Should Adultery Be Illegal?

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ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Should Adultery Be Illegal?

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CyberLN's picture
Define 'adultery'.

Define 'adultery'.

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
"Voluntary sexual intercourse

"Voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife [or vice versa]" (Merriam-Webster's, 2017).

CyberLN's picture, it should not be, it should not be illegal. Marriage is a civil contract. It typically does not have an explicit clause prohibiting sexual intercourse with someone else. However, if it did, then it's a matter for civil court, not criminal court.

CyberLN's picture
Addendum...husband and wife?

Addendum...husband and wife? In my state, it would include wife/wife and husband/husband. ;-)

MCDennis's picture
Of course it should not be

Of course it should not be illegal. What a dumb idea

LogicFTW's picture
I of course believe adultery

I of course believe adultery should be legal.

But the more interesting discussion to me is:

Lets jump down the rabbit hole and say Adultery was made illegal by federal law, and was strictly enforced.

Even with the current very poor prosecution rates on current adultery laws, (most states in the US already have adultery laws in the books! With a few still carrying felony charges!) If we actually threw people in jail for this, (note that: misdemeanor "fine" charges would mostly defang any adultery law, to the point of near irrelevance between the light punishment and being incredibly difficult to prosecute it would be a law breaking event most people would be fine taking a "chance on." Kind of like: jay walking.

All that said, if we threw even a small percentage of people that commit adultery in jail, say (1% of all adultry incidents in a year,) our already overflowing jail system (Already by far the largest jail population in the world!) would burst under the pressure. We could not possibly build jails fast enough. Our already badly overburdened court system could not possibly keep up with the caseload.

The amount of additionally crippling conditions this highly enforced law does not stop at difficulty to convict and over burdened court/jail systems.

Your definition states only married couples. Are unmarried people exempt? If I am unmarried, and I had mutually consensual sex with a married woman, I do not get in trouble? Only the married woman would? Would that be fair? I would think you and most people would state that is not fair.

So we amend the definition to, having sex with anyone that is married and is not the partner in that marriage as "adultery" Or we create another law and call it something else in addition to the adultery law. Now this amended or new law creates further problems. What if one did not know? What if one is under the age of 18? Do we add additional amendments? Could I have sex with whomever, and just say "do not tell me if you are married?" To avoid being prosecuted for adultery? No?

Now does everyone that ever has sex with someone have the duty to insure the person they are sleeping with is not married? Do we have to create "not married" id's that everyone "checks" before that people give up once married? Are people okay with, people getting divorces, so they are not married, so people can sleep with others, then get remarried later? Maybe a couple of times a year? Seems like an easy work around...

Also, people that do not marry, totally free to sleep with whomever else that is not married (as long as it follows other laws in the book.) So if I want to get married, I by law have to give up the freedom to sleep with as many unmarried persons as I want? Is a civil only marriage possible for married people that do not want this?

I could go on and on with all the problems a strictly enforced adultery law would have. But I will stop here unless someone wants the rest of all the issues that comes to my mind.

Sky Pilot's picture
If you want it to be illegal

If you want it to be illegal then don't do it.

Enough of the Moses complex. Even Yeshua said that all actions are voluntary and not illegal.

SunDog's picture
Yehoshua who

Yehoshua who

algebe's picture
Back in the dark ages of

Back in the dark ages of 1950s England, I remember reading in the papers about men being sued for "enticement" (a.k.a. "criminal conversation" or "harboring a spouse). Wives apparently had no will of their own and could be stolen like cars or cattle. Here's an old discussion paper about it from Ireland.

I don't think adultery should be a crime. The law has no place in bedrooms. The only crime in a marriage should be spousal violence, and that should include people who infect their spouses with STDs after engaging in extramarital sex. The Seventh Commandment should definitely not be written into criminal law.

Sky Pilot's picture


The Seventh Commandment is that the Israelite men had to appear before their God three times a year. Exodus 34:23-24

algebe's picture
In the version I was

In the version I was indoctinated with as a child, the seventh was about adultery, but none of the teachers would explain what adultery was. But really it doesn't matter what order you stack a pile of iron age bullshit in, does it?

jonthecatholic's picture
In my country, there does

In my country, there does exist law criminalizing cheating spouses. From my understanding, the purpose of the law is to protect the basic family unit. Most spouses though don't file the case. They either let it slide or settle the issue within the marriage.

algebe's picture
@Jon: "In my country, there

@Jon: "In my country, there does exist law criminalizing cheating spouses."

Which country is that?

ʝօɦռ 6IX ɮʀɛɛʐʏ's picture
Well that is my sentiment as

Well that is my sentiment as well. It's not simply a matter of the bedroom. You can almost equate it to fraud. Cheating on your spouse is the equivalent to domestic abuse in my opinion. Except whereas one is physical the other is psychological abuse. Plenty of suicides and murders have been known to occur as a consequence of infidelity.

Criminal may be a harsh word for it, but there ought to be some repercussion.

jonthecatholic's picture
Philippines. It's not a well

Philippines. It's not a well known law and I only found out about it last month

Flamenca's picture
Hi, Jon, and WOW. And what is

Hi, Jon, and WOW. And what is the punishment for the cheater? Does it include imprisonment?

jonthecatholic's picture
Yes. For both the cheating

Yes. For both the cheating party and the "third party". The case, however, is very hard to win as it must be established that the two people involved did in fact have sex. One particularly famous case here involved 2 married lawyers cheating on their spouses with each other. The wife of one was also a lawyer so she knew the evidence needed must be great. So she had the police come in when she knew both her husband and the mistress would together in a hotel room.

