World Agrees: Adultery, While Prevalent, Is Wrong

Chinese leader Bo Xilai, with wife Gu Kailai, and Pakistani commoner being flogged

Surveys find solid disapproval of adultery in every country, yet technology and social media, modern lifestyles and flexible gender roles, films and news reports about the affairs of politicians and celebrities make the activity more visible worldwide. “Historically, most cultures consider the behavior immoral, and religions impose stiff penalties,” explains Joseph Chamie, demographer and former director of the UN Population Division, referring to a global survey across 40 countries reporting that more than 75 percent of respondents regard adultery as morally unacceptable. “While religious doctrines concerning adultery are essentially unchanged, social norms and laws have changed.” Ostracism and consequences vary from country to country. Severe punishments have largely vanished while most industrialized nations, with the exception of 21 US states, no longer consider the activity a crime. Chamie concludes that “marriage is no longer the permanent or sacred institution it was a century ago.” Such violations of personal commitments contribute to eroding trust in society. – YaleGlobal