What is Adultery

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by LincolnSpector, Jun 15, 2014.

  1. LincolnSpector

    LincolnSpector Member

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    How do you define adultery?

    To my mind, the traditional Jewish definition is horrifically sexist--to the point of treating women like chattel. A woman commits adultery if she's married and has sex with someone other than her husband. A man commits adultery if he has sex with another man's wife.

    It doesn't work the other way. A married man can have sex with an unmarried woman without either of them breaking religious law.

    And what about Christianity? According to Matthew 5:28--the quote that launched the big "Bible and Risqué Films" discussion on this forum--the mere emotional response of feeling lust for a woman is adultery. It doesn't say anything about anyone being married.

    Not to attack someone else's religion (of course, I just attacked my own), but the idea of "committing adultery in your heart" makes no sense to me. It's what you do that's right or wrong, not what you think. At least that's my view.

    To my mind, adultery is about being dishonest about your sexual activity. You're telling your spouse (or significant other) that they are your only lover, when in fact they are not. And to my mind, that's very wrong indeed.
     
  2. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    Perhaps a good place to start is the original word used and the reason why 'Adultery' was used.

    It's interesting to compare our modern notions with those of the ancient world, but often they are very different.
     
  3. voiceofwood

    voiceofwood Interfaith Forums

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    As I understand it, all sexual activity apart from that of legitimately married man and woman constituted fornication and was thus forbidden. Part of what Jesus is saying is that legalistic interpretation of scripture to avoid compliance is to be avoided
     
  4. Frrostedman

    Frrostedman Keepin' it cool

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    Before Matt 5:28, Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.'" So He is already establishing the context: the Old Testament definition of adultery. He goes on to say that an adulterer isn't only guilty if he commits the act, he is also guilty if he looks at a the woman with the thought an intent of committing the act. That is, assuming either party or both parties are married, otherwise adultery isn't part of the equation.

    Thomas nailed it in his brilliant explanation. It's the thought, or put better, the intent that commits the sin. Thomas went on to explain that if a sinful act is committed completely by accident, this would not be judged as a sin. But on the other hand, to paraphrase Thomas, he could take his wife and go meet a married couple... and if he spent the entire evening looking at the other person's wife lustfully, staring at her body, clearly thinking lustful thoughts... his wife would get really mad with him. He could later explain that he didn't do anything, but, obviously that dog won't hunt. The wife wouldn't care that he didn't do anything, she would still hold him guilty for merely thinking about it.

    Now listen, if you are trying to argue that Matt 5:28 says we're guilty if we simply have that instant emotional reaction when we see a woman cross the street, then you aren't understanding the message.

    All us men get that instant wow feeling when we see a gorgeous woman cross our path. It's what we do with it from there. Do we look in another direction so as to prevent ourselves from lusting after her, or do we sit there and stare, jaw-dropped.. elevator eyes, looking her up and down, and then watch the way she switches her hips as she goes by? There's a big difference, and the latter is not acceptable if either party is married.
     
  5. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Adultery.

    Adulterate. Ad - Ult to add something other than the other to the other....

    To put your finger on the scale you have added weight and cheating your customer, betraying a trust....to add water to the wine...you are diluting the wine

    Don't commit Adultery...it isn't just for marriage anymore...don't dilute your principles.
     
  6. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    Frrosted said "All us men get that instant wow feeling when we see a gorgeous woman cross our path. It's what we do with it from there. Do we look in another direction so as to prevent ourselves from lusting after her, or do we sit there and stare, jaw-dropped.. elevator eyes, looking her up and down, and then watch the way she switches her hips as she goes by? There's a big difference, and the latter is not acceptable if either party is married."

    As for the latter action, methinks being married is not relevant. Any woman so crudely ogled would find it insulting and inappropriate. And biblically I believe that would be considered immoral.

    From my perspective you do seem to think in extremes. As in your example here. There is a middle option. What if you do not look the other way, but neither do you act in such an outwardly lustful way? What if you look at her as a sexual person in your head, but show no emotion or reaction physically?

