I have never committed adultery. I have never been married. I’d like to think that the former isn’t solely because of the latter, but I’ve never had the opportunity to confirm that.
Practicing adultery means having sex with one person when you are married to another. If you practice adultery a lot you’ll probably get very good at it, but it won’t make it any less scummy.
For the record, not that anyone cares, I don’t think there is anything wrong, per se, with having sex out of wedlock even if you are in wedlock at the time.
(By the way, whoever came up with the word wedlock? It makes marriage sound like a prison. Some people would argue that it is, but, not having been married, I have no comment. The reason I have no comment is I’m unmarried as a result of neuroses and lack of self-esteem, not choice. I might want to get married one day. A comment here might make that even less likely than it already is.)
Sex is just a physical act, like brushing someone else’s hair for them, brushing lint off their clothing, or picking their nose for them. Alright, that last one is disgusting, but you get my point. Sex is merely a physical act between two people, and one that is much more enjoyable than those other examples.
Sex has a deeper meaning only if we chose to give it one. And, because I’m an atheist, I think it is we, not a deity who does or does not choose to give it that meaning.
Personally, I do like the idea of giving sex a deeper meaning. I suspect that it is easier to live life somewhat close to occasionally happily if we establish an intimate, mutual bond with someone who can support us and help us through the rough spots. Reciprocity might be a good thing too. However, my history has not provided me with much experimental data to confirm or refute that theory.
But that’s just me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s up to you whether you choose to give sex that deeper meaning and, assuming that the sex is always consensual and informed, there is no moral rightness or wrongness associated with that choice.
All of that having been said, I do think adultery is, in most cases, morally wrong. However, that’s not because I think there is anything inherently wrong with the sex part of sex out of wedlock. It’s just that I believe that lying is morally wrong and marriage contains at least an implicit and usually an explicit vow of monogamy.
I said “in most cases” in the previous paragraph. If before the marriage one or both of the engaged people explicitly stated something to the effect of, “this marriage will mean a lot of things, but one thing it won’t include is monogamy; I’ll enter into this marriage only if it’s an open one,” and those terms were accepted by both people, then I think that adultery would be morally acceptable. But I think that the declaration has to be explicit. Marriage normally carries an expected vow of monogamy, so it takes an explicit declaration to override that.
By the way, to any single women out there who might be interested in an older, short, overweight guy, I am reasonably certain that I will be monogamous if I ever get married. There are three reasons for this: One, the idea of the stronger bond that the exclusivity creates appeals to me. Two, history suggests that I wouldn’t be successful in getting anyone else to sleep with me. And three, I’m getting old. I probably wouldn’t have the strength for sexual relations with someone in addition to my wife, should I ever have one.
There is one moral question concerning adultery that I haven’t yet settled in my mind. I’m unmarried, so it’s impossible for me to commit adultery. However, if I have sex with a married woman would that be immoral on my part? I would not be breaking any vows to anyone, but the woman would be. On the other hand, I would be facilitating the breaking of the vows of monogamy made by that woman.
It’s a dilemma, but it’s not a major issue for me because I’m a neurotic. I’d probably be too worried about the woman’s husband finding out and beating the crap out of me, or worse, for me to, um, er, “perform.”
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