The severity of adultery varies according to which perspective is being considered. For centuries, being faithful to one's spouse entails complete celibacy with any outside party. The emphasis placed on fidelity overrides any possible justification for adultery. However, can adultery ever be considered a practical activity in order to ensure the long-term survival of a relationship? Or is the notion of going against every moral and ethical law taught a sin in itself? Adultery cannot be morally justified because the act of adultery itself is something that breaks all that defines what it is like to believe in morals and values. By belittling the attitude toward the act of adultery in a sacred marriage, then everything that the trust in a marriage is built on, is no longer is existence.
Although adultery may seem like a tempting way to release one's frustration in a marriage, it may only seem like an easy way out of something that may still be worth salvaging. The quality of the marriage when the affair first took place is a worthy determinant of whether adultery was morally justified in the first place, since each case is subjective. A marriage that is constantly in turmoil and that is consistently heading toward a negative route instead of a positive one, justifies adultery more so than the marriage that is going perfectly fine. How one feels in a marriage is reflected in the actions that one partakes in. Marriage is about having something to agree about and it means having a sacred bond to enjoy. However, once that bond starts to dissipate, then questions arise about whether or not a marriage is even worth continuing, leading to the action of adultery. The ethical basis for the adultery in a marriage that is no longer functioning and whose quality is already extremely low, then ethically it would be better to commit adultery or to end the marriage before more harm is done to either of the parties involved. Although committing adultery is immoral, ethically, it is better to end a relationship before it starts to get even more complicated and where more people are going to get hurt.
Levels of commitment in a marriage vary according to the individuals involved. A marriage that is first started because of love is seen as more valuable for a couple than the marriage that is started out of convenience. That is, only if love is valued more than practicality can a marriage survive longer than the other. In a marriage, there is always going to be varying levels of commitment from both parties. One side may be more attached to the relationship than the other. This creates a sense of imbalance in a marriage, allowing room for misinterpretation, under appreciation, and ultimately, infidelity. In marriages where love was the precursor, adultery may seem like a loss in faith in the other's partner. It is an eternal promise that has been broken and where forgiveness may be difficult to come by. If a marriage was arranged, then adultery may seem like the breaking of a contract. Arranged marriages are done so that both families could enjoy a financially stable lifestyle for both present and future generations. In this case, ethically, it would be wrong to commit adultery. However if both parties are equally as uncommitted as the other is, then there is no longer a practical reason to continue in a marriage. It would be unethical to break a sacred bond or promise, but if the emotional health of any of the couples is at risk or they feel that their quality of life is being affected by the quality of their relationship, then it may be best to end a relationship that may be through to begin with. Morally, adultery will be wrong if two people are legally married, but ethically, if the two people agree that their quality of life is suffering, then it would be more ethical to stop the suffering before it gets any worse.
Having children involved in a couple's relationship really makes things a lot more complicated when it comes to justifying adultery. As aforementioned, morally, adultery will always be wrong as infidelity signifies the complete misuse of the other's trust and it involves going back on an eternal promise. But it is more ethically forgivable to commit adultery in relationships where children may suffer if a divorce were to take place. It is at times acceptable for two adults who are in a healthy marriage to experiment with outside people so that their own marriage will not get destroyed. However, this may only be the case under circumstances where the marriage itself is still healthy, a bit unstable, but still salvageable. With children involved, adultery on its own is not morally justified, but the alternative, that is, the breaking up of a family and its stable structure for the children, may be something that will be unethical to break apart. When children have been involved in the issues of two parents, it may become more difficult to come to terms with the ending of an entire relationship. Adultery may seem like a safe alternative only if all of the parties involved are mutually aware of the arrangement. If both members of the relationship agree that committing adultery is an easier way to maintain their marriage intact so that their children could have a stable household, then adultery would be a safe alternative to what could be. It would be more ethical to commit adultery in order to avoid the emotional pain that could be felt by the children involved, than it would be to continue in an unhappy marriage that may be allowing the children to suffer in the first place.
Culture plays a crucial role in the decision to commit adultery in a relationship. It also defines the severity of the implications once the adultery has already been committed. However, the degree to which adultery affects a marriage depends on which culture one is examining it from. Specific cultural challenges are fought when considering the morality of adultery through an Eastern and Western dimension. Challenges in Eastern cultures exist when in trying to define the degree of adultery committed. Any challenge to the idea of marriage can be punishable by death in many Eastern cultures. When a woman and a man marry, it is supposed to be forever. This also stems from the idea that a large portion of marriages in Eastern cultures are pre-arranged, and breaking the vows of marriage by committing adultery is literally illegal in some cases. When two people get married, they do so because they believe that their union will add up to the benefit of more than just them. A double standard that does make Eastern culture a bit more complicated when thinking about adultery is the stereotypical role that a woman is supposed to take on. The challenge in this case is that it is more excusable for a man to commit adultery than it is for a woman to do the same thing. Women are viewed as sacred objects, as property that is being attained once a marriage is final. Adultery challenges all of those preconceived notions and makes adultery both unethical and immoral. In this case, adultery is once again not morally justified, but it is also unethical when one considers the alternative.
Western culture carries its unique challenges as well. In Western culture, adultery is becoming more acceptable. Just as Eastern culture is slowly moving toward a more progressive stance on the issue, Western cultures are just as progressive, if not more, when it comes to the issue of adultery. However, Western cultures also have a high rate of divorce among any type of relationship. This signifies that although adultery may seem more acceptable and forgivable in Western culture, the rise in separations and divorced signifies the complete opposite. Adultery is immoral and unethical and although some Westerners enjoy the idea of having a free marriage, one where both parties may be at liberty to pursue their own sexual innuendos, most do not agree with that notion. Daily challenges do exist as media is becoming more popular and the idea of having open marriages does seem to grow as time passes by.
Adultery can be analyzed through a variety of different frameworks. Confucian ethical frameworks emphasize doing good in the world. Love for parents, children, and each other are aspects that are amplified under this ethical framework. Honesty, righteousness, trustworthiness, and humaneness toward one another are values that guide this principle and therefore allow for a unique interpretation of adultery to be had. Under this particular framework, adultery is completely and utterly unjustified. It goes against everything that the Confucian framework stands for. Adultery would mean lying, faking, being untrustworthy, and most importantly of all, it would mean having to hurt your family. These are all unacceptable ways to live according to this principle. Adultery is not just a moral issue…