“The aura of the theocratic death penalty for adultery still clings to America, even outside New England, and multiple divorces, which looks to the European like serial polygamy, is the moral solution to the problem of the itch.”—Anthony Burgess

That adultery is a sin often comes as a surprise to many Christians who although carrying the title know little about the Bible or its teachings on the subject. A survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago showed that 90% of the men and 94% of the women surveyed felt that extramarital sex was wrong. However, out of that same group 25%-37% of the men and 17% of the women had been unfaithful.[1] Obviously, there is a double standard in place or—blinders. To add more fuel to the morality fire an Associated Press survey showed that 22% of married men and 14% of married women have strayed at least once during their marriage. The poll also showed there is no appreciable difference in infidelity rates between women or men. Still, 90% of Americans believe that adultery is morally wrong.

Yet, the subject of adultery barely crosses the lips of the clergy who now ignore adult behavior of this type and maybe with good reason. A survey of Southern Baptist pastors by the Journal of Pastoral Care said that 14% of the pastors surveyed admitted to engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior. Nearly 50%-70% of the same pastors said they had counseled at least one woman who had intercourse with another minister.[2],[3] According to Newsweek Magazine, "Various surveys suggest that as many as 30% of male Protestant ministers have had sexual relationships with women other than their wives."

A survey of nearly 1,000 Protestant clergy by Leadership magazine found that 12% admitted to sexual intercourse outside marriage. Seventeen percent of the affairs occurred with people they were counseling, and 52% involved members, ministers or other leaders of their own congregation. An additional 18% disclosed that they had kissed, fondled or masturbated with someone other than their spouse. When asked what consequences they had suffered nearly a third reported no adverse outcomes.[4]

Three Protestant churches recently addressed issues involving sexual standards for their clergy. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church debated an amendment to its constitution, which required all church officials to be faithful in marriage and chaste if single, but so many congregations threatened to ignore the decree that delegates voted to drop the chastity requirement.[5] Recent studies reveal that 45-55% of married women and 50-60% of married men engage in extramarital sex at some time or another during their relationship.[6]

"In all walks of life, charismatic figures exude a powerful attraction to the opposite sex. Charismatic clergy have the added aura of representing God or channeling the Holy Spirit. That is why Billy Graham, for example, decided early in his ministry never to be alone with a woman other than his wife. Few others are so meticulous. A generation ago, philandering clergy usually lost their jobs. That still happens. In an age when tolerance for adultery seeps into politics and race relations, denominations are hesitant to set too high a standard for their own. What some Protestant denominations believe is that sexual behavior is either too personal to legislate or too trivial to condemn."[7]

Because of the secrecy involved, it is tough to get a handle on how many Americans have affairs. Estimates range from as low as 14% to as high as 70%. According to therapist and author, Peggy Vaughn, about 60% of men and 40% of women will have an affair at some point in their marriage. USA Today published a national study by the University of California, San Francisco showing that about 24% of men and 14% of women have had sex outside their marriages. Affairs affect one of every 2.7 couples, according to counselor Janis Abrahms Spring, author of After the Affair.

One study claims that 70% of married women and 54% of married men did not know of their spouses' extramarital activity. [8] Another study found that 2/3 of the wives whose husbands cheated had no idea of their infidelity because they failed to recognize the telltale signs. Experts say that a gut instinct is the most powerful indicator of a cheating lover. Adultery statistics state that 85% of woman who feel their lover is cheating are correct. Nearly 50% of men who feel their lover is cheating are right. The first clue is seldom obvious. Typically, it is a "feeling" that something is different.[9]

One clear element in the cheating game is that women are the victims more often than men as 80 to 85% of adultery victims are women between the ages of 25 and 50 years old. Interestingly, 10 to 20% of spousal cheating begins as an Internet affair in a chat room or game website.[10] The Internet is becoming a breeding ground for adultery, or at least experts who track the patterns of extramarital affairs say so. Another interesting statistic is rarely do people have one online affair. Over 90% of those involved in cyber affairs become addicted to them and continue them dropping one person for the next as soon as the drama and excitement wear down. Approximately 70% of time on-line activities stay confined to chat rooms or sending email; of these, the vast majorities are romantic in nature. Dr. Michael Adamse, PhD., co-author of Affairs of the Net: The Cybershrinks' Guide to Online Relationships[11]

