Summary: Christ has interpreted the seventh commandment by the tenth to reflect the purity expected of those who are part of the Kingdom of Heaven. Marriage for a Christian is meant to reflect the relationship of Christ and His people.
“I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
The people of Newburyport, Massachusetts were scandalized in the summer of 2004 when their mayor, Mary Anne Clancy, admitted to an affair with a married gym teacher. Clancy never imagined her tryst would be discovered. It only lasted a few weeks, there was never any physical contact, and all the evidence could be erased at the touch of a button. But when her husband Brian found the romantic e-mails his wife had exchanged with her paramour, he followed the man home, assaulted him, and subsequently was jailed.
The ensuing headlines gave readers a look at a still largely hidden but rapidly growing threat to families—cyber-infidelity. Cyber-infidelity is defined as the act of engaging in acts of a romantic or sexual nature with an individual or individuals through electronic or virtual communities. The electronic communities can consist of dating websites, email discussion lists, interactive games, chat rooms or newsgroups, and certainly includes pornography sites. Whilst it is obvious to all but the deliberately obtuse that using pornography for personal gratification is detrimental to the marriage relationship, it appears that with increasing frequency women are seeking “romance” through fantasy role-playing using avatars and chat rooms to hide their identity. Above all else, cyber-infidelity is a violation of the trust necessary to a strong marriage.
Cyber-adultery, says one author, has become “a huge, huge issue… You’ve got this box on your desk that is accessible all the time with little or no effort. That just makes it too easy for a lot of people to communicate. People sneak down to their computers while their spouse is sleeping… They don’t have to meet someone at the bar.” Sadly, a husband no longer has to sneak out of the house to commit adultery. All he has to do is stay up a little later than his wife.
It is no secret that marriage is under assault from multiple quarters. From skyrocketing divorce rates, to governmental accession to homosexuals’ demands for married status, to a vast and general indifference toward this ancient institution—marriage as a pillar of western culture seems to be tottering on the edge of destruction. People have forgotten why marriage matters; and this cultural ignorance will only deepen as more husbands and wives find themselves enmeshed in the dark side of the Internet, hopelessly confused about what marks the line between “surfing” and infidelity. Already, some myopic individuals are beginning to excuse Internet sex, arguing that because most of these cyber-affairs never lead to physical encounters, they are actually “safe infidelity.” But infidelity is infidelity where the Word of God is concerned and adultery is adultery.
The Bible teaches that adultery is first and foremost a sin of the heart’s imagination. “[E]veryone who looks at a woman with lustful intent,” said Jesus, “has already committed adultery with her in his heart” [*Matthew 5:28*]. Adultery does not require physical intercourse. It is a matter of broken vows, shattered trust, and ruined families. It is betrayal, and putting the word “cyber” in front of it does not make it any less real or any less devastating or any less evil.