    In this option there is (what some would consider) inappropriate thought, but there is no outward physical reaction anyone can see. Thought, yes. Action no.

    My own philosophy, that is not immoral. Thoughts are thoughts. It is only inappropriate if thoughts are followed with actions. Biblically I would have said it was immoral before. But we are now mudding the waters on what adultery meant then versus now. So I am not so certain of my biblical conclusion any longer.

    p.s. In you Thomas example, the way you describe the hypothetical, he did indeed do something. By outwardly leering at the other man's wife. That is an action. His defense that he 'did nothing' would be a lie.
     
  7. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea An ordinary cup of tea

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    Well done there G-Knot, you said something I agree with fully and you said it well.

    I don't think this will have much to do with the OP, but I think it is worth mentioning that the reason a person don't act in spite of their thoughts is very relevant. If the individual has very clear boundaries between fantasy and reality it is one thing, but if non-action is the result of fear for negative consequences then I'm not so sure those thoughts are harmless. There are probably several nuances to this.

    Thomas made a point elsewhere on the difference between Spiritual and Psychological perspectives and consequences, it hadn't occurred to me before and I hope it is brought up and discussed further in this thread.
     
  8. Frrostedman

    Frrostedman Keepin' it cool

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    :)

    So crudely ... ogled! I love it!

    [making note of new, amusing word]


    :( Please Lord, forgive me for crudely ogling Miss Ethel Higginbottom during worship service this morning. Amen :(
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Well hang on ... 10,000 year old patterns of gender relations tend to be sexist in any camp.

    No, you're wrong there. It would be adultery on the part of the married.

    Sorry, I think you're wrong there, too. The text says "look on a woman to lust after her" ... I think Jesus was wise enough to know that unwanted thoughts tend to enter the mind without our bidding, and we are human, after all. The point is do we entertain those thoughts? Does the idea pop into the head and, rather than reject it as unseemly, we run with it, that's where the balance lies, it seems to me.

    I think that's wrong, too. It's the intention.

    In law, both God's and mans', the intention counts, and indeed defines the act, so you get First, Second-degree murder, Manslaughter, etc.

    If it's just the act, then murder is murder is murder.

    Agreed.

    But then, someone who says that, but fantasises about making love to other women, is being dishonest, whether or not they actually do anything about it is second to that.

    Take a look at this Peter Kay commercial. That seems to have the measure of it.
     
  10. Quirkybird

    Quirkybird Granny to five

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    Adultery is physically cheating on your partner gay or straight, imo.
     
  11. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    ACOT said
    "I don't think this will have much to do with the OP, but I think it is worth mentioning that the reason a person don't act in spite of their thoughts is very relevant. If the individual has very clear boundaries between fantasy and reality it is one thing, but if non-action is the result of fear for negative consequences then I'm not so sure those thoughts are harmless. There are probably several nuances to this.

    Thomas made a point elsewhere on the difference between Spiritual and Psychological perspectives and consequences, it hadn't occurred to me before and I hope it is brought up and discussed further in this thread.
    "

    Hmmmm. interesting point. Fear of negative consequences has a power motivating effect on many, many people. Wouldn't that have a bigger effect on preventing actions than thoughts though? My perception is that most people would have the lustful thought, then feel guilty about having the thought. In biblical terms that is still improper, though I am not so sure it is harmful.

    There is relevance to the different perspectives here, be it religious, spiritual (which I would separate from religious), and psychological points of view. As I have mentioned before, in my world view, random generalized thoughts are not harmful, either to oneself or to the other person.

    In terms of this discussion, which is a biblical one, those thoughts would be considered immoral.

    I separate spiritual out because, spiritual thoughts can obviously be religious ones, but spiritual thoughts do not have to be religious ones. The spiritual mind can be Theistic or Deistic. In the latter sense, the spiritual thought is not necessarily bound to a specific religious doctrine. Having lustful thoughts may or may not be immoral depending on a person’s spiritual perspective.

