relationship decide to not hold themselves to what they promised to their partner (Singh et al.).
This leads to the overall verdict that the author of this paper would like to offer. Taking a position on religion or lifestyle choices is not something the author would do because the point to be made can be done without stirring up that hornets' nest. As noted above, whether one bases the beliefs and the arguments involved on religion, general non-religious morality or something else, there are a few things that should be assessed and responded to when speaking of adultery and monogamy.
First, anyone that has little to no intent of being monogamous, religious or not, should not portend to their spouse or partner that they intend to do so. It is dishonest and unfair and one does not need to bring religion into the argument to make that point. Some people just like to be hedonistic and the author of this report will pass no judgments about that, but the person should still be honest and transparent about their intentions. If the intent of a vow of fidelity is simply to use or abuse a person, that is never proper and religion is not needed to justify that.
Second, regardless of what standards one holds one's self to and/or agrees to with another party, people should be careful that their actions do not lead to the spread of disease or unplanned children. Again,…