In simple words, adultery is the voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse. Legally adultery is defined as “voluntary sexual relations between an individual who is married and someone who is not the individual’s spouse”. So, an online relationship, kissing, meetings in secret, holding hands, or anything less than that would not be classed by the court as adultery. The main difference between Adultery and Infidelity is that Adultery is a type of extramarital sex and Infidelity is cheating, adultery, or having an affair. In most Western countries, adultery itself is no longer a criminal offense, but may still have legal consequences, particularly in divorce cases.
There is an old joke about The Seven Commandments” Do not commit adultery”. Victoria comes down from the Himalayas and announces, “I have good news and the bad news. The good news is I got Him down to ten and the bad news is adultery stays. The prohibition is on a married person having sexual relations with anyone except his or her spouse may be for many people, the most difficult of the Ten Commandments to observe. The reason shouldn’t be hard to guess. One is the enormous power of sex drive. It can be very hard to keep in check for the entirety of one’s marriage, especially when an attractive outsider makes him or herself sexually or romantically available. Another reason is the human desire to be loved and be in love. For normal people, there is no powerful emotion than love. If one falls in love with someone while married, it takes a great effort not to commit adultery with that person. And if we add in the unfortunate circumstance of a loveless marriage, adultery becomes even more difficult to resist. This is what the joke reflects about truth.
Why is adultery prohibited in the Ten Commandments? It is because like the other nine, it is dispensable for forming and maintaining a higher civilization. Adultery threatens the very building block of the civilization that the Ten Commandments seek to create. That building block is the family, a father, a mother, and the children. Anything that threatens the family unit is prohibited in the holy bible. Adultery is one of the examples. Not honoring one’s father and one’s mother is the second one and prohibition on injecting any sexuality into the family is the third one. Family is so important because without the family social stability is impossible, without it the passing on the social values from a generation is impossible. The commitment to a wife and children from a man makes the more responsible and mature. More than anything else family meets a women’s deepest emotional and materials needs. And nothing comes close to the family in giving the children a secure and stable childhood.
Why does adultery threaten the family? The most obvious reason is the sex with someone other than one’s spouse can all too easily lead to either or both spouses leaving the marriage. Adultery should not be automatically led to divorce, but it often does. There is another reason adultery can destroy a marriage is pregnancy and then birth to a child. That child will in almost all cases start life without family, meaning no father and no mother being married to each other to call his or her own. And if adultery doesn’t destroy family, it almost always does terrible harm to marriage, aside from the sense of betrayal and loss of trust that it cases, it means that the adulterous partner lives a fraudulent life. When a husband or wife is having sex with someone other than their spouse, their thoughts are constantly about another person and how to deceive the partner. The life of deception than adulterous affair necessarily entails inevitable damages to marriage even if the betrayed spouse is unaware of the affair. Finally, the commandments prohibiting adultery don’t come with the asterisk, saying that adultery is okay if but the spouse agrees to it. The Spouse who has extra material sex with the permission of their husband or wife may not spouse’s feelings, but they are still harming the institution of marriage. And protecting the family, not protecting spouses from emotional pain is the reason for the commandment. Many marriages, sadly, are troubled and it is not for any of us to stand a judgment of others’ behavior in this realm. No one knows what goes on in anyone else’s marriage. And if we did, we might often well understand why one or the other sought love outside the marriage. But no higher civilization can be made or can endure that condones adultery. That is why adultery is prohibited in the Ten Commandments.