In fact, the rate of cheating has stayed consistent, according to research expert Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey for the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. Smith conducted the highly respected study “American Sexual Behavior,” a poll of 10,000 people over two decades. The study found that 22% of married men and 15% of married women have cheated at least once—similar to the results from the MSNBC.com/iVillage survey. Still, much of this depends on your definition of cheating. Nearly everybody considers sexual intercourse or oral sex to be cheating, but there are some other behaviors that fall into grayer areas.

Only 35% of unions survive an extramarital affair while 65% of marriages break up because of adultery. Studies also found that men are less forgiving of affairs than women. When a woman has a physical affair, she is risking her marriage more than a man who has a physical affair. Women are more forgiving.


[1] National Opinion Research Center, http://www.norc.uchicago.edu/

[2] Probe Ministries, Adultery in the Church, November 14,1998, http://www.probe.org/docs/c-adultery2.html

[3] Models Of Flock Disappointment From American Church History: Parallels With The Duping Of The Y2K Flocks, Americanwasteland.com, January 5, 2000, D. Marty Lasley, http://www.americanwasteland.com/y2kmodels.html

[4] Kenneth L. Woodward, Sex, Morality And The Protestant Minister, What Sexual Standards Should The Clergy Obey?, NEWSWEEK, July 28, 1997, http://www.newsweek.com/id/97987

[5] Sex, Morality And The Protestant Minister, Newsweek Magazine, Kenneth L. Woodward, July 28, 1997, http://www.newsweek.com/1997/07/27/sex-morality-and-the-protestant-...

[6] The New Affair Treatment Considerations, Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, Joan D. Atwooda and Limor Schwartz, 2002

[8] Religious Tolerance.Org, Religious Beliefs in the United States, General religious beliefs, http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_poll.htm

[9] The Truth About Infidelity, Who potentially commits infidelity?: Anyone!, http://www.infidelity-help.us.com/

[10] Mitchell Files Case History, Statistics on Cheating Spouses, 2001, http://shop.store.yahoo.com/eaglesnestpub/statoncheats.html

[11] Affairs of the net: The cybershrink's guide to online relationships, Michael Adamse, Health Communications, 2000

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Comment by Donald R Barbera on August 17, 2017 at 8:47pm
My wife has no idea of the number of women I've screwed outside our marriage but they've all been in my head. I see a good looking walking past and I should light up a cigarette because she's been ravished but that is the problem with having eyes combined with a sense of right and wrong--I am always struck by how easy it is to figure out the between the two. If it is difficult, more than likely it's right. Wrong stuff is easy.
Comment by Donald R Barbera on August 17, 2017 at 8:39pm
BenGee--I feel you. It doesn't even take a wife or husband, a boyfriend or girlfriend will do. Personally, I'd like the opportunity to just walk out. Fess up and let me leave. No scene, no hitting and no shouting. For men and women when these things happen it can sour them on relations and commitments.
Comment by Joan Denoo on August 17, 2017 at 2:13am

Roland, I appreciate your concept of marriage is a property right of the man for his wives and concubines and to protect men's right to ownership of women. The feminist movement made that quite clear in their education of women for self-protection and self-esteem. 

Countless other women and I faced a different challenge, one of not being prepared to be self-sufficient, of expecting a husband to be faithful and economically responsible for wives, especially when bearing his children and taking care of his dirty sox. Being thus raised, it meant that women became vulnerable in old age because many insurance policies covered men after retirement, but the funds ended when the husband died. Thankfully, that rule changed to include women after a spouse's death. Earnings for women were usually less than for men, even for the same job. A lifetime of lower wages meant there were fewer funds available for her support based on her earnings. Women who receive training to be a consumer of income and not a producer face many challenges throughout life, and they often feel vulnerable.