    Psychologically, morality is even less defined. My belief is that the intent of the thought would matter most from this perspective. Random, generalized thinking would not typically be harmful. But focused, directed obsession would be most harmful to the person’s psyche, and potentially harmful to the other person as well. Even if no action results from such thoughts.
     
  12. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

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    Anyone else feeling an overwhelming sense of 'Deja-vu'?

    Poor thing. A once majestic equine has been reduced to a mere puddle....:rolleyes:
     
  13. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    Thomas said in response to Lincoln "No, you're wrong there. It would be adultery on the part of the married."

    In theory I would agree. Historically though, seems like women are far more punished, and punished far more severely than men have been. Don't you think?

    Thomas "In law, both God's and mans', the intention counts, and indeed defines the act, so you get First, Second-degree murder, Manslaughter, etc."

    Lincoln was saying that the fault was in action not thought. Your response did not address Lincoln's comment. There is no degrees of murder when it comes to thoughts. A murder can only occur when an action is taken.

    In man's law, under U.S. jurisprudence, which is the only system I can claim to have even a little knowledge about, thoughts are not illegal. Thoughts may be immoral, but morality of thought is not governed by law - yet. It is under religious law that the morality of thought comes into play.

    The Peter Kay commercial is spot on to what I believe is the disconnect behind thinking versus taking an action. Or even one form of thinking versus another form of thinking. I find the spot farcical. Having a random thought about making love to another woman than one's wife is not dishonest. There is no intent to harm the relationship with the wife. Where the harm comes into play is when the intent goes in a different direction.

    There are too many relationships today, where a couple have been together long enough that that spark is gone. If a person, man or woman, starts daydreaming all the time about someone other than their partner, that absolutely is being dishonest to the relationship. Even if no action takes place.
     
  14. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Staff Member

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    My Gandmom used to say she didn't care where Gramps got his appetite, as long as he ate at home.
     
  15. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    I rather like that! Smart women your Gandmom.
     
  16. LincolnSpector

    LincolnSpector Member

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    In all fairness, since my question is "How do you define adultery?" he did address it. I don't agree with what he said, but that's what a forum is all about.

    btw, I see no fault in married people fantasizing about others. It's only dishonest if you lie to your spouse about it.

    A lot of married couples enjoying watching sexy movies together.
     
  17. Frrostedman

    Frrostedman Keepin' it cool

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    I think it was more than a mere "random thought." And that was the point of the whole skit, after all. Two things were crystal clear: the guy enjoyed the moment right there in front of everyone...enjoyed it a little too much and for a little too long. And, it was clearly not the first time he ... enjoyed... one of those moments with "Claire from work."
     
  18. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi GK —
    So does the promotion of positive thought.

    Nor in mine. Nor, dare I say, in Christ's. But when we entertain those thoughts, when we engage with them for our own gratification, that's the point, for me.

    Oh dear, pretty iffy perspective, if one entertains a vice as part of one's spiritual discipline? Nowhere is lust promoted as a virtue, as far as I know, whereas Christian ethics tends to coincide with both Hebrew and Hellenic notions of vice and virtue, and then there's the Kleshas in Buddhism, the Enneagram of Personality in Gurdjieff, the Hindu Arishadvargas,

    Well spirituality tends to set the bar higher.

    Indeed, in spiritual disciplines, such thoughts are often attributed to the ego seeking to derail the process. It's important to let such thoughts rise, and let them go. They're rather like farts in that respect ...

    Exactly.
     
  19. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Indeed, but they're not on any spiritual path, are they?

    Look at Fifty Shades of Grey, for love's sake! By all accounts an execrable piece of writing, but a best-seller of Harry Potter proportions!
     
  20. Gordian Knot

    Gordian Knot Being Deviant IS My Art.

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    Not sure of your meaning. Are you saying they if they are fantasizing about others when they are watching a movie together, they cannot be on a spiritual path?

    Better way to ask my question. They cannot be on a spiritual path while doing this? Or they cannot be on a spiritual path at all because they do this from time to time?

    Ideally the spiritual path should not be something that one turns on and off. In reality though, being on the spiritual path full time is no easy task. I'm not sure it is possible for most people.
     

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