Flamenca's picture
I guess it has to be proven

I guess it has to be proven that the "third party" knew that person was married beforehand.

Thanks for the info, it's quite surprising to me, but at the same time, a way to understand our cultural differences.

I agree with Cyber and Algebe. For me, since it's a civil contract, what happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom, except for violence or STDs transmission.

John 6IX and Jon the C., I agree that being cheated is really sad and sucks, but holding criminal liability for that seems excessive. But you made me think that maybe, the cheater could be fine for emotional distress in the divorce process... That sounds fairer to me...

In Spain, if you kill your spouse while cheating is a mitigating circumstance on trial, but the punishment is (if my memory is right) 10 to 15 years in prison.

jonthecatholic's picture
"I guess it has to be proven

"I guess it has to be proven that the "third party" knew that person was married beforehand."

I'm no expert on the topic but I'm thinking yes.

"the cheater could be fine for emotional distress in the divorce process... That sounds fairer to me..."

That could be the case but you see, in the Philippines, couples share their assets so fining one to pay the other doesn't make sense. And we don't have divorce here. Last time I checked, we're the only other country, besides the Vatican, that doesn't allow divorce.

Flamenca's picture
If divorce is not allowed yet

If divorce is not allowed yet (another WOW for this), I understand better the reasons for the criminal responsability... Since you have to be married forever, you are not supposed to ruin it...

jonthecatholic's picture
"If divorce is not allowed

"If divorce is not allowed yet (another WOW for this)"

Hahahaha. I know. When I found out, I was actually shocked that divorce was already allowed everywhere else. What is allowed by our constitution, in cases of domestic violence, is legal separation, which sounds like the same thing but the two people involved are still technically married.

Flamenca's picture
I guess that in case of legal

I guess that in case of legal separation, you can cheat with no repercussion...

algebe's picture
This is a Washington Post

This is a Washington Post article about divorce in the Philippines.

I found this statement particularly intriguing.
“Human rights are not absolute if they are against the plan of God,” said the Rev. Edgardo Pangan.

This kind of crap is what happens when the church gets its tentacles into government. Rich people who can afford to bribe judges and church officials can get divorces, while the poor have to stay in unhappy or abusive marriages or split up knowing they'll never be able to marry again.

Everything the church touches becomes a source of perversion, pain and misery.

jonthecatholic's picture
Correction. Not even the rich

Correction. Not even the rich can get divorced because it's not allowed here. Annulment is a different animal altogether. It's simply an pronouncement that the marriage never happened (either one was forced into marriage, either party was drunk during the ceremony, or they had no knowledge what marriage entails). falling out of love doesn't qualify for an annulment meaning you're basically forced to keep to your end of the marital contract (till death).

About divorce being a basic human right, this may be true but it encroaches the kid's right to be raised by both his/her parents. I've have a number of friends who, under circumstances which allow divorce, wouldn't have been able to live with both their loving parents now.

CyberLN's picture
Divorced people are unable to

Divorced people are unable to raise kids? WTH?

I'm not so sure that living in a household with a marriage that is not loving/happy and one that the married couple is forced by law into maintaining is teaching a child the right message about relationships and personal autonomy.

Flamenca's picture
About the annulment, that's

About the annulment, that's in theory. Rich people in Spain got them all the time... I've been reading that the cases you mention are called "anullatio ab initio", but there are some other causes, such as emotional dependency of the other to their mother, for example. I'm not kidding, here's the source, I warn you it's in Spanish (

For example, last year the ex-wife of one of the late Duchess of Alba' sons (she was the most titled aristocrat in the world) asked for an annulment to the Pope, although they've been married several years (and have 2 kids), 8 years after they got divorced (!). They didn't want to clarify the reasons for alleging, but I bet money is involved.

it encroaches the kid's right to be raised by both his/her parents
In my country, things have changed. Currently, in cases of divorce, the general rule is that kids spend 50% with each parent.

jonthecatholic's picture
That's true. Richer families

That's true. Richer families can bypass the judicial system here by paying the judge or something. That doesn't mean to say that what they did is correct. Laws get bypassed everyday but we don't say those are bad laws. We say the law enforcers have something wrong with them.

LogicFTW's picture
There is another option,

There is another option, simply move to another country. Easy to do if rich.

Kind of like countries that make all forms of abortion illegal. The rich simply fly to another country where it is legal, problem solved. The poor do not have this option.

However that is the case nearly everywhere, just about any law always have far greater repercussions on the poor then on the rich. Does not help that the rich typically get to make the laws too.

Of course Rodrigo Duterte current drug war tactics tells me all that I need to know about the state of "laws" in the Philippines. I actually used to visit the philippines for work quite a bit until about 3 years ago. Even started to learn rudimentary Tagalog. I have since taken my business elsewhere.

I am a bit curious if Rodrigo Duterte would actually have his own son killed. My guess is: he will try to covertly block proper investigation to the allegations against his son.

algebe's picture
@Jon the Catholic: "Annulment

@Jon the Catholic: "Annulment is a different animal altogether."

As I understand it, you can get an annulment by proving that you were insane or coerced when you got married. If you're rich, you can apply enough grease to spin that wheel quite easily.

phetaroi's picture
I'll tell you of a situation

I'll tell you of a situation I thought was STUPID. I had a cousin who married late in life...around 40. Unfortunately, he married a rather loose woman. He changed, she didn't. So after about a year they "divorced". He was Catholic, and after a period time I started seeing him in church taking communion. I asked my aunt how that could be since he was divorced and had consummated their marriage. "The church didn't count the marriage since she had never been baptized." Oh brother.


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