Thankfully, that is changing, and my daughter and granddaughters do not face the same challenge. Their tasks, during this time of stagnant wages, are to bring in money to meet their needs and wants while maintaining a household and bearing and raising children. 

The very good news is, many women have the intelligence and ambition to get training and make it possible for her to make choices. She doesn't have to stay in a bad marriage if she can earn enough income to support her children and herself if the need arises. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 17, 2017 at 12:59am

Gosh! BenGee, I don't and didn't fuck around. I don't treat people like shit and I don't allow others to treat me like shit, anymore. I treat people with respect and expect the same from them.

I agree with you that it is OK to have an open marriage if both parties agree to it, but marriage vows are meaningless. Why be married if that is the lifestyle one wants. I didn't want that kind of marriage and I don't want one like that at my young age.  

I may be Victorian, and I may be missing out on an interesting lifestyle but I don't want other people's bugs and I don't want others to have mine. I didn't find it hard to be monogamous. I suppose others have different views, and so another difference makes itself known. To each his and her own. No judgment intended and none implied. 

Comment by BenGee on August 16, 2017 at 10:45pm

I could have been far more OK with her leaving me if she hadn't been cheating. If you want to fuck other people either open the relationship or fucking leave. But don't fucking jerk people around and use them like that. Fucking hell. It's so fucking simple, but what can I say people are generally all shit. Myself included. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised so many treat others like shit like this.

Comment by BenGee on August 16, 2017 at 10:41pm

Idk.... the bible is bullshit.

However.... idk.... When my ex wife was fucking other people while I was on an oil rig risking my life and destroying myself... It fucking hurt far worse knowing what she was doing than anything I faced on the rig. Sin? Bullshit. But it is one fucked up shitty ass thing for any person to do to another.

Funny enough we never fought about it. I knew, she knew I knew. She'd come home drunk after her girlfriend kicked her out (her girlfriend was married so when the spouse would come home they'd kick my wife out and she'd come stumbling in at 4 am drunk and not had enough so she'd force herself on me and tell me about what she had been doing with her girlfriend, this also happened with her boyfriend but he wasn't married so she usually just stayed gone all night those nights).

I mean I never yelled at her about it or anything, we didn't talk about it. I just figured do all I can to be the best I can be for her and she'd either stop or leave. She knew it hurt me.

In the end she left a letter on the bed and I never saw her again. She mailed divorce papers, I signed them mailed them back. I've never seen her since. Shortly after I couldn't take living there anymore I moved far away and never went back. I've been kinda idk half assing my life since then. 

Fuck people who cheat on their partners. They are the lowest scum to ever live. I can do open relationships, and have. But fucking telling someone that you're in a committed relationship with them then fucking doing that is bullshit. Fuck them. Fuck them all with barb wire. Personally I hate them all. Period. Nothing will ever change that now.

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on August 16, 2017 at 9:22pm

What would have happened had a tape emerged back during the 2016 presidential* election*  with Hillary gleefully noting that When you're famous you can grab men by the dick any  time you feel like it?

The pearl-clutching would have been soooooo entertaining.

Hypocrisy, thy name is religion.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on August 16, 2017 at 8:52pm
Loren--seeing that the Bible was written by men explains it all. Of course, let's not forget the property angle.
Comment by Loren Miller on August 16, 2017 at 9:11am

Adultery IS forbidden ... for the women.  All we need to do is look at Numbers 5 and its treatment of women who may have strayed from the marriage bed, versus Solomon and his 700 wives and 300 concubines to understand that the biblical prohibition of adultery is aimed squarely at the female sex.  In the bible, women are PROPERTY, and property doesn't go sleeping around at will, at least not if the man of the house has anything to say about it.

Chauvinism of the first water, plain and simple.

Comment by Idaho Spud on August 16, 2017 at 7:28am

Roland, thanks for that interesting post.  Your book looks to be worth a